Beyond Neverland : Relaxing in the Tiki Room?

Trader Sams

One of the things we rarely have time to do on “normal” trips to Disney is tour the resort hotels extensively. After our ride on the Highway in the Sky we decided to transfer monorails to the resort loop and ride on over to one of our favorite hotels on property – Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. There’s something about departing the monorail at the Polynesian and smelling the scent when you walk into the hotel lobby that brings back so many memories. We don’t know what it is, but we hope it never goes away.

 

They recently refurbished the lobby, and while it’s not quite as good as it used to be, it still captures the essence of being whisked away to the Hawaiian Islands.

 

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Old Lobby

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New Lobby

It is also interesting to note that the time was around 3:15pm and people were already lined up for ‘dinner’ at ‘Ohana that begins at 3:30pm. After making our way downstairs and out towards the pool and beach, we looped around and came back in through a side door that just happened to be right by Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto and Tiki Bar – a somewhat new establishment at the Poly that opened in 2015, which is based on Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at the Disneyland Hotel. We knew they only take guests on a first-come first-served basis and the opening time was just 15 minutes away, so we figured why not try it? We placed  our name on a wait list and shortly after opening we were buzzed and were told to select a seat.

At first glance Trader Sam’s really looks like the famous Enchanted Tiki Room located in the Magic Kingdom. It’s a dark room with lots of wood accents and a thatched ceiling, and “windows” provide a view of a tropical landscape.The cozy bar has a limited capacity of 51, and the name of the bar and many of its details are related to the Jungle Cruise. We wish they would give tours of the room outside of operating hours, because there are hundreds of details to examine. The menu offers some Polynesian themed appetizers and the cocktail menu has drinks such as Polynesian Pearl, Shrunken Zombie Head, and Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Rum, many of which are served in souvenir glasses. While we enjoyed drinks that did not come in souvenir glasses, some people that we met had the Nautilus, and the souvenir glass was pretty impressive!

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Another reason this bar is so unique is the cast members. The bartenders and servers are really friendly and wacky, and when certain drinks are ordered it sets off a chain reaction of events that happen. Here’s a video of some of the antics…

 

It was really cool to kick back in our comfy chairs and relax for as long as we wanted. Even though the bar was tiny, there was no pressure to leave. The AC was very nice considering the heat index was over 100 that day as well. What we enjoy most about our “Beyond Neverland” trips is that we don’t have to plan or stick to a schedule. We just happened to walk by Trader Sam’s right before it opened and decided, why not, let’s check it out! We also met some locals who were doing the same thing as us….riding the resort loop and checking out the different resorts and not going to the parks. We definitely recommend Trader Sam’s, and if you don’t want to have a long wait, then be sure to get there before it opens at 4pm.

Staying off property…again…?

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Photo credit for all photos: Wyndham Hotels and Resorts

 

As you probably know by now, we almost always stay at a WDW resort mostly because we don’t like to leave “the bubble.” Being immersed in the magic 24 hours a day is what we thrive on and at one time was all we ever knew. We’ve started expanding our horizons , and this past week I had the opportunity to try another off property resort. A few months ago, my husband mentioned he had a conference at the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista, located on Hotel Plaza Boulevard next to Disney Springs. When he told me the dates and location I told him I was “in” immediately. While he listened and learned about earthquakes I could play in the parks on my own! We also extended our stay an extra night so we wouldn’t have to drive back to Jacksonville on a Friday evening in rush hour traffic. As an added perk, his company paid for our first two hotel nights as well as mileage and his meals. Score!

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From the moment we pulled up I got such a good vibe. Valet parking and self parking are the same reasonable rate ($8), so we used valet as we knew we wouldn’t be driving until we left. It was really convenient being able to unload and not worry about parking the car. Check in was a breeze and we were treated with excellent service. We had a room in the main tower on the 17th floor and it was nice and clean and very quiet.

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The entire place was really relaxing and calming. I made use of their fitness center twice and was impressed at the machines and the cleanliness, as well as towels and water that is offered.

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I took advantage of the hotel bus system once and it wasn’t bad. They depart on the hour and half hour so it was nice to know when to be down for the bus. From pick up to walking into the Magic Kingdom it took me 45 minutes total. For return from the parks, I didn’t write down the locations of where they pick up, so instead I took a bus to Saratoga Springs and walked from there. From the bus stop to my room it was 15 minutes (though I admit I’m a power walker). I did not try any of their restaurants, but it is worth noting they have a 24 hour quick service option located in the hotel lobby.

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My favorite amenity was the proximity to Disney Springs. As mentioned before, if you aren’t staying near the Springs, it’s quite a headache driving or taking a bus to the area. The traffic is usually bad as the roads going into the area get jammed up, especially in the evenings. All 3 nights we simply walked over and were there within 5 minutes since the hotel is literally located next to a pedestrian bridge. It was great being able to really take our time at Disney Springs without being rushed. We also took a few boat rides to the different Disney resorts for fun (Port Orleans Riverside and Old Key West).

If the price was right and I wanted to spend some time at Disney Springs, I would certainly stay here again. It may not be fully submerged in the Disney magic, but it’s definitely close enough for me!

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Our First Time Staying “Off Property” At WDW

Recently we had some issues booking a Disney resort for our latest trip, so we began to consider off property options.  We looked at the Downtown Disney resort area, Celebration, and the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resorts.  Ultimately, we just couldn’t bring ourselves to be outside the 47 square miles.

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