Want to walk on the wild side? Enjoy a cocktail on a leisurely safari? Well, welcome to a travel lovers dream – the Nomad Lounge! Located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, this watering hole currently lies at the former entrance to Camp Minnie Mickey. But, this summer it has transformed into Pandora, the World of Avatar! Which promises to be another masterpiece of Disney Imagineering – and Mr. Joe Rohde – for that matter. That is, assuming you make it to the new land and don’t find yourself spending a leisurely afternoon as a Nomad instead.
Disney fanatics will immediately recognize the name Joe Rohde. The mind behind Animal Kingdom park and Lodge. If you are not familiar, feel free to run a quick search. Go ahead, I’ll wait!
Ready? Well, the cast members here will enthusiastically tell you tales of his visits, how he masterminded the drink list, and how much attention he paid to the tiniest details. It is clear he loves this spot, and has put his heart into it. And not only that, but the cast members feel it too. So, let’s jump in!
My first visit to Nomad Lounge was in July 2016, shortly after it opened. With construction in full swing at Pandora, we stopped in and grabbed a comfortable table. Decorated as though you are partaking in a global journey, you are surrounded by earthy colors and flowing white drapery. You may choose to sit at the bar, at a large bar height table in the center (perfect for mingling on a solo safari), or at carefully spaced lounge chairs surrounding the circular room. Outside, there is a deck that runs the full length of the lounge with seating for large groups, or tables for two along the railings. The deck overlooks trees, plant life and rivers that truly mimic and envelope you in a world not unlike that of another continent. On our first visit, we sat inside because true to the rainforest feel — it was down pouring. It actually added to the ambiance. But not to worry – the entire deck area is covered so you should be able to take a seat so long as you don’t mind getting misted a bit!
Now, onto the good stuff. We were informed by our server that Joe Rohde had a personal touch with the menu and was very involved in crafting the drinks. You could easily spend an entire day sampling all of the tropical options, but we will feature some particularly good choices here:
Night Monkey – Never have I experienced so many flavors in one drink! Featuring rum mixed with guava puree, mint, coffee simple syrup, lime juice, and even cilantro. Tasting this drink takes you through these ingredients almost one by one, lead by the guava. But note – this one tends to depend on the bartender more so than most other drinks. With so many unique ingredients, a pinch of cilantro more than you are used to can change the flavor significantly. I suggest noting to your server any ingredients you would prefer they focus on, or would rather they use sparingly.
Mustang Coffee – an instant pick me up. And particularly helpful on either a chilly day or a rainy day, as this is pure comfort in a drink. This is a crafted mix of Crown Royal, brown sugar, and butter, with hot coffee. I would not recommend trying this one at home folks! Ask your server for the background story on this – they love to share it! Hint – it has origins in helping warm up climbers during their trek up Everest!
Leaping Lizard – if you are a pineapple lover, this is for you. Light and easy drinking with a rum base and orange, passion fruit and mango juices.
If you are more in the mood for a good beer, try the Kungaloosh Spiced Excursion Ale (more of a heavy body) or Safari Amber (a lighter option). Crafted for Disney World Resort! They also have a decently sized list of options from Kenya, Thailand, Singapore and even Brazil (foreshadowing that Brazilian pavilion rumored to be coming to Epcot World Showcase? HMM).
And while they do not have the extensive list of African wines you can find down the street at Jiko at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Nomad does have a list of featured wines from different regions. Including Casablanca if you want to play out a nice romantic moment and imagine that wind through your hair…sorry. Off topic.
Now, what is a safari without some trek snacks? When Nomad first opened the menu looked quite a bit different. It was a bit more adventurous and even included Head Cheese – in the interest of our lovely audience I was convinced to try this by Miss Tonic herself, but it was not my favorite. But credit is due for the lounge having one of the more interesting menus in the World. Some other dishes did make the cut and remain on the menu though, including the Vegetarian Summer Roll with Ponzu on the side.
This is a very light but filling meal for those hot days. It consists of vegetables and rice noodles wrapped and served with a spicy sauce for dipping (but I found it easier to pour the sauce into the wrap!) The sauce is along the lines of a soy sauce, and while it has a zing to it, it isn’t too hot for most. Note, this is not something you want to be eating during a group photo. It can get messy!
The Asian Barbeque Chicken Wings were a hit, but pretty standard bar fare. A great choice for the picky eater in the group.
Along those same lines, the African-spiced Wagyu Beef Sliders are delicious! The beef is spiced just differently enough to be interesting and worth the try, but it is approachable for someone who isn’t quite ready for the Summer Roll. They are a great size for sharing also. Interestingly, it comes with vinegared potato cubes. These are not fries and I do recommend a fork, but they are perfectly flavored with just a hint of vinegar and salt.
We also tried the Artisanal Cheese board. Another yummy choice, and held to the high standards of the connected signature restaurant, Tiffins. It is worth noting there were conflicting reports about whether you could order from the Tiffins menu as well, but we confirmed on two visits they do not share a kitchen. Sorry folks!
Overall, this is a must-do for us on every trip. Great atmosphere, happy bartenders and staff. And check out the menu below to see all of the offered drinks and appetizers. We usually order a few and easily make a lunch out of it.
So there you have it, the highlights of – dare I say – my favorite Walt Disney World lounge. Steep shoes to fill to be sure, but executed flawlessly here.