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Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto Preview and New Polynesian Lobby Photos

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trader sam's grog grotto preview
Free postcards were available during the Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto preview event at WDW’s Polynesian Village Resort. (Photos by Seth Kubersky


Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at the Disneyland Hotel is one of our favorite places in the entire Disneyland Resort, so it’s an understatement to say we’re excited about the opening of its East Coast outpost. Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto is about to debut at Walt Disney World’s newly retro-christened Polynesian Village Resort, and on Monday, March 23 the hotel held a cast member-only preview of their new watering hole.

The line to enter and take a “tour” of Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto (no drinking involved) stretched down the corridor.


Unfortunately, only cast members were permitted inside, and no photography was allowed. From those who did make it in, we hear the bar has numerous visual and audio effects associated with ordering various specialty drinks, including some tributes to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and the Enchanted Tiki Room.


This is as close as I got to the inside of Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto…


This map highlighting the Polynesian’s new DVC villas and bungalows was distributed to the preview participants.


We were able to take a stroll around the exterior, and catch a glimpse of the still-unfinished patio. While everyone is going to want to sit inside to experience the special effects, this outside seating is critical because there are only about 50 indoor seats. Even with the patio, only about 100 guests at a time will be able to enjoy Trader Sam’s, and a host stand outside will distribute pagers while everyone else waits.


Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto will operate from 4 p.m. to midnight. All ages are allowed in the afternoon, but you must be 21 or older to enter after 8 p.m. We’ve heard Thursday, March 26th as the projected public opening date for Trader Sam’s, but that is unofficial and subject to change. When it is open, we’ll be there to bring you details on on the drinks, snacks, and kooky effects that lie in store.


While looking at the Trader Sam’s construction, I also caught some snapshots of the progress on Poly’s central volcano pool, starting with this map posted outside the new Pineapple Lanai Dole Whip window.


Back inside the hotel’s Great Ceremonial House, the newly refurbished lobby — now completely shorn of its original simulated rainforest, smell and all — just received another addition: this tiki statue, who seems to be shrugging:


Speaking of tikis, spot these sneaky guys in the Polynesian’s lobby gift shop.


Finally, the landscaping immediately adjacent to the Poly’s entrance seems to be getting an overhaul. It looks like they may be enhancing the water feature here, which could make partial amends for the loss of the indoor waterfalls.


Have you been to Trader Sam’s in Disneyland? What are you most looking forward to at the new Trader Sam’s? Let us know in the comments!

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Seth Kubersky

Author of The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando. Co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland and Beyond Disney. Contributor to Unofficial Guides to WDW and Las Vegas. Live Active Cultures columnist for the Orlando Weekly. Travel and arts journalist. Theatrical director and producer.

11 thoughts on “Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto Preview and New Polynesian Lobby Photos

  • People need to stop whining about the lobby. Its a lobby. Who cares. I’d rather have them put the money into new attractions.

    • It doesn’t help your point when you are whining. A lot of people care. I’ve gone every year and multiple times a year since the year WDW opened. Those that “whine” care just as much about the experience as the attractions. I go there because of the Disney “wow” factor, not because I think Pirates of the Carribean is a technologically advanced “must ride” attraction. The atmosphere, service, rides and memories combine for why I drive 2200 miles every time to go there. If I wanted the latest attractions, I’d spend my money elsewhere. I want what Disney has to offer and I don’t like when something I have 40+ years of positive memories about goes away. I’ve earned the right to whine when I think the Disney experience takes a step backwards.

      • Waaaaaaaaah. Maybe you should find someplace else to vacation if a change to a hotel lobby is ruining the whole experience for you.

  • This looks like something straight out of Soviet Russia.

  • For our 20th anniversary spent 5 days at Disneyland hotel. Every night we put the exhausted kids to bed with our teenager in charge and headed to Trader Sam’s for an hour of fun. Best bar I have ever been to anywhere. I hope the WDW one is just as fun.

  • I am with BD…I was there last month and it just seems very generic and bland now. It used to take my breath away when I walked into the lobby, now it’s just a nice lobby.

  • Just where *is* Trader Sam’s? Is it in the back corner of the GCH, near the ground-floor restrooms and where there used to be a clothing store, and near the door that heads out toward the marina and the Fiji building?

  • Shed a little tear at that new lobby. Sad.

    • The new lobby is very nice for what it is, but it isn’t what people grew up with & loved. At least it’s a lot less humid inside there now…

      • The lobby is normal. It’s seems “normal” is what they shoot for now. There’s nothing wrong with normal at the Holiday Inn. The things that make Disney “special” seem to be disappearing. Oh well..

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