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Review: Is Trader Sam’s better at Disney World or Disneyland?

Review: Is Trader Sam’s better at Disney World or Disneyland?

Did you know you can dine at Trader Sam’s at both US Disney Parks? It’s true! Which one is the “better” Trader Sam’s?

Trader Sam’s

Credit: Susan

Does the name Trader Sam sound familiar to you? You may know him as the famed Adventureland explorer who traveled the world looking for treasures. You will see nods to him on the Jungle Cruise attraction at both Disneyland and Disney World. Sam also became close with Dr. Alberta Falls, the S.E.A. (Society of Explorers and Adventurers) member who founded the Jungle Navigation Company and has a private room in the Skipper Canteen restaurant.

The Society of Explorers and Adventurers is a central element at various Disney theme park attractions around the world. Members include Barnabas T. Bullion (owner of Big Thunder Mining Company), Jock Lindsay (owner of Jock Lindsay’s Hangar Bar in Disney Springs), Lord Henry Mystic (Mystic Manor), and Captain Mary Oceaneer (from Miss Adventure Falls at Typhoon Lagoon).

Not only is Trader Sam a witch doctor and shrunken head salesman but also a bartender as well! So, how did he get involved in the bartending business? Many years ago, he was bitten by the bartending bug. And ever since then, Sam has searched for exotic ingredients to mix into magical libations.

Disney World

Credit: Monica

Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto and Tiki Bar is, hands down, the most popular lounge in Disney World. It has such a laid-back and relaxing island vibe, and everyone wants a table here.

You can find Trader Sam’s at the Polynesian Resort on the first floor of the Great Ceremonial House. If you head over towards Capt. Cook’s, you will a plain brown door with a little sign that reads “Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto” and that’s it. You won’t find an elaborate building with a giant sign or anything like that. It’s entirely possible to walk by it without realizing what it actually is.

Trader Sam’s is open from 3:00 pm to 12:00 am daily. Children are allowed inside before 8:00 pm. This is great news for adults who want to check this place out but don’t have childcare arranged for their children on vacation. However, after 8:00 pm the lounge is only for Guests 21 and up.


Credit: Monica

Over at Disneyland Hotel, guests can find a tropical hideaway at Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar. Diners can enjoy the over-the-top theming of Trader Sam’s while also enjoying the delicious menu options of Tangaroa Terrace Tropical Bar & Grill. This means there are lot of menu options (including kid options)!

You can find Trader Sam’s by heading to the very middle of the hotel. It is located right next to the main pool; just look for the Monorail slides! You cannot miss it like you may over at the Polynesian Resort. It is a decent size building with both indoor and outdoor seating.

Credit: Monica

Trader Sam’s is open from 11:30 am to 11:55 pm daily. It is much easier to get into the Disneyland location because it takes Advanced Dining Reservations! There is no rushing over early in the day to put your name on a list like you have to do at Disney World.

Just like Disney World, children are allowed before 8:00 pm. Then, after that, it’s only for adults 21+ years old.

Which one is better?

Credit: Monica

Both Trader Sam’s are similar in theming and antics. Special effects are triggered when Guests order specific drinks, and you definitely get the feeling you are part of a fun adventure. The decor and artifacts are some of the best theming you can find in one little spot! There is a lot going on, and you should spend a few minutes wandering around to take it all in.

Which one is better will depend on your preferences: do you want a meal or an experience?

Credit: Monica

Disneyland’s Trader Sam’s dining situation is better due to the fact that you can get advanced reservations and some more food options. There is also outdoor dining if you prefer to have a brighter atmosphere. The inside is pretty dark, and it can be startling anytime the door opens!

However, Disney World’s version truly feels more like an experience. Because it is smaller and does not allow advanced reservations, it feels more intimate and less restaurant-y (I know, such a technical term). The atmosphere in here is much more fun and laid-back as well due to the fact that there is no time limit like there is at Disneyland’s Trader Sam’s (90 minutes). I am not aware of a time limit at Disney World.

Tip: if you cannot get into Trader Sam’s at Disney World, you can head out onto the terrace and enjoy drinks and, occasionally, live music.

Final Thoughts

Credit: Monica

Thankfully you will not have to choose between the two during your trip because they are on opposite ends of the country! I really enjoyed checking both out to compare and contrast. Both shared many of the same qualities, but some slight differences actually have a big impact on the overall experience.

I would definitely recommend Disneyland’s Trader Sam’s for a rest day if you are staying at the Disneyland Hotel. I was able to get a dining reservation just a week in advance, so it should be relatively easy for you to do the same. Because Disneyland is so small, you could also get there in under 10 minutes from either park if you needed to take a break for a few.

Credit: Monica

Disney World’s Trader Sam’s will take a bit more planning on your part if you want to visit. Plan to get there around 2:00 pm to hopefully get your name on the list. Depending on how long the wait is, I would not go too far. You could stay on the monorail and visit some other resorts or enjoy the Polynesian. However, I would not travel to Magic Kingdom or Epcot. You risk being too far away to get back in time.

If you are staying at the Polynesian, I recommend trying during your arrival or rest day. This would be a fun activity that does not require a lot of planning if you are staying at the hotel.

Have you been to both Trader Sam’s? Which one do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below! If you know someone who would benefit from this information, be sure to pass this article along to them!

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Evl Tiki

Wednesday 31st of May 2023

Trader Sam's is by far the superior of the two, that is because it is an actual tiki bar on top of the Disneyland fun experience. The bartenders can make any off menu drink (tiki or otherwise) and have their own signature drinks, and they carry a wide variety of rums. Grog Grotto's bartenders on the other hand have a limited knowledge of tiki drinks, they only know what's on the menu, and if you ask for a specific rum, they probably don't carry it.

Grog Grotto is a fun Disney experience, but it's not really a bar you visit unless you're on a vacation. Trader Sam's on the other hand has a lot of regulars, the bartenders are super friendly (Kelly, Melissa and Roy are the best) and it's always a good time sprinkled with Disney magic.

Ian Lamble

Thursday 25th of May 2023

Go into a bar. Buy a drink. Don’t need a stage show. Don’t care.

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