“Welcome Travelers, to the Nomad Lounge, a place to share stories about travel and adventure.”
These are the words that welcome you to the Nomad Lounge in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. But even before reading that sentence, you can already tell you’ve entered into a place celebrating the “concept of being transformed by adventure.”
So pack your own sense of adventure as we do some exploring of this brand new space that just joined the scene on May 27th — the very same day that the park itself stayed open well into the night for the first time! Of course, it’s not the only new offering in the park that has found the need to expand food options as well as entertainment in light of the new all-day schedule.
But I do think you’re about to see why it’s become an immediate favorite to many guests already. Step in with me, fellow travelers…
Nomad Lounge is housed in the same structure as Tiffins — Animal Kingdom’s first Signature Restaurant.
It’s located in Discovery Island (just head around the corner from Pizzafari to find the building).
In fact, the lounge is placed in between the check-in desk for Tiffins and the Trek Gallery — one of the three dining rooms for Tiffins. You can enter from the lounge’s own outside entrance, which extends to a wraparound patio, or just stroll right in before or after your meal at Tiffins.
We’re stepping inside first, where earthy colors, soft curtains reminiscent of mosquito netting, and plenty of natural lighting set a refined — but simultaneously welcoming — atmosphere.
It can even be considered cozy, thanks to the couches and armchairs lining the room inviting you to sit and stay awhile.
Much like the rest of Animal Kingdom, you feel as though you’ve been immediately transported someplace else upon your arrival. Not necessarily to another continent in this case, but someplace other than one of the world’s busiest theme parks.
Which is fitting, because being transported is the point of the lounge, as evidenced by the conversations happening around you. Or should I say, above you…
The banners hanging from the ceiling ask questions regarding the experience of travel. The answers of Disney Imagineers who traveled to other countries during their research for the creation of Animal Kingdom are also printed on the colorful banners.
Those same questions are echoed around the high corners of the room, inviting you to join in the conversation by sharing your own travel memories.
The calm and inviting mood extends to the outdoor covered patio seating.
This is actually a fairly extensive area that wraps around the full side of the building.
Like I said, this is most definitely a place made for lounging and lingering. And, of course, enjoying a drink or two…
Eats and Drinks
It’s time to pick up a menu — I mean, travelog — and see what they’re serving at the Nomad Lounge!
It’s not difficult to pick up on why they’re calling the menu book a travelog. The beverages are listed among pictures and travel notes written by the Imagineers when they were traveling to research and create the vision for Animal Kingdom. (As with all the following menu pictures, just click the image to enlarge.)
This is also where you’ll learn how you can share YOUR story at Nomad Lounge. Guests can purchase a mini-banner for a dollar and record their own travel memories on it. The mini banners are then hung above the bar, meant to inspire future guests. (85% of the tag purchase goes towards the Disney Conservation Fund.)
As for our tour around the menu, it starts with a glimpse at the Small Plates, with a Vegetarian Summer Roll, Indian Butter Chicken Wings, Seasonal Fish Balls, Seared Wagyu Beef, Pork Ribs, and House-made Head Cheese and Chicken Liver Pate making up the offerings, along with the Taste of Tiffins dessert.
But it’s the drinks, of course, that take up the bulk of the menu, surrounded by the aforementioned notes and sketches from the park’s Imagineers. (You could seriously spend a chunk of an afternoon sitting and reading these stories and learning about the inspiration for special spots and attractions all over the park.) We’ll kick off our menu tour in Africa, with the Lamu Libation.
The Spice Trader Classic is listed opposite the Beer, Wine, and Joffrey’s Coffee selections from Africa.
Annapurna Zing and the Zingiber Fizzie (we tried the Fizzie at Tiffins) represent Indonesia on the menu, along with Dalang’s Delight and the Balinese Breeze. (You’ll notice that many of the specialty drinks have non-alcoholic versions represented on the menu under their own names.)
The Tempting Tigress is followed up by Beer selections from Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos, and Tealeaves Passion Fruit Vanilla Iced Tea.
Asia inspires the Night Monkey, the Happy Macaque, and Mustang Coffee. Tiger Lager comes from Singapore, and be sure to check out the Press Pot Coffee options which include an Indonesian Blend by Joffrey’s.
Strap on your backpack to enjoy the Leaping Lizard or Sinaloa Sangria representing Central and South America. The Boto-Rita and Hightower Rocks finish the trek alongside a lengthy selection of Wines.
Notice the picture on the upper right of the Wine and Beer page — it shows the area that inspired Flame Tree Barbecue!
The menu tour wraps in Bali, with the Snow Leopard Salvation and Jenn’s Tattoo.
The word “Kungaloosh” may have caught your eye on the beer listing in the image above. It’s another name for the “Spiced Excursion Ale,” brewed specifically and solely for Nomad Lounge!
Prices are not listed in the travelog pages, but you’ll find them on the final inserted page.
The print is a little fine , so remember that you can click to enlarge the image. But I’ll also include a closeup here of the price list for the Cocktail Adventures.
We started our personal tour with the Hightower Rocks: Casa Dragones Blanco Tequila, watermelon, Sweet-and-Sour and lime juice.
This drink was described to us as a “watermelon margarita,” and I gotta say, that pretty much nails it! But what was really impressive was how pure and fresh the watermelon flavor was. You could almost taste the seeds, it was that authentic. A really fun — not to mention beautiful — beverage.
The Leaping Lizard is another fruity refresher with Malibu Pineapple Rum and Augusta Cachaca with orange, passionfruit and mango juices.
Can you spot the face of the lizard ?
This one was one of the favorites at the table, not only due to its tropical tastes, but also because it was among the strongest of the pours.
Are you ready for the Night Monkey? Because you probably should be prepared to hear this particular combo of ingredients: Bacardi Gran Reserva Maestro Rum, guava puree, coffee simple syrup and lime juice “with a hint of cilantro.”
The prominent flavor was the coffee, but allow me to say… I think I now understand why I can’t find cilantro and guava flavored coffee in my grocery store. The combo didn’t work for me (or either of my friends at the table, unfortunately). Still, points for the gorgeous glass !
The Spice Trader Classic, though, was a nice surprise. The mix of Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, Dolin Vermouth Blanc, lemon juice and strawberries topped with soda water came together with a somewhat subtle but very refreshing flavor combination.
Of course, we couldn’t possibly pass up the chance to try the Spiced Excursion Ale, also known as Kungaloosh, brewed in Miami and specifically created for Nomad Lounge! The “spiced” in the name comes from spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, and anise.
We’re happy to say that in this case, the combo totally works! So, raise a glass, along with a cry of “Kungaloosh!”
Mustang Coffee (our server taught us that it’s pronounced “mus-TAHNG”) is one of the beverages most directly inspired by the Imagineers’ travels. Joe Rodhe was introduced to Mustang Coffee when it was made for him by Sherpas in Nepal. While the Royal Crown is a Nomad Lounge twist, the original recipe the drink is based on is made with coffee, butter, and a liqueur.
The Ethiopian Coffee used in this beverage was sourced specifically for Nomad Lounge by Joffrey’s Coffee. The butter lends a creaminess (in place of a coffee creamer) which results in a really smooth and easy to drink coffee with a hint of sweetness coming from the brown sugar.
We also grabbed a few small plates to go along with our drinks, including the Seasonal Fish Balls.
The fish for this dish during our visit was halibut and cod, and the breading surrounding it was golden, light, and crispy. They — like our other plates — were served piping hot.
It’s just the two light pieces in the serving, though, so even though all the plates are small tapas-style, the more substantial dishes were the meats we tried, including the Indian Butter Chicken Wings.
As expected with a Butter Chicken dish, the sauce was creamy and flavorful (though, as per usual, not spicy hot — using primarily spices like cumin, turmeric, and garam masala), and the wings were moist and tender. These were really tasty!
They’re served with a small dish of Crispy Black Rice, which was described to us as being similar to a “savory rice krispy treat.”
That’s another pretty apt description! The little bites of rice are neither soft nor sweet, but they have a lightly salted “seedy” taste (almost akin to sesame) that ended up becoming mildly addictive.
Finally, we tried the Pork Ribs.
Though the ribs are honey-glazed and coriander-spiced, neither of those flavors were very apparent. While the char was nice and the meat tender (if a bit fatty), the overall taste was pretty basic pork.
In all I’d say I enjoyed the drinks more than the food, but I can’t say I’m not tempted to try the Seared Wagyu Beef at some point. Which is a good thing, because we’ll definitely be visiting Nomad Lounge again in the future!
Nomad Lounge is simply a beautiful addition to Animal Kingdom — and I don’t just mean in regards to the unusually pleasing aesthetics. It is a true respite with creative drinks in comfy surroundings that encourage you to relax and unwind, and even consider the experience of travel or learn about the creation of the park, if you’re so inclined.
It’s also clear that the kiddos are welcome here — and Nomad has even provided several unique and fun non-alcoholic drinks so that they can join the grown-ups in an afternoon cool-down.
Personally speaking, I can’t wait until my own travels bring me back to the Nomad Lounge again… and again!
Will you be traveling to the Nomad Lounge on your next visit to Animal Kingdom? Please let us know with a comment!