This past Monday, Disney hosted a “Mahaloween Luau” at Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar. The price for the special event was steep ($125 per person) though Disney seemed to have little trouble selling out each of the four hour-long sessions.
Whether or not you got your money’s worth has been up for discussion. We had a great time and met fellow tiki fans and runDisney participants, but I agree with other outspoken attendees that the event didn’t really live up to the expectations set by the (somewhat inaccurate) description. (For example, it was supposed to take place inside Trader Sam’s, but everybody who did the math realized that 100 ticket holders wouldn’t fit in a bar with a capacity of 55. Instead, we were corralled into a section of the patio.)
Anyway, the event was held in anticipation of the release of a new glaze of the Shrunken Zombie Head mug. (I featured the original blue version on my list of Top 5 Spooky Tiki Mugs last year.) The one on the left with the greenish tint and orange interior is the mug that’s now available at Trader Sam’s, while the mug on the right with teal highlights was exclusive for Mahaloween.
Servers were ready with trays of Shrunken Zombie Heads (to be redeemed with our two drink tickets) and there was a buffet table piled with tuna poke cones and chicken lettuce cups with ginger hoisin sauce.
Pulled pork sliders and plates of our favorite panko-crusted Chinese long beans with Sriracha aioli made the rounds later on. The food was very good, but seating was limited and it was difficult to eat unless you had snagged a table.
Brandon Kleyla, a Walt Disney Imagineering set designer who worked on Trader Sam’s, gave a brief talk about the concept art on display. Some of the Enchanted Tiki Room designs were already familiar from last year’s Disney Gallery exhibit “Tiki Tiki Tiki Realms: Celebrating 50 Years of Enchantment.”
My favorite part was hearing about repurposed designs. As Brandon said, at Disney: “No idea idea ever fully dies.” The shipwreck in a bottle effect at Trader Sam’s was originally considered for Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion, as seen in the top left design by Elmer Plummer from 1968. Some folks might remember that it was part of the dearly missed Adventurers Club at Pleasure Island in Disney World (Tim Kirk art, 1987). The shipwreck was brought up once again for the Haunted Mansion in 2002. Meanwhile, Mary Blair‘s 1970 abstract art for Disney’s Polynesian Resort forms the wallpaper pattern in the Trader Sam’s bathrooms. And finally, the Tiki Goddess formerly featured in Florida’s infamous Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management will apparently glower over the patrons at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, which is scheduled to open at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort in Orlando in early summer 2015.
Another board revealed a few early concepts for the Shrunken Zombie Head mug. The first was Shrunken Ned, the “Jungle Witch Doctor” at the South Sea Traders shop in Adventureland, and the other inspired by the fellows with fezzes in the Lost Safari scene from Jungle Cruise. Different swizzle sticks were initially devised for each drink, and this would have accompanied the Piranha Pool. I really hope Disney revisits some of these ideas in the future!
Brandon also told us more of what we can expect from Trader Sam’s in Florida. He said that while our Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar has more of a ’30s-’40s Adventureland theme, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto will be “60s-’70s nautical, kitschy” (sooooo….Bahooka, basically?) with references to “20,000 Leagues Under Sea” like a giant squid tentacle stealing from the bar. (Again, this was concept art we’d seen before.)
New to me at least were these previews of two tiki mugs paying tribute to Tangaroa Terrace at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. I’ll have to get my hands on one of the Trader Sam’s octopus t-shirts somehow — apparently it’s also just for Florida.
We also got a sneak peek at the second edition of the Uh Oa bowl, which has a three wise monkeys (“see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”) theme. They said it should be available at Trader Sam’s Disneyland any day now.
Special guest King Kukulele, who we always enjoy seeing at the annual Tiki Night at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, led everyone in a sing-along of “Hawaiian War Chant” from the Enchanted Tiki Room. The Hawaiian musicians that usually perform on the patio also serenaded us.
Since we were in the last group of the night, we weren’t rushed out of the event quite as quickly so I had the chance to pose with the shrunken head prop that Brandon had brought from Trader Sam’s.
On the way out we were given our swag bags, which included the special event mug, hat, some Mahaloween pins, Tangaroa Terrace flyer/coupon and a canvas poster.
I must admit I was more excited to get one of these unofficial Trader Sam’s postcards that Tiki tOny‘s friend was handing out. I was given a few extra to give away here! Leave a comment on this post about your favorite part of the Halloween season and I’ll randomly pick three winners on Friday, Oct. 10.