Sampling the Famous Lapu Lapu at Tambu Lounge

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After a long day at Disney World, an adult beverage may be in order. One of the more popular places for such a respite is the Tambu Lounge at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. (Although, the hotel’s new tiki bar Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto is about to steal its thunder in a major way.)

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It’s located on the upper level of the Great Ceremonial House next to ‘Ohana restaurant, and in the evenings it gets packed with people enjoying drinks while waiting for their dinner reservations. The thatched hut bar is anchored by large carved tikis and overhead you’ll notice a tapa print ceiling. About a dozen chairs are available plus a few clusters of rattan armchairs and benches alongside the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the tropical landscaping and longhouses.

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Extending out along the atrium is additional seating at brand-new furniture (part of the resort’s recent renovations). It’s a bit farther from the action, but it’s a nice spot to admire the new display of giant glass fishing floats in the center of the lobby.

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The most famous drink at Tambu Lounge is the Lapu Lapu, which is presented in a pineapple. It’s one of four specialty drinks that are exclusive to this bar, along with the Backscratcher, Island Sunset and Tropical Macaw. There’s more to the cocktail menu, but it’s just the same standard drinks you’ll find at any other bar at Disneyland or Disney World.

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Don’t expect it to taste like a Chief Lapu Lapu drink, though, because there’s no passionfruit in it. Rather, it’s a potent concoction of Myers’s, pineapple juice, orange juice and Bacardi 151. I was happy to cross the Lapu Lapu off my Disney World to-do list, but I actually preferred the Backscratcher, a riff on Hawaiian bartender Harry Yee’s Tropical Itch made with Bacardi, Myers’s and passionfruit juice, topped with Jack Daniel’s. Plus, it’s garnished with a bamboo backscratcher (much to the delight of my boyfriend ;) ).

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I also sampled the Island Sunset (Seven Tiki spiced rum, Parrot Bay coconut rum, melon and peach with guava-passionfruit juice), but it wasn’t any great shakes. According to The Atomic Grog, some of the longtime bartenders will still make drinks from past menus, like the Scorpion, Navy Grog and Zombie.

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The booze starts flowing at 1 p.m., but food is only served from 5 p.m.-10 p.m. The short menu includes breads and dips, chicken wings, pork sliders, beef skewers and the amazing pulled pork nachos (also served for lunch and dinner at Capt. Cook’s restaurant on the main level). People also rave about the ‘Ohana bread pudding with vanilla ice cream and banana-caramel sauce. It’s the signature dessert from its neighbor restaurant, but you can try it here in the lounge without having to spring for that all-you-can-eat meal.

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It’s pretty safe to say that the cocktails at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto are going to blow these out of the water, but I’m sure Tambu Lounge will still draw the devotees it’s earned over the decades. I know I’ll be back for that bread pudding at the very least. In the meantime, I’ll be able to recreate the recipe for the Backscratcher at home, thanks to the reverse engineering of The Atomic Grog.

Related Posts:
Lunch at Capt. Cook’s: Set a Course for…Nachos!
The New Look of the Great Ceremonial House at Disney’s Polynesian Resort
More Tiki Bars in Orlando

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Tiki Treasures from The Story of Disneyland Exhibition & Auction at Van Eaton Galleries

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Right now, the two-room space at Van Eaton Galleries in Sherman Oaks (LA area) is so full of Disney treasures that it may be the next best thing to visiting The Happiest Place on Earth itself. (Also, it’s free and you’re probably less likely to catch measles.)

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It’s all part of The Story of Disneyland: An Exhibition and Sale, one anonymous person’s massive collection that will be auctioned off piece by piece on February 28 & March 1, 2015. A substantial portion of the items are on view to the public through February 27, Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

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The colorful castmember uniforms ($400-$600) from Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room were so popular that the fabric was sold in Adventureland stores. There were a few different patterns, with my favorite being the one featured here on the left (closeup on Instagram). On the right is a vintage hostess costume ($900-$1200) complete with nametag from the now-defunct Tahitian Terrace restaurant. In the middle is an original Enchanted Tiki Room attraction poster ($10,000-$12,000).

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The Adventureland piece with the highest bidding estimate — $20,000-$30,000 — is this animatronic member of the Enchanted Tiki Room’s chorus from the 1970s. It was apparently purchased from an Imagineer who worked on the Tiki Room and it still has all the original hardware inside.

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The same can’t be said for this feathered friend, so he’s valued a little lower at just $18,000-$20,000. How did this little birdie fly away? A cast member received it as a retirement gift from their supervisor! (Sure beats a gold watch.)

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Recognize this? It’s the finial that sat atop the A-frame ticket booth at the entrance to the Enchanted Tiki Room. According to the catalog, an Imagineer rescued this one-of-a-kind piece ($15,000-$20,000) from demolition when the bamboo and wood structure had to be torn down in 2000. Later, renowned carver Leroy Schmaltz of Oceanic Arts was commissioned to make a wooden base for it.

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Not everything will cost you beaucoup bucks, though. There are lots of things in the $100-$200 range, like these Disneyland Moai salt and pepper shakers from 1956. (These seem to appear on eBay for less every now and again, but the attention for this particular auction will surely drive up the price.)

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Now this face I really couldn’t place. Turns out it’s one of three handpainted “Nature Tree Masks” ($2,000-$4,000) that adorned the trees near the loading area of the Jungle Cruise for a few years around 1956.

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There are also six “Tangaroa-Ru Babies” that descended from the flowers of the Tangaroa tree of life at the end of the Enchanted Tiki Room pre-show. Disney Legend/Imagineer Rolly Crump designed these based on Polynesian carvings. They’re estimated to go for about $3,000 each. The deep-pocketed collector could be well on their way to building their own authentic Enchanted Tiki Room.

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Rolly Crump also designed these smaller ceramic versions ($200-$400) that were sold as souvenirs at Disneyland. The catalog notes that they’re rare finds.

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Many of the artifacts were once Disney property or official souvenirs, but there are also stashes of visitors’ personal slides and photographs from over the years. I adore this picture of these ladies posing with the Marquesan tiki that used to be in Adventureland. It’s part of a bundle of 10 amateur photos at Disneyland circa 1956-1959.

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You can browse through the entire collection in the 300-page online catalog, which is also available for purchase in a soft-cover version ($30) and a hard-cover edition ($95, including a complimentary soft-cover copy). (There’s a section dedicated to Disney World’s Polynesian Resort starting on page 287.)

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Which of these items would you bid on if you had unlimited funds? I’d love this flower boat ($12,000-$15,000) from Disney World’s Enchanted Tiki Room as the centerpiece for my own tiki room. Or perhaps the Pirates of the Caribbean skeleton ($60,000-$80,000) guzzling liquor for more of a Smuggler’s Cove style…

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The Story of Disneyland
Van Eaton Galleries
13613 Ventura Blvd.
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
818-788-2357

5 Things You May Have Missed: This Week in Tiki

Original Disneyland Enchanted Tiki Room Bird from Van Eaton Galleries auction

I’ve been prepping for a trip to Walt Disney World in a week — too early to check out Trader Sam’s at the Poly, but oh well — and my weekly blogging schedule has suffered as a result. However, I’ve still been active over in the social media realm (Facebook, Twitter and fledgling Instagram account) so if you’d like to get a daily dose of tiki you can like/follow accordingly.

In case you missed it, here are some of the notable goings-on in tiki I’ve been posting about:

TIKI ROOM TREASURES

Lots of vintage Disneyland memorabilia — including an original bird from Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room — are going up for auction this month. You can go see the items in person at the Van Eaton Galleries in Sherman Oaks from February 7-27. I’ll be checking it out this weekend and hope to blog about it soon thereafter.

ALOHA `OE

Cafe Rustica and its upstairs tiki bar, Conga Lounge, announced it is closing this month. The last day of service will be February 21. The Bay Area has a wealth of great tiki bars, but it’s still sad to see a good one go.

NEW MUGS

Danny a.k.a. Tiki Diablo has designed a new mug for the Tiki-Ti in Los Angeles. They posted some preview photos over on the bar’s Facebook page. Look for it in March. He also created a unique tribute mug for the Royal Hawaiian Estates in Palm Springs. (Local pick up only at the moment.)

MY KIND OF TOWN

Which cocktail at Trader Vic’s Chicago was served with a floating gardenia? This “Ask Geoffrey” segment on Chicago Tonight answered that question — and happened to include one of my photos of the ill-fated Trader Vic’s Chicago reboot.

SOME SHOUT-OUTS

Eater highlighted a few tiki bars during its Classics Week: Tonga Room in San Francisco, Bali Hai in San Diego and The Alibi in Portland. El Segundo’s Purple Orchid was also just named Best Tiki Dive on Thrillist’s list of the 24 Essential LA Dive Bars.