And now, for the exciting conclusion, let’s head back to another sunny and comparatively warm part of the United States during early February: Anaheim, CA…
Welcome back readers! In last week’s post, we covered some exterior and interior details, the backstory, and the Disney magic and drinks you can find inside Trader Sam’s. This week we’ll focus exclusively on some of the hidden gems the Imagineers have placed throughout and explore some of Trader Sam’s connections to Walt Disney World (as well as other Disney Parks) and what may be in store for Orlando when the jungle’s “Head Salesman” expands his operations to the East Coast.
When you enter Sam’s the skippers behind the bar yell “Aloha!” to all who enter that happy place. Find a seat, grab an illustrated menu , then sit back and soak up the sights and sounds of Trader Sam’s.
It’s in the Details
Alternating tropical tunes and antique diddies like you might hear waiting in line for the Jungle Cruise comprise the soundtrack of Trader Sam’s. Patrons inside are constantly ordering one of the handful of drinks which “awaken” the tiki gods and stir up a little chaos. But, amidst all the sights and sounds, be sure to wander around and inspect the ephemera Sam has “collected”, which decorate the walls and ceiling. Including the walls behind the bar!
As we mentioned last week, there’s notes, postcards, photos, artifacts , and more that give a nod –or flat out refer- to different Disney characters, rides, and places, including Disneyland Tokyo and a photo of a familiar sight from Typhoon Lagoon!
I was originally going to list my top ten favorite Trader Sam’s artifacts, but there’s just too many to pick from. Plus, a great deal of fun is exploring the place on your own. So, instead, I’ll let some photos do the “talking.”
I showed the photo of Colonel Critchlow Suchbench last week, but patrons looking up at a crate hanging from the ceiling on the left side of the bar will note some other familiar Adventurer’s Club artifacts.
There’s a letter attached to the crate via wooden arrow. I took a close-up photo with flash so it was legible. Those familiar with the old Adventurer’s Club will find it amusing.
See how many other Adventure’s Club connections you can find throughout Sam’s. I’ve never tried to count them all, but just from the ones I’ve observed, there’s at least 12 or 13 (counting the identifiable objects in the crate separately)
Last week I mentioned TWO hidden Mickey’s inside Trader Sam’s. Well, here’s a photographic hint to one of them, also related to the Adventurer’s Club. Can you identify where this Col. Suchbench Vinylmation is “floating” around?
A lot to see stashed here. That white hat on top of the container of “Gorilla Grog” is probably just meant to be a “period” hat from the early decades of the 1900’s, but given the penchant for Indiana Jones here, I like to think that’s the hat worn by the Man in the Panama Hat in the prologue of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, whose hat we see floating with a hole in it at the end of the prologue.
This screen capture was taken from the Indiana Jones Wiki page.
After visiting more times than I can keep track of, I still notice new things. So, whether you’ve been before or haven’t been yet, there’s always going to be more eye candy for you to enjoy. Let’s hope the same imaginative and thorough approach is taken when Trader Sam’s comes to Orlando.
Trader Sam’s in Orlando
Not long after rumors first circulated about WDW engaging in a notable renovation of the Polynesian Hotel, rumors started to abound in late-2012 & early-2013 that Disney was actively planning to bring Trader Sam’s to Orlando. Not a huge surprise given its success in Anaheim. The joint is regularly packed, sits well with locals AND resort guests, and sells an average of 200 souvenir tiki mugs each weekend (according to one skipper, and that’s JUST the weekend). It was all too natural to pair the impending renovation of the Polynesian with plans to bring Trader Sam’s to Orlando. But, no official announcement was made regarding Sam’s.
However, shortly after Disney “officially” announced the renovation of the Downtown Disney area (soon to be “Disney Springs”) in March 2013, there was some initial confusion about the location of Orlando’s Sam’s. A logo banner with properties designed by one of the Creative contractors working with Disney leaked out with the Trader Sam’s logo. Quickly, rumor spread that WDW’s Trader Sam’s must be going into Disney Springs. But, to date, that does not appear to be the plan. (Apparently, the logo banner only contained projects the Creative firm had worked on previously, one of which was Trader Sam’s.)
Although Disney still has not officially announced any plans for a Trader Sam’s in Orlando, there is strong sentiment among the Disney community on-line that Sam’s will eventually show up at the Polynesian. It could end up in the Great Ceremonial House building, but it’s still anyone’s guess. For more detailed coverage of the Polynesian renovations and “Disney Springs” project, I’ve been following the Atomic Grog here, and Tikiman, who maintains the Unofficial Polynesian Resort pages here.
Given the amount of space to work with at the Polynesian and the general trend to fit the needs for WDW’s larger crowd capacity, it seems likely that any port of Trader Sam’s built in Orlando will reflect a significant increase of patron capacity beyond Trader Sam’s mere “47 occupants” inside the bar itself. And, perhaps, there could be a whole portion of Trader Sam’s with dedicated wait-staff service in addition to the bar we have already come to love. Those who have experienced Sam’s firsthand know that the tight capacity is both a blessing and a curse. It can be hard as heck to find ANYWHERE to sit (or stand) inside the bar on a Friday or Saturday night, or when there’s a big conference in Anaheim. And, the noise amplifies pretty quickly in those close quarters. But, it’s the coziness of the bar and proximity to other celebratory patrons that gives Sam’s part of its character. It creates the sense being in a place where everyone is nobody, but everyone belongs. It’s something that is hard to create in a bigger, open space where groups can keep to themselves.
Over at The Atomic Grog, there’s some pondering over whether the Orlando version of Trader Sam’s might also include some sort of a dinner show, akin to the old Adventurer’s Club or even closer to Walt Disney’s original concept for the Enchanted Tiki Room in Disneyland (which would have been a restaurant with animatronic bird show.) There’s been no indication of any such plan so far, but it sure does excite the mind to imagine the possibilities of what THAT experience could be like!
While planning his Orlando theme park, Walt Disney engaged in a lot of research, including sourcing inspiration for the Polynesian. It’s not inconceivable that Walt might have visited the historic Mai-Kai in Ft. Lauderdale, giving further influence to some of the initial design of the Polynesian (perhaps?) I’ve been to the Mai-Kai and it’s an amazing mid-century style South Seas dinner and show experience not to be missed for anyone visiting Ft. Lauderdale. An Orlando Trader Sam’s that looked and felt like this could be incredible! Here’s a couple of pictures to get your mind spinning.
Mai Kai photo above courtesy of The Tiki Chick blog (http://thetikichick.com/)
I’d also like to imagine a dining area or bar that took some inspiration from Don the Beachcomber. There’s only two Don’s left now (Southern California and Kona, HI), but in its mid-century hey-day, Don’s was one of the biggest inspirations for the kind of “wall of artifacts” style of décor employed at Sam’s.
Don the Beachcomber image from the Don the Beachcomber Facebook page.
Hopefully the installation of former Disneyland Resort President George Kalogridis, who oversaw the transformation of Disney California Adventure, will encourage Orlando to create their new Trader Sam’s with the same sensibilities, fun, and tongue-in-cheek references that make Disneyland’s Trader Sam’s such an amazing experience.
What do you all want to see in the Trader Sam’s that’ll hopefully come to Walt Disney World? Tell me in the comments below.
Well, that’ll round out the second half of our visit with Trader Sam’s. Hope you all enjoyed it. Please do leave comments below and let us know what YOU HOPE TRADER SAM’S IN ORLANDO will be like.
As they used to say at another Orlando Disney location that was imbued with fun and “magic”, “If you come in here a stranger, you will exit as a friend.” That, friends, is the Trader Sam’s spirit of “aloha” we hope will find its way to Orlando.
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2 thoughts on “A Visit to Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar- Part II”
I’d love to see something like the Tonga Room at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco with indoor storms and fun decor. It is on a larger scale than Sam’s but still feels intimate.
Betsy, that’s a great idea. I’ve been to the Tonga Room a few times and the decor is fantastic. Some indoor rain-action would be a neat addition to Sam’s. Fits right in with “the gods have been angered by all the celebratin'” too. Though, in this case, they should probably be “awakened” rather than “angered”, huh? it would be great to have some kind of entertainment area – be it live cast members or whatever the next-gen of “animatronic” is to “wow” guests.