Tucked in beside Tiffins, on the border between Discovery Island and Pandora, is the Nomad Lounge. A simple, unassuming oasis full of whimsical drinks and sumptuous dishes from all over the world. All of this can be found in this hidden gem of a lounge inside Disney’s Animal Kingdom. So, without delay, we are going to dive into our Nomad Lounge review!
First things first, the elephant in the room is the fact that both Lauren and I love the Nomad Lounge unabashedly. Now, while it might seem that this review is going to be unfairly biased towards the great things the Nomad Lounge has to offer, I will try to be as balanced as I can. That being said, there isn’t really anything to gripe about. So, my positivity is coming from the fact that the Nomad Lounge is truly great…not just because it’s my favourite lounge on Disney property.
As a side note – if you don’t want to read the in-depth review, skip on down to the bottom of the page for our Disney Dining QUIPS, which give you all the information you need at a glance. Okay, enough preamble…onto the good stuff:
The Nomad Lounge is similar to Tiffins in the sense that it has an atmosphere featuring travel around the globe. Inside the main lounge are banners hanging from the ceiling. Each banner poses a question to would-be world travelers and features a beautiful image from somewhere around the globe. Questions include things like “What was the greatest travel challenge you’ve faced?” or “What do you never do while travelling?”. The banners also feature quotes and words of wisdom for a modern-day globetrotter.
The colour scheme inside features a lot of reds and yellows to contrast the dark-coloured wood that line the ceiling. A slightly dim, but warm lighting fills the room throughout the day and into the evening. Overtop the bar, hundreds of small banners hang in a sort of organized chaos. These are decorative tags that feature answers to the banner questions that guests have written down. The lounge also features an outdoor patio for guests. This place really does evoke the sort of lounge a world traveler would stop in, to reminisce and share stories.
The interior seating is a combination of bar height chairs around the bar and cushioned chairs and couches around the remaining space. Beige, sheer curtains hang in the windows. While they’re not there to block any sunlight, they add a comfortable touch to the space. Inside, there’s a little more noise as it carries around the room fairly well. You can still carry on a conversation, but the noise level is a little higher.
Conversely, the outdoor seating is a more quiet and serene space. Outdoor furniture (tables for 2 and larger couches for larger groups) fill the patio, while most of the noise carries out over the water. The patio is covered by an overhang from the main part of the building, with sheer grey curtains on the perimeter. Lanterns adorn the tables, to add to the overall rustic theme. Make no mistake, the seating is comfortable no matter where you sit. It’s almost like an invitation to relax and take a breath and moment of respite from the busy day in the park.
The main reason to visit the Nomad Lounge is to sample the drink menu. Inside the menu are over a dozen tempting spirits and libations (mixed drinks) to sample. The majority of the signature drinks have a focus on tropical fruit flavours, but it’s never too overtly sweet or fruity. Yes, they can mask the alcohol hidden inside, but in a subtle way. These drinks have been meticulously crafted and each one is as unique as the last. The glasses and presentation of each drink are striking, while the names are inviting.
Sample drinks like the Lamu Libation with 3 different types of rum, guava purée and orange, lime and pineapple juices. There’s also the Annapurna Zing with gin, passion fruit purée, mint, simple syrup and lime juice, topped with ginger beer and a glowing Lotus Flower.
There really isn’t a bad drink on the menu and it feels like there’s something for everyone. If you’re intrigued by the make-up of a drink, there’s a good chance you’re going to like it. For families visiting the lounge, many of the alcoholic drinks have non-alcoholic versions listed beside them in the menu. This way, any kids can also indulge in the whimsical drinks alongside their parents.
Wine and Beer
There is a fairly eclectic wine and beer list on the menu as well as the mixed drinks. Sure, there are a few American selections, but the remainder of the list come from all over the world. Wines come from places like South America and Africa, to give guests a sample from places they wouldn’t otherwise try.
The beer menu is just as adventurous. Sure, you can try the Kungaloosh Spiced Excursion Ale Draft from the US, but why not venture out? Other beers come from as far away as Kenya, South Africa, and even Singapore, Thailand and Japan.
The Spice Trader Classic
This entire article could be subtitled “An ode to the Spice Trader Classic”. While I admit that this drink may not be suited to everyone’s tastes, it really hits the mark for me. It’s the single most refreshing and delicious mixed drink I think I’ve ever had. Even the spirits used to make it are intriguing. Hayman’s Old Tom Gin from England and Dolin Blanc Vermouth from France both sound so refined. Apart from that, it’s just lemon juice and strawberries topped with soda water. Simple, yet elegant. It’s not in your face, but it has a subtle taste that if I close my eyes and think really hard, I can enjoy even now.
I don’t mean to drone on about one drink, but I think it helps you understand one of the reasons I love the Nomad Lounge. On a sunny Florida afternoon, this is the perfect recipe for escaping the heat.
While it only takes up the first page of the menu, the small plates pack a punch when it comes to unique flavours. These dishes can make the perfect pairing to your choice of drinks. And, let’s be honest, if you’re going to have more than one drink on a hot day, you should probably think of having something to eat. Thankfully, this menu has some gems. There’s an easy choice for a Charcuterie board, Tiffins signature bread service, or an assortment of artisanal cheeses, all of which are full of great flavours curated by the chefs.
Also on the menu are dishes like the Smoked Pork Ribs in a Sweet-Soy Glaze, as well as the Chicken Satay in a Spicy Peanut Sauce. There is even a small plate of churros with a vanilla crema and a chili-strawberry sauce for dipping.
Our pick for the star on the menu has to be the Truffle Poutine. Truffle Tremor Cheese (I’ve never heard of tremor cheese before this), French Fries, Crispy Onions and Black Truffle Salt are all that go into making this incredible dish. It’s elegant, yet accessible. Honestly, I don’t know how we haven’t learned from our previous visits that we should always have one order for each of us. The plate hits the table and within 2-3 minutes, the plate is clean. I can’t imagine what a giant bucket of truffle poutine would cost, but I’d be willing to wager that I could polish it off without any difficulty. Sadly, until Disney decides to offer this dish in a “bucket-size”, I’ll have to make do with the dish as is.
In case I haven’t made myself clear, the Nomad Lounge is (in my humble opinion), the greatest lounge that has ever existed in the history of Walt Disney World (am I overselling it?). Okay, dialing it back a bit, I think the Nomad Lounge is a perfect place to take a break in the day.
Whether it’s in the middle of the afternoon or later into the evening, I can’t get over how peaceful this place is, amidst the hustle and bustle of the park just outside its doors. Add to that a full menu of delicious drinks and an assortment of small plates to snack on, and you have a recipe for success in my book. If you want to check out the full menu, you can see it here.
All that being said, there are a couple of criticisms that I can make here. Firstly, like many lounges on Disney property, there is a premium for the specialty drinks that are being served here. In the $11-$14 USD range is not the most expensive on property, but it does make you think long and hard before ordering a second (or third) drink. Are they worth it? Probably, but your time in the Nomad Lounge can add up quickly.
The other criticism I have is space. I understand it’s not meant to be the biggest place in the park, especially with Tiffins taking up a lot of real estate on the other side of the wall, but I think another dozen tables would really ensure that more guests get to enjoy this not-quite-hole-in-the-wall gem of a lounge.
Criticisms aside, the bottom line for Lauren and I is that the Nomad Lounge has become a must-do for us. We make an effort to visit once every trip and if we aren’t able to make it, we think longingly about it, wishing we could have made time. It’s probably not a must-do on every trip for most people, but for us, it holds a special place in our hearts as we have enjoyed our time at the Nomad Lounge both as a couple and with the friends we have brought with us.
Disney QUIPS – Nomad Lounge
Quick – A relaxed-atmosphere lounge beside Tiffins Restaurant, serving a variety of appetizers from the Tiffins menu and a huge variety of libations and spirits from all around the world.
Unique – Inside the lounge are banners displaying various questions about travelling the globe and the joy of discovery. Outside is a beautiful view of the water on the edge between Discovery Island and the entrance to Pandora.
Impressions – The drinks alone are worth visiting the lounge. Add on top the delectable snacks and you have a recipe for a great afternoon or evening. Every mixed drink on the menu is delicious and unbelievably refreshing…especially on a hot and humid Florida Summer day.
Palate – It’s hard to go wrong on the small-plate menu, but the Truffle Poutine is a particularly wonderful indulgence to temper the array of mixed drinks. Speaking of drinks, the majority are quite fruity with an emphasis on tropical fruits. There are also wines and beers from all over the globe, and a selection of non-alcoholic drinks to keep this lounge quite family-friendly.
Skip or Stay – This is an absolute stay! If you have not experienced the Nomad Lounge, go…go now…seriously…it’s our favourite lounge on Disney property. On second thought, maybe don’t go, so we can go in your place and stay for longer. But in all seriousness, you should definitely go to the Nomad Lounge.
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