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.
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.”
One year from now, stepping into Disney’s Polynesian Resort in Orlando could be a much different experience. With construction on the 42-year-old iconic hotel’s timeshare additions in full swing, work appears to be moving forward on the resort’s nerve center, the Great Ceremonial House.
Last week, Disney World officially announced that the Great Ceremonial House – the giant A-frame building designed after a Tahitian royal assembly lodge – will be refurbished from March through December. Capt. Cook’s, the 24-hour quick-service restaurant perhaps most well-known for its self-service Dole Whip machine, will be closed during dates to be announced from some time in March until June. The adjacent Wyland Gallery has already closed and won’t be re-opening. No other specific restaurant or store closings or changes have been officially announced.
Disney is tight-lipped, as usual, about exactly what the Great Ceremonial House will look like when work is complete. But Polynesian insider Steve Seifert is reporting on his authoritative Tikiman Pages website that the long-rumored addition of Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar is expected to be completed by February 2015. This report, along with all the official dates, comes with the usual caveat that Disney reserves the right to take as much time as it needs, pushing projects well into the future.
New reports have surfaced about renovations at Disney World’s Polynesian Resort that indicate the precise location of Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar, plus a subtle re-theming in the spirit of the Disney parks’ iconic Adventureland. The massive construction project that may eventually bring the popular Disneyland lounge to the East Coast now appears certain to begin in September.
As recently reported here and elsewhere, new information suggests that Trader Sam’s is slated to be included in renovations that will bring timeshare buildings to the Orlando resort. Some of these may include traditional Tahitian huts built over Seven Seas Lagoon with a view of the Magic Kingdom park.
Now, finally, there are confirmed reports that the construction is about to begin. On Aug. 16, the venerable Touring Plans website posted news on its blog that a renovation project at the hotel may affect some of the guest rooms in the Hawaii, Tokelau, Rapa Nui and Tahiti longhouse buildings beginning in September.
The construction will also affect the east parking lot near Rapa Nui as well as beach access on that side of the resort, including the Sunset Point area. The Touring Plans blog makes it clear that there has been no announcement from Disney about the addition of Disney Vacation Club timeshare villas at the Polynesian, but this is not unusual. DVC additions to the nearby Grand Floridian Resort were not announced until construction was well under way.
Rumors have swirled for years about the future of Disney’s Polynesian Resort, the 40-year-old iconic hotel and one of the Magic Kingdom’s two original resorts.
Affectionately known as “The Poly,” this sprawling 39-acre homage to the South Seas was one of the original two hotels built on the monorail line before the Magic Kingdom’s opening on Oct. 1, 1971. It was actually the first to open, beating the flagship Contemporary Resort by hours and hosting the press on opening day.
Like the Magic Kingdom, the Polynesian has remained true to Walt’s original vision (he was a fan of mid-century Tiki culture and explored the Pacific on vacations). Unlike the Contemporary, it has remained essentially the same stylistically, but with many upgrades to infrastructure and amenities over the years to keep it modern and comfortable.
But times are changing. Two major factors may be pushing massive renovations onto the Polynesian, though Disney officially remains tight-lipped on any speculation.