Pros and Cons of Port Orleans Riverside at Disney World

Port Orleans Riverside” by Michael Gray licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside is a moderate hotel that immerses you in southern charm. But, with so many hotels available on Disney property, is this a good option for your vacation? In this article, we go through the pros and cons of Port Orleans Riverside, from the theming to dining, to help you determine whether this resort is a good fit for your budget and needs.

Pros and Cons of Port Orleans Riverside

Let’s begin with the theming at Port Orleans.

Theming at Port Orleans Riverside

Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside has a romantic theming reminiscent of Louisiana’s backcountry. The resort grounds bend with the curves of the Sassagoula River. There is energy throughout the hotel during the day as people bustle in and out. In the evening, expect slower, quieter strolls as the lanterns light up your walking path past mansion-looking buildings and well-manicured landscaping.

According to Walt Disney World, the Port Orleans Riverside lobby’s theming is characteristic of a steamship ticket center. The inside of the lobby is very bright, with white molding and grand pillars contrasting the medium-yellow walls. It feels very ornate and lavish, which is not always the case for a moderate-tiered hotel.

The lobby splits off into the gift shop and restaurants and opens to the rest of the resort grounds, including the boat launch. Fulton’s General Store, the shop next to the lobby, has some light theming. You will see many rustic-looking crates and barrels alongside some statues of your favorite Disney pals.

The restaurant theming varies slightly between its three options: Riverside Mill Food Court, Boatwright’s Dining Hall, and River Roost. Riverside Mill Food Court reminds me of other similar hotel food courts, where the space is focused more on delivering your food than telling a story.

But, the unique thing about this location is that it is next to a working water wheel and cotton press. River Roost is a lounge that offers a classic, comfortable bar vibe with plenty of seating. Boatwright’s Dining Hall has a gigantic ship skeleton hoisted well above your seats alongside antique lanterns, a fireplace, and shipbuilding tools.

I stayed at this resort during one of my first trips to Walt Disney World. What I loved the most was the feeling I got after a long day in the parks when I walked back to my room. It almost felt like you weren’t in Florida and adds to the relaxing nature this hotel offers.

Pros: The hotel theming and grounds make you feel like you are staying at a premium Disney resort.

Cons: The resort grounds are HUGE. Expect a lot of walking through paths that might not take you directly where you need to go.

Rooms at Port Orleans Riverside

There are several options available when booking a room at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside. In general, you can choose between a Standard Room, a Preferred Room, or a Royal Guest Room. The Walt Disney World website lets you choose your view, including River, Pool, and Woods. You can also decide between a King bed or a 5th sleeper compartment instead of two queen mattresses.

Standard Rooms give you views of the landscaping, courtyard, garden, or bayou. They are often the buildings that are farther away on the grounds from the main lobby. The room’s walls and curtains are often airy and paired with dark-colored furniture and flooring. There are rustic touches throughout the room.

Preferred Rooms are similar to the standard rooms in that they have views of the landscaping, courtyard, garden, or bayou and their theming. The best benefit of staying in a Preferred Room is that you are often closer to the lobby, dining, and transportation. Considering the vastness of the resort grounds, it might not hurt to pay a little extra to save your tired feet after a day in the parks.

In my opinion, the designs of the rooms are similar to most of the refurbished rooms on Disney property. They’ll feature wood floors that are easy to clean, a large TV, and simplistic artwork. It mainly serves as a place to sleep rather than to fully relax.

My favorite hotel room at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside is the Royal Room. The rooms are influenced head-to-toe by the princesses, especially Tiana (who is my favorite, by the way). You certainly feel like royalty in these rooms! I loved seeing the large, dramatic headboard light up and the small details that reference the princesses and their princes.

Hotel rooms amenities at Port Orleans Riverside include:

  • Hairdryer
  • In-Room Safe
  • Coffee maker
  • Mini-refrigerator
  • Internet/WiFi
  • Telephone
  • Iron & ironing board

This is also one of the few resorts you can bring your furry friend. You will want to call ahead if you book with your dog to check availability. You can call the WDW line at 407-939-7539.

Pros: There are plenty of accessible room options available to fit many needs. There are also more views available, unlike value resorts, so you do not have to stare at a parking lot or pool all day.

Pros: Plus, you can bring dogs!

Cons: The amenities included with your hotel room are no different than a value hotel.

Cons: While you can certainly sleep inside the rooms, they do not feel entirely relaxing. Expect to sit on your bed to watch TV or kick back most of the time.

Prices at Port Orleans Riverside

Room Prices: Room prices vary season-to-season, but this moderate resort starts at around $230 – $260 per night. We researched the room rates on various dates to see the highest to the lowest possible range available. The highest rates were for the Royal Guest Room.

  • December 24, 2022 Room Range: $399 – $490
  • February 2, 2023 Room Range: $236 – $370
  • July 25, 2023 Room Range: $286 – $378
  • October 2, 2023 Room Range: $313 – $412

Do note that prices are always subject to change at any moment.

Prices at Riverside Mill Food Court: Their breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu items range from $1.99 for a pickle to $19.99 for a refillable souvenir mug. Food-wise, you can expect entrees to range between $5 and $19.

Prices at River Roost: River Roost is a lounge that is a full bar and serves appetizers. Small plates vary from $10 to $20. Specialty cocktails range from $11 to $17, and canned/draft beers are from $6 and $10. I have had cocktails at the River Roost before and felt like the ambiance and the bartender experience make the price a good value.

Prices at Boatwright’s Dining Hall: This table service restaurant has appetizers ranging from $10 to $12, entrees from $20 to $40, and desserts between $6 to $8. Kids’ menus vary but are around $10.

Activities/Entertainment Prices: There is quite a bit to do at Port Orlean’s Riverside! Let’s break down the prices for each entertainment option:

  • Carriage Ride: $55 for 25 minutes
  • Bike Rentals (including surrey bikes): $9 – $20 (tax not included)
  • Fishin’ Hole at Ol’ Man Island: Pricing varies but is roughly $10 – $20 per person
  • Bass Fishing Excursion: Pricing varies but can be up to $400
  • Arcades: You purchase a game card for a chosen amount. Games range between $0.50 and $5.

Pros: The food prices are on par with many standard resort menus. I have seen value resorts with similarly-priced options.

Cons: That does mean, though, that your food options are somewhat close to those available at the value resorts (with a few exceptions, which we’ll get into later).

Cons: The rooms during peak seasons, like Christmas and summer, are almost as high as the deluxe resorts. With the smaller amount of food, drink, and transportation options available, it seems a little steep for the price.

Amenities at Port Orleans Riverside

Honestly, the amenities at Port Orleans Riverside are similar to many hotels. There are standard laundry, ATM, and mail services available. Many of those amenities will be at the resort lobby, which may be a long walk. Put on your walking shoes if you want to grab some extra cash or mail a postcard!

Pros: You aren’t missing out on any amenities, but there aren’t as many available as deluxe resorts.

Cons: If you book your hotels based on the bang-for-your-buck factor, the lack of amenities for the higher price might be off-putting.

Entertainment and Activities at Port Orleans Riverside

Port Orleans Riverside has a good mix of entertainment options. I would argue that some deluxe resorts do not have as many things to do!

There are activities at every Disney resort hotel, including pools, arcades, a campfire, and Movies Under The Stars. The main pool at Port Orleans Riverside is themed to a swimming hole and is quite large at over 3 acres. There is also a water slide, which is longer than some deluxe hotels at 94 feet. There were plenty of people splashing about and appearing to have a good time in the sun. There is also a nearby pool bar and kiddie pool area for little ones. Five leisure pools are sprouted about the property as well.

Unique to this hotel are the horse-drawn carriage rides, jogging trail, a playground, a catch-and-release fishing hole, a bass excursion, and bike rentals. Port Orleans Riverside can accommodate nearly anyone’s wants and could easily keep people occupied should they choose not to visit the parks.

Pros: There is a ton to do at Port Orleans Riverside! You can enjoy a non-park day without having to travel anywhere.

Pros: There are many pools available, so you do not need to cram in with the other guests and the main one.

Cons: Many of the unique activities at Port Orleans Riverside come at an extra price, so you will want to research pricing to make sure it’s in your budget.

Dining at Port Orleans Riverside

There are three main food options and a pool bar at Disney’s Port Orleans – Riverside: Riverside Mill Food Court, River Roost, Muddy Rivers, and Boatwright’s Dining Hall.

Riverside Mill Food Court is where you will find your all-day quick-service meal options. You will find pretty standard fare during breakfast, including Mickey-shaped waffles and (my favorite) the Waffle Bounty Platter. Lunch and dinner have more variety, with the Jambalaya and Gumbo being some of my go-to items. You can also grab a burger, sandwich, pizza, or salad.

River Roost is a lounge-style bar that offers more drinks than food! But, there are still a few appetizers to nibble on while you sip away. The Mardi Gras Fritters were tasty, and I loved pairing that with an Old Fashioned. The bar is open until midnight, so you can always stop by for a nightcap before heading to your room. You can also see Yeeha Bob Jackson, a fantastic piano player that energizes the room.

Situated around Ol’ Man Island pool area is the Muddy Rivers bar. The food is limited at this location, but you could munch on a pretzel or sandwich while enjoying your afternoon pool excursion. You can grab a frozen cocktail, which is perfect for beating those hot Florida days. There was also a fair amount of seating available when we visited, so there is no standing around or fighting for a table.

The table-service restaurant at Port Orleans Riverside is Boatwright’s Dining Hall. The theming is nice, thanks to the boat frame above you and the plethora of details referencing the old-timey shipbuilding of the deep south. This is a dinner-only restaurant, so you will want to head to Riverside Mill Food Court for breakfast or lunch. Being the only dinner restaurant, reservations fill up quickly. They offer a truly southern-style menu including shrimp and grits, Nashville hot chicken, and jambalaya.

Pros: Some of the food is unique to the resort. If you are a fan of Southern food, you will like the food!

Pros: Having nightly entertainment at River Roost lounge is unique compared to other resorts and is a great way to spend an evening.

Cons: The food court can be pretty busy, especially before the park opens or at dinner time.

Cons: Reservations are hard to come by for Boatwright’s Dining Hall, so book early!

Transportation at Port Orleans Riverside

For me, transportation at Port Orleans Riverside is somewhat disappointing—depending on which mode of transportation you select. There are two options available: bus or boat. In short, you can boat to Disney Springs or bus to any other location.

The boat is pleasant, and there is a loading dock near the lobby. It’s a relatively quick trip to Disney Springs, and you get to see a side of the bustling shopping area that not many people see. I loved cruising down the Sassagoula river and waving to people along the way.

But the bus was the most difficult part of the trip for me. If you plan on taking the bus and want to get off close to your building, you might have a lot of stops (especially during park open and close). This constant stopping can also add extra time to your trip, so you will want to plan if you have a reservation.

Pros: The boat ride to Disney Springs is quaint and a great way to spend an afternoon. You’ll enjoy the ambiance and relaxation of the whole trip.

Cons: If you are not a bus person, either get off the bus at the first stop and walk. Or, prepare yourself for lots of stopping!

Cast Members and Employees at Port Orleans Riverside

Cast Members are almost always friendly and willing to help. During my stay at Port Orleans Riverside, I did not have a bad experience with anyone. I felt that my questions could be answered with a simple phone call, and my pizza delivery was pretty standard. Overall, don’t expect to be given poor service – they’re here to make your stay as pleasant as possible!

Pros: Disney Cast Members are trained to keep you safe and comfortable while on your stay, so you can that they will do their best to make your stay amazing.

Cons: Since it is a big hotel with many buildings, you might expect delays in your service should you need something fixed in your room or your pizza delivered. Of course, that isn’t the Cast Member’s fault! But, being more flexible with them can help make their job easier.

Conclusion

After going through the pros and cons of Port Orleans Riverside, I recommend the hotel to anyone who wants non-park days or the feeling of southern charm. The entertainment and theming are fantastic, and there is plenty to do during the day. 

But, if you like transportation options beyond busses, you might want to look at a hotel like Art of Animation or Caribbean Beach Resort. No Disney resort will fit the bill 100% of the time, but if immersing yourself in southern food and culture is your must-have, Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside may be the ticket.

This article was written by Angela and edited by Michael.

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