A Nomad’s Haven in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Categories: 

A Nomad’s Haven in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Critics of Disney travel seem to feel it’s not worth the time or money to travel to a “fake” place –a Disney-fied, sanitized, cartoon version of the real world. And while I understand this sentiment, and certainly wouldn’t argue that the bridges of the Italy pavilion in EPCOT could replace a visit to Venice itself, or that the Kiliminjaro Safaris ride beats an actual trek through the heart of Africa, Disney presents opportunities for a wide array of adventures that many would otherwise never have access to. They take great care in creating these spaces, and for me the thrill lies in knowing that the research Imagineers use to bring the wonders of the world to central Florida is very real. 

One place in the parks where this backstory is celebrated is the Nomad Lounge, an extension of Tiffin’s restaurant in the Discovery Island section of the Animal Kingdom. This casual dining experience appeals to the sense of adventure Disney Imagineers possess and try to share with guests. In addition to tasty pad thai, comforting coffee service, and a lovely veranda, the Nomad Lounge offers guests a chance to learn about the decidedly un-sanitized expeditions the minds behind Animal Kingdom embarked on in creating the park – part of a long tradition of Disney innovators drawing inspiration for a world of fantasy from the real and wonderful world around them. 

Pad thai. From A Nomad’s Haven in Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Delicious coffee. From A Nomad’s Haven in Disney’s Animal Kingdom
A Nomad’s Haven in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

The drinks menu is interspersed with stories of backpacking in Lamu, Kenya, shivering in tents literally frozen shut at the base of Mount Everest, and approaching Asian temple ruins through crocodile-infested, whirlpool-prone waters in a raft reminiscent of an umbrella. 

Drinks menu! From A Nomad’s Haven in Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Gorgeous drinks menu. From A Nomad’s Haven in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

IIn addition to the menu photos, guests of the Lounge can see images that inspired the theming of Animal Kingdom on display. 

A Nomad’s Haven in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

With its covered porch, comfy chairs, and relaxed atmosphere, the Nomad Lounge functions as a sanctuary of sorts for “weary travelers” from where it sits on the border between Discovery Island and Pandora. Although it welcomes those seeking refuge from the Florida sun and rain rather than desert heat or monsoon floods, the Lounge makes for a lovely spot to recharge before heading out to new adventures, in Animal Kingdom and beyond. 

A Nomad’s Haven in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

In order to pass along the spirit of adventure to guests, the Lounge also features banners hanging from the ceiling that pose questions about travel and wanderlust to patrons, who can then write answers on little paper banners posted on the wall.

travel inspiration! From A Nomad’s Haven in Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Write your own travel inspiration. From A Nomad’s Haven in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

The passing on of personal stories adds authenticity to a location that reinvigorates the underlying spirit of discovery and joy that drives Animal Kingdom and Disney as a whole. 

 

Kathryn Blanco is the Disney Editor for Wandering Educators
 

All photos courtesy and copyright Kathryn Blanco

 

 

Share