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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Ohana Restaurant & Tambu Lounge – Orlando, FL

Ohana restaurant at Disney's Polynesian Resort

‘Ohana is the main dining event at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, located upstairs in the Great Ceremonial House near the Kona Cafe. It serves “character breakfasts” where folks dressed up like Disney characters visit your table, and also AYCE dinners of barbecued meats and Asian-inspired side dishes.

Tikis at Ohana

Flanking the entrance are these awesome tall tiki statues. Now, if you’ve seen “Lilo & Stitch” then you should know that “ohana” means “family,” so it should be no surprise that the food here is served family-style. (Of course, after I write that sentence I look at their official site and they said pretty much the same thing…guess I could be a copywriter for Disney.)

Ohana dining room

It’s too bright to see, but these second-story windows look out over the Polynesian Resort grounds and the lake. In the distance you can even see Space Mountain, which was kind of surreal to spot something retro high-tech in contrast to this faux-natural paradise. (Although, the whole Disney experience is pretty surreal, I suppose.)

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When I showed Mr. Baseball my photos from this trip, he thought this tiki was posed rather…suggestively. There are a bunch of these standing sentry around the room.

Tambu Lounge

The plan had been to have a drink at the Tambu Lounge next to the restaurant, but it didn’t open until 1 p.m., which was about an hour away. The staff at the Polynesian Resort recommended we go to the Barefoot Pool Bar instead to get our drink on, so off we went. To be continued…

Polynesian Resort at Disney World

‘Ohana Restaurant & Tambu Lounge
Disney’s Polynesian Resort
1600 Seven Seas Dr.
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
407-WDW-DINE