Hidden Gem: Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto
When Disney Vacation Club added bungalows and deluxe studios to the Polynesian, Walt Disney World did a whole revamp of the resort. In doing so they removed the arcade area and added Trader Sam’s, a popular lounge found in Disneyland, California. This lounge is dark, with no windows to the outside world. There are fictitious windows, making it seems as though you are on the coast looking out at a volcano. This place could appear tacky but it’s all in good fun. It’s a very small venue, with booths, bar stools and tables and chairs. Here you’ll be offered beer and wine but do yourself a favour and enjoy one of the drinks unique to Trader Sam’s. Many drinks come with a bit of a performance. A bell may ring, the volcano may erupt or you may get squirted in the face with a water gun. You can enjoy a selection of food here but really the food is something to compliment your beverages. This is a place to enjoy before your dining reservation or for a night out sans kids. The staff here are the best. They are cast members who have worked for the company for many years and love what they do. You will not just be joe nobody sitting at a bar, this lounge is an experience.
On the Walt Disney World website it would appear as though Trader Sam’s is outside, but it is in the hallway leading you outside in the main building. I walked by it three times before I found it. It is inconspicuous. You need to know what you are looking for. Upon entering the Polynesian from the monorail go down to the main floor. Make your way to the western side of the lobby passing BouTiki on your left and the gallery on your right. Follow the hallway until you are walking towards the doors that will take you outside, on your left is a brown door with the sign Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto. Upon walking in there’s a very small waiting area for those waiting for a seat. The cast member will take your name and let you know how long the wait will be. You can certainly bring your kids here but it is much more enjoyable without them. It is so dark in here that they can’t see all that well and they won’t receive any kind of crayons or colouring pages to occupy them. This venue is really designed for adults.
Trader Sam’s opens at 4pm and stays open until 1am. Expect to meet guests and locals. On our last vacation we spent a couple hours here before our reservation at Trattoria Al Forno, Boardwalk Inn & Villa resort. We sat next to a gal who’s an annual pass holder and who moved to Florida with the intention of visiting the parks on a regular basis. After she left we found ourselves siting next to locals who said they bring any visitors they host to this lounge. If you’re lucky enough to be vacationing without kids or plan to hire a babysitter for an evening, come and check this place out.