Full Review: Nomad Lounge in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

“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…

Atmosphere

Nomad Lounge is housed in the same structure as Tiffins — Animal Kingdom’s first Signature Restaurant.

Nomad Lounge

Nomad Lounge

It’s located in Discovery Island (just head around the corner from Pizzafari to find the building). [Read more…]

Review: Watermelon Mimosa and Beermosa at Animal Kingdom’s Dawa Bar

In December, we paid a visit to Animal Kingdom’s newest watering hole, Thirsty River Bar and Trek Snacks.

But we’re all for old favorites, too, so when AJ got a text from her friend Andy with the news that Dawa Bar in Animal Kingdom’s Africa had switched up their early morning cocktails, we were there!!

Now, all the talk about Animal Kingdom these days surrounds the upcoming nighttime activities like the Rivers of Light spectacular, which will extend the park into an all day experience later this spring. (And obviously we can’t wait for the arrival of Tiffins — Animal Kingdom’s first Signature Dining location — as well as the Nomad Lounge to open in conjunction with these new activities in 2016.)

But like I said, as excited as we are about all that future nighttime entertainment, we’re here to explore an exclusively early-morning experience: the recently refreshed Sunrise Cocktail menu at the Dawa Bar. While the Dawa Bar operates all day, this special menu of morning beverages is only available from 9:00 – 11:00 am.

Though morning pours aren’t new to the Dawa Bar (you may remember the Bloody Mary menu that was introduced in late 2014), we’re here to go over some changes with you, including an absentee from the Bloody Mary selections along with some fun new additions. (Did somebody say “Mimosas”?!)

Atmosphere

2014 brought a renovation and slight relocation to the Dawa Bar as well as the aforementioned morning menu of Bloody Marys.

Animal Kingdom's Dawa Bar

Animal Kingdom’s Dawa Bar

Other than that, though, things have held pretty steady at this African-themed lounge over the years. It still sits right beside the Tusker House check-in area. [Read more…]

First Look AND Review: Thirsty River Bar and Trek Snacks in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

2016 is gearing up to be a positively HUGE year for Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

The headlining news revolves around the highly anticipated Rivers of Light spectacular, which — along with evening journeys at Kilimajaro Safaris also beginning sometime in the spring — will transform Animal Kingdom into a park with nighttime activities for the first time.

Naturally, this transition into a full day park will affect dining options, since expanded operating hours will result in a larger need for more dining opportunities. In fact, it’s already been announced that Animal Kingdom will also be getting its first Signature Restaurant in 2016, Tiffins.

But it’s not just huge shows and signature eateries coming to Animal Kingdom. Some additions are more subtle, but certainly still worth noting. For instance… SURPRISE!! As of this past Saturday, there is a brand new bar and snack stand you can now enjoy in Animal Kingdom’s Asia.

Thirsty River Bar and Trek Snacks

Thirsty River Bar and Trek Snacks

Welcome to Thirsty River Bar and Trek Snacks! Let’s have a look! [Read more…]

Review: New Breakfast Items at Animal Kingdom’s Pizzafari and Dawa Bar

UPDATE: Please note that as of mid-June 2015, Pizzafari is no longer serving breakfast. 

I think the start of the day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is something pretty special.

Since the entryway intentionally helps you meander a bit through the tree-lined pathways, there is an air of peacefulness about it you just don’t find in the other parks. And If you do find yourself here in the early morning hours, you’ll need sustenance to help energize you for a full day of touring.

New Breakfast Menu at Pizzafari

Pizzafari in Discovery Island (heading on the pathway towards Africa) is one of the only places that offers a hot breakfast in the park. In the past (and as recently as our last visit in June), we were unimpressed — to say the least — with Pizzafari’s breakfast options.

But the morning menu recently underwent a refresh, so we were interested to give the new offerings a try.

Pizzafari sign

Pizzafari sign

Atmosphere

Yes, we’re here to check out the new menu. But it’s practically impossible to walk into Pizzafari and not take some time immediately to notice and enjoy the brightly colored artwork that covers pretty much every inch of the place!  Below are just a few of my favorite [Read more…]

Review: Coconut-Lychee Lemonade at Drinkwallah in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom was chock full of surprises on a recent visit! While Chester & Hester’s Dino-Rama debuted the Cotton Candy Carnival Cocktail, the Asia section’s Drinkwallah held a refreshing adult beverage find of its own: Coconut-Lychee Lemonade.

Drinkwallah Sign

Drinkwallah Sign

Coconut-Lychee Lemonade

Coconut-Lychee Lemonade

One of the reasons I was intrigued by this new drink (aside from the whole “Coconut Rum” thing, that is ;) ) is that it gives us a reason to explore this unique location a little more.

Welcome sign

Welcome sign

Sure, it’s pretty much a small kiosk dedicated to its typically limited menu of frozen non-alcoholic beverages (Coke, Blue Raspberry, and Lemonade are the choices) and a few grab-and-go snacks.

Drinkwallah Menu

Drinkwallah Menu

But that’s exactly what makes the high level of detail in this small snack stop so impressive. Like many places in Animal Kingdom, you could stroll right past Drinkwallah without realizing it, since it blends in so well with its surroundings.

Drinkwallah kiosk

Drinkwallah kiosk

You can spot a few clues, however, as to what’s available inside…

Outdoor signage

Outdoor signage

Ice Cold Refrigeration!

Ice Cold Refrigeration!

… as well as what’s not :).

Drinkwallah signage

Drinkwallah signage

Should you decide to stop inside based on the promise of cold beverages on a hot day, you’ll find that this is where the details really kick in. Just about every inch is packed with a huge array of trinkets, photographs, and artwork.

Inside Drinkwallah

Inside Drinkwallah

Inside Drinkwallah

Inside Drinkwallah

Coke bottles inside Drinkwallah

Coke bottles inside Drinkwallah

Poster on the wall

Poster on the wall

Inside Drinkwallah

Inside Drinkwallah

I always like the detail of exposed electrical wires that you’ll find all over the Africa and Asia sections of Animal Kingdom.

Light fixture

Light fixture

Forgive the awkward angle of this shot of the Coke freezer, but I love the weathered look of it, and it at least gives you some idea as to how small this space is — I had just enough room to lean back and take this picture.

Coke freezer

Coke freezer

In fact, I took the majority of these pictures through the outdoor windows – feeling oddly like a Disney-detail paparazzo ;) — since there is so little room to move inside.

The only thing that reminds you that you are in a theme park is the glow coming from the frozen drink machines themselves, and even they have been enhanced with unique fonts and topped off with materials marked by the “Anandapur Sheet Metal Company.”

Frozen beverage machines at Drinkwallah

Frozen beverage machines at Drinkwallah

Frozen beverage machines at Drinkwallah

Frozen beverage machines at Drinkwallah

Once you ‘re set with your drink or snack, you’ll do best to follow the posted advice.

Indoor signage

Indoor signage

It’s a great feeling to score a spot in this little building just behind Drinkwallah, equipped with a tall chair and – obviously – lots of shade.

Building behind Drinkwallah

Building behind Drinkwallah

But since that’s often already claimed, you can plan an escape to the lower garden.

Lower Garden direction sign

Lower Garden direction sign

What a lovely little space… There isn’t much in the way of seating here, with most opting to grab their cold drinks and continue towards Expedition Everest. But if you do have a few moments to enjoy the view, you can grab [Read more…]

Review: Cotton Candy Carnival Cocktail at Chester & Hester’s Dino-Rama in Animal Kingdom

When you think of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you likely think of winding paths, lush greenery, and rich experiences based in the history, culture, and beauty of Africa and Asia.

Unless, of course, you’re HERE…

Chester & Hester's Dino-Rama sign

Chester & Hester’s Dino-Rama sign

Welcome!!

Welcome!!

Welcome to Chester & Hester’s Dino-Rama!

Dino-Rama Entrance

Dino-Rama Entrance

This street carnival smack-dab in the middle of Animal Kingdom’s Dinoland, U.S.A. is… well, it’s like nothing else in Disney World, that’s for sure. A brightly-colored and whimsical fair of carnival games and rides with over-the-top roadside-stop flair!

Primeval Whirl

Primeval Whirl

Comet Crasher

Comet Crasher

TriceraTop Spin

TriceraTop Spin

Mammoth Marathon

Mammoth Marathon

Mammoth Marathon

Mammoth Marathon

It’s also where you can find some traditional carnival treats, like cotton candy and snow cones at Dino Diner, and popcorn at Corn-Ivores Popcorn Cart.

Corn-Ivores Popcorn

Corn-Ivores Popcorn

Corn-Ivores Popcorn

Corn-Ivores Popcorn

In fact, it was while stopping by Corn-Ivores that I spotted this sign for a Carnival Cocktail: a blend of lemonade, blue cotton candy, and Bacardi Black Razz Rum.

Carnival Cocktail sign

Carnival Cocktail sign

This, I had to try!

Upon placing my order, I was expecting a cotton candy-topped beverage akin to the Cotton Candy Lemonade that you can occasionally find at the Everything Pop Food Court. Nope! Here the cotton candy is blended into the mix prior to pouring. Sad face.

But at least it’s BEAUTIFUL! Don’t you just want to jump in?

Carnival Cocktail

Carnival Cocktail

You can spy the vivid blue hue coming from the drink machines.

Carnival Cocktail in drink machines

Carnival Cocktail in drink machines

But just because I couldn’t see the cotton candy, doesn’t mean it wasn’t there. Because [Read more…]