I’ve had the pleasure of staying at a few different Walt Disney World Resorts over the past few years. Last month, I added Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside to that list. Read our Disney’s Port Orleans review to see what we loved and what we didn’t.
This is the first moderate resort I have written about on Desert Chica and it’s definitely middle of the road between the value experience we had at Disney’s Pop Century and the deluxe experience at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort.
5 Reasons We Love Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside
1. ‘New Orleans Square’ Theming
My favorite feature of Port Orleans Riverside is the overall theming. It feels like you’re staying somewhere along a river in the old south. Honestly, It reminds me a lot of Disneyland’s New Orleans Square which is one of the prettiest spots at the Disneyland Resort in my opinion.
It was lovely to walk through the grounds early in the morning or at dusk and enjoy the quiet, beautiful surroundings. It’s like walking through New Orleans Square when the park first opens at Disneyland, very quiet and peaceful.
We stayed in the Magnolia Bend section of the resort, with the guest rooms housed in Mansions along Disney’s Sassagoula river.
I can’t comment on the overall feel of the Alligator Bayou section. It was a fun realization that I could still get a little bit of Disneyland’s New Orleans square feeling at Walt Disney World too.
2. Port Orleans Riverside Dining Options
A moderate resort is the perfect mix of dining options and will work for most families. Port Orleans Riverside offers a food court, a sit-down restaurant (Boatwright Dining Hall), and a bar (the famous River Roost Lounge that features ‘Ye Haa’ Bob).
We ate at the food court and while it felt smaller than the Pop Century’s dining hall, we liked the food options much better at Port Orleans. The create-you-own-pasta and carving stations were consistent favorites for us.
3. Comfortable Rooms at Port Orleans Riverside
The rooms aren’t as spacious as a deluxe resort and there is no balcony but there was plenty of space for us to spread out and store all of our luggage and large stroller.
The room at Pop Century Resort felt cramped, this room did not. The table and dresser also seemed larger which helped with storing snacks and eating breakfast in the morning.
Our room had 2 Queen beds instead of the 2 double beds we had at Pop Century. I appreciated the angled back on the bathtub, it helped when I soaked my weary body after a long day in the parks. 😉
There are non-royal rooms that offer a King bed instead of 2 Queen beds if that is what you are looking for.
4. Port Orleans Riverside Royal Room
We stayed in the Port Orleans Riverside royal guest rooms which apparently doesn’t change the function or size of the rooms. They do feature more Disney theming than typical Port Orleans rooms, the theme is centered around Princess Tiana and her royal friends.
The boys aren’t into princesses much, so they weren’t super impressed by Disney Princess theme. Although to be fair there was some prince representation in the room including Snow White’s Prince and Cinderella’s Prince Charming.
You’ll find ornate furniture, custom drapes and bedding, royal artwork and a light-up firework headboard. See my Instagram video below for a sneak peek of the fun headboard, the boys’ favorite feature of the room!
5. Lots of Recreation Options
There are plenty of standard recreation options at Port Orleans Riverside including an arcade, evening movies, a playground, and pools.
In addition to what you find at most Disney resorts, Port Orleans Riverside offers a few more options including live entertainment, fishing, horse-drawn carriage rides, surrey bikes and boat ferries to Disney Springs.
The guys rented a surrey bike and had fun circling the property (and working up a sweat). Unfortunately, the big feature pool on Ol’ Man Island was under refurbishment during our stay but the boys did enjoy one of the quiet pools near our room.
Ol’ Man Island Is Now Open
There is lots of fun on the Ol’ Man Island is 3.5 island hidden away with a fun swimming pool and large water slide. Besides swimming, you can roast marshmallows most evenings and even go fishing. And Old-fashioned cane pole fishing (catch and release only) is available at the Fishin’ Hole on Ol’ Man Island. There is also a fun playground, super important for families with little kids that need to burn off some energy.
3 Reasons We Don’t Love Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside
1. Theme Park Transportation
I don’t love the transportation options from Port Orleans. I found the Sassagoula River Cruise to Disney Springs disappointing because it took much longer than I expected.
If you aren’t in a hurry or are just looking to a leisure 20-minute boat ride, then it’s perfect for you. To me it’s more of a recreation option than actual transportation.
The boats are very popular in the afternoon and evenings as people head to Disney Springs for dining and entertainment options, so you’ll likely have to wait for a few boats before getting on.
The transportation to all the parks is by bus and unfortunately, Port Orleans Riverside has 4 different bus stops and sometimes shares buses with its sister property, Port Orleans French Quarter.
Multiple stops mean the bus may already be full or have standing-room-only by the time it arrives at your stop. Waiting for a 2nd or 3rd bus with kiddos ready to hit the parks is never fun. I think Uber or Lyft would be a better option to save time and sanity.
2. Sprawl Of The Port Orleans Riverside Resort
The reason Port Orleans Riverside has multiple bus stops is that it’s a big sprawling resort which can mean lots of extra walking to get to lobby and dining options. You can avoid the extra walking by paying for a preferred room location. It’s definitely something to consider when pricing out resort options.
3. Crowded Food Court at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort
The food court and dining area were crazy crowded our first evening and on several mornings at breakfast time. The food court definitely feels smaller than the ones I’ve seen at Pop Century and Coronado Springs. One morning we couldn’t find a table and had to bring breakfast back to the room.
You can get around this by arriving for breakfast as soon as it opens and eating dinner a little later. Luckily, the cupcakes from the bakery are amazing and you can easily take those back to your room. 🙂
I hope to check out Riverside’s sister property, Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter soon. The French Quarter’s more compact size may help with some of the things I disliked about the Port Orleans Riverside location.
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