Disney World has always been the champion of making you feel like you are being transported somewhere completely different while in the parks and the resorts. After having visited New Orleans myself, I thought that Port Orleans would be a chance to see how Disney brought the south to Orlando.
In this review, I’m going to provide you with a thorough review of the Port Orleans resort. And there’s no better place to begin than the overall decor of this resort.
I think out of all of the moderate resorts that Disney World offers, Port Orleans is the winner when it comes to decor. It is very tastefully done.
There are two different sides to the resort. There’s Riverside and French Quarter. I chose to stay in Riverside (for no reason in particular) and I found it to be a little piece of the South brought to Florida.
When you first walk onto the property to go to your room, you will find that you are surrounded by the swamp. Not Florida’s swap but New Orleans’ swamp. You will see nothing but pines and iris and small little ponds that resemble the bayou. There are two main sections known as the Alligator Bayou and the Magnolia Bend.
Magnolia Bend contains large plantation like mansions where as Alligator Bayou consists of cajun-style buildings. We stayed in a room in the Alligator Bayou and I found it to be quite romantic. There are walk ways to stroll around the property and you can even take a horse drawn carriage around but we’ll get to that later.
In the middle of the property, you will find the lobby where the exterior is shaped similarly to that of a steamboat ticket station. The interior consists of tall white pillars, tall ceilings, and chandeliers. Once you wander around the lobby, you will quickly find the Riverside Mill which looks exactly like what it sounds like: a water mill.
There is a 35 foot water wheel outside constantly turning while you enjoy your meal inside. Port Orleans Riverside truly does the best job at making you feel at home while on a large resort on Disney property.
I think one of my favorite parts of Port Orleans is the rooms. When you are booking, you are given the option of standard or royal. Before I had even thought of staying at Port Orleans, I saw pictures of the royal rooms and immediately fell in love. Unfortunately, we ended up staying in a standard, however, I still enjoyed it immensely.
The standard rooms start at about $218 and continue to rise depending on the view that you choose. There is the option of standard, garden, water, as well as king beds. We had the standard room and although there is nothing that makes them stand out too much, I think that they look a lot more elegant than some of the other Disney resort rooms.
The Alligator Bayou rooms are very rustic including wood accents and brass features. The Magnolia Bend rooms feature light green walls and dark blue bedding and has the feeling of old southern money. No matter which you stay at, you will love the small details that Disney has put into the rooms.
If you have the means, Port Orleans also offers the chance to stay in royal rooms. Chances are these are the rooms that you have probably seen pictures of somewhere on the Internet. All of the royal rooms are located in the Magnolia Bend wing of the resort and each room is princess/prince themed.
Much like the standard rooms, they are divided by the view that you want. There is the choice of river, garden, and pool view. As for decor, you will find that it fits its name. It’s extremely royal rather than being overly girly and pink which one might expect when you hear that it is princess/prince themed.
There are pictures of the princesses and princes hanging throughout the room, blue and gold accents, and a fiber optic headboard where you can watch fireworks go off in the evening. I’d say these rooms make Port Orleans the best place to stay in Disney World with kids.
As far as I’m aware, Port Orleans also wins for swimming. There are 5 leisure pools on property as well as an island known as Ol’ Man Island, where you can find a swimming hole and a fishing hole.
Ol’ Man Island’s swimming pool is known as the main pool on property and here you will find water slides, waterfalls, a whirlpool, and a bar for those who are doing Disney World for adults.
All of this lays on 3.5 acres of land smack dab in the middle of the resort. I know that we spent a little time here, it was a little bit busier and there were a lot of children. If this is something that you are looking to avoid, I would recommend checking out the other pools, three of them are located in the Alligator Bayou and two of them are located in the Magnolia Bend. These tend to be quieter and less populated.
2. Horse-drawn Carriage Rides
I told you I’d get there eventually, didn’t I? Now I didn’t get to experience this but if I ever make it back, this is high on my list.
Each carriage can fit up to 4 adults or 2 adults and 3 small children and you get to take a ride around the bank of the Sassagoula River for 25 quite minutes.
They do recommend making reservations which you can do over the phone although I’m sure you might be able to find out if you can do so in person as well. I personally think this is an extremely romantic date that you can take your loved one on if you’re looking for a little magic while at Disney World.
3. Movies + Campfire
Much like most other WDW resorts, Port Orleans Riverside offers Disney movies under the stars on certain days of the week. The cherry on top, however, is the fact that they also start campfires for family fun. They provide marshmallows to roast over the fire while you watch these classic films. What better way to end a day?
4. Surrey Bike Rentals
I’ve mentioned bike rentals on other Disney properties before but Riverside is a little unique in that you can rent surrey bikes. Now you’re probably thinking that you have no clue what a surrey bike is.
I didn’t either.
They are 2 or 4 person covered bikes that resemble golf carts however you get to do all of the work pedaling! With Port Orleans being such a large resort, this is a fun way to explore the grounds without having to do all of that walking.
No matter how old I get, you can always find me in an arcade, so when I found out there was one in Riverside, I couldn’t stay away. It’s the best place to change up the scenery yet keep everyone entertained. It is located in Colonel’s Cotton Mill, which is right outside of the lobby. Best part is that it’s right next to the lounges, which means mom and dad can leave the kids and go grab a drink.
There are three different types of places to eat at Riverside: casual dining, quick service, and lounges. Each offer a different experience depending on what you’re looking for.
There is one casual dining restaurant in the resort known as Boatwright’s Dining Hall. I will be the first to admit that I can’t give you a personal review because we never went out of our way to try it. They’re only open for dinner and they serve southern options such as catfish, prime rib, jambalaya, and ribs.
Despite the fact that it is casual dining, the food seems to be a bit fancier, which makes the prices a little bit higher than a lot of other restaurants on WDW property. Good news is for those staying and participating in the dining plans, most are accepted here.
I will say that out of all the reviews I have read for Boatwright’s, everyone seems to rant and rave about the southern comfort food and the service. If you’re looking to give it a try, I recommend making a reservation because sit down restaurants at Disney can get pretty busy.
I was able to enjoy the quick service restaurant, Riverside Mill Food Court, for breakfast and I have nothing but good things to say about it. There are 5 stations throughout the food court, each offering a different option. There is a bakery shop, grill shop, pizza shop, and salads and sandwiches shop.
For breakfast you will find your typical breakfast food, such as bagels, french toast, pancakes, omelets, and waffles. For lunch and dinner, there are things like burgers, chicken sandwiches, flatbreads, sandwiches, and salads. This is the perfect place to stop by when you are on the go. It does get extremely busy in the mornings since everyone is trying to get to the parks so be sure to give yourself enough time.
As for lounges and bars, there are two on property, one I mentioned earlier, Muddy Rivers Pool Bar as well as River Roost. Muddy Rivers Pool Bar is the perfect place to go if you’re looking to sip a mojito by the pool.
I personally loved River Roost. They’ve got live entertainment by Yehaa Bob who will keep you entertained for hours. While listening to him play you can sip on southern cocktails like a good ol’ hurricane.
Transportation to the Parks
One con that I found with Port Orleans is the transportation to the parks. If you’re looking to go to the parks, it might be a bit of a challenge. The only transportation they offer is the bus service that is available to all parks, including the waterparks.
Because of this, the lines will be LONG. If you have a car, I recommend using it. If not, the bus system will get you where you want to go, there just might be a wait.
If you’re looking to enjoy Disney Springs, they do offer boat transportation on a water taxi. This will save you the trouble of the traffic that tends to occur around the shopping center.
Overall, Port Orleans is well put together and very well themed. You will feel like you’re down in the bayou in no time. I’d say it’s the best moderate resort and it’s worth spending a little more money to stay here over a value resort. You will find something to do for everyone in the family. Put it on your list and you won’t be disappointed.
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