Trader Sam is a character from the Jungle Cruise. He is the “Head Salesman of the Jungle”, a witch doctor, and the founder of the Trader Sam’s bar franchise.

History[edit | edit source]

Background[edit | edit source]

Trader Sam is a South American man who apparently came from a family of shrunken head salesmen and cannibals. Allegedly his grandfather was a man named Billamongawonga or, "Trader Bill" who is identified as having started their, "Family business". Sam himself was at-least quasi-immortal as he evidently had an extended lifespan which went back centuries at the least.

Sam traveled the world in order to study mysticism and mixology, always working to create new beverage concoctions. He brewed his first-ever drink concoction in the Lost Delta of Cambodia where he dumped a barrel of the beverage in a vacant, secret waterbody located behind a series of Buddhist ruins. By the next day, the liquor had attracted a large number of Indian elephants which went on to use the pool as their bathing-spot.[1]

Captain Jack Sparrow and Trader Sam on Isla Pelegestos

18th century[edit | edit source]

During the golden-age of piracy in the 18th century, Trader Sam was proprietor of a pub which was frequented by the pirate captain Jack Sparrow and his mother. He and Jack even posed for a photograph together at a location resembling Isla de Pelegostos. Sam and Jack Sparrow were apparently close enough of friends that for unknown reasons, the pirate left the shrunken head of his mother.

Around this time, Sam did trading with the infamous pirate Edward "Blackbeard' Teach and had an attraction for his daughter Angelica.[2] At some point after the summer of 1729, Trader Sam would obtain a musical locket which was one of two identical lockets that belonged to the sea deities Davy Jones and Calypso.[3]. Sam would also come to possess a miniature ship-in-a-bottle depicting the Wicked Wench, the pirate ship which belonged to one Captain Barbossa and which raided the since cursed and haunted island of Isla Tesoro.

19th century[edit | edit source]

At some point following July 17th of 1805, Trader Sam was affiliated with the Swiss Family Robinson. This family having inhabited an island in the East Indies following a shipwreck where they built a treehouse abode in a Disneyodendron eximus tree. In the mid 19th century, Sam befriended Texan cowboy Lincoln Costain and the two contacted one another via bottled letters when Lincoln was shanghaied onto the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

Sam would come to befriend one Ned Land, a Canadian sailor and harpooner. Sam was likely in San Francisco with Ned in the year 1868 around the time that reports of the Nautilus (misidentified as a sea-monster) attacking ships was printed in the San Francisco Evening Bulletin. Ned was amongst the sailors to hun this, "Monster" though he'd come to join with its crew under its Captain Nemo, later sending Sam his harpoon and referencing the strange events to him.[4] It would appear that around this time Trader Sam became an early scuba diver.[5]

Sam seemingly had some experience with the infamous 1883 eruption of Krakatoa in the Sunda Straight of the Indian Ocean, even creating an enchanted drink inspired by the event. In the late 19th century, Sam was familiar with Professor Archimedes Q. Porter and his daughter Jane, having had some affiliation with their gorilla studying expedition in the Congo. In the 1890s or 1900s, Sam befriended a lighthouse-keeper named Lampie from the seaside American town of Passamaquoddy; Lampie having even sent Sam messages of panic when a dragon came to the town. A close friend which Sam made in the 1890s was a military man named Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt whom frequented Sam's establishments.[6]

20th century[edit | edit source]

1900s-1920s[edit | edit source]

Sam was a resident of the Amazon Rainforest from around the time that Dr. Albert Falls and the Jungle Navigation Company (founded in 1911) established itself in South America. He managed to establish a beneficial affiliation with the Navigation Company, becoming known to them as the Jungle's Head Salesman. Sam was seemingly acquainted with the company's founder Dr. Albert Falls, a member of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers who Sam would brew the favourite drink of, "The Schweitzer Falls" named for the doctor, a waterfall of the same name he discovered, (and potentially also one Albert Schweitzer).

Sam would also safari in the port of Harambe in East Africa with the assistance of the company Kilimanjaro Safaris.[7] Prior to her death in 1912 Sam would save the life of one Anna Marie Jones, the wife of Henry Jones Sr. and mother of Indiana Jones who Sam would also befriend.[8] In 1912, the recently formed New York Preservation Society sent Sam a portrait of Billamongawonga which was recovered from the Hotel Hightower, the hotel which was run by Trader Bill's close affiliate the S.E.A. member Harrison Hightower III.[9]

Trader Sam and former president Theodore Roosevelt

In 1913, Sam assisted now former-president Teddy Roosevelt and Brazilian explorer Colonel Cândido Rondon on planning a scientific expedition through the Amazon rainforest. This expedition was a combination scientific field-study and also Roosevelt's self asserted, "Last chance to be a boy" after losing the 1913 election. In addition to fellow naturalists, scientists and Trader Sam, Roosevelt was also joined by his son Kermit Roosevelt as his mother insisted he be there to protect his aged father.

The expedition lasted from the December of 1913 to the April of 1914 and was incredibly dangerous with Roosevelt having nearly died on multiple occasions. Due to the team's success in having mapped the Rio da Dúvida (“River of Doubt”), locals chose to rename the river as the Roosevelt River. During the time which Sam spent with Roosevelt, became affiliated with his group the Adventurers Club, a splinter-faction of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers which was founded by one Merriweather Adam Pleasure.[10] On this expedition however, Roosevelt contracted foreign illnesses which eventually killed him in 1919.

In the May of 1927, Sam was an onlooker for aviator Colonel Charles Lindbergh's historic flight from New York City to Paris, France. Sam obtained a pin which commemorated this event that would remain in his possession. Going by, "T.S.", Sam authored several books on his operations which would go on to be featured in the library of the JNC's headquarters, namely: "Friends for Dinner", "Top Hats and Umbrellas", "Banana Trade", "What's in a name" and "The Missing Mask". Sam also seemingly became romantically involved with a JNC skipper named Cap'n Kevin who he would spend nights in the hut of.[11] Sam's affiliation with the Jungle Cruise would be met by ridicule from his friend Charlie Allnut, a WWI riverboat captain who had his own history with the Jungle Navigation Company and who offered his services to Sam.[12]

1930s[edit | edit source]

In 1931, Alberta Falls began providing, "Jungle Cruises" for extra income and Sam found business here by offering guests on the Amazon river deals on shrunken-head trading. Sam was close with a large number of skippers working for the company and he would regularly attempt to make bargains with their customers, typically offering deals such as two of his heads for one of theirs.

Throughout the '30s, Trader Sam had repeated encounters with Indiana Jones and his contacts Marcus Brody, Marion Ravenwood, Sallah and Wan "Short Round" Li. In one particular incident, Short Round even contacted Sam to destroy an object of great power which was a potential threat to Indiana. Sam had also taken photos of himself in-front of the Temple of the Crystal Skull in the Lost River Delta which Jones himself investigated during 1931. Sam would also go on to befriend Adventurers Club members such as Samantha Sterling, Pamelia Perkins, Otis T. Wren, Hathaway Browne, Fletcher Hodges and Colonel Suchbench. At some point in the 1930s, Sam visited the esteemed South Seas Club of Hollywood, L.A. and kept mementos of his travels to the club.

By 1935, Sam ran a mercantile outpost known as Tropical Imports which supplied the Jungle Navigation Company and Indiana Jones during his operations in the Lost Delta of Cambodia.[13] This shop also appeared to trade with the island of the Enchanted Tiki Room in Polynesia. Sam also held some notably affiliation with the Enchanted Tiki Room, having apparent relations with the birds José and Rosita along with obtaining several tikis which were also featured in the tiki room. Around 1935/1936, Sallah sent Sam a map of the Temple of the Forbidden Eye which he and Indy were excavating so Sam could aid in drumming up tourism for extra funds. Tropical Imports also assisted in the transportation of cargo between the Lost Delta Archaeological Expedition and British Colonial Affairs during this time. At some point following this, Sam even possessed a stone tablet depicting a different crystal skull of Akator which Indiana Jones supposedly lost in the jungle.[14]

Sam's original mask in the Tiki Bar along with Drummers from the Enchanted Tiki Room

Circa 1935, after seeing the demand from Jungle Cruise passengers, he opened Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar with the help of the Jungle Navigation Company, utilizing his skills in brewing potions to make exotic drinks for any weary tourists.[15] The opening day crew for the tiki bar were five men implied to have later been killed by Sam and turned into shrunken heads used for bar decor.[16]. Several Adventurers Club members assisted Trader Sam in opening up the establishment and after 1937 began sending him old relics from their old club in Pleasure Island, Florida to put up as decoration. In 1939, Sam attended a trinket convention on a seaside beach.[17]

1940s[edit | edit source]

Around 1940 Sam would assist Hathaway Browne in his aviation career through the use of his special mixtures being used as fuel.[18] In 1941, Sam would be hired to give Walt Disney a tour of South America with the two becoming somewhat familiar.[19] Following this Sam invited Walt to join him on an expedition and Walt later becoming Sam's best customer.[20] At some point in the 1940s he travelled to the city of Casablanca, Morocco where he befriended bartender and cafe proprietor Rick Blaine who held Sam in high regards. Artifacts which he would come to collect in the Tiki Bar included a Magic Lamp from the kingdom of Agrabah, plushy of Donald Duck, Yeti mask from Anandapur and toy of the Orange Bird.

1950s-1970s[edit | edit source]

After the success of the Tiki Bar, he founded another bar at Grog Grotto by a Polynesian Village on the Seven Seas Lagoon at some point in the 1950s.[21] He was assisted in this effort by a manager at the JNC named Skip Documentary who previously aided him in managing the Enchanted Tiki Bar. Despite Sam himself presumably being a South American, this bar was heavily themed to the perceived cultures of the Polynesian islands which greeted Sam upon arrival, participating in the tiki craze of the 1950s and 1960s. In the Polynesian isles, Sam became something of a womanizer who had frequent affairs with the women of the island, namely the hula dancers.

One customer of note at the Grog Grotto was the aristocratic animal J. Thaddeus Toad, Esq. who would have his keys confiscated by Sam due to Toad's horrendous driving abilities. Another customer was singer and Mickey Mouse Club member Annette Funicello whom Sam listened to the music of.[22][23] There was however some incident where someone at the bar threw Annette into the nearby lagoon. Decor for the bar included the mounted arm of the Giant Squid which had attacked the Nautilus decades earlier, brought to life by the magic of Sam's bar. Along with this was the tiki totem of Uh-Oa, the goddess of disaster and a patron of the Enchanted Tiki Room who would enchant Sam's bar as-well along with a necklace depicting on Colonel Nedley Lostmore, and a life-preserver from the Norwegian company Vesta Gruppen.

Sam spent time in the tropical Blustery Bay with the crew of a shrimping vessel known as the Miss Tilly in a year originally said to be 1955. This boat was swept up in a hurricane which beached on Mount Mayday in the settlement of Placid Palms with the crew later using post-cards to reignite contact with Sam. By the 1960s, Sam became friends with former aviator Lt. Robin "Rob" Crusoe who sent Sam bottled messages when he got marooned in the Pacific. At some point between 1951 and 1960, Sam seemingly became acquainted with the Fredrickisens Carl & Ellie. This couple planned on moving to Paradise Falls in Venezuela and Sam seemingly shared some connection to their efforts, having a coin-jar modelled after their to obtain funds for said travel. Sam had also visited the Sunken Gardens attraction of St. Petersburg, Florida which had been established in the 1920s and popular in the 1960s.[24] Skip and Sam would continue the Grog Grotto's operations into the 1970s.

Development history[edit | edit source]

Appearances and allusions[edit | edit source]

Adventure Trading Company[edit | edit source]

During this event, the Tiki Mask Juju of the Adventure Trading Company was earned by assisting the Enchanted Tiki Bar in their brewing of a, "JujuJuice". In the story behind the mission, employees of the bar misplaced the drink's recipe and believe Sam might kill them over it.[25]

Jungle Cruise[edit | edit source]

Sam appears at the end of the Disneyland attraction, holding a bundle of shrunken heads with his pet elephant, Ellie[26]. When the boat passes by, the skipper remarks that he has a special deal going on just for Jungle Cruise passengers - two heads for one of yours. In the queue for Disneyland's Jungle Cruise, Nigel Greenwater mentions Sam as having some business connection with Tropical Imports, referring to the shop pseudonymously as being, "Trader Sam's".[27]

Trader Sam’s[edit | edit source]

Sam is the owner and founder of the Enchanted Tiki Bar at Disneyland and Grog Grotto at the Magic Kingdom. Photographs of him are all over the wall, featuring his many adventures and all of the friends he made along the way. Alongside them are many artifacts, trinkets, and other paraphinelia he’s collected over his life. Several letters and postcards from members of the Adventurers Club can be found at both locations. His original mask from the Jungle Cruise can be seen on a shelf at the Tiki Bar.

When creating the drinks on the menu, he collected exotic ingredients from the most remote corners of the world - from the deepest jungles in the Lost River Delta to the enchanted temples of the tiki gods. They were put together in secret recipes and secret mixes of juice and spices he called “Sam’s Gorilla Grog”. Some are said to have mystical powers - when ordered, they can awaken the tiki gods and create wonderous events around the entire bar.

Skipper Canteen[edit | edit source]

Sam has a book at Skipper Canteen, titled "Friends for Dinner"[28]. Other books by him are Top Hats and Umbrellas (referencing Chief Nah-Mee's paraphernalia) and The Missing Mask which references the mask that Trader Same once wore. On the bulletin board is a community message saying, "Willing to Trade? See Sam".[29]

Magic of Disney Animation[edit | edit source]

A poster for a Mickey and Minnie Mouse film in the Minnie Mouse meet 'n' greet area of Disney's Hollywood Studios is a film called, "The Jungle Cruise". In addition to being listed as a cast-member in the credits of the poster, Sam also appears on the poster.[30]

Main Street, U.S.A.[edit | edit source]

One, "T. Sam" is listed in the, "Disneyland Casting Agency" where he is a contact for new skippers applying for positions in the Jungle Navigation Company.[31]

Connections[edit | edit source]

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea[edit | edit source]

Sam is shown to be affiliated with the character of Ned Land and his bars are filled with allusions to the classic story including a clamshell from Submarine Voyage and portrait of the Nautilus. The enchanted tentacle belonging to the Giant Squid is mounted on the wall behind the bar-counter of Sam's Grog Grotto. When the Nautilus drink is ordered, it comes to life and assists in serving the drink as Captain Nemo's voice is heard.

Adventureland Bazaar[edit | edit source]

On display in the Tiki Bar is a banjo which has writing on it reading, "Banjo lessons contact H. Goff; dock 54". This is an allusion to a window over the Adventureland Bazaar which advertises, "Oriental tattooing by Prof. Harper Goff; Banjo Lessons".

Adventurers Club[edit | edit source]

There are letters to Trader Sam from several club members which can be found in this locale. A photograph of the Colonel is also found with a letter mentioning his familiarity with Sam and his favourite drink of Gin & Tonic. Sam was apparently left in possession of the Adventurers Club's ventriloquist dummy by Pamelia Perkins with said dummy being visible. While the bar is clearly influenced by the Adventurers Club, one of the drink-order events at Trader Sam's is a shipwreck in a bottle, which was borrowed from the Adventurers Club though changed to resemble The Wicked Wench from Pirates of the Caribbean. There are also several photos and messages from U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt with notes from Sam saying he was an early member of the club.

Fantasyland[edit | edit source]

The car keys of J. Thaddeus Toad, Esq. from The Wind in the Willows, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949), and the attraction Mr. Toad's Wild Ride are hung from the rafters of the Grog Grotto. This being a gag on Mr. Toad being an infamously horrible driver who would not be allowed to drive at all in Sam's establishment where he would be drinking.

Indiana Jones[edit | edit source]

Trader Sam is affiliated with several characters from the Indiana Jones and is in possession of several objects from the franchise.

Pete's Dragon[edit | edit source]

Sam was friends with Lampie from Pete's Dragon with Lampie having sent Sam letters during the events of the film.

Pirates of the Caribbean[edit | edit source]

Trader Sam is affiliated with Captain Jack Sparrow, Blackbeard and Angelica Teach. He also possesses a bottled miniature of Barbossa's ship the Wicked Wench and a locket possessed by either Davy Jones or Calypso The description for his drink the Shipwreck on the Rocks also mentions Davy Jones.

Pleasure Island[edit | edit source]

Sam was familiar with several members of the Adventurers Club. He also is in possession of several objects from Pleasure Island including the Adventurers Club's ventriloquist dummy and Zeus' fishing pole.

Sunshine Tree Terrace[edit | edit source]

In both of his bars are figures of the Orange Bird which he is identified as having traded for.

Tarzan[edit | edit source]

A photo framed in the Tiki Bar is of Professor Porter and Jane Porter from Tarzan on their search for gorillas.

Tower of Terror[edit | edit source]

Sam's alleged grandfather Trader Bill was a close ally of Harrison Hightower III with his portrait having been kept in Hotel Hightower and later sent to Sam through the New York Preservation Society.

Typhoon Lagoon[edit | edit source]

A post-card in the Tiki Bar is from the crew of the shrimping ship The Miss Tilly, a boat from Typhoon Lagoon.

Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room[edit | edit source]

A letter from Jose to Trader Sam inquires on if Sam knows Rosita's whereabouts due to the birds of the Tiki Room trying to settle a bet.

World Showcase[edit | edit source]

The, "Vesta Gruppen" life-preserver in the Grog Grotto is taken from the defunct attraction Maelstrom from EPCOT's Norway Pavilion. In the attraction, this life-preserver was featured in the Norway Pavilion's norse village.[32]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Jungle Cruise at the Magic Kingdom has a different Trader Sam than the one at Disneyland. In 1991, a reworked script for the attraction would re-label him as Chief Name, originally intended as a blank slate for Skippers to improvise whatever name they wanted before they began referring to him as "Chief Namee". This name would stick for almost 20 years until scripts were revised and the character once again was named Trader Sam, though the Trader Sam's bars would establish the two Sams as cousins and still refer to the Florida design as Chief Nah-mee.
  • Given their affinity for Shrunken Heads, it is more than likely that Nah-mee and Sam are both Jivaroan South Americans.
  • For many years, Sam wore a tribal mask before this was removed and relocated to the Enchanted Tiki Bar.
  • Sam and Nah-mee's head trading is actually fairly historically accurate as while Shrunken Heads were originally used for ceremonially purposes, there was a market for them with westerners during the early 20th century. During that point in time, grave-robbing and non-religious killings are believed to have been used to increase inventory of shrunken heads to meet demands.
  • It is theorized that due to Sam's position as, "Jungle's head salesman" and proprietor of Tropical Imports and the Enchanted Tiki Bar that he might be a member of the Adventureland Chamber of Commerce.
  • Trader Sam is implied to be bisexual or pansexual with him having letters and photographs in the Enchanted Tiki Bar showing lovers of his who were men and women.
  • While he has story connections to many if not most mainline Disney Parks properties, there are still a small number of attraction IPs which Sam has yet to be connected to. Namely this includes: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Country Bear Jamboree, Journey Into Imagination, Haunted Mansion, Matterhorn Bobsleds, Mystic Manor, Soarin’, Space Mountain, Star Tours and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
  • Sam is similar to the character of Jock Lindsey from Raiders of the Lost Ark in that they are both bar-keeps that are affiliates with Indiana Jones and the Adventurers Club. Sam is also somewhat similar to Pecos Bill in being a barkeep who is well acquainted with several characters in the park mythos, history and fiction.
  • Despite being South American indigenous, Sam's mask has a noticeably African design. It is likely that he obtained it or made it in Africa, potentially from the headhunter tribe of the Nile or pygmy tribe of the Congo.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. https://www.instagram.com/p/Bg_-9TRFBNh/
  2. https://www.mousesteps.com/2011/09/25/detailed-look-at-trader-sams-enchanted-tiki-bar-disneyland-hotel-from-august-2011/2/
  3. https://www.instagram.com/p/Bem3CQMFiDj/
  4. https://www.instagram.com/p/BhP0WDNFHiR/
  5. https://www.instagram.com/p/B1xO5kFAHp0/
  6. https://www.instagram.com/p/BdK_AWylVg2/
  7. https://www.instagram.com/p/BZcEgKllDSx/
  8. https://www.endorexpress.net/parks/disneyparks/2011/08/trader-sam-meet-indiana-jones/
  9. https://www.mousesteps.com/images/stories/Disneyland/Disneyland%202011/Trader%20Sams/IMG_7374.jpg
  10. https://www.instagram.com/p/BdK88XzFdXc/
  11. https://www.instagram.com/p/Bht93FSDvDG/
  12. https://www.instagram.com/p/BZWe4Zjgo1G/
  13. https://myyearwiththemouse.com/category/adventureland/page/3/
  14. http://findingmickey.squarespace.com/other-hidden-dl/adventureland/1239330
  15. https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2011/07/inside-trader-sams-at-the-disneyland-hotel/
  16. https://www.instagram.com/p/B8hkeJvAwvV/
  17. https://www.instagram.com/p/BzbLujughZL/
  18. https://www.instagram.com/p/B427Gc2gzOt/
  19. https://www.instagram.com/p/CESA9VmgyLP/
  20. http://disneylanddiva.blogspot.com/2012/04/
  21. https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2016/02/all-in-the-details-exploring-trader-sams-grog-grotto/
  22. https://fairytaleweddingsguide.com/wdw-venues/trader-sams/
  23. http://www.mainstgazette.com/2015/08/management-is-not-responsible.html
  24. http://www.mainstgazette.com/2018/06/countless-tropical-locales.html
  25. https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=871442631007&set=oa.1903682069948046
  26. https://flickr.com/photos/derekmorton/13012851745/
  27. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUOmWfCTllo
  28. https://flickr.com/photos/aloha75/35903215591/
  29. https://www.instagram.com/p/BYUKhQFA_8K/
  30. https://touringplans.com/blog/2013/10/09/new-minnie-mouse-meet-greet-location-disneys-hollywood-studios/
  31. http://www.mainstgazette.com/2016/07/now-casting.html
  32. https://disneybystephenie.wordpress.com/2015/04/03/trader-sams-easter-eggs/
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.