It’s a Mele Kalikimaka me ka Hau’oli Makahiki Hou at Trader Sam’s this time of year! Since I never pass up an excuse opportunity to visit my second favorite Disney bar in the world, we headed to Trader Sam’s recently to test out its Christmas menu.
I won’t rehash my love for Trader Sam’s here–you can read my Trader Sam’s Backstory & Details and Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar Review posts for the reasons why this is one of our top stops at Disneyland Resort. Suffice to say, I’m really excited for Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto to open at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort at Walt Disney World so everyone who has yet to experience it at Disneyland Hotel can understand why this place is so special. I just hope the Walt Disney World location is as special as the Disneyland Resort one.
We didn’t make it out to Trader Sam’s during our last Christmas trip to Disneyland, which I assume upset the Tiki Gods, so we were committed not to make that same mistake again this year. It came as no surprise that not only were there special drinks for Christmas, but the tiki bar had also been decorated for the holidays. If this were anywhere else, it would probably seem like cheap and thoughtless Christmas decor thrown into the bar. However, it’s the perfect kitschy Christmas, and the decorations fit perfectly in Trader Sam’s.
Let’s take a look at the Trader Sam’s Christmas decorations and drinks…
Take heed! It is Sallah from Indiana Jones Adventure’s stocking. (That safety spiel might just be my favorite part of that awesome attraction.)
This banner is a prime example of what otherwise might be construed as random and cheesy. Here, the graphic style of the Santa has an aesthetic that matches that of 1950s tiki culture.
The animated window in Trader Sam’s has animated snow for Christmas. Why I didn’t think to take a video that would actually show the snowfall is a good question… (Here’s one.)
There’s a Christmas nutcracker decked out in Aloha wear between the Paradise Falls jar and the Gorilla Grog tank. These are just a few of the decorations in the bar–there are plenty more to spot, from Santa hats on the Tiki Room Drummers to a Christmas list and more. Feel free to point out other things you’ve noticed in the comments.
Probably the best part of the ambiance is the background music, where the normal Trader Sam’s loop has some festive island songs added to it. I couldn’t identify any of the particular tracks, but I did some sleuthing for the playlist and found this blog post, which identifies some of the tracks as being from The Blue Hawaiians’ Christmas on Big Island and The Ventures’ Christmas Album. Anyone by chance know the full playlist or where to find this BGM?
In terms of drinks, there are 4 special options on the menu: Mele Kaliki-Mocha, Red-Nosed Zebra, and Gorilla Nog/Sam’s Slay Ride. The Mele Kaliki-Mocha mixes iced coffee, Kahlua, coconut, and orgeat syrup, plus whipped cream and rosemary for a drink that is fairly reminiscent of Christmas. We both liked this one, and as far as Trader Sam’s drinks go, this one is fairly weak.
The Red-Nosed Zebra consists of Bacardi rum, strawberry puree, lemon and lime juices, agave nectar, and was garnished with cranberries and mint. I wouldn’t say the drink’s taste strongly reminded me of Christmas, but it was strong, and looked Christmas-y.
The other drink, which we didn’t try, is the Gorilla Nog/Sam’s Slay Ride, which is Sam’s Gorilla Grog, Jack Daniel’s Honey, Grand Marnier, Canton Ginger, lime juice, plus cinnamon and nutmeg. It certainly sounds more like a Christmas drink than the Red-Nosed Zebra, so I guess we will “have” to go back and try that one!
In typical Trader Sam’s fashion, both drinks were delicious. I love that they don’t simply use the Disney Parks Generic Drink Menu here, and actually have drinks that are more than just glorified sugar water. As with just about everything on the menu, these drinks balanced taste and kick well. If you can’t get to Trader Sam’s, or would like to re-create them at home, you can check out this Disney Parks Blog post with recipes!
As is the case with just about every bar at Disneyland Resort, there’s also seasonal craft beer available, so if you aren’t a mixed drink person, you can get a festive California beer .
All in all, Trader Sam’s gets into the holiday spirit pretty well. It’s not the most thorough overlay imaginable, but it balances existing theme with a nice touch of Christmas, and gives you a warm feeling. Although maybe that’s the alcohol…
For actual Disneyland trip planning tips and comprehensive advice beyond these quick and random tips, make sure to read our Disneyland Trip Planning Guide and related articles.