While it is very hard for me to choose favorites among resorts, the Port Orleans resorts hold a special place in my heart as one of the first Disney resorts I stayed in as a child, where we “Disneymooned,” and the first resort where we stayed with our children. The sister resorts Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter have a lot going for them, but there are a few cons you should keep in mind when you are considering these resorts for your next Walt Disney World Vacation.
10. Pro: Renovated Rooms
Port Orleans French Quarter completed room renovations in 2018, and Port Orleans Riverside is undergoing a similar treatment now. The renovations mean freshly decorated rooms and include some of the popular recent Disney updates like the wood-like vinyl floors for more cleanliness, raised bed frames for storing luggage (or a folded stroller) underneath, bright lighting, new TVs, and a refreshed look.
9. Pro: Food Courts
Both Port Orleans Resorts have great food courts. Sassagoula Floatworks and Factory at French Quarter has a lively Mardi Gras theme inside, and features great New Orleans cuisine. They offer a great chicken and biscuit, along with classics like Crawfish Etouffee, Shrimp & Grits, Jambalaya, Gumbo, Muffulettas and Po’ Boys. And of course the Beignets! The Riverside Mill Food Court at Port Orleans Riverside has a bit more subdued theme, but equally delicious food options like the Bayou Burger, Fried Shrimp, Create Your Own Pasta, and more.
8. Con: Buses
While it is always nice to be able to use Disney transportation to and from the parks, the bus system at Port Orleans can be a little frustrating. Within Riverside there are 4 bus depots (North, South, East & West) so it is important to identify the one closest to your room to minimize your walking. Sometimes both Port Orleans share buses so that makes for an additional stop at French Quarter. It can mean a longer time getting to the parks (or back to your room) after driving around all of the stops, and it can make for crowded buses at peak times.
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7. Pro: Recreation
For moderate resorts Port Orleans French Quarter and Riverside have a lot of recreation options for guests. In addition to the options you’ll find at most resorts like the movies under the stars, playgrounds, and campfires Port Orleans has some unique options. At Riverside you can fish at the Fishin’ Hole on Ol’ Man Island with a cane pole, or sign up for a guided fishing excursion from the marina (both require fees). There are bike rentals and Surrey bike rentals available to enjoy the paths around the scenic resort. You can also take a horse drawn carriage ride through the resorts which is a very special way to spend the evening (reservations recommended, fee required).
6. Pro: River Roost Lounge
Port Orleans Riverside is home to one of the most popular lounges at Walt Disney World, the River Roost. And it is arguably the liveliest. River Roost Lounge is home to Yee Haa Bob on select nights who puts on a high-energy, family friendly show filled with music, jokes, and good old-fashioned entertainment. The lounge also features great drinks and some food. Check the schedule for when Yee Haa Bob will be there, and plan to arrive early as the lounge fills up quickly.
5. Pro: Sleeps 5
Port Orleans Riverside has two differently themed sections of the resort, Alligator Bayou and Magnolia Bend. The rooms in Alligator Bayou can sleep up to 5 guests in most rooms with 2 queen beds and a fold down twin bed (during the day it is a bench). These rooms are a great value for families of 5 who don’t want to spend deluxe pricing or divide into two rooms. When making your reservation families of 5 will automatically be given the options that sleep 5, but other parties may book these rooms if the categories noted as “5th Sleeper” are listed as available in your search.
4. Con: The Size
What is a con at Port Orleans Riverside is actually a pro at French Quarter. Riverside is a large, sprawling resort, much as you may thing of areas of the rural south. It is quite spread out and some rooms can be a good distance from the main building with the food court, front desk, and shop. This is the reason for the multiple bus stops around the resort, along with quiet pools spread among the guest buildings. It takes a day or two to figure out your best routes to where you need to go. Of course, booking a room in the “preferred” category will mean you are close to the main building as possible. Just the opposite, French Quarter is a very compact resort, by far the smallest of the moderate resorts. It is laid out very much like a city similar to New Orleans with an efficient grid pattern to the walk ways.
3. Pro: Sister Resorts
A big pro to a stay at either Riverside or French Quarter is that they are sister resorts and are connected by a walkway along the Sassagoula River. And like sisters, they share everything. So if you are staying at one you can easily visit the other to dine at the food court, enjoy the lounge, swim in their pool, or take part in recreational activities. Twice the fun!
2. Pro: Boat to Disney Springs
With all of the new restaurants and shops at Disney Springs it has become a big part of a Walt Disney World vacation, not to be missed during your trip. Both Port Orleans resorts have a boat dock with water transportation to and from Disney Springs which makes for a peaceful and convenient way to get there. There is nothing quite like approaching on the water. Note that the boats do not run during inclement weather or high winds, so there is boat transportation as an alternative.
1. Pro: The Theme
The thing I love most about the Port Orleans Resorts is their theming. Both are quiet and peaceful, and they give you a much needed break from the hustle and bustle of the theme parks. Riverside has gorgeous landscaping throughout that make you feel like you are in the Bayou, or in the manicured gardens of a southern mansion. French Quarter has a town feel with neat lawns and squares featuring fountains. The architecture of both resorts is very well done to fit the theme and give you a sense of place. And each resort has loss of nooks and crannies to explore. The Imagineers and Designers did an excellent job pulling the Port Orleans resorts together.
What are your pros and cons for staying at Port Orleans Riverside or Port Orleans French Quarter on a Walt Disney World Vacation?