REVIEW: Spirited Trader Sam’s Mixology Seminar Shakes Up Some Fun at Disneyland Resort

Dylan Kennedy Grey

REVIEW: Spirited Trader Sam’s Mixology Seminar Shakes Up Some Fun at Disneyland Resort

We were able to attend one of the in-high-demand Trader Sam’s Mixology Seminars, this one lightly themed for the spooky season, at the Disneyland Hotel this month. These seminars can be booked under dining on the Disneyland app. They are only for guests 21 years of age and older, and are about 90 minutes long.

Trader Sam’s Mixology Seminar

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Disney doesn’t advertise these seminars are happening. We found out about it from the @enchantedtikibar Instagram account. They confirmed that the class would include the newest tiki mug, so we signed up to secure the mug and try out this experience for ourselves. Reservations went fairly fast. They offer 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 4 p.m. slots.

The cost is $169, however, they add in tax and a mandatory $30.42 gratuity, so the grand total was $214.88. You do have to prepay and there is a 3-day cancellation policy, so if you are unable to attend you will need to eat the cost if you are within that window. There was a woman in our class whose husband was unable to attend due to work but she still got his extra wristband and the mug. So if you can’t make it but someone in your party still can, you’ll just miss out on the drinks, food, and experience.

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Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar has now done several of these classes — they said this was maybe the fourth (bartenders/skippers keeping track of things is not their strongest asset and it doesn’t need to be). They tend to be early in the week of a big mug release. We got the Ursula tiki mug which would be released two days later to the general public. Another guest mentioned that they had received a generic Sam’s mug at a previous seminar (probably the first one) and a special Club 33 mug another time. The June mixology crew received the José tiki mug early. So this is something to think about if you want the mug but would like to avoid the potential chaos of the general release or even worse — waiting in a five-hour line like guests did in August for the Hatbox Ghost tiki mug.

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We got an 11 a.m. reservation. When we arrived at 10:30 a.m., there was already a small line of about 15 guests (mostly wearing aloha shirts) at the host stand.

Trader Sam's Mixology Seminar wristband

At the stand, a Cast Member checked us in and gave us a tropical red wristband. As the line got longer, another Cast Member went to the back and started checking in guests with a tablet.

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We were let into Trader Sam’s right at 11 a.m. Cast Members said hi and told us we were going to have a great time, making us feel really welcome.

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The class takes up the entirety of the inside of Sam’s.

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Materials were already set up on the bar and at tables for every guest in the group. Seminar veterans all scurried to be at the bar. If we were to go again, we would also try to arrive early and get a bar spot.

Guests were all nice about making space for each other. If you’re a solo attendee, you will likely sit with other parties. There were some high tops for two, the regular tables were set up for four, and most of the bar seats had placemats. Cast Members know exactly how many guests are attending each class. They have a lot of cleanup and setup to do between sessions and started right on time, so we’d suggest arriving early.

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There were two skippers leading our class. Both had mics so everyone could hear. Skipper Kelly was walking around talking, dropping drink knowledge, and making sure anyone with questions or not following instructions (you’d be surprised) was able to catch up.

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Skipper Roy was behind the bar the whole time giving out the actual drink-making instructions. The entire experience was light-hearted and there were plenty of dad jokes and “The Little Mermaid”-themed puns to keep everyone entertained. When they asked how many were attending for the first time, we were definitely in the minority (maybe five of us). So that says something to have that many repeat customers at the price point.

We were told we would be making two drinks — one non-alcoholic mocktail (to which everyone groaned) and one alcoholic drink themed to the sea witch mug we would be receiving.

On the place setting we had a jigger, a two-piece metal cocktail shaker set, drink garnishes (an orchid and glow cube), pre-measured alcohol, two empty glasses, two straws, two stir sticks, three bottles of mixers, a bottle of club soda, and a giant bucket of ice with a scoop.

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We started with the mocktail and looking back it was actually fun to make a drink that wasn’t boozy but still tasted similar to a tiki drink for those who don’t want alcohol.

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They had us measure some pomegranate juice, cinnamon syrup, and then a pineapple/lime juice mixture

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Once measured and poured into our tin, we added a bunch of ice and they showed us how to shake like a professional Trader Sam skipper. Most of us didn’t use enough ice, so we poured it into the glass and topped off with more ice.

Then we opened the club soda and added that and gave it a try.

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It was a well-thought-out drink; refreshing and fun. We were worried about the cinnamon syrup so went a bit light on that, but once the club soda was mixed in, it tasted mostly of fizzy pomegranate and pineapple. We topped it with the orchid and it was a really pretty drink.

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Then we moved on to the alcoholic drink, which seems to have been renamed a few times (we guess Disney had an issue with some of them), but they have landed on Sorceress’s Wave.

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They had us start by measuring out the non-alcoholic mixers first. A heavy pour of the “Sea Witch Batch,” which contained pineapple juice, honey syrup, and lime juice. Then we added Luxardo apricot, followed by Mr. Black coffee liquor. They told us that while everything was pre-measured in the plastic cups, they left a bit extra so we could taste each ingredient on its own, which was a nice touch. The Mr. Black coffee liquor was fantastic, although very strong (we used minimal of this).

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Next, we added Aperol, which tasted terrible on its own to us but the color was beautiful. We finished with the star: rum. This was a heavy pour of Demerara rum (Hamilton 86). We added a bunch of ice to our shaker cup and once again the class as a whole started shaking their tins.

We poured this into our second glass and then topped it with the glow cube. Make sure to keep your glow cube, as this one went with the mug we received later. You can hit a button to light the glow cube with different colors.

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Their intention was for it to glow white with the mug/drink, but you could select whatever color you wanted. As the orbs lit up across the darkened bar it made for quite the scene.

The final product was a very pretty drink. It wasn’t our favorite tiki drink, but it was drinkable with a subtle finish of coffee that we enjoyed.

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We all had a few sips then a cast member came around with the famous yellow DCA plastic alcohol cups for us to pour our creations in before heading outside for a reception.

Trader Sam’s Mixology Seminar Fireside Reception

At around 11:45 a.m., took a short walk down the stairs to the outdoor area by the fireplace, where we had seen Cast Members setting up before the seminar.

Each table had stations set up with a napkin, fork, and a small bottle of Dasani water.

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It was open seating again, so we grabbed a standing table with a good view of the band, who played Hawai’ian-inspired music while servers brought an array of appetizers from Tangaroa Terrace.

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The food was a surprise for us and pushed this from overpriced to worth it. Tangaroa Terrace has some of the best food on property and we got a small sampling of most of the lunch menu, starting with a tiny lettuce tofu wrap.

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This seemed to be a small Rongo Salad.

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That was followed by the Poke Bowl, a single coconut shrimp, a small plate of panko-crusted long beans, and a single pork gyoza.

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We finished strong with a slider topped with pineapple and teriyaki sauce.

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Cast Members also brought a second fireside alcoholic drink. It wasn’t as good as the one we made, but we’re always down to try another drink.

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Skipper Roy and Kelly mingled with guests during the reception, thanking us for attending and answering questions. The band continued to play as servers cleared plates and brought the next course in a timely fashion.

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A table was set up with brown bags containing our Ursula tiki mugs. There was never a moment that really screamed our time was up, but at one point, someone went to the table of bags and the rest of us followed suit.

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Once you got your bag, a Cast Member cut off your wristband, and everything wrapped up around 12:30 p.m.

Trader Sam’s Mixology Seminar Overall Review

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Should you spend $214 on the Trader Sam’s Mixology Seminar experience? The short answer is “yes.”

Obviously at the high price point, if this is something that’s not doable for you financially, then this and expensive tiki mugs are not going to be your thing. But if the price doesn’t cause you to think twice, and you enjoy the playful antics of Trader Sam’s, then step right up. If the price does seem a bit high, but you were planning to buy the new mug that is coming with the experience anyway, then we’d recommend saving up and doing this at least once.

When you think of Disney, you don’t think about tiki mugs, alcohol, and classes where they teach you to make drinks, but here we are with this somewhat new offering. But if you think about it, Disney up-charging for tiki mugs does seem in character, and Disney charging a premium to get your hands on something ahead of time is also in their wheelhouse.

If there is one thing Disney does really well, it’s premium experiences. This is definitely a premium experience and we were made to feel like VIPs the whole time. There were Cast Members constantly making sure we had everything we needed, having a good time, and thanking us for attending.

We have minimal complaints about the experience. It would have been a bit more enjoyable with friends and there is definitely a strong tiki community of locals who swear by Sam’s and never miss a mixology seminar. We like that each seminar has a new mug and a new drink, so the repeatability is high.

Again, if price is not a factor, we would do this every time it is offered. We ran through the cost of everything you get: the new tiki mug is usually $80-$90, two tiki drinks are around $20 each, a mocktail is about $10, and samples of the Tangaroa Terrace menu are worth maybe $30. All that plus live music and a fun class puts you right at $170. Add in tax and the $30 tip which the skippers and servers definitely deserve, then this was priced perfectly. They also will validate for three hours of parking if you park at the Disneyland Hotel.

So next time there is a Trader Sam’s mug you have your eye on, grab your favorite Aloha shirt, book a reservation, and sign up for a wild 90 minutes you won’t forget.

Will you be attending Trader Sam’s Mixology Seminar next time it’s available? Let us know in the comments.

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Author

  • Dylan Kennedy Grey

    You'd be hard-pressed to find someone more committed to sleeping in on a Disney vacation. At night, however, Dylan can be found closing down whichever park is open latest. He'd love to hear from you at dylan@wdwnt.com.