Tangaroa Terrace is a tropical-inspired counter service restaurant at Disneyland Resort, located adjacent to Trader Sam’s (awesome) Enchanted Tiki Bar at Disneyland Hotel. It is inspired by Adventureland and the theme of Trader Sam’s carries over to Tangaroa Terrace. Tangaroa Terrace offers Annual Passholder discounts; guests order from touch screen computers and pay a cashier to receive a number, and Cast Members bring food out when it’s ready. Just like Trader Sam’s, Tangaroa Terrace opened in Summer 2011.
The theme at Tangaroa Terrace, as mentioned above, is similar to Trader Sam’s, except dialed back considerably. It’s not a restaurant that you can really explore to find a ton of cool details. The theming is good, to be fair, but with Trader Sam’s right next door, it’s a bit of a letdown. On the plus side, outside there are tiki torches, a great view of the Disneyland Hotel pool, and there’s frequently live entertainment. The ambiance is certainly better than what you’ll find at most counter service restaurants, it’s just not “Trader Sam’s good.”
Okay, so given that it has a similar theme and is right next door to the amazing Trader Sam’s (and you can order off of Tangaroa Terrace’s menu at Trader Sam’s), you might wonder why you’d ever visit Tangaroa Terrace when you could head to Trader Sam’s instead. (In our case, we had just dropped off a rental car to the Downtown Disney Alamo and we needed to make it to Disneyland in time for our Fantasmic! seating.) Well, if it’s an either/or scenario, you probably should go to Trader Sam’s. It’s amazing, and as I said in our Trader Sam’s review, “It’s a must visit–as close to perfection as Disney has come in recent years.” I meant that. However, I understand that Trader Sam’s may not appeal to everyone, or may not be appropriate for all circumstances. In those instances, Tangaroa Terrace is a good option. You can dine outside around the tiki torches and live entertainment, soak up a similar ambiance, and enjoy some good food in the process.
As for the cuisine at Tangaroa Terrace, it’s pretty good, and prices are pretty typical for a Disneyland counter service restaurant. It seems every Disneyland restaurant that has received a new menu in the last year has received a signature burger. This trend continues at Tangaroa Terrace, where my 1/3 Pound Angus Hawaiian Bacon Cheeseburger with Sweet Potato Fries was just over $10. This burger fit the theme of the restaurant perfectly, and was tasty.
The Teriyaki Sauce, Fresh Grilled Pineapple, and Havarti Cheese made it stand out from a normal burger, and these flavors complimented one another well, but the burger wasn’t quite as great as I hoped it would be. It didn’t have me doing backflips and I’m not sure that I’d make a special trip to Tangaroa Terrace to order it again, but it was good. As I’ve stated in the past, though, I’m not a fan of sweet potato fries. I applaud Disney for mixing things up on the menus and straying a bit from the ordinary with (slightly) healthier options, but I find sweet potato fries to be disgusting. Still, I’m not about to complain, as I’d rather Disney gets more adventurous with menus than sticking to the tried and true guest favorites. A lack of regular french fries is hardly a big deal for me. Besides, I think I had the option between slaw and the fries when ordering, so that one is on me.
Sarah had the Kalua Pork Flatbread, which consists of pulled Pork, BBQ sauce, onion, cilantro and mozzarella cheese. It was really good and a bit out of the ordinary. We didn’t realize this when ordering, but we had eaten the same flatbread at Trader Sam’s when we were last there in November. In any case, the flatbread was a delicious twist on a normal pizza. For only $9, I thought it offered exceptional value, too. It was more like an table service starter than a simple counter service meal. I really appreciate the work being put into Disneyland’s new menus.
We also ordered a Pineapple Lilikoi Pie. We would have ordered two desserts, but this one alone was $5! I know that’s only around $1 more than normal, but for a small, unimpressive looking pie, I was a bit taken aback. It was delicious, the moist pineapple filling and breading on top that really provided a nice compliment, but it’s not something I’d get again. There are so many other snacks at Disneyland that I like more that are less than $5. After we paid, we noticed an awesome-looking dessert flight, so perhaps we’ll have to get that next time.
Overall, Tangaroa Terrace is not a bad choice, especially if you can’t visit Trader Sam’s for whatever reason or are staying at Disneyland Hotel and want to mix it up a little. In addition to dinner, we also ate breakfast at Tangaroa Terrace one morning (much less impressive, but I’ll cover that in a subsequent review). Given the table service, the quality of the cuisine, and the live entertainment, it feels almost like a mash-up of a counter service and table service restaurant. The food was inspired and not nearly as bad as some reviews I’ve read, although it was nothing that made me want to shout from the roof-tops. Still, it’s a good option.
Overall Score on the Disney Dining Brick-o-meter: 7.5/10