Monday, March 30, 2015

Dressing for Trader Sam's Grog Grotto (Soft) Opening

When I posted last, I asked if anyone could guess what Lilly Pulitzer I was going to sport for the soft opening of Trader Sam's Grog Grotto. Well...


Did ya guess it?! 

How perfect was this top in the Bubbly print? Especially with the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea theme that Grog Grotto has going on.

A quick backstory on Trader Sam's for those who may not know. In 2011, Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar opened at the Disneyland Hotel in Disneyland, California. It's a tiki-themed lounge that is deeply detailed and full of inside jokes by the Imagineers, with nods to the Adventurer's Club, Jungle Cruise, Tiki Room, and more. It's chock full of 'Easter eggs,' and has quite the cult following of devoted fans. People especially love to collect the specialty glassware. When you order one of the drinks that come in a souvenir glass, the bartenders have a short skit that relates to each drink. 

Fast forward a few years, and we have Trader Sam's Grot Grotto here in Walt Disney World, Florida. If you've been following me on Instagram, you know I've been scoping out the joint for the past week or so, hoping to get in once it opened. 

After a false (Twitter) alarm this past Thursday, my friend Christine and I found ourselves at the Poly,  unfortunately not in Trader Sam's. However, we crossed paths with Brandon K. who's in charge of props for both Traders. He couldn't tell us the exact date for the soft opening, but he did say it wasn't that day (Thursday), nor the next (Friday)... and kind of left it at that. So, Saturday it was. Unofficially. To be safe, I booked a breakfast ADR at Kona Cafe, so we could park and be at the resort that day. Then the Disney Parks Blog posted this, and it was official. 

I called the Disfam and we started to organize. Thomas agreed to get there really early and hold down the fort. He was the first in line at 8 am. I'm so proud! 

That's right- Thomas was there at 8, and the bar didn't open until 4. Dedication. 

FYI- Children are allowed inside the Grotto from 4-8; after 8 pm it's 21 and up. (I believe children are allowed on the patio at all times, but I'm not 100% positive.)

John and I arrived a few hours later, checked in with Thomas, and then headed up to Kona Cafe for our breakfast.

By the time we were done, the line had been moved outside. Fortunately enough, we were able to pull up chairs and tables, so we were quite comfortable during the wait. This is the line around 11:30 or so.

The tarps were pulled down from around the patio. Here's a look at the set-up. It's so nice they put umbrellas with each table; those are essential in the hot Florida sun. 

Soon Angie and Danny arrived, and then the Tambu Lounge opened at 1:00, hooray! We ordered tropical drinks and played Apples to Apples to pass the time. 

Here's what the line looked like around 3:00 or so. 

photo credit: Laughing Place 

A Cast Member came down the line and gave a stamp to the first 50 people in line (capacity inside the Grotto). 

They led us in one group at a time; the Disfam was the very first group to enter Trader Sam's!!!!! And  Thomas was the very first person!!!

The crew was ready to greet us with cheers, sirens, and more. We were SO, SO excited!! I took a video of the group coming in after us if you'd like to hear the commotion. Be warned, the video's shaky. I was so pumped!

Here's a photo from the entrance, looking in to Trader Sam's. 

We all found seats around the surfboard table, and did what any good patron would do-- ordered one of each mug specific to the Grog Grotto! From left to right, the Polynesian Pearl ($16.25), the Rum Flight ($34), and the HippopotoMai-Tai ($15--yes, only $15!!!). John and I split each drink, and it was just right! 
**All prices listed include souviner mugs***

This is the Nautilus- for $59, this beauty comes filled with a concoction to serve 3-4 people. These mugs weren't available for the soft opening, but should be later this month. 

We also ordered some food to soak up all the booze. I enjoyed the pot stickers the most. 

Love is sharing a HippopotoMai-Tai. 

Angie lucked out and got one of the 'shrinking stools.' Every now and then she's slowly melt down towards the floor, the slowly come back up. 

Angie, Thomas and I ventured out to check out the patio and get some fresh air. 

While there, we say Steve Taylor, who portrayed the second Dreamfinder! (He's enjoying a Zombi Head cocktail, which we also tried- $19.50)

Heading back inside, it was time to wander around and get some pictures of the details. How great is this photo??!

The Little Orange Bird makes an appearance. 

There were a few nods to the Parrot Jungle in Miami, which I thought was a nice touch to a fairly local joint that opened in the 1930's. I remember when it was nearly wiped out by Hurricane Andrew, releasing parrots into the wild. To this day, we still have them migrate through from time to time. 

This life preserver is a relic from Maelstrom. 

Look up above the bar -- there's an emergency key hanging from the rafters. It belongs to none other than J. Thaddeus Toad, aka Mr. Toad. We wouldn't want him having one too many Uh-Oa's and getting behind the wheel- we all know how well that ended (RIP WDW version of the attraction). 

This is a remnant of the Adventurer's Club

Below are a few of the props that are used in the effects when someone orders a Nautilus. The cephalopod has a tentacle that lowers to pour some booze into the vessel. I've included another video, but be warned-- it's really shaky. Maybe close your eyes and just listen? Or take some dramamine before watching if you get motion sick?

You'll hear the voice of Captain Nemo and a sound clip from the extinct 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction. 

Then, it was time for my favorite concoction. The Uh-Oa! The Disfam closed our our time at Trader Sam's by sharing this delicious libation. ($39.50) The last video is our server presenting the Uh-Oa. 

After four hours in the Grog Grotto, we were happy campers. It will go down as one of our favorite memories together. 

Well, are you excited to visit Trader Sam's Grog Grotto? Which drink looks the most enticing to you? 

*This post contains a few amazon affiliate links. You know the gig-- same price to you, small commission to me, which tries to keep Dressing For Disney out of hobby status. :) 


  1. That looks like so much fun! I'm hoping I can get in during our trip in a few weeks. I have the feeling it could be crazy busy. Love that they bring 20,000 leagues into it- that was a favorite of mine way back in the day!

    1. I loved that attraction too! You'll get in- you may have to wait an hour (just sit out on the Terrace and enjoy a pre-drink drink), or go late in the evening- around 10ish, and people have been getting in. Either way, it's worth it! Good luck!

  2. Trader Sam's looks amazing! Loving all the Disney details, especially the nod to Mr. Toad and Maelstrom. Can't wait to visit- thanks for the preview!

    ps. Can't believe you met Dreamfinder!

    1. It really is something. And we've met Dreamfinder a couple times before; he lives locally and is pretty present in the parks. Thanks for reading!

  3. Wow, I had no idea about this (other than watching your IG posts); thank you for the recap and history! I am seriously behind on Disney History; I feel like a preschooler next to you! Ha! I would love to stop by here on my next visit! Kari

    1. I don't think it's so much that you're like a preschooler in your Disney knowledge; I think it's more that I'm a bit fanatical about it! It really is my passion, and I'm grateful to share it with everyone through this here blog :) Thanks for reading and commenting!

  4. Loved seeing the new digs. Thanks for sharing!