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Riverside Mill Review

Port Orleans Riverside Dining 101

Part 1:  Riverside Mill

Port Orleans Riverside is one of my family’s favorite resorts regardless of category (value, moderate or deluxe).  It has a special place in our hearts because I stayed here with my family my senior year in high school and my husband and I “Disney-mooned” here back when it was Dixie Landings.  We also stayed here on our very first trip with our children.  One of the great features at Port Orleans is the food offerings.  In this article I will highlight the Riverside Mill food court.  Other dining options at the resort include the full service restaurant, Boatwrights Dining Hall, the River Roost Lounge and Muddy Waters Pool Bar.

Back when the resort was known as Dixie Landings the food court was the Colonel’s Cotton Mill.  In April 2001 the name change from Dixie Landings to Port Orleans Riverside also changed the food court’s name to the Riverside Mill.  According to legend (and the large painted sign in the food court), the Riverside Mill was founded in 1875.  This is one of the great aspects about Disney resorts:  the backstory.

Fitting in with the overall Old South/Louisiana Bayou theme, the Riverside Mill is one more part of this working river landing area.  It is themed as a cotton mill, complete with a water wheel outside that “operates” the gears and machinery of a cotton press inside.  My family always enjoys sitting near the windows by the wheel to enjoy the view and the motion of the machinery.  It is these little details that add so much to the experience staying at an onsite Disney hotel.

The Riverside Mill is located in the main building at Port Orleans Riverside that also houses the registration area, Fulton’s General Store, lounge, full service restaurant and arcade.  This building is the Sassagoula Steamboat Company.  As you walk through the entrance lobby from the front you will go down and to the left to find food court. If you are entering from the resort there are several doors to access the food area.

The seating area is large and expansive (with 450 seats) which is a good thing because it is a large resort with a high guest capacity.  It can get crowded in the ordering area, but the seating is usually plentiful.  To avoid the crowds visit at non-peak times of the day:  eat breakfast early to get to the parks at rope drop, eat lunch when others are touring in the parks, or have a later dinner.  The seating is open and airy with many windows and high ceilings.  There is an area where children can watch Disney Junior on TV and color for entertainment.  I do wish there was a bit more outside seating available here to enjoy the beautiful marina and Sassagoula River right outside.

The general operating hours for Riverside Mill are 6:00am-midnight, but each window can varies depending on what they serve.  Breakfast is served 6:00am-11:00am, with the lunch and dinner menu available from 11:00am-midnight.

The serving area at Riverside Meal is divided into four stations:  The Bakery, The Grill, Pizza and Pasta, and Salads and Sandwiches, along with a refrigerated grab and go section and other grab and go items like fruit and cold cereal.  Each has different selections for breakfast then a separate menu for lunch and dinner.  I think the menu at Port Orleans has a great variety of items to appeal to many people (including children).  For breakfast the range is everything from the quintessential Mickey Waffle to create your own omelets and create your own yogurt parfait.  Lunch brings in the burgers, chicken sandwiches, barbecue sandwiches, pizza, create your own salad, create your own pasta, and deli sandwiches.  At dinner a carving station is added for turkey or ham dinners with all of the fixings.  There is plenty of variety to keep you happy eating at the food court multiple times over your stay at Riverside.

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To order your food you enter the service area and select your window.  Each window has a separate line and a separate menu.  Trays are available at each window so you can carry your food, and so you can order from multiple windows to please everyone in your party.  Don’t forget to check the refrigerated grab and go section for other items to go with your meal.  This is also where you will pick up and purchase your refillable resort mug for the first time.  If you are using the Disney Dining plan a refillable mug is included; just select your color and indicate to the cashier that you are on the Dining Plan, the mug will be covered on your Key to the World Card.  After you have all of your meal elements selected proceed to one of the cashier lines.  During peak times they are well staffed and move quickly.  You will pay using your choice of payment method.  If you are charging to your room on your Key to the World card they have the new RFID readers where all you need to do is tap your card and enter the PIN you created at check-in.

In the center of the seating area is the large drink station.  Here you can fill your mugs or your cups if you purchased an individual drink.  There is a good selection of soft drinks along with coffee, hot chocolate and tea.  Other amenities at the drink station include a microwave and toaster for heating your meal (or perhaps your own food you brought over, or baby food if necessary), a sink for rinsing your mug (that looks like a barrel to fit the theme), a small refrigerator with butter and other condiments, a ketchup dispenser, plastic utensils, and napkins.  On the subject of napkins, I really miss the printed napkins.  Way back in the day each resort had individualized printed napkins—I still have one from Caribbean Beach Resort in the early 90s.  Even with the generic designs I loved seeing what new design they might have on each trip too, and, yes, I always took some home for a Disney fix every now and then.  But, I digress.

 

On our recent “last minute, no parks, quickie Easter weekend” trip we stayed at Port Orleans Riverside and enjoyed the Riverside Mill on a couple of occasions.  Our first stop was for dinner on our arrival night.  It was a bit on the late side for us as we had been in Universal Studios all day and were just checking in at Disney.  The ordering area was bustling, but there was ample seating available and it was almost quiet in the seating area.

Following my philosophy of sampling “regional cuisine” at Disney resorts I selected the Muffuletta sandwich with a side of homemade chips.  Available ready-made at the Soup & Sandwich station, the Muffuletta is $8.99 plus tax (or a Quick Service meal credit).  A Muffuletta is a type of sandwich popular in New Orleans created by Italian immigrants.  It is prepared on Muffuletta roll, a focaccia style bread, with Italian deli meats including capicola, mortadella, salami, pepperoni, ham, Swiss cheese and provolone.  The signature marinated olive salad really distinguishes this sandwich.  The Riverside Mill version has provolone, ham, salami and I believe capicola, along with the olive salad.  The bread was very fresh and had a great texture and flavor.  This was complemented by the meats, cheese and olive salad and made for a very tasty sandwich.  As with my beignet review, I’ve not had the chance to visit New Orleans to sample the real thing, but for what this Muffuletta was it was good.  The chips on the other hand had been sitting too long.  They were hard, stale and didn’t have much flavor to them.

My husband and oldest son each had the Carved Turkey Platter with corn, mashed potatoes and cornbread (one with gravy, one without).  This hearty platter is $10.19 plus tax (or a Quick Service meal credit) and is only available during dinner hours.  Maybe not surprisingly, the line for this was the shortest in the entire food court, yet it is a full, somewhat well rounded meal.  We’ve enjoyed this platter on several trips trying both the Turkey and the Ham versions, and they are always filling and flavorful.  The report on the platter this night was that the cornbread had been sitting for too long (like the chips) and was hard, but otherwise it was a good meal.

My 9-year-old son ordered the kids pizza meal ($5.49 plus tax, or a Child’s Quick Service meal credit).  It was your standard Disney kid’s pizza meal with the two sides and kid’s drink.  Nothing to write home about, but served hot and he liked it.

For dessert we chose to try the somewhat “regional” sweet, the Apple Blossom.  This is available at the bakery counter for $3.59 plus tax (or a snack credit).  The server there asked if I wanted ice cream on top.  This is an extra charge, but she asked if I was on the dining plan.  I wasn’t clear if the ice cream was included if you were on the dining plan (though I doubt it) or if it would count as two snack credits (more likely).

The Apple Blossom is served warm and it was very good.  The crust was flaky and the apple filling was chopped finely and flavored with cinnamon.  We split this three ways and it was a nice ending to our dinner that night.  I do think an ice cream topping would be delicious, but I wasn’t willing to add the cost of a scoop ($2.69).  My 9-year-old decided a brownie was more his speed ($3.49 plus tax or a snack credit)

The next morning we were back at the Riverside Mill for breakfast.  Since we weren’t visiting any parks it was a little difficult to get some members of our family out of bed, but we all eventually ended up at a nice table in a sunny window overlooking the dock.

This morning for breakfast my 9-year-old selected the kid’s Mickey Waffle meal ($4.99 plus tax, or a child’s Quick Service meal credit).  The kid’s meal is served with fruit and potatoes, and these mini-Mickey waffles are made from buckwheat.  The waffles were a hit, but he doesn’t like strawberries so they were added to my meal.  He also didn’t care for the potatoes; a diced variety and he is more of a shredded hash browns kid.  I ordered the Mickey Waffle with fresh fruit topping and bacon ($7.39 plus tax, or a Quick Service meal credit).  The waffle was fluffy and delicious (I don’t think the adult waffle is made from buckwheat) with a crispy outside, and it just makes me happy to eat Mickey’s ears!  I shared the bacon with my son and the waffle with my 18 month old.  When my husband and 14-year-old joined us they added to our bill of fare with another waffle and bacon platter, and a muffin from the bakery ($2.79 plus tax or a snack credit) and fruit cup ($3.59 plus tax or a snack credit).  Both seemed pleased with their selections.

We normally eat breakfast very early to make rope drop at the parks, so this was the latest I think I’ve ever been in a food court.  I was surprised at 9:00am when over the loud speaker a party started similar to those in the character dining locations.  We were celebrating being at Riverside with all kinds of cast members filling the restaurant (including management) and leading a parade to the tune of “Down by the Riverside.”  That was a lot of fun and another great Disney touch.

My family did not have any special dining restrictions on this trip (although we have in the past when traveling with extended family).  The chefs at the Riverside Mill have always been great to accommodate those needs and work with us to make suggestions to please the person with the allergy.  On this trip I saw several chefs working with families with special food needs, and overheard many happy comments from very excited guests (especially children) at the variety of things they would be able to eat on vacation.

Port Orleans Riverside is a great resort choice for many reasons, and if a good, clean, relatively quiet (compared to a value resort) food court with ample seating and a variety of foods then this resort definitely fits the bill.  With the exception of the sides of cornbread and homemade chips everything was fresh, well prepared and very appetizing.  If you are staying at Port Orleans Riverside you will definitely want to take advantage of the Riverside Meal Food Court.  Guests at Port Orleans French Quarter can make the easy walk over to eat in the here.  Even if you are not a guest at Port Orleans you might want to venture over for an evening meal to soak up the atmosphere.  While you are there you could take a carriage ride or enjoy a hilarious show by Yee Haa Bob in the River Roost Lounge.

About Sarah Chapman

I am a long time Disney fan since I was hooked on Walt Disney World with my first trip in 1987. Since that time I’ve tried experiencing everything I can in the parks, with a total of 30 visits and counting (I’m always planning my next trip) to Walt Disney World—not to mention Disney Cruise Line and even (shhh!) Universal Orlando and Sea World. I’ve turned my Disney obsession into a profession helping others plan their magical vacations as a Dream Vacation Maker at LBAC Travel. I am a work at home mom to three wonderful boys, and each one has been properly indoctrinated with all things Disney. Walt Disney World is definitely our “Laughing Place.” Look for me on Facebook at Facebook.com/SarahLBAC for updates, discount announcements, tips, tricks and planning advice for your next vacation. You can also find me on Instagram (sarahdreamvacationmaker) and Pinterest (sarahlbactravel).