Busch Gardens Tampa Food & Wine Festival Gardening Masterpieces

Busch Gardens Tampa Food & Wine Festival

Imaginations Blossom this Spring with Gardening Masterpieces at Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival

Living Works of Art Capture the Excitement of Spring at Inaugural Food & Wine Festival

 

Busch Gardens Tampa is cultivating some excitement this spring with 11 brand new, larger-than-life topiaries, debuting for the park’s inaugural Food & Wine Festival. The Busch Gardens’ horticulture team began creating the living works of art last July, showcasing more than 16 different plant species:

 

Busch Gardens Tampa Food & Wine Festival Spirit of Spring

Located near Bird Gardens, the 20-foot-tall Spirit of Spring features more than 165,000 plants of six different species. Inspired by a 100-year-old bronze art nouveau sculpture, the Spirit of Spring weighs more than 25 tons and will have its own internal irrigation system and reflecting pool.

Busch Gardens Tampa Food & Wine Festival Topirazzi

Inspired by paparazzi, five Topirazzi figures welcome guests at the front of the park. Crafted by computer-generated and automated laser-cutting machines, these masterpieces are the perfect photo opportunity for guests of all ages.

Sesame Street® Characters

Sesame Street® Safari of Fun blooms this spring with topiaries inspired by Elmo, Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch.  The topiaries will colorfully decorate the family-friendly area with thousands of red begonias, yellow St. Joseph’s coat and green creeping fig plants.

Busch Gardens Tampa Food & Wine Festival

Naga’ Zira’ the Green Boa Constrictor

Reptile lovers will be in awe Naga’ Zira’ the Green Boa Constrictor, a sidewalk serpent made from more than 25,000 of red St. Joseph’s coats, green ficus’ and yellow alternantheras. This horticulture masterpiece is also located near the all-new Conservation Cabin, where guests can learn about animal conservation and even meet several snake species that call Busch Gardens home.

Busch Gardens Tampa Food & Wine Festival Giant Florida Octopus

The Giant Florida Octopus rises up to 18 feet from the depths of the Garden Gate pond with more than 64,000 flower varieties, including ajugas, creeping figs and alternantheras.

Busch Gardens invites guests to unleash their inner foodie during the inaugural Food & Wine Festival with an exciting variety of sample-size tastings of delicious cuisine and spirits, tempting taste buds like never before. Plus, the Food & Wine Festival brings together the best in pop, soft rock, Latin, country, contemporary and classic music during live concerts every event day on Gwazi Field.

 

The Festival is included with any Pass, Fun Card or daily admission. Food and beverage is not included with park admission and is available for an extra fee. Guests must be 21 years of age or older to consume alcoholic beverages.

 

For more information, visit buschgardens.com. Or, be the first to know about new events, special deals and future announcements by following the park’s blog at BuschGardensTampaBlog.com, and join the conversation by using #CorksandCoasters on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

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Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto Soft Opening Visit

Trader Sam's Grog Grotto
Entrance to Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto

This past weekend, a few friends and I were lucky enough to experience the soft opening of the brand new Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.

We were in the first group to enter this tiki bar located in the Great Ceremonial House next to Captain Cook’s. For those of you familiar with Disneyland, this lounge is the counterpart to Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar.

Trader Sam's Grog Grotto
Being welcomed into Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto as the first guests

The atmosphere at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto draws inspiration from a great combination of Disney classic attractions like the Enchanted Tiki Room, Jungle Cruise, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Imagineers have hidden lots of great references to these rides as well as many other Disney characters and films. If you keep a keen eye open, you may find the Orange Bird, a nod to the Rocketeer, and even my favorite nefarious Toad, J. Thaddeus.

Trader Sam's Grog Grotto
Bartenders ready to serve … even a cephalopod

Also, be on the look out for fun audio animatronics like a tentacle swinging from above the bar with a tight grip on a bottle, Uh Oa, the tiki goddess of disaster on the opposite wall, and tons of fantastic blacklight effects.

Once you’ve marveled over the fabulous decor and theming inside Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, it is time to decide which beverages and food you want to experience. Similar to the vibe of the lounge, the small plates and drinks offered have a South Seas flair, heavy on the seafood and rum. We sampled all of the appetizers between our group and found everything to be quite tasty.

Trader Sam's Grog Grotto Disney's Polynesian Village Resort Disney's Polynesian Villas and Bungalows

I definitely had a favorite in the Headhunter Sushi Roll, which if I recall is a beet rice roll with tuna, salmon, cucumber with an awesome hibiscus sauce. This roll was so good we killed it within just a couple of minutes between a few of us. I highly recommend it as a great combination of flavors that is different from any other roll I’ve had before.

Trader Sam's Grog Grotto Disney's Polynesian Village Resort Disney's Polynesian Villas and Bungalows
Headhunter Sushi Roll

 

Other popular choices in our group were the Chicken Lettuce Cups that you assembled yourself, which were really nice with the kimchi, and the Kalua Pork Tacos.

Trader Sam's Grog Grotto Disney's Polynesian Village Resort Disney's Polynesian Villas and Bungalows Lettuce Wraps
Chicken Lettuce Cups

As far as what I didn’t particular care for, or feel I will order again in the near future, I’d say skip the Corn-Battered Portuguese Sausages. To me, these tasted kind of like corn dogs with a ketchup infused with curry.

Corn-Battered Portuguese Sausages Trader Sam's Grog Grotto Disney's Polynesian Village Resort Disney's Polynesian Villas and Bungalows
Corn-Battered Portuguese Sausages

 

The other items that we felt left a bit to be desired were the Pan-Fried Dumplings with soy-sesame dipping sauce. These were pork and shrimp combined, but seemed a bit light on the filling as far proportionally to the dumpling dough. I’d say the Salmon Oshizushi, Chicken and Pork Bahn Mi, and the Hawaiian Poke fall in the middle. I’d get them again, but maybe not as frequently as the Headhunter Roll or Lettuce Cups.

Hippopotomai-Tai Trader Sam's Grog Grotto Disney's Polynesian Village Resort Disney's Polynesian Villas and Bungalows
Hippopotomai-Tai

I took one for the team and was pretty much the designated drinker, ordering the Hippopotomai-Tai since it came with a new souvenir glass specific to Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto. This was a really good Mai Tai, with the obligatory “two shots of rum” offering a special effect.

Trader Sam's Grog Grotto Disney's Polynesian Village Resort Disney's Polynesian Villas and Bungalows
Polynesian Pearl

Another in our group tried the Polynesian Pearl, which is a signature drink new for the Grog Grotto. It comes in a plastic “pearl” with a fun presentation from the bartenders each time one is ordered. This drink, which I just tasted, came across like a creamy version of Cinnamon Toast Crunch in beverage form.

Trader Sam's Grog Grotto Disney's Polynesian Village Resort Disney's Polynesian Villas and Bungalows
Polynesian Pearl Presentation

 

For the non-alcoholic folks out there, we also sampled the Schweitzer Fall, which mostly tasted like pineapple juice and sprite, and the Skipper Sipper, a bit more refreshing and slightly less sweet combo of tropical juice with mint and lime.

Trader Sam's Grog Grotto Disney's Polynesian Village Resort Disney's Polynesian Villas and Bungalows
Photo: Mike Beckerman

Several of the alcoholic beverages at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto can be purchased in souvenir glasses, which you can pick up on your way out already wrapped up for you. This is really nice to not have to wait for your used glass to be cleaned out and brought back to you. Our server simply highlighted my receipt, then I showed it to the Cast Members at the door where the glasses are on display. The Polynesian Pearl is plastic, which they will rinse out for you to take if you’d like. The Hippopotomai-Tai souvenir and the Kona beer flight are glass, and the others offered are all ceramic.

Trader Sam's Grog Grotto Disney's Polynesian Village Resort Disney's Polynesian Villas and Bungalows Nautilus
Nautilus

As of this time, the only souvenir glass not available is for the Nautilus, which will run approximately $52, but is currently around $34 for just the alcoholic drink. According to the Food and Beverage Cast Member with whom I spoke, they said it may be months before those arrive. I also asked, and souvenir drink glasses are not for sale independently of the alcohol.

Trader Sam's Grog Grotto
Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace

Here are a few quick things to keep in mind for your visit to Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto:

  • All prices, menu items, and drinks are subject to change as Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto is still in soft opening.
  • No discounts are available currently at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto.
  • The lounge can hold about 50 inside, and the Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace outside can seat an additional 80 guests.
  • If you are looking to sit inside the Grog Grotto, there is a pager system since seating is so limited. There are a limited amount a pagers available, and wait times did go up to 4-5 hours on the first day of soft openings. Also, your wait time will depend on the size of your party.
  • The full menu is available both inside and out, with a nice area for musicians and a dancer on the terrace. I really enjoyed this additional entertainment aspect and can see myself spending lots of time here in the future, especially in the warmer summer evenings here.
  • Hours for Trader Sam’s, once they officially open in late April, will be from 4pm until 12am, with the lounge being 21 and up only from 8pm.

Trader Sam's Grog Grotto Disney's Polynesian Village Resort Disney's Polynesian Villas and Bungalows

Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto met and exceeded my expectations based on my experiences at the West Coast version of Trader Sam’s at Disneyland. The Imagineers have done very well to echo the feeling of the lounge in California, while still making it unique enough to make me want to visit both locations. Like Disneyland, I am sure over time I will be spending hours inspecting all the fun pictures and memorabilia adorning the walls, ceiling, and shelves. This lounge is a much needed addition to the nightlife at Walt Disney World.

Trader Sam's Grog Grotto
Diver’s mask behind the bar
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Busch Gardens Entertainment Spices Up Food & Wine Festival

Busch Gardens

Eclectic Entertainment Spices Up the Busch Gardens Tampa Food & Wine Festival

This spring, the Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival brings together the best ingredients for a good time, including live entertainment, stage shows and local band performances on Gwazi Field:

 

 Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival

Local Band Performances

Before headlining concerts at 6 p.m., local bands take the stage at 1:45 p.m. and 4 p.m. Some of the hottest Tampa Bay-area bands will entertain festivalgoers, including the Jacob Jeffries Band, Orange Avenue and more. For the entire lineup, visit buschgardens.com.

Mix It Up

This high-energy, food-inspired rhythmic show will get the entire family’s pulse dancing with up-beat music, drum solos, dancers and more. Catch this all-new live stage show at Marrakesh Theatre select times on Festival days.

Wine Glass Harp

Wine glass harmonies vibrate throughout the Moroccan Village as a glass harpist fills the air with an interactive performance simply using wine glasses and water. Performances are at various times on Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Atmospheric Entertainment

Busch Gardens brings together the best in entertainment with a flying cellist who combines the art of flying with music and a living fountain that captivates guests with a statuesque performance. Plus, character appearances from a chef, spice salesman and self-acclaimed food and wine experts add exciting, comedic flavor along the Festival pathway.

Busch Gardens Tampa Food & Wine Festival Entertainment Busch Gardens invites guests to unleash their inner foodie during the inaugural Food & Wine Festival with an exciting variety of sample-size tastings of delicious cuisine and spirits, tempting taste buds like never before. Plus, the Food & Wine Festival brings together the best in pop, soft rock, Latin, country, contemporary and classic music during live concerts every event day on Gwazi Field. The event takes place on weekends now through April 26.

 

The Festival is included with any Pass, Fun Card or daily admission. Food and beverage is not included with park admission and is available for an extra fee. Guests must be 21 years of age or older to consume alcoholic beverages.

For more information, visit buschgardens.com. Or, be the first to know about new events, special deals and future announcements by following the park’s blog at BuschGardensTampaBlog.com, and join the conversation by using #CorksandCoasters on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

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