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.

 

old poly lobby

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.

Beyond Neverland-Watching Illuminations Outside of Epcot

Our recent trip to WDW included a non-park “Beyond Neverland” day.  We had heard that you could see part of Epcot’s Illuminations, if you stood on the bridge that connects the Boardwalk Resort to the International Gateway, the back entrance to Epcot in World Showcase.  That evening, after Mama Darling and Emily returned from Morimoto Asia we all took a leisurely stroll around the Epcot resorts.  Around 9:00, we made our way to the aforementioned bridge and noticed a huge crowd!  We weren’t expecting to see much, as a lot of Illuminations is centered around lower level pyrotechnics and lasers, but we could see all the fireworks that shoot off into the air.  We also could hear the music coming from Epcot, which was an unexpected surprise.

Here’s a brief video of our view:

We did notice that because the higher fireworks go off and then there is a lull in the action (when the lower level parts are happening) about half of the people left the area before the grand finale.  So they missed the best part of the show! Now this isn’t something we would go out of our way to do, like viewing Wishes from outside of the Magic Kingdom (where you can see and hear the whole show), but since we were staying in the area it was fun to experience.  The Boardwalk area in general is a nice place to explore in the evening.  As a mini bonus, we could see the higher fireworks from Fantasmic while we were in our room at the Dolphin. Maybe someday we’ll splurge for one of the Epcot view rooms on the upper level of the Dolphin and enjoy Illuminations from our balcony. We can dream, right?

To Book or Not to Book?

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This year I don’t have any plans for the upcoming holidays.  My husband and I will celebrate Thanksgiving together and then he is traveling north to see family for Christmas.  I will stay in Florida where it’s warm and will work, only being off Christmas day.  I have trips planned for the weekend of December 11th for the festive decorations, etc. and at the end of January to celebrate Mama Darling’s birthday.  The past couple of weeks I have been toying with booking a trip in between the two planned ones right after the New Year from January 1st through the 3rd.  I found a decent rate at the Dolphin,  however for some reason I’m not biting the bullet.  Let’s take a look at the pros and cons:

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A Vacation Tip When Plans Change

A little over month ago, I had posted the excitement for an upcoming trip – only to have to make an unfortunate last minute cancellation due to Molly’s illness.  It was past the 5 day window of being able to cancel without penalty so I wasn’t sure if I should go by myself or not.  Luckily, I knew from past experience I could reschedule and not lose any money.

A Vacation Tip When Plans Change:

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Getting Excited for Our Next Trip

One of my favorite things about being a Florida Resident Passholder is being able to escape to WDW for quick weekend trips.  I usually try to take advantage of holiday weekends so I can get away without using a vacation day.  Luckily we have one soon and I was able to convince Molly to join me even though she was just there (note: it wasn’t hard).  I live on the East Coast of Florida, about 2 1/2 hours from WDW, and Molly lives on the West Coast less than 2 hours from WDW.  It’s the perfect spot to meet in the middle!

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Beyond Neverland – Choosing a Resort

Beyond Neverland – A Disney Vacation Without Setting Foot in the Parks ~ Learn More Here!

The most important consideration for us was the resort we were going to stay at.  We typically like to stay at a Moderate Resort (Port Orleans Riverside is our current favorite) or Pop Century, but we’ve been known to splurge on a Deluxe Resort when we can get a good pass holder rate.  For this trip we were spending 2 nights – a Saturday and a Sunday. We wanted to experience a Deluxe Resort because we knew we would have the time to explore and relax at the resort.  After seeing which hotel offered the best passholder rate, we decided on the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  We had stayed there once before and knew it would be the perfect spot.  Of course, if Animal Kingdom Lodge is not in your budget, you can still visit and explore the resort.

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