So many places to pick out from Walt Disney World, so how do you pick the right one for you?
There's plenty of different factors that can vary person to person, so there is not a one size fits all solution. Budget is always the number one factor where you start planning. Type of accommodations and what can suit your traveling party's needs. And finally, just the overall experience - are you getting exactly what you want out of this trip?
This time we stayed at one of Disney's Moderate properties, Port Orleans - Riverside, and while we were there took the time to explore sister property Port Orleans - French Quarter.
So how did they meet our expectations?
For starters, let's just talk about what to expect from your stay. You'll enter much like at any other Disney resort, where you'll be greeted by guard gate and directed to the lobby to check-in or do your luggage drop.
With Disney's enhanced technology, you may not even have a reason to stop here other than to leave your car so you can enjoy your day. The My Disney Experience app has everything loaded for you, right on your phone, so you can check-in digitally and then receive a notification to when your room is ready! Room key? No problem! It's on your smart phone via the app, so it will even direct you to your room and allow you to enter your room via your handheld lifeline. But if you're not interested in these no conventions, no need to worry - just stop by Check-In and grab a room key for use during your stay. It would be smart to have on handy anyways, in case of overexhausted phones - and if you're overexhausted yourself, no need to make an unnecessary stop.
Once you leave your car (assuming you have one and your room isn't ready), you can feel free to explore. And just be warned, this resort is MASSIVE. But in a good way. As soon as you step foot on property you feel like you're transported to a different part of the country. And as you walk the grounds, you'll find this ring even more true. The resort has two sets of accommodations - Alligator Bayou, which will be your entry level rooms that look like you're staying in cabins in the wood. The upgrade is to Magnolia Bend, where you're staying on the mansion side and is where you'll find the Royal Guest Rooms.
On the French Quarter side, you'll find more New Orleans (rather than bayou theme) to the complex, and the accommodations make you feel like you're staying in the heart of the city. The property here is not as vast but still offers its unique charms and attention to detail as they make this city come to life. Within each hotel and room location, your pricing to book will vary between type of room (standard double or king) and location (parking view, pool, or woods/resort view ).
This stay we booked ourselves a Royal Guest Room at Riverside and we were placed at Parterre Place for our stay. The building was a little walk away from the lobby and main pool, but it was the closest in proximity to French Quarter - so we felt like we were given a little of both worlds. The room itself was all the magic you'd expect from Disney - making a princess' dream of staying in her suite come to life. The room was carefully decorated with relics of each of the movies, and hidden gems that made finding a little more exciting. Portraits of each princess adorned the walls of the room, and even silhouettes of their respective princes were incorporated into the room. But our favorite part was the firework display on the headboard, that made saying goodnight all the worth while.
Only con for a family is the lack of privacy a resort like this may offer. The moderate resorts have an open shared (double) sink space and closet for hanging clothes. The bathroom with toilet and shower are private behind a door, but if you're looking to change in privacy, you'll have only the security of a curtain to separate yourself from others.
We made this stay one where we completely immersed ourselves in what the resort had to offer. There's something to be said about spending all this time on property and not ever really getting to enjoy all that there is. We wanted to make sure that wasn't the case, so from the moment we arrived we didn't leave.
Both sides of Port Orleans offer a main pool - Ol' Man Island at Riverside and Doubloon Lagoon at French Quarter - along with additional resort pools closer to certain accommodations at Riverside. That was definitely an added bonus of choosing to stay at Riverside in case you were looking for a little quiet time away from the excitement of the main pools. And for us, our building had a pool right from the view of our room so we could easily make our way over to enjoy. It also conveniently happened to be the pool that offered the Movie Under the Stars, so made it even easier to take in all the resort activities that we offered.
Movie Under the Stars is an every other night activity offering at Disney resorts, whether they are poolside or some other central area (like at French Quarter, where they use the grass in between building of Beignet Square) to broadcast a Disney feature to families. Its a nice way to wind down the night and escape the corners of your room for a unique activity to the Disney resorts.
This is all just the beginning, each resort offers the following:
The resorts also each have unique to them offerings in terms of entertainment. You'll find Ye Ha Bob at Riverside playing the piano nightly and jazz musicians at Scat Cat Club (where you'll also find boozy beignets, more on that later)! riverside also offers the much coveted Horse Drawn Carriage rides, which book up fast - so if you're set on the experience reserve ahead of time. If you're unable to get a carriage ride you can also experience Surrey or bike ride rentals, which is a great way to see the whole property - and take yourself over to French Quarter too! Riverside also has a Fishin' Hole and your chance to try to fish (especially if its something you're not going to do back home)!
And if that's not enough for you, this resort is unique in that it has transportation to 2 other resorts and Disney Springs via the ferry boats. Sassaguola River Cruise can take you to Key West Resort, Saratoga Springs, and Disney Springs to explore - operating roughly from 10a to 10p nightly. Even if you don't want to hop off, use this as a chance to just enjoy being on the water and exploring more of the massive Disney property! And maybe taking a sneak peek into where you want to go next time you're here!
If you're looking for your Cajun staples, you've come to the right place to find them!
While both resorts feature food courts and quick service restaurants with the staples you will find property-side, you'll also find some of those classic Louisiana dishes here too!
The flagship restaurant at Port Orleans is located at Riverside, Boatwright's Dining Hall, featuring an excellent selection of meals to satisfy the whole family. Being that this is the only full-service restaurant at this resort, reservations are recommended as it does get busy. And pack a bit of your patience, as it could get busy, so you may need to wait! But if your dining time coincides with the start time of entertainment, the restaurant is right next door to River Roost, so you can pop in to grab a drink and enjoy Yehaa Bob while you wait!
If you're here looking for the NOLA staple of beignets, you've come to the right place. The only place in all of Disney property serving it up, you'll have to head over to French Quarter and visit Scat Cat Club Cafe and Lounge to get your hands on these delicious pockets of sweetness! While the cafe is open at all hours for you to enjoy beignets and a variety of other goodies, if you want a boozy version of the dessert, you'll have to visit the Lounge! Make sure your visit coincides with the live jazz band for a perfect date night on Disney property!
Best part of all this, if none of this appeals to you, you're an easy boat ride or bus transfer to any other resort or restaurant on property to satisfy any craving you may have!
If you still haven't decided on a Disney resort to stay at, but want a little bit of an escape, this is the place to be! This resort was a true gem worth visiting, and even made a little staycation feel like a much earned vacation!