A Visit to Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar- Part II

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…

All Iimages provided by Pearson Images
All photos in this article are provided by Pearson Images unless otherwise noted.

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.

Skipper Ramiro makes another Uh-Oa.
Skipper Ramiro makes another Uh-Oa.

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.”

Trader Sam's-58

If you're looking for a hidden Mickey here, you're cruising down the right river... And if you aren't, then you're in "de Nile".
If you’re looking for a hidden Mickey here, you’re cruising down the right river… And if you aren’t, then you’re in “de Nile”.
The glass bottle that actually camer from the Adventurer's Club. Be sure to watch this when someone orders a "Shipwreck on the Rocks!"
The glass bottle that actually came from the Adventurer’s Club. Be sure to watch when someone orders a “Shipwreck on the Rocks!”
Even the beer handles are themed and enjoy a little Disney "magic."
Even the beer handles are themed and enjoy a little Disney “magic.”
This Glass case warrants taking a gander at. Anybody know what movie that SF newspaper is from? (Hint: there's a hardback clue on the far right side of the shelf in the picture with the White Hat mentioned further below.)  Take a close look with the flash on your camera at the inside bottom right corner to look for another hidden Mickey.
This Glass case warrants taking a gander at. Anybody know what movie that SF newspaper is from? (Hint: there’s a hardback clue on the far right side of the shelf in the picture with the White Hat mentioned further below.)
Take a close look with the flash on your camera at the inside bottom right corner to look for another hidden Mickey.
Can you find the letter from an Indiana Jones character? Or the Indy voodoo doll from Temple of Doom?
Can you find the letter from an Indiana Jones character? Or the Indy voodoo doll from Temple of Doom?

 

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.

Slappy the puppets dangles from the top of the crate.
Slappy the puppet dangles from the top of the crate.

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.

Take a read. This is the only way you'll be able to.
Take a read. This is the only way you’ll be able to.

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?

HIdden Mickey "floating" around inside Sam's. You will NEED FLASH on a camera in order to see this, as it's otherwise obsucred by darkness.
HIdden Mickey “floating” around inside Sam’s. You will NEED FLASH on a camera in order to see this, as it’s otherwise obscured by darkness.

 

Orange Bird Alert! He showed up here a year before his "official" return to Walt Disney World.
Orange Bird Alert! He showed up here a year before his “official” return to Walt Disney World.

 

Tiki mugs, a pirhana, and some familiar tiki gods inside Trader Sam's.
Tiki mugs, a pirhana, and some familiar tiki gods inside Trader Sam’s.

Trader Sam's-39

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.

panama hat 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.

One of the bars inside The Mai-Kai (photo courtesy of the Sun-Sentinel).
One of the bars inside The Mai-Kai (photo courtesy of the Sun-Sentinel).

maikai2  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.

DTB

 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.

Cheers until the next time!

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Two Disney Vacation Club Announcements!

This week the Disney Vacation Club was busy, as they announced two very different but both very cool new things coming to DVC

Disney Vacation Club

 

Share Your Memories: Disney Vacation Club Member Challenge

Disney Vacation Club Members can participate in the Share Your Memories Pinterest challenges to win some pretty awesome prizes!

The first of three challenges is posted on the Share Your Memories Disney Vacation Club Members site, and if you are into Pinterest this challenge is super easy and looks like a lot of fun!

After members register on the Share Your Memories site, all they then have to then do is create a board on Pinterest with images showing all the ‘must-see’s’ and ‘must-do’s’ on the most magical Disney Vacation Club vacation you can imagine. The deadline to submit the URL to the dream pin boars is 11:59 AM ET on November 4, 2013.

The Pinterest Prize Package for this challenge includes 4 Walt Disney Worldor DisneylandResort Annual Passes, a Disney VIP Tour Service experience, autographed copies of “The Sherman Brothers Songbook” and “Dream it! Do It!” by Martin Sklar, plus a Disney Vacation Club Gift Bag!

Make sure you take a peek at the Official Contest Rules before you enter!

 

Disney Vacation Club at Disney’s Polynesian

Disney Vacation Club announced that its planned next location will be at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, located on Seven Seas Lagoon at Walt Disney World Resort. When this resort is completed, Disney Vacation Club will have destinations at all three resorts on the monorail system, allowing easy access to Magic Kingdom Park.

The planned development project at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, when completed, will join Disney Vacation Club’s 12 other properties, including The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, scheduled to open Oct. 23. Construction on the Polynesian project began this month, and completion is estimated to be in 2015. In addition to the Disney Vacation Club project, other guest areas within Disney’s Polynesian Resort will undergo refurbishment. More information and project details will be shared at a later date.

Disney Vacation Club debuted in October 1991 with a flexible, vacation point-based model rather than the traditional fixed-week timeshare model. Disney Vacation Club is approaching a total of 200,000 member families from all 50 states and approximately 100 countries who have discovered the joys of membership.

Disney Vacation Club members are able to choose from among a variety of vacation destinations, including a stay at any Disney Vacation Club Resort or at more than 500 other destinations around the world, and when they purchase directly from Disney, members also can take trips on one of the Disney Cruise Line ships or guided vacations with Adventures by Disney. Additionally, vacations at a Disney Vacation Club Resort can last from one night to several weeks.

For more information about Disney Vacation Club, visit www.disneyvacationclub.com.

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Kona Cafe dining review

 

Kona Cafe
Kona Cafe

Kona Cafe at Disney’s Polynesian resort is one of my favorite go to table service restaurants at Walt Disney World. You can usually get in pretty easily with little to no wait unless it is a holiday. The restaurant is located on the second floor of the Great Ceremonial House, which is the main building that encompasses the resort’s restaurants, gift shops, arcade, lobby and front desk. Kona Cafe is open on one side to the walkway that circles the second level that is also open to the lobby below.

This restaurant is a great choice for a nice break from the parks if you want an affordable meal that has an Asian/Pacific flare. Many people have heard of the famous Tonga Toast (deep fried sourdough bread stuffed with bananas, dusted in cinnamon sugar and served with a strawberry sauce) that is served here for breakfast. I also love the Macadamia-Pineapple pancakes served with macadamia nut butter and pineapple sauce with a side of ham, bacon or sausage. It is one of my absolute favorite breakfasts on property! Pair that with authentic Kona coffee in a french pressed pot and I am in heaven! Although, this past trip two weeks ago I opted for the awesome Liliko’i Juice (an orange, passionfruit and mango blend)!

Tonga Toast
Tonga Toast
Kona Coffee
Kona Coffee
Macadamia Pineapple Pancakes
Macadamia Pineapple Pancakes
Kona Cafe
Kona Cafe

In addition to a fantastic breakfast menu, Kona Cafe offers plenty of choices for lunch and dinner too! The menus are very similar for lunch and dinner with some crossover and some unique items on each. Some of my favorite appetizers are the sticky wings, pot stickers and the Kona salad (which I’ve even recreated at home thanks to recipes). Now, full disclosure, I haven’t actually eaten at Kona Cafe for lunch, but I have been plenty of times for dinner.

Backscratcher
Backscratcher

At dinner, I almost always order a backscratcher (alcoholic drink with tropical juices, Jack Daniels and a dark rum floater, served with an actual backscratcher) to start the meal. The full bar from Tambu Lounge is available to order from if you don’t see anything on the regular menu that suits your fancy. For entrees, I love the Teriyaki-style New York Strip steak served with a fabulous teriyaki pineapple glaze, sticky rice and broccolini, and I don’t even like strip steak usually. My other favorite is the recently discovered Pan-seared duck breast.

Pan-seared duck breast
Pan-seared duck breast

I rarely have room for dessert, but the Kilauea Torte is definitely a house favorite with this Polynesian twist on a chocolate lava cake. I have also heard really good things about the pineapple upside down cake, but have not yet tried it myself.

Tuna Poke
Tuna Poke

Just adjacent to Kona Cafe is the Kona Island Coffee/Sushi Bar (depending on the time of day). Open for breakfast and dinner, this extension of Kona Cafe offers pastries and coffee to go or sit at the island bar in the morning. At night they offer a great sushi menu and drinks. My favorite rolls are the Volcano roll and the Tuna Poke. It is always fun to sit right at the bar and watch the sushi chefs make the rolls right in front of you!

Kona Cafe is a fun and casual atmosphere with solid choices for any meal if you are looking for an affordable option while taking a break from the Magic Kingdom. It is a good place for large parties, as I’ve been there recently with parties of 10-15 several times in the past few months. Due to it being open to the atrium below as well as sharing common areas with guests waiting for ‘Ohana, Tambu Lounge and those exiting the monorail, this isn’t exactly what I would choose for a quiet romantic meal. However, if you are looking for a good meal with a nice family friendly vibe, this is the place for you. Kona Cafe also takes Tables in Wonderland discounts, which is nice if you are visiting and opt to valet.

Have you been to Kona Cafe? What are some of your favorite dishes? What are you looking forward to trying next time? If you are looking for a more detailed look at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, check out my previous post here.

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Thanksgiving Dining at Walt Disney World

Mickey and the gang celebrating Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving image copyright Disney

If you are like me, and you are finding yourself at Walt Disney World over Thanksgiving and don’t have set plans yet, don’t fret. There are great dining options across property in both the parks and resorts. Some are even still available for dinner reservations at this point in time (11pm Wednesday, 11/14) (subject to change of course). Even if you don’t want to make a reservation for some of the restaurants for a Thanksgiving lunch or dinner, there are counter service locations that can still fill your craving for a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

 

Character Thanksgiving Meals

Some of the character meals across the parks and resorts are getting special treatment just for Thanksgiving. They offer holiday menus with many having traditional meals, with others focusing more on their own twist on the holiday fare. At the Contemporary Resort, Chef Mickey’s buffet is offering a Thanksgiving dinner. Across Bay Lake at Fort Wilderness, Mickey’s Backyard BBQ becomes Mickey’s Backyard Thanksgiving feast featuring turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and many of your favorites. In the parks, Tusker House, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, is having Donald’s Dining Safari Thanksgiving Lunch and then a non-character Thanksgiving meal for dinner. Walt Disney World Swan’s Garden Grove is having a character buffet dinner as well.

 

Table Service Thanksgiving Meals

Many of the restaurants in the parks are also providing meal options for the holiday. In the Magic Kingdom, Liberty Tree Tavern has both family style lunch and dinners. Also, the Diamond Horseshoe is hosting a table service dinner. At Epcot, the Biergarten in Germany has both Thanksgiving lunch and dinner options. Hollywood Studios has their buffet open for lunch and dinner as well as the Fantasmic dinner package. And, as already mentioned, in the Animal Kingdom, Tusker House is offering their dinner buffet.

At the resorts is where you will find most of the special holiday menus being offered. Artist Point at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge has a special prix fixe menu. Cape May Cafe at the Beach Club has a dinner buffet and the Captain’s Grille at the Yacht Club is serving both lunch and dinner buffets. At the Grand Floridian, Citrico’s has a prix fixe dinner menu. Also with a prix fixe menu is Flying Fish Cafe at the Boardwalk. For some a la carte menu options you could try lunch or dinner at the Grand Floridian Cafe. Still at that resort for dinner you can have a Thanksgiving dinner at Narcoossee’s. Trail’s End at Fort Wilderness is having a lunch and dinner buffet. At the Polynesian you have lunch or dinner at Kona Cafe, Olivia’s at Old Key West is also serving both meals, as are Sanaa at Kidani Village, the Wave at the Contemporary and the Turf Club at Saratoga Springs. For more family style meals, check out either Whispering Canyon Cafe at the Wilderness Lodge for lunch or dinner, or dinner at the Yachtsman Steakhouse at the Yacht Club.

Are you staying at the Walt Disney World Swan or Dolphin? If so, don’t worry, they have great options too! Fresh Mediterranean Market at the Dolphin is having a lunch buffet. The Swan’s Il Mulino is serving Thanksgiving dinner a la carte as is the Dolphin’s Todd English’s bluezoo. Downtown Disney even has some options for you at the House of Blues for dinner and Planet Hollywood for both lunch and dinner.

 

Counter Service Thanksgiving Meals

So, what if you, like me, have waited til the last minute and maybe there aren’t reservations available for your party of five? Don’t worry, Disney has that covered too. In Epcot, Sunshine Seasons, one of my favorite counter service options already, is supposed to be offering a special holiday menu too. Don’t want to go to a park, there’s a resort that has your name written all over it. At Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort, the End Zone Food Court is even getting into the holiday meal spirit with a Thanksgiving dinner from noon until 10pm with turkey, mashed potatoes, candied yams, vegetables, cranberry sauce, rolls and your choice of either apple or pumpkin pie for only $10.99 for guests 10 and up and $5.99 for children 3 to 9 (prices, times and menu items subject to change without notice).

 

All in all, it looks like Walt Disney World has some pretty great options of many varieties of cuisine and location for just about any appetite. Many of these options are on the Disney Dining Plan and as I mentioned, a few are even still available at this time. If you find yourself at WDW over the holiday, have a Happy Thanksgiving and happy eating!

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The Week in Review: July 23-27, 2012

Happy Sunday!!!

Here at On the Go we have been having another week of fun around Orlando, and it’s time to take a look back so we can Keep Moving Forward…So let’s go!!!

On Monday, we took at look at the new Oz: The Great and Powerful, opening March 8, 2013, trailer that was released. This looks like it is going to be an amazing movie!!!

Oz: The Great and Powerful will be released March 8, 2013

 

Then it is almost my favorite time of year again…Food and Wine Festival at Epcot!!! Aurora looked at the Eat to the Beat Concert Series line up for this year on Tuesday, and I am really excited!!! Sugar Ray, Boyz II Men, Smash Mouth, Gin Blossoms, Blues Traveler, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy are just a few of the bands that will be performing at this year’s series! You HAVE to check out one of these concerts if you are here for the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot!!!

The 2012 Eat to the Beat Concert Series is from September 28-November 12 at Epcot!!!

If your family is anything like mine, you have caught Wreck-It Ralph fever and November 2, 2012 needs to be here today! Tuesday we looked at the slew of talented actors from some of your favorite video games and movies that are lending their voices to this highly anticipated movie!

Wreck-It Ralph Hits Movie Theaters November 2, 2012

 

Wordless Wednesday took us to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, were we needed to be Quiet on the Set at The Great Movie Ride!

Quiet on the Set – The Great Movie Ride – Disney’s Hollywood Studios

 

The only thing cuter than a manatee is a rescued manatee that gave birth to an absolutely adorable calf! Our friends at SeaWorld rescued this momma manatee from Sykes Creek in Merritt Island, FL, because she had severe injuries to the front right flipper caused by a crab pot line. Mom and Calf are doing well and are as cute as can be!

Approximately six weeks after her rescue, rescued manatee gives birth to a calf at SeaWorld Orlando on the morning of July 18, 2012.

 

Thursday Betsy took us with us as she looked at her Happy Place at Walt Disney World where the Dole Whips flow…Disney’s Polynesian Resort. This post is filled with great photos, information, and delicious food that you can find at the Poly, and is sure to make you say Aloha to this amazing Deluxe Resort!

Congratulations! It’s a 100 Weedy Sea Dragons! Over at SeaWorld there is a rare birth about to take place, as a father Weedy Sea Dragon is taking care of 100 eggs that will hatch soon!

Nearly 100 small, pinkish eggs adorn a male weedy sea dragon. As with sea horses, male sea dragons are responsible for bearing young.

We closed out the week with one of the coolest things that we have done yet! The Gaylord Palms hosted a Christmas in July event where we found out about how Ice! will feature some of our favorite characters from Merry Madagascar and had a surprise performance from Vanilla Ice! We also take a peek inside this beautiful resort. How can you not love that???

Vanilla Ice killed it at the Gaylord Palms

Thanks for joining us this week at On the Go, and we can’t wait to bring you even more posts next week!!!

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My Happy Place – It Must Be the Dole Whips

The sounds of steel guitars and ukuleles skip across the lagoon and you immediately think “mahalo.” Sun sets off to your left as you sway peacefully in a hammock between two palm trees on the beach and you truly believe you are in heaven. To me, these are just a couple of the things I equate with my happy place, otherwise known as Disney’s Polynesian Resort. Now for those of you who don’t know, I love almost all things Hawaiian. My house is decorated in Hawaiiana, with tropical accents, travel posters, surf boards large and small, hibiscus prints, and even some vintage maps of the islands. This is right up my alley, but let me explain why so many others agree with me in choosing the Polynesian as their favorite deluxe resort at Walt Disney World.

Boutiki

One of three resorts that opened at WDW in 1971, along with the Contemporary and Fort Wilderness, this classic features some of the most beautiful landscaping on property. The resort is situated on the shores of the man made Seven Seas Lagoon and is directly across the lagoon from the Magic Kingdom. It is one of the three monorail resorts that is accessible to the Magic Kingdom, and it also offers boat transportation. I personally prefer the peaceful cruise by resort launch to the theme park as it relaxes me and is often less crowded than the monorails tend to be. The main building, the Great Ceremonial House, is home to the shops and restaurants as well as the front desk and monorail station. There are two shops on the first level in Boutiki and the Wyland Gallery. Boutiki is where you find mostly the latest and greatest Disney gifts and apparel in addition to resort specific merchandise. The Wyland Gallery is home to beautiful oceanographic art, some even featuring Disney characters in the paintings and sculptures. Upstairs you find Samoa Snacks (appropriately named for snacks and drinks) and Trader Jack’s which is aimed more at the kids with clothing, toys and games.

Disney’s Polynesian Resort features standard rooms that accommodate up to five guests plus an infant under three with two queen sized beds and a day bed, in addition to club level rooms and larger suites that can accommodate up to nine plus an infant. This is the only one of the deluxe resorts that can guarantee the bedding of two queens and a day bed, whereas it is a request at the other deluxe resorts aside from Animal Kingdom and Wilderness Lodges which offer two queen beds standard. The rooms are some of the largest at WDW and offer a mini fridge, coffeemaker, ceiling fan, full bath, desk area, complimentary wifi, and either a patio or a balcony.

Polynesian bed
Polynesian room
Polynesian room looking towards patio
Polynesian room day bed
Polynesian bathroom vanity
Polynesian fridge area
Polynesian room closets
Polynesian bathroom
Polynesian toilet room
Polynesian bathroom shower
Polynesian room tiki lamp
Polynesian room patio

A great draw to the resort is the variety of restaurants and bars between the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show (a luau!!!), ‘Ohana, Kona Cafe, Kona Island Coffee/Sushi Bar, Capt. Cook’s, Barefoot Pool Bar, Tambu Lounge, and of course, private dining. Now, being that this is my favorite resort in all of Walt Disney World, I have experienced the majority of these dining experiences with the exception of ‘Ohana for the character breakfast, Kona Cafe for lunch and private dining (WDW’s nomenclature for room service).

Spirit of Aloha
Kona Cafe
Capt. Cook’s
‘Ohana

The Spirit of Aloha in Luau Cove was a great time with good food and fun for kids and the adults with a story at the beginning and more adult geared cultural information and dances towards the end of the show. Capt. Cook’s is a wonderful counter service location on the first level of the Great Ceremonial House, and is one of only a handful on property that is open 24 hours (the grill is usually closed from 11pm to 6:30am). One of my favorite things ever is here in the self serve dole whip, which you can get in either pineapple, vanilla, or my favorite twist. I have been known to take my dole whip creating to a whole new level. 😉

Kona Cafe is located on the second level of the Great Ceremonial House and features awesome meals for breakfast like the infamous Tonga Toast (which you can also get at Capt. Cook’s), a thick slice of sourdough bread stuffed with sauteed bananas and covered in cinnamon sugar. Another great breakfast find is Kona coffee in a French press and the pineapple macadamia nut pancakes. Lunch and dinner offer nice salads, sandwiches, pot stickers, coconut chicken and an awesome teriyaki strip steak. The adjacent Kona Island Coffee Bar in the morning and Sushi Bar at night, shares the same menu and also offers a few other grab and go items in the morning. The tuna poke at the Sushi Bar is one of my go to quick, but delicious sushi meals on property. It is awesome being able to watch the sushi chefs prepare your meal right in front of you if you are lucky enough to get a seat right at the counter.

Tonga Toast
Kona Cafe pineapple macadamia nut pancakes
Kona coffee
Kona Island Sushi Bar tuna poke

Now if you like meat ‘Ohana is the place for you to go for dinner. The restaurant has an open concept and serves their meals family style, bringing the meat straight from the open wood fire grills. Shrimp, pork, chicken and beef are served off of giant skewers that are brought table side by the servers. Side dishes are just as tasty as the meats and accompanying dipping sauces. The salad features a honey lime vinaigrette that is one of the best in my opinion. Coconut bread, asian noodles, pot stickers and broccoli are also served with the meal. And then comes dessert. The bread pudding. Oh my goodness the bread pudding. Now in general, I am not a fan of bananas cooked in things or banana flavored food, despite the fact I love bananas themselves, but the bread pudding at ‘Ohana and the Tonga Toast at either Capt. Cook’s or Kona seem to be the exception to the rule. I don’t know what they do to it, but that bread pudding is magical. Thank goodness it is all you care to eat because you will be asking (maybe even begging) for more! As I mentioned, I haven’t had the breakfast at ‘Ohana, but I have heard great things about it and have snuck in to take a few pictures for the sake of reporting back to you fine folks. It looks like it is a great time with Mickey and friends (please be aware characters may vary), which on the day I visited featured Mickey in a very festive Hawaiian shirt as well as Pluto, Lilo and Stitch.

‘Ohana breakfast
‘Ohana breakfast view
‘Ohana asian noodles and broccoli
‘Ohana dinner bread pudding

Tambu Lounge is probably my favorite place to stop for an adult beverage at Disney World. It offers great views of the grounds and even a peek at Cinderella Castle across the lagoon. On top of this, it also is home to one of my favorite drinks, the backscratcher. This is not for the faint of heart as it consists of rum, more rum and some Jack Daniels, along with some tropical fruit juice and is typically garnished with an orange, a cherry, and of course a backscratcher. No, I’m not kidding. The drink is served in a hurricane type glass and comes with a backscratcher, which is usually placed in your drink by the bartender. It is fruity, but not too sweet, and hits the spot if you are just looking for a nice drink to help you unwind while in this tropical paradise. They also make a killer zombie as well as the standard fare found in almost all the bars across property. If pool bars are more your thing, check out the Barefoot Pool Bar for gorgeous views of the Nanea Volcano Pool and the beach as well as the Magic Kingdom. If mom and dad want to have an evening to themselves while enjoying a few cocktails they can always look into enrolling the kids (ages 3-12) at the Neverland Club from 4pm – 12am. This is the Children’s Activity Center located right at the Polynesian and offers a kid’s club atmosphere with dinner, snack, movies, games, arts and crafts (call for pricing). Hey, parents are on vacation too you know!

Tambu Lounge
Backscratcher
Zombie
The Neverland Club
Nanea volcano pool

Speaking of pools, the Polynesian offers two: the aforementioned Nanea Volcano Pool, which is the main theme pool complete with a slide running down the volcano and zero entry at one end, and the quiet pool. For views, I don’t think the main pool can be beat with a beautiful panorama of the beach and lagoon as well as a direct sight line to Cinderella Castle. The only thing I feel the resort is lacking is a hot tub. They offer great private cabanas with poolside service, restrooms and showers by the pool, hammocks on the beach, lounge chairs and the bar. Other recreation options at the resort can be found in pool activities and games like trivia, name that tune, diving for toys in the pool and dance parties. The resort also has its own marina, called the Mikala Canoe Club. Sea Raycers, pontoon boats, Boston Whalers, sailboats and bicycles can all be rented here. For those who favor more of the indoor activities, the Polynesian also has an arcade called Moana Mickey’s, which is next to Capt. Cook’s on the first level of the Great Ceremonial House.

Mikala Canoe Club

The beach at the Polynesian is beautiful and offers sweeping views of the Magic Kingdom resort area with the Wedding Pavilion and Grand Floridian to the left, the Magic Kingdom straight ahead, and Bay Lake Tower and the Contemporary to the right. One activity that I love to partake in when I stay at the Polynesian is the nightly movie on the beach. Each night (subject to cancellation due to inclement weather), the resort inflates a large movie screen and sets up lounge chairs on the beach for guests to watch a Disney movie free of charge. This is a great way to spend a nice evening at the resort relaxing after being on the go in the parks all day. Sometimes they even set up a small fire pit and sell smores kits or marshmallows to roast. Another classic, not to be missed nighttime display is the Electrical Water Pageant, which has been around since the 1970s, shortly after the resort opened. If you are lucky, you may even be able to time it right to where you can see Wishes from the beach of the Polynesian with the water pageant in front of you. Talk about magic!!!

combing the polynesian beach
Electrical water pageant and Wishes
Lobby
Polynesian beach featuring my hammock

I don’t know what it is about this resort that makes it just feel like home to me. Maybe it is the welcoming smell of grilled meats and the flickering tiki torches along with the mellifluous sounds of familiar (to me) Hawaiian music. Or it could be that I have a hammock on the beach that I have claimed as my own and I have spent many hours there enjoying the sounds of the faint train whistle off in the distance of the Magic Kingdom across the water. Perhaps it is the aesthetically pleasing tropical decor found across the common areas of the resort and in the rooms. Backscratchers are always a compelling draw, but no, I think it must be the dole whips. 🙂

me making my dole whip
me eating my dole whip
me with dole whip
dole whip

 

Please check out my youtube video of some more pictures from the Polynesian.

 

 

 

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Briana Alessio’s Look At Dole Whips…

I have to give a special shout out to Briana Alessio who is my special guest writer today! She is an awesome gal, and I can’t thank her enough for her post!!!

The Dole Whip.  Just saying it brings a smile to the face of many.  Whether you are a fan of fruit or not, this is definitely worth a try.  Located in The Walt Disney World Resort, you can get one at either Captain Cook’s at the Polynesian Resort or at the Magic Kingdom’s Aloha Isle in Adventureland.

Aloha Isle’s menu of assorted Dole Whip treats consists of two different treats: The Dole Whip Soft Serve in pineapple, vanilla, orange, or swirl ice cream for $3.49, or the Pineapple Float which is a pineapple Dole Whip served with pineapple juice for $4.49.  Aloha Isle also offers a Coca Cola or Barq’s Root Beer Float served with vanilla Dole Whip for $4.19.  They also have various other beverages and a couple of additional snack offers.  (Note: The Magic Kingdom does not serve alcohol so you will not find any here or anywhere throughout the park.)

Captain Cook’s is a 24 hour eatery located inside on the 1st floor of the Polynesian Resort.  They offer breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and snacks in portions for both adults and children.  (For a lunch or dinner recommendation, a few friends of mine highly suggest trying the Adult Grilled Cheese Sandwich.  Using a mix of cheddar, blue, and Swiss cheeses along with frisee and tomato, this is served on sunflower multigrain bread with specialty Poly chips.  All for $7.99!).  When I get distracted discussing food, I lose train of thought…right, the Dole Whip!  Captain Cook’s offers a Dole Whip self-serve machine which you can access at any hour of the night.  I, along with a few great friends, went there at midnight last year and had a Dole Whip party.  Even at small places like these, you can have memories which will last a lifetime!!

Personally, I think they are super fantastic.  My first one was this past October.  I tried the soft serve pineapple from Aloha Isle with my friends James and Tammy.  I devoured the whole thing in about five minutes flat.  I had the next one the day after that at Captain Cook’s, where I made myself a soft serve swirl.  I cannot decide which one I enjoyed more!!  It is seriously the best frozen treat which I, and many others, have ever had.

I cannot wait to return in May to have one again!!!  Or two.  Or three.  Or….

Briana and her Dole Whip!
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