Disney World rushes to finish Polynesian Village Resort renovations, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto

Though an official announcement has not yet been made, fans of Disney World’s Polynesian Village Resort are salivating at the prospects of the long-awaited Tiki bar Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto opening as early as the end of March.

See below: Recent photos of the Polynesian Village Resort construction, renovations
* See all our updates on the Polynesian refurbishment

A look across the second floor toward Kona Cafe. (Feb. 26, 2015)
A look across the second floor toward Kona Cafe. (Feb. 26, 2015)

The leading non-Disney authority on the Polynesian, Steve “Tikiman” Seifert, is predicting an opening of the East Coast’s version of Disneyland’s popular Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar as early as Thursday, March 26. This would coincide with the completion of much of the construction on the resort’s main pool, which has been undergoing a massive renovation since closing in July.

The reason for this rush to complete construction is the announced April 1 opening of the first phase of the resort’s Disney Vacation Club (DVC) timeshare units. On that date, the Polynesian Village will welcome the first guests to its 20 high-profile Bora Bora Bungalows, which were built over the water on Seven Seas Lagoon, off the beach on the east side of the resort. Also opening are some of the deluxe studio units in the Moorea and Pago Pago longhouses that have also been under renovation. These buildings were formerly known as Tahiti and Rapa Nui, but have now returned to their original names.

Construction work at the Polynesian, particularly around the pool and Trader Sam’s, seems to be moving at a rapid pace. Much of the work being done outdoors, though walled off, is in clear view of guests who have been sharing a steady stream of photos online. Seifert was there in late February, and he published a full report on his website with news on renovations and changes throughout the resort. He’s also posting photos and reports sent to him by guests almost daily on his Polynesian Resort Facebook page. Seifert also shared some news and answered questions on last week’s Enchanted Tiki Talk podcast. [Click to listen].

The service bar for Trader Sam's Grog Grotto, the roofed structure to the right, is being built on the back of the Great Ceremonial House.  (Feb. 26, 2015)
The service bar for Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, the roofed structure to the right, is being built on the back of the Great Ceremonial House. (Feb. 26, 2015)

The Atomic Grog also visited the Polynesian in late February, and we got our first look at the reimagined lobby of the Great Ceremonial House, as well as the massive work in progress. On the day we were there, there was a lot of activity around Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto and the outdoor patio that the bar/restaurant will share with the neighboring counter-service restaurant, Captain Cook’s. Unfortunately, nobody has been able to get a peek behind the doors to see what magic Disney’s Imagineers have cooked up for guests of the immersive Tiki bar. Scroll down to see photos from last week, plus our December visit.

Continue reading “Disney World rushes to finish Polynesian Village Resort renovations, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto”

The Week in Tiki (Feb. 9, 2015): The Hukilau website and Tiki Tower Takeover tickets, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto drinks

The Week in TikiAloha, and welcome to a new feature on The Atomic Grog spotlighting the latest news and information on the Polynesian Pop revival and wide world of retro-themed entertainment. Every Monday, look for a new blog post that previews what’s coming up and looks back at the highlights of the previous week. The Week in Tiki will attempt to cover all the major happenings across the world, with a focus on our home base, Florida and the U.S. East Coast. In keeping with the theme of the blog, look for updates on events, music, art, cocktails and culture, along with our obsession with Disney World. We’ll also celebrate our favorite spirit, rum, and spotlight a different cocktail recipe every week. Sit back, relax … and enjoy!
* Keep up with The Week in Tiki: Facebook page | RSS feed | See past weeks
* Weekly features: Artist | Website | Band/music | Tiki bar | Rum | Cocktail | Events

Sorry we’re a little late today, but we had breaking news on The Hukilau to post. Enjoy your Week in Tiki!

THIS WEEK’S HIGHLIGHTS (Feb. 9-15, 2015)

Get your tickets now for The Hukilau’s mixology summit,
cruise with Dawn Wells of ‘Gilligan’s Island’

The Hukilau

The Hukilau has announced final details and ticket sales for its two signature events during the June 10-14 Tiki weekender in Fort Lauderdale. You’ll want to act now before these sell out:

* The Tiki Tower Takeover features four of the country’s top barmen – Jeff Beachbum Berry (Latitude 29, New Orleans), Martin Cate (Smuggler’s Cove, San Francisco), Paul McGee (Lost Lake, Chicago) and Brian Miller (Tiki Mondays with Miller, New York City) – as they each serve up a cocktail in the revolving Pier Top Lounge on the 17th floor of the Pier 66 hotel on the Fort Lauderdale’s Intracoastal Waterway. This special event takes place on Thursday, June 11, at 4 p.m. Tickets are $69.

Dawn Wells
A vintage photo of Dawn Wells during the ‘Gilligan’s Island’ heyday in the 1960s. She’ll taking a three-hour cruise with The Hukilau villagers in June.

* And announced for the first time: The Hukilau welcomes a very special guest – actress Dawn Wells from Gilligan’s Island – for a “Three Hour Tour” Cruise on Fort Lauderdale’s inland waterways. Limited to 300 people, the cruise aboard a yacht will include open bar, food, Tiki tunes and more. The event is set for Friday, June 12, at noon. Tickets are $99 if you buy a wristband pass for The Hukilau, $149 without a pass.

The Hukilau’s new website is now live with complete coverage of the event, including a daily schedule, entertainer and band profiles, bartender bios, full details on all the symposiums, plus lots more.

Continue reading “The Week in Tiki (Feb. 9, 2015): The Hukilau website and Tiki Tower Takeover tickets, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto drinks”

The Week in Tiki (Jan. 19, 2015): Tickets on sale for The Hukilau, Miami Rum Fest; Lost Lake opens in Chicago

The Week in TikiAloha, and welcome to a new feature on The Atomic Grog spotlighting the latest news and information on the Polynesian Pop revival and wide world of retro-themed entertainment. Every Monday, look for a new blog post that previews what’s coming up and looks back at the highlights of the previous week. The Week in Tiki will attempt to cover all the major happenings across the world, with a focus on our home base, Florida and the U.S. East Coast. In keeping with the theme of the blog, look for updates on events, music, art, cocktails and culture, along with our obsession with Disney World. We’ll also celebrate our favorite spirit, rum, and spotlight a different cocktail recipe every week. Sit back, relax … and enjoy!
* Keep up with The Week in Tiki: Subscribe to the RSS feed | See past weeks
* Weekly features: Artist | Website | Band/music | Tiki bar | Rum | Cocktail | Events

LAST WEEK IN REVIEW (Jan. 12-18, 2015)

It was a very busy week in the Tiki universe. Here’s a look back at the highlights. Click here or scroll down for info on how to keep us in the loop.

The Hukilau tickets include six symposiums on Tiki culture
The Hukilau 2015
It’s time to book your room and secure your tickets for the 14th annual gathering of Polynesian Pop devotees in Fort Lauderdale on June 10-14. A new, temporary website launched on Tuesday (Jan. 13) with an impressive lineup of symposiums covering an assortment of fascinating mid-century icons, such as Disney World’s original Polynesian Village Resort (by Disney artists Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily), Florida’s Tiki Gardens, and Southern California’s Pacific Ocean Park. In addition, Tiki cocktail historian Jeff “Beachbum” Berry will join forces with New York City’s Brian Miller to present an in-depth analysis of the Planter’s Punch. Also announced was an entertainment lineup featuring some new (Alika Lyman Group) and old (The Intoxicators, Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid) faces. The Hukilau will be hosted for the first time by the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 hotel, with additional events at the venerable Mai-Kai restaurant.

Coming soon, more details and tickets for a”Tiki Tower Takeover” by Berry, Miller and two other stars of the modern cocktail scene: Martin Cate (Smuggler’s Cove) and Paul McGee (Lost Lake). The special event will take place on Thursday, June 11, in the hotel’s 17th-floor, revolving Pier Top Ballroom.
* Get your event passes and tickets | Reserve a hotel room
* Full coverage from The Atomic Grog

Continue reading “The Week in Tiki (Jan. 19, 2015): Tickets on sale for The Hukilau, Miami Rum Fest; Lost Lake opens in Chicago”

The Hukilau announces six historic symposiums, ticket sales for June event in Fort Lauderdale

Tickets are now on sale for The Hukilau, the June 10-14 gathering of Polynesian Pop enthusiasts in Fort Lauderdale that boasts an impressive lineup of six symposiums by noted authors, artists and filmmakers. The 14th annual event will also include more live music, artists and vendors than ever before, plus a one-of-a-kind cocktail experience.

February update: The Hukilau welcomes Tiki’s top bartenders, Dawn Wells
Order now: Event passes and tickets, hotel reservations at TheHukilau.com
See below: Tickets and schedule | Symposiums | Entertainers

The Hukilau

The five days of activities will be headquartered at a new host hotel, the iconic Pier 66, a mid-century landmark that towers 17 stories above the south end of Fort Lauderdale Beach. Events will also be held at The Mai-Kai, the historic Tiki restaurant that has been home base for The Hukilau since 2003.

The Hukilau: June 10-14, 2015, at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 and The Mai-Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. Musical guests and performers: Alika Lyman Group, The Intoxicators, Gold Dust Lounge, Pablus, Slip and the Spinouts, Kinky Waikiki, Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid, King Kukulele. Symposium presenters: Arthur Dong, Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily, Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and Brian Miller, Domenic Priore, Jeff Chenault, Jon Bortles and Tiki Gardener.
* Latest updates: The Hukilau on Facebook | The Atomic Grog: The Week in Tiki

Tiki history is the focus of six special symposiums just announced for The Hukilau this year. Topics include idolized mid-century attractions such as Disney World’s original Polynesian Village Resort, Florida’s Tiki Gardens, Southern California’s Pacific Ocean Park, and The Kahiki supper club in Ohio.

The Hyatt Regency Pier 66
The Hyatt Regency Pier 66 overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway in Fort Lauderdale.

As usual, an eclectic lineup of musical acts has been assembled to keep the party lively. The Alika Lyman Group features the Hawaii-born nephew of exotica legend Arthur Lyman, performing a musical tribute that ranges from exotica to jazz to classic Hawaiian. Also performing will be Tallahassee instrumental surf stalwarts The Intoxicators, Miami surf-spy-jazz combo Gold Dust Lounge, Georgia’s loungy Hawaiian music group Kinky Waikiki, Tiki-inspired singer-songwriter Pablus from Tampa, and South Florida roots rockers Slip and the Spinouts. And it wouldn’t’ be The Hukilau without master of ceremonies King Kukulele and a performance or two by Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid.

Continue reading “The Hukilau announces six historic symposiums, ticket sales for June event in Fort Lauderdale”

The Week in Tiki (Jan. 12, 2015): The Hukilau ticket sales, Polynesian Village bungalows, Lost Lake coming to Chicago

The Week in TikiAloha, and welcome to a new feature on The Atomic Grog spotlighting the latest news and information on the Polynesian Pop revival and wide world of retro-themed entertainment. Every Monday, look for a new blog post that previews what’s coming up and looks back at the highlights of the previous week. The Week in Tiki will attempt to cover all the major happenings across the world, with a focus on our home base, Florida and the U.S. East Coast. In keeping with the theme of the blog, look for updates on events, music, art, cocktails and culture, along with our obsession with Disney World. We’ll also celebrate our favorite spirit, rum, and spotlight a different cocktail recipe every week. Sit back, relax … and enjoy!
* Keep up with The Week in Tiki: Subscribe to the RSS feed
* Weekly features: Artist | Band/music | Tiki bar | Rum | Cocktail | Website | Events

THIS WEEK’S HIGHLIGHTS (Jan. 12-18, 2015)

The Hukilau to announce symposiums, ticket sales

A vintage photo of the Pier 66 hotel in Fort Lauderdale
A vintage photo of the Pier 66 hotel in Fort Lauderdale, site of The Hukilau in June 2015.

Expect a major announcement this week from The Hukilau, the annual Tiki event in Fort Lauderdale that draws enthusiasts from around the world. Passes and tickets will be going on sale for the June 10-14 festivities, which for the first time will take place at the iconic Hyatt Regency Pier 66 hotel along with the historic Mai-Kai restaurant. [See previous story] The impressive entertainment lineup will include six symposiums on Tiki and Polynesian Pop history. More details will also be released on author and fledgling bar owner Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s special event in the hotel’s signature Pier Top Lounge. The musical lineup will include an array of exotica, jazz, surf and rockabilly bands. For updates, check TheHukilau.com and the Facebook page. The Atomic Grog will also have full coverage.

Continue reading “The Week in Tiki (Jan. 12, 2015): The Hukilau ticket sales, Polynesian Village bungalows, Lost Lake coming to Chicago”

Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto design, merchandise revealed during Mahaloween event at Disneyland

UPDATES: Disney rushes to finish Polynesian renovations, Trader Sam’s (March 2015)

Fans of the much-anticipated Tiki bar coming soon to the Polynesian Village Resort at Walt Disney World were treated to a sneak preview during the inaugural Mahaloween Luau at Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at the Disneyland Hotel. Disney Imagineers showed off a logo T-shirt and several mug prototypes, along with some insight on the design and theming of Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto.

See below: Tikiman’s Mahaloween recap, photos | Polynesian Village Resort updates
Bonus cocktail recipe: A tribute to the Uh Oa! from Trader Sam’s
Past coverage: Say aloha to Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at Disney’s Polynesian Village
See all our updates on the Polynesian refurbishment

A T-shirt featuring a Trader Sam's Grog Grotto logo was displayed at Mahaloween Luau on Sept. 29
A T-shirt featuring a Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto logo was displayed at Mahaloween Luau on Sept. 29. (Photo by EPCOT Explorer)

The event on Monday, Sept. 29, was a seasonal-themed party that included food and drinks, live music, exclusive merchandise, and a presentation by Walt Disney Imagineering on the past, present and future of Tiki at the Disney parks. Among those in attendance was Steve “Tikiman” Seifert, who keeps fans of the Polynesian Village Resort updated on all the recent changes and refurbishments with his authoritative website and Facebook page. Seifert kept an eye out for news on the Polynesian and the Grog Grotto, and he gave us a full report after the event. Check out his photos and more insights on Mahaloween below. Thanks also to EPCOT Explorer for his photos.

Amid all the construction and re-imagining of the Polynesian, Disney has released very little info about its new Trader Sam’s outpost in Orlando since a big announcement and release of concept art on May 2 [See The Atomic Grog’s story and photos]. And while Imagineers Brandon Kleyla and Kyle Barnes didn’t drop any bombshells, they did provide a few visual and informational treats. Kleyla, in fact, was wearing an orange T-shirt featuring a Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto logo that will likely soon become a merchandise item. A blue shirt was also shown during the presentation. Kleyla, who grew up in Florida and frequented Disney World in his youth, was the Imagineering set decorator for Trader Sam’s in Anaheim, bringing to life an immersive environment that borrows heavily from classic Disney attractions such at the Jungle Cruise, Enchanted Tiki Room and Adventurer’s Club [See interview].

Veteran Imagineer Kyle Barnes, who had a lead role in the Disneyland Hotel bar’s design, took the mic to talk about the concept behind Disney’s second lounge “owned” by Trader Sam, the infamous “head salesman” on the Jungle Cruise attraction at Disneyland and Disney World. Barnes said that while the Disneyland location celebrates the Jungle Cruise and a 1930s African Queen aesthetic, the Disney World bar will synch up with the Magic Kingdom and feature more of a “technicolor” look and feel.

One of the new mug designs for the Polynesian Village Resort, as seen at Mahaloween Luau at Disneyland
One of the new mug designs for the Polynesian Village Resort, as seen at Mahaloween Luau at Disneyland. (Photo by EPCOT Explorer)

Barnes also confirmed suspicions that have made the rounds since the concept art was released showing a giant squid tentacle behind the bar [See photo]. The Grog Grotto will celebrate the classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, “with various props from that attraction,” he said.

A nautical theme makes perfect sense considering a grotto is often a small cave near water. And it will be located just across Seven Seas Lagoon from the Magic Kingdom and Adventureland, which includes Trader Sam’s home in the exotic rivers of the Jungle Cruise, as well as the animatronic tikis in the Enchanted Tiki Room. The T-shirt logo also includes a giant squid, so don’t be surprised if the Grog Grotto features a backstory about Sam’s adventures on and beneath the sea.

Continue reading “Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto design, merchandise revealed during Mahaloween event at Disneyland”

Say aloha to Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

UPDATES: Disney rushes to finish Polynesian renovations, Trader Sam’s (March 2015)
Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto design, merchandise revealed (October 2014)

At the colorful crossroads where Disneyphiles and Tikiphiles meet, there’s a new date to be honored and celebrated annually with a rum-fueled fervor. May 2 will forever be known as the day that Trader Sam packed up his collection of curios and headed to Disney World.

Bonus cocktail recipe: The Trader’s Polynesian Aloha Grog
Past coverage: See all our updates on the Polynesian refurbishment

A rendering provided by Disney World shows Trader Sam's Grog Grotto as it may appear at Disney World when it opens in 2015
A rendering provided by Disney World shows Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto as it may appear at Disney World when it opens in 2015. Note the tribute to ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.’

His final destination: Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, the reimagined flagship hotel that has been rechristened with its original name from 1971’s grand opening, the day Disney World opened its gates in Orlando. More than 42 years later, the vintage South Seas-themed luxury hotel is in the midst of one of its largest refurbishments ever.

And what a name he has chosen for his newest Tiki lounge: Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, which promises to expand on the Adventureland-meets-Adventurer’s Club vibe of his original location, Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at the Disneyland Hotel. To celebrate Sam’s imminent arrival, we’ve concocted a welcome-to-Florida grog, which you can find below.

After years of speculation and unconfirmed reports, Walt Disney World Resort President George A. Kalogridis made the announcement on Friday, May 2, confirming what everyone could see happening at Disney’s Polynesian Resort and putting all rumors to rest: “This year, we started reimagining the feature pool, and the centerpiece of the iconic resort, the Great Ceremonial House. We’re also adding Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, inspired by the guest favorite at Disneyland. Trader Sam’s will continue the evolution of food and beverage offerings across our parks and resorts.”

Continue reading “Say aloha to Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort”