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Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace Review

Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace is an excellent dining location at Disney’s Polynesian. You probably already know that trying to decide on a restaurant at Disney’s Polynesian is quite the chore. In fact, you might even find yourself in a bit of a dilemma when trying to select one of the many good choices.

And then there’s Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace. I have to admit it’s one of my favorite dining locations. Even better, anyone can stop here on almost any evening for a drink, appetizer, or a full meal. There are no reservations required.

In this Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace review, we will take a look at the different drinks and food items you can expect to find here. I will also provide you with a few tips for picking up a meal at the resort’s counter service next door and combining it to make a full meal for the family.

Dining outside at Tiki Terrace makes for the perfect evening. Especially on days when you are too worn out to return to the parks and the kids need a simple meal. Let’s take a look at how you can make it work for your group!

2021 Update–As of March, Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace hasn’t reopened. I’ll update this review in the future when it returns to service. Right now Capt. Cook’s and Kona Cafe are available.

Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace Review

Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace is located on the Great Ceremonial House’s back deck at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. There are various tables, but I prefer to get one close to the water with a view. It’s a delightful setting.

This dining location gets high remarks because of the unique menu, flavorful food items, specialty drinks, and outstanding location. I doubt anyone that spends a warm evening out on the Tiki Terrace will find any disappointment. This is one of those places that you’ll probably think about revisiting again and again.

Sometimes during the evening hours, a musician can be found in front of the rock wall with a waterfall. The waterfall wall makes for a nice divider between the terrace and the Polynesians’ main lava pool.

Guests can grab a seat anywhere available and a server will be with you shortly. You might also elect to grab a drink from the open bar window and take it with you on a walk around the resort.

Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace is one of Disney’s unique places to pick up a cocktail. Their drink menu is only offered here and at the interior Trader Sam’s location. The interior location does have age restrictions in the evening. But there are none here at Tiki Terrace. This is a kid-friendly outdoor dining area with a walk-up window bar.

The drinks at Tiki Terrace are not something you would find on the average cocktail menu. Here is a look at a few of the drinks on the menu. We’ll take a closer look at a few.

First up, we have the Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Rum — Pyrat Xo Reserve rum, cream of coconut with pineapple, and orange juices, dusted with cinnamon and nutmeg.

Okay, this drink is a play on Walt’s Enchanted Tiki Room at Magic Kingdom. The fun-named drink is not something I would normally order. It sounds creamy and milky-like per the description. And like you might get a tad of that texture with the cream of coconut. But not really.

The Tiki Room is a unique drink that is served on ice. With the mention of nutmeg and cinnamon, it reads almost warm on the menu. Again, that’s not the case with this drink. Looking for something different that’s cool and refreshing? Give it a try. I would definitely reorder this one on a return visit.

Next, we’ll take a look at Rosita’s Margarita–Casamigos Reposado tequila, Bols Orange Curacao, fresh lime juice, Falernum, and organic agave nectar.

What is Falernum? Falernum is apparently a staple in true tiki-style cocktails. It is similar to a simple syrup or can be found in an alcoholic version containing rum. In this mix, flavors are a combination of lime, almond, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and ginger.

This drink offers a citrus punch with subtle spicy flavors. It’s not a spicy drink in any way. Thinking on how to describe it, my immediate thought is it’s over before you want it to be. By that, I mean it’s good and goes down easy.

As far as this review goes, I’ve also had the HippopotoMai-Tai (not pictured). This classic drink is described as Plantation Original Dark Rum, Bacardi Superior Rum, Bols Orange Curaçao, Orgeat (Almond), Organic Agave Nectar, and fresh Lime Juice. Personally, I don’t care for this drink; it’s a very strong concoction.

You can view the online menu for Tiki Terrace here on Disney’s site. As mentioned above, the drink menu for the Tiki Terrace and Trader Sam’s is the same. Some of the drinks have the option to order in souvenir mugs when in stock.

If you would like something to go, there’s a menu posted over the walk-up bar area. This is a fun idea if you are enjoying the Polynesian beaches. I have been known to stop in from the monorail, grab a drink here, and walk it over to the Grand Floridian.

If you visit one of the resorts for dinner, like the Grand Floridian Cafe, you might enjoy stopping here for a pre-dinner drink. You can then take the short, scenic walk over to the neighboring resort. Or even better, walk it out here and grab a chair to enjoy the sunset.

We usually prefer to grab a table as soon as we get to the Tiki Terrace. Eventually, a cast member will come over to take your order.

Usually, our favorite time to eat at Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace is on an evening when nighttime entertainment is being offered at Magic Kingdom. We have enjoyed many meals in the past as the sun sets, then the Electrical Water Pageant passes by on the water, and finishing things off with Happily Ever After fireworks.

These kinds of meals are among the things we look most forward to returning to Walt Disney World. You might already be aware, but the Polynesian has a large speaker system where they stream in the audio for Happily Ever After. You can’t see the castle projections, but the view of the fireworks from the Polynesian is a fun perspective.

As far as food goes, Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace menu has several appetizers. These items include:

  • Chicken Lettuce Cups
  • Tofu Lettuce Cups (Vegan, Plant-Based)
  • Headhunter Sushi Roll
  • Kalua Pork Tacos
  • Veggie Rainbow Roll
  • Tai Chicken Flatbread
  • Hawaiian Poke
  • Roasted Chicken and Pork Sliders

First, we have the chicken lettuce cups. They come with chicken, shredded vegetables, and Butter-style lettuce leaves. This ended up being quite a filling dish for one person. It could also be a nice thing to share if you wanted to try more than one item.

Below is a picture of the Kalua pork tacos. Our server told us they were the most popular item on the menu the night we had these. I can see why. It’s a lot of food for the money, and they are quite tasty. I would order these any day, and as you can see, they are another easily shareable dish.

The barbecue has a great flavor and is complemented by the shredded cabbage and pickled vegetables.

Next is the Headhunter sushi roll. There is no menu description on this one, but I recall it included salmon and tuna plus veggies. The rice exterior had a nice pinky-purple color to it.

Sushi is a great option if you are looking for something cool, refreshing, and freshly prepared.

While I love the options, the menu at Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace probably isn’t something that most children will find appealing. In fact, there isn’t a kids’ menu available here.

The good thing is that Capt. Cook’s is literally located next door, and they both share a large outdoor seating area.

Capt. Cooks is a quick-service (think fast food) location. Usually, one of us will grab a table out on the terrace, while the other goes and orders the menu items we want from Capt. Cooks. That process is even easier now since the restaurant participates in Disney mobile ordering.

As you may or may not know, my son has severe food allergies. So in general dining can be really tough for our family. Capt. Cook’s provides us with a great opportunity to pick up an order of allergy-free chicken tenders. I have a full Captain Cook’s review available with vegan options.

My son is a teenager and partial to a few quick services on Disney property. Capt. Cook’s is his favorite. Some of the cast members are on practically a first-name basis because we stop there so often. For the record, the allergies we are dealing with are dairy, fish, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, and a mild allergy to tomatoes.

When you place your order at any quick-service restaurant, alert the cast member you have food allergies. They have guidelines and a procedure for how these orders are prepared. Typically at a quick-service, the cast member will alert a manager or chef.

That person will then come out and take down your allergens. They all have a little checklist and will note your allergies. If you have something not listed, there is a place for “other,” and they will make a note of that as well.

Some of the chefs know automatically what you can or can’t have. However, sometimes they have to take out an ingredient list and review it, especially on items that might be cross-contaminated.

Here we know we want the “allergy-friendly” chicken nuggets with fries in an adult-size order. It does take a little longer for his items to be prepared in most instances, but it’s not a big deal. We are always very grateful for the care that is given.

Chicken nuggets at Trader Sam's Tiki Terrace

And we sure don’t mind waiting for a meal while out on the beautiful Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace. Mom is happy, the kid is happy, no one is hungry. Sounds like a vacation to me.

When visiting the Polynesian without a dining reservation, I highly recommend having a meal at Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace. The views are great, and the servers are knowledgeable.

Also, you can’t beat the entertainment between musicians, fireworks, and the Electric Water Pageant if you time things just right.

Dining at Tiki Terrace makes for a relaxing evening. If you have children or a picky eater, Capt. Cook’s next door makes for a win-win situation for everyone.

For more Disney’s Polynesian Resort reviews try these:

If you are looking for more dining reviews at Disney, in general, make sure to visit our full list of Walt Disney World dining reviews. Or try these popular dining venues:

For all of Resorts Gal’s articles related to planning a vacation at the Poly, check out our full list here.

Lastly, remember you are on vacation. I have a feeling you will after you visit the Tiki Terrace!

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