Restaurants Spotlight: Tangaroa Terrace and Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar

The outside of Tangaroa Terrace dining location.

The outside of Tangaroa Terrace restaurant.

Tangaroa Terrace – a dining spot clearly related at least in name to one of the gods of the Enchanted Tiki Room!

This counter service location found at the Disneyland Hotel quickly became a popular destination for both hotel guests and outside visitors alike thanks its tropically-themed and tasty food options. (Yes, the menu may remind you a bit of the Islands chain of restaurants!)

Inside, it is mildly themed with a light Polynesian/tropical style and some related Disney photographs on the wall.

Making the Disney-Adventureland theme connection inside Tangaroa Terrace.

Making the Disney-Adventureland theme connection inside Tangaroa Terrace.

There are a few tables and chairs inside as well as patio dining available outside.

The small menu adds some South Seas flavor (a.k.a. often adding fruit to the dishes) to breakfast meals as well as lunch and dinner. I haven’t had breakfast here yet – though supposedly the French Toast is very good and is somewhat inspired by the legendary Tonga Toast at Walt Disney World’s Polynesian Village Resort.

However, I did finally make the slightly long walk over from the parks (really the only thing keeping me from eating here more often!) to have a very good Angus Bacon Cheeseburger with sweet potato fries. And I’d definitely go back for that meal again!

If you wander around the side of Tangaroa Terrace, you’ll soon run into the entrance to the compact Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar (the name is a mashup of references to both the Enchanted Tiki Room and a certain popular denizen of the Jungle Cruise!).

Outside Trader Sam’s.

Outside Trader Sam’s.

And when I say compact, I mean compact. It really seems like it fits only a handful of people inside at a time. In fact, because of fire codes/limits, I had to join a line outside to wait until others had exited the building before I was allowed to enter! There was more seating available on the adjacent patio which also boasts a nice extension of the theming and is a lovely place to enjoy taking a break on a warm night!

Patio seating near Tangaroa Terrace and Trader Sam’s.

Patio seating near Tangaroa Terrace and Trader Sam’s.

But really, it’s the details inside this location that’s worth the wait to visit – along with the very popular creative drinks as well as drink containers shaped like Tikis, shrunken heads and more! You really will feel like you just stepped out of an Adventureland attraction when you wander in here!

Inside Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar.

Inside Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar.

Not being a big drinker, I just wanted to take a quick look around to appreciate the theming. But taking a cue from its various inspirations (clearly including the Enchanted Tiki Room, the Jungle Cruise and the very-loved and very-missed Adventurer’s Club at the former Downtown Disney Pleasure Island at Walt Disney World Resort), I understand that several of the drinks when ordered are accompanied by various animatronic effects within the location as well as entertaining commentary by the Cast Members. Sadly, I did not get to experience this during my brief visit.

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Mousertainment Memorandum: As a result of the popularity of the West Coast Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar, an East Coast cousin called Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto recently opened at the Polynesian Village Resort at Walt Disney World Resort. Sharing some of the drinks, drink containers and special effects as the Disneyland Hotel version, there are also some unique variations that can only be found at the Polynesian that make it definitely worth checking out even if you’ve visited the original location!

Adding such well-themed and entertaining restaurant and bar options to the Disneyland Hotel has made it a must-visit destination for more than just those who are staying at the hotel. I always appreciate it when the Imagineers are allowed to unleash their imaginations – especially when it expands on some already beloved park-related properties!

Whether you’re a Tiki fan or not, and whether you’re a drinker or not, it’s still worth stopping by this wonderfully themed bar (after 8pm you must be 21 to enter, but all ages are allowed earlier in the day) and perhaps even grabbing a bite to eat next door at Tangaroa Terrace!

Have you eaten at Tangaroa Terrace or had a drink at Trader Sam’s? What did you think of the experience and/or food and drinks?

Update 8/16/15: At the D23 Expo this weekend, a new Jungle Cruise-themed restaurant at Walt Disney World Resort’s Magic Kingdom was announced.  It will be called Jungle Navigation Co. Skipper Canteen and is expected to open in Adventureland later this year.  It will be yet another opportunity to enjoy eating in an Adventureland-themed location!

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