Riverside vs. French Quarter
Where can you find gilded framed paintings of Disney “royalty” side by side with rustic tin roofs? What about picturesque cobblestone paths, river views and pirate cruises? Well bless your heart, you must be at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort! Ok, so you are probably thinking, no way can I afford this kind of magic on my budget… think again! Port Orleans falls into the Moderate category of Disney Resorts and the rooms are actually quite affordable!
Two distinct hotels make up this amazing resort – Port Orleans French Quarter and Port Orleans Riverside. The resorts overlook the lovely Sassagoula River and while they both have a genteel, Southern charm, each has a personality all its own! So as with my other blogs, I invite you to pick up a nice cold glass of iced tea (or Mint Julep!) and stroll with me through my FAVORITE Disney Moderate Resort. Come on y’all!
Laissez le Bon Temps Roulez!
Let the Good Times Roll! I live in the New Orleans area, so I have been to the actual French Quarter more times than I care to mention. The Port Orleans version is, in a word, Disneyfied! All of the gorgeous details are there, from the ornate iron balconies to the bubbling fountains. You can just imagine Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen strolling through the courtyards!
You enter the resort through the Old Mint, also known as the lobby. If a little shopping is what your heart desires, head on over to the aptly named Jackson Square Gifts and Desires. Whatever you do, you can’t leave without diving into a plate of hot beignets at the resort’s food court, Sassagoula Float Works and Food Category. Sugar + Fried Dough = YUM!
If you feel the need to wet your whistle, you have two fabulous opportunities. Libations are served outdoors at Mardi Grogs or indoors at Scat Cat’s Club. On certain nights, things can really get jumpin’ at Scat Cat’s with live jazz music. It’s a great way for adults to wind down after a loooong day at the parks!
Port Orleans French Quarter is incredibly quaint and romantic. Even the most remote rooms are no more than a five minute stroll to the main pool, lobby and food court. All of the rooms have been recently upgraded to include two Queen sized beds and a flat screen TV. Of course, mini fridges are on hand to keep all of your beverages and treats nice and cool. There are four room categories to choose from: standard, garden view, water view and river view. In other words, the rooms are based on the view and not the location. All of the rooms are incredibly convenient; however, I do have my favorite: I would request a river view room on the top floor of building five. It just doesn’t get any better!
Stop to Smell the Magnolias
If you head a little up river, you will find Port Orleans Riverside and its antebellum mansions, shady hideaways and hickory wood furniture. Whereas Port Orleans French Quarter is intimate, Port Orleans Riverside is a sprawling complex made up of two separate and distinct areas. Mansions reminiscent of Gone With the Wind dot the river on one side, while Alligator Bayou is comprised of more “rustic” lodgings. I recommend picking up a copy of the Sassagoula Times newsletter to get a lay of the land – this property is huge!
The Sassagoula Steamboat Company houses the lobby and other public areas. If you are anything like me, traveling can work up quite an appetite. I highly recommend Boatwright’s Dining Hall for some good old fashioned Southern cookin’. The cornbread served with each meal is honestly some of the best I have ever tried! (Just don’t tell my Mother in Law!) If you prefer a quick bite to eat, the Riverside Mill Food Court has something for everyone. Once you’ve had your fill, be sure to pick up some souvenirs at Fulton’s General Store. I’ve never left empty handed!
Before you stroll back to your room, it may be time to top off that drink of yours! Near the main pool, Muddy Rivers offers plenty of tempting adult beverages, as well as other kid friendly coolers. Tucked in a cozy room off the lobby, feel free to belly up to the bar at the River Roost. A full bar menu is available, as well as some great appetizers. If you are lucky enough to be visiting on a night when Bob “Yee Ha” Jackson is performing, you are in for a real treat! This loud and lively performer is great about including the audience, so be sure to mention if you are celebrating anything in particular. Bottoms up!
In the Magnolia Bend area are the new, fabulous Royal Guest Rooms. 512 rooms have been decorated by Princess Tiana herself and the attention to detail is utterly amazing. Tiana has left a letter in each guest room, welcoming you into her home. The headboards even explode with fireworks, thanks to special fiber optic lights. Be sure to spend time exploring your room – everything from the faucets to the chandeliers share secret touches. I can’t express how truly magical these rooms are!
Further upriver, you will find Alligator Bayou. Port Orleans settlers created the Magnolia Bend Mansions first and then as materials were difficult to move upriver, the dwellings became more and more rustic. Although, “rustic” is just a design term, all of the rooms are wonderfully comfortable. If you are like me and don’t fit into the “family of four” mold, I have great news! The Alligator Bayou section of Port Orleans Riverside has rooms that sleep five guests! Again, one of Princess Tiana’s friends is on hand to surprise guests as they turn down the bed. I do want to mention that Alligator Bayou does have Preferred rooms, based on location. There are no elevators, so if mobility is an issue, you may want to request a ground floor. Be on the lookout for bunnies hopping around here – too cute!
Jackie Stevens is a member of the 2012 Walt Disney World Moms Panel