Part I is in the February archive! The link I posted was defective
By the time the Bus passed under the famous "Magic Kingdom" sign I was ready for another drink. Thankfully it's a short walk from the recently extended Bus Terminal across to the resort Monorail line, passing in front of The Railroad station at the Bottom of Main Street, USA along the way.
With two stops on the resort Monorail (Contemporary Resort & The Transportation & ticket centre, or TTC) prior to my destination, it wasn't long before the Monorail pulled into Disney's Polynesian Resort. This tropical resort sits on the shore of the Seven Seas Lagoon, with views across to the Magic Kingdom Park and has to be one of the coolest resorts on the property. While most of us go to Walt Disney World for the parks and entertainment, but if you have the time, some of the resorts are worth a visit.
Having visited this amazing hotel before I knew the layout of the great hall fairly well, but it still took a minute or two to find the discreet door that leads to possibly the most hyped little bar in the Orlando area.
Trader Sam's Grog Grotto is a relatively new addition to the Polynesian, that has become incredibly popular, due in part to the almost legendary reputation of its sister bar, Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar located at the Disneyland Resort in California. Despite Sam's low key façade, which could easily be overlooked by guests unaware of its existence, this little bar fills up quickly and queues and waitlists are not uncommon. Arriving at around 6pm on a Thursday in February, I was lucky not to encounter any delay in being admitted and was warmly welcomed by the hostess who is positioned just inside the door.
Small, dark and intimate, I found it to be holding about half of its 51 person capacity. Although relaxed with cool background music, I found that it got quite noisy whenever the cast members served up one of the speciality drinks, as certain cocktails are served with sounds effects and chants that some of the patrons were getting in on. Sitting alone at the Bar I intended to order something that came in a glass with no fanfare.
My Skipper (bar man) recommended the HippopotoMai- Tai A sweet concoction of Coruba Dark Rum, Bacardi Superior Rum, Bols Orange Curaço, Orgeat (almond) syrup, Organic Agave Nectar and lime juice. It was perfectly mixed & after a walk in the Florida heat, extremely refreshing. The cocktail came in a glass mug featuring, the Maui Tikiman who’s statue can be found in the Great Ceremonial Hall of the Polynesian. This Mug, like many of the glasses used in Trader Sam's was available to buy for a little extra, and this one actually looked pretty cool, so I picked one up on the way out.
Trader Sam's certainly has very cool décor, in fact the walls are packed out with bits and bobs based around the typically detailed Disney backstory that goes hand in hand with the Imagineers theming. Trader Sam, who can be found on the Jungle Cruise ride trading in heads, has some of the most interesting Concoctions on the property. Each with a backstory tied in with the legend who has his name on the door. As legend has it he gave up trading skulls and turned his hand to mixology.
The intention was to head upstairs to the Tambu Lounge and try another signature cocktail, before returning to Trader Sam's a little later in the evening when things had heated up.
Located a floor above Trader Sam's, The Tambu Lounge sits in the corner of the great Ceremonial Hall, on the edge of the O'Hana Restaurant. Its a busy open plan area where diners stop by on the way to or from their meal and its home to the famous Lapu Lapu. In spite of the amount of people waiting on their reservations at O'Hanas I was able to find an open stool at the bar and was warmly welcomed in that Disney way by Walter, who was tending Bar. A quick browse of the menu lead me to what I knew what I wanted, A big Pineapple filled with Liquor
The Lapu Lapu is a Pineapple filled with Myer’s Original Dark Rum and Tropical Fruit Juices topped with Bacardi 151 Rum. The novelty of drinking booze out of a big whack of fruit can never be overstated, though thankfully the cocktail tastes good on its own. A cheaper version can be bought minus the Pineapple, which looks a little bit more sophisticated and mature. But I was at Disney World after all, so where was the fun in that.
Settling into the atmosphere of my surroundings and eased by the booze I decided to extend my visit and ordered another Lapu Lapu. I found that when sitting alone at a bar, conversation with other tourists was easy flowing and the banter between the bar staff and the patrons was light but fun.
Walter suggested some light snacks and quickly passed me a bar menu. I didn't see much that I fancied on the list, but was taken with the Pulled Pork Nacho's. These are a base of thick-cut housemade potato chips, with layers of pulled pork and cheese. Finished off with a topping with a sweet and tangy pineapple salsa and a spicy mayonnaise.
These were amazing. The portion, priced at $8.99 was huge and great value considering Disney prices. I hardly made a dent despite the moreish quality of the dish.
I admitted defeat on the Nachos and full from the generous portion, settled up with Walter and headed for the exit. I never quite made it back to Trader Sam's, finding myself at the Polynesian Bus Stop awaiting a lift back to Disney Springs. After a short wait the Bus pulled in and I was homeward bound all set for an earlyish night. As I arrived back at Disney Springs the evening was in full swing and after a gentle walk back towards my hotel I found myself outside Raglan Road Irish Bar with a bit of a thirst.
I found a spot at the outside bar and ordered a draught pint of Magner's Irish Cider. I am a bit of a fan of the Clonmel Hard Cider and drink it regularly at home, so was excited to see it bearing the claim of being imported. Sadly the American market is being mislead, although palatable it was overly sweet and did not taste anything like the Magner's I know so well. It wasn't a bad stab at Hard Cider, but it wasn't as good as Angry Orchard Hard Cider.
Heading home after a tour across the World, I was already thinking about my move to the Universal Orlando Resort and a Margarita or two at Jimmy Buffett's place.
Thanks Disney World.