“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!
Looks amazing, can’t wait to visit. Any idea of how many people the lounge can sit, both inside and out?
WOW how about that beer selection! Actually some really cool exotic stuff. And that Kungaloosh sounds pretty interesting, almost like a winter lager with all the spices.
Those drinks look really good and the lounge looks like a great place to just sit and relax. But I wouldn’t call those small plates, more along the lines of miniscule plates. I can’t wait to visit and try some of those drinks but will bypass the eats there for someplace that actually serves a decent amount.
how many wings do they give you ? For $10 I would hope to see 6 or more wings.
Megan – There’s seating for around 55 inside and maybe 65 outside. Many of the seats are oversized and/or multi person sofa type deals, so it depends on how close everyone wants to sit to each other.
My husband and I will be going in October! We’ve been going to the food and wine festival almost every year for his birthday since about 2009. But I agree with the comments above – the food looks great, but for eclectic tastes we might bypass the snacks and go for the drinks, simply because the price is so much higher than simply heading over to Epcot for some pork belly from Brazil!
Thanks so much for the lovely review!
I’ve never been to lounge at Disney before. Do you order food at the bar or can you just pick a seat anywhere and a server comes to take your order?
Kimberly – I haven’t been to “all” of the Disney lounges, but at the one’s I’ve been to… you can sit anywhere, and a server will come over and take your drink and/or food order. They’re actually quite good at scanning the area for new guests arriving (and keeping tabs), so you won’t be waiting too long before someone comes over and checks on you.
Kelly M says
Well, Annapurna Zing me up right nice and leave me here! This place looks fantastic!
Nice work Disney – when I think you’re out, you pull me back in 🙂
I have perhaps seen it all now. A reviewer complaining that the pork ribs were fatty. HELLO. They are RIBS! LOL.
Now I have to figure out how my sister and I can sample all those drinks between just the two of us and still be upright and coherent on our next trip. It all sounds so delicious, thanks for the review.
After such a beautifully vivid description, how could I not check out the Nomad Lounge? The Animal Kingdom really needed something like this and it sounds like they did it right! Can’t wait to sit back, relax and take it all in…..with my Lamu Libation in hand of course!
Joel Pecchioli says
We had booked an early – 4:15 – dinner at Yak & Yeti – so (based on what we’d read/seen on DFB) decided to have a “light” lunch at The Nomad Lounge. This gem is now one of our “go to” places at the Animal Kingdom! At the height of “lunch hour rush” we found ourselves seated on very comfortable couches on the wrap-around balcony overlooking the entrance to Pandora; only two of the other balcony dining spots were occupied, so we pretty much had this “oasis” to ourselves. The service was excellent and the food (small plates) very good – particularly the ribs (don’t forget to squeeze some of that lime juice on them!). And the atmosphere? – where else can you sit back in comfort (on a couch nonetheless!) with a cool drink and REALLY relax at any of the WDW theme parks? There were only two downsides: (1) I had to pry myself off the couch before “nap time” hit, and (2) the limited menu did not offer anything of interest to the two 14 year old girls with us – but it was short walk over to Pandora where they could found something for lunch. So definitely give The Nomad Lounge a try (but don’t tell too many of your friends – we wouldn’t want to ruin a great place, now would we?)
Do you know if we can take drinks from the Nomad Lounge to go? I’d love to try some but I don’t know if we’re looking to hang out in the lounge with so much to do, and our kids would be antsy. Thanks!
DFB Sarah says
Danielle, we have heard that Nomad Lounge will make drinks to-go!
How long is the Nomad lounge open after the park closes. It could be a great place to wait for the crowd to thin out.