One of the most critical decisions when taking a Disney vacation is where to stay. The Walt Disney World Resort has twenty-two hotels, but how do you decide which one to stay at? Deciding on the type of Resort to stay in (Value, Moderate or Deluxe) narrows down your decision. Then it’s time to select the Resort that is right for you and your family.
If you decide on a Moderate Disney Resort, there are two that you should definitely consider. Disney’s Port Orleans Resorts are two Disney Resort hotels that we return to again and again. Here’s why we love these Walt Disney World Resort hotels so much.
Disney’s Port Orleans Resorts
Disney’s Port Orleans consists of two Resort hotels – Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside and Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter. These Disney Resort hotels are two of five Moderate Resorts. The other Moderate Resorts are Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. Together, the Port Orleans Resorts form the largest hotel in the Walt Disney World Resort, housing over 3000 Guest rooms. While they are now sister Resorts, historically, they were two different Disney hotels.
Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter Resort was the first to open in May 1991. Later on, Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort opened in February 1992. At this time, it was known as Disney’s Dixie Landings Resort. The Disney Resort hotels were reunited as part of one Resort in April 2001.
Some changes were brought to the Disney Resort hotels as they joined as part of Disney’s Port Orleans Resort. Unfortunately, Bonfamille’s Cafe restaurant closed at Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter Resort. The bike and boat rentals at the Disney hotel were also closed. Meanwhile, Colonel’s Cotton Mill food court at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort was given a new name, Riverside Mill. While Bonfamille’s Cafe has never reopened for Guests, it is still used by Disney Cast Members. It is occasionally used as a meeting place and training facility, and it is also the Walt Disney World test kitchen.
Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter Resort
Picture cobblestone streets lined with gas lamps, wrought iron balconies, and courtyards surrounded by trees. Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter Resort emulates the historic and romantic French Quarter of New Orleans. Every day is Mardi Gras at this Moderate Resort.
Guests looking for a smaller, intimate Disney Resort hotel will be well suited to stay here. Each of the seven blocks is within walking distance of French Quarter Square. This is where you will find the Front Desk, Jackson Square Gifts & Desires, Scat Cat’s Club, and the Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory. Just a short walk from French Quarter Square is the Doubloon Lagoon pool, Mardi Grogs bar, laundry, and French Quarter playground.
Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort
In contrast, Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort evokes the romance of rural Louisiana. There are two distinct areas of this Disney hotel. Alligator Bayou is where you’ll find quaint backwood cottages surrounded by lush greenery and winding paths. Guest rooms in Alligator Bayou are typical of Disney Moderate Resort rooms. They offer a spacious room that is themed to suit its exterior surroundings.
Further up the river is where you’ll find Magnolia Bend, with its stately white mansions, freshly manicured lawns, water fountains, and benches to relax. Magnolia Bend is where Guests can stay in the Royal Guest Rooms. Princess Tiana and her friends invite you into a magical Guest room adorned with magical Disney details.
The Sassagoula Steamboat Company is where you will find all that you need for a more than comfortable at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort. This building is where Guests can visit the Front Desk, Fulton’s General Store, River Roost, Boatwright’s Dining Hall, and Riverside Mill. Across the bridge from the Sassagoula Steamboat Company is Ol’ Man Island. Guests can enjoy a hideaway home to a swimming hole, Muddy Rivers Pool Bar, the Fishin’ Hole, a campfire, a playground, and hammocks to laze in the shade of the trees.
Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter Resorts are located in the Disney Springs area of the Walt Disney World Resort. They’re just a short boat ride from Disney Springs along the Sassagoula River. Disney’s French Quarter Resort is a little closer to Disney Springs, while Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort is found at the end of the Sassagoula River.
Their proximity to Disney Springs also means that Disney’s Port Orleans Resorts are centrally situated in Lake Buena Vista. While Guests will need to use the Walt Disney World buses to travel to and from the Disney Parks, they are within ten minutes of Magic Kingdom Park, EPCOT, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a little further away, but you can expect your bus journey to take fifteen minutes at most.
Disney’s Port Orleans Guests have easy access to Disney Springs via the Sassagoula River Boats. Both Resort hotels have a boat landing. The boats run from 9:30 a.m. through to 11 p.m. every day. The boats will depart from and arrive at the Disney Springs Marketplace landing. Boats with yellow flags travel only to Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort. Purple-flagged boats travel to Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter Resort only. Some boats have a purple and yellow flag; these boats travel to both Disney hotels. Bus transportation is also to and from Disney Springs. However, these are less frequent due to the Disney hotels’ access to the shopping and dining district by boat.
To access the Disney theme parks and water parks, Guests of Disney’s Port Orleans Resort will need to use the Disney buses unless they have access to their car. Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter Resort has one bus stop, which can be found at the front of the lobby. Meanwhile, Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort has four bus stops. These are the West Depot, North Depot, East Depot, and South Depot, located at the front of the lobby.
Guests of these Walt Disney World Resort hotels can access each Resort in several ways. There is an internal bus that can be accessed from all bus stops. Guests can also use the Sassagoula River Boats. Our favorite mode of transport though is by walking. The path alongside the Sassagoula River offers a picturesque view of both Resort hotels.
Disney’s Port Orleans Resorts have some of the best pool areas in all of Walt Disney World. The story of Tom Sawyer inspires the pool area on Ol’ Man Island. It features a splash area, water slide, and jacuzzi to relax in after a day in the Disney Parks. If you’d rather relax on a sun lounger, there are plenty to choose from, some of which are in the shade of the trees. Poolside entertainment is provided daily at the Ol’ Man Island pool area. Additionally, there are five other quiet pools to relax at around Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort.
Over at Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter, Doubloon Lagoon is where Guests can rest their legs and cool off. A giant sea serpent, known as Scales, forms a water slide upon which King Neptune sits. The Mardi Gras-themed pool also features jazz-loving gators and clamshell water features. Guests can also relax in the hot tub near Mardi Grogs Pool Bar. While there is only one pool area to enjoy at Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter, Guests can also use the pools at Port Orleans Riverside throughout their stay.
There are several dining locations to enjoy at Disney’s Port Orleans Resorts, including quick-service restaurants, a full-service restaurant, lounges, and bars.
Dining locations at Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter are:
- Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory – enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a Mardi Gras-inspired quick-service restaurant. Creole and Cajun dishes are served, as well as American favorites.
- Scat Cat’s Club Cafe – if you need a helping of Mickey Beignets, then this is the place to go. A selection of hot beverages is also served here. Place your order at the counter, then wait for your name to be called. There is plenty of seating available inside the Cafe, outside overlooking the lobby, and outside in the courtyard.
- Scat Cat’s Club Lounge – retire here after a day in the Disney Parks. This full-service bar also serves appetizers and Beignets. Live jazz music can also be enjoyed from Wednesdays through Sundays.
- Mardi Grogs – you won’t have to venture too far from your sun lounger to stay hydrated. Specialty frozen drinks, beers, wine, sangria, and more are served here from 11 a.m. through 9 p.m. Guests can also order a selection of sandwiches and salads.
Dining locations at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside are:
- Boatwright’s Dining Hall – this full-service restaurant serves hearty New Orleans dishes and Louisiana flavors.
- Riverside Mill Food Court serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner from five sumptuous stations. American favorites and Louisiana-style cooking are available to order throughout the day.
- River Roost – this charming lounge is a great place to retire after a day in a Disney theme park. A selection of appetizers is available to order alongside your choice of beverage from the full-service bar.
- Muddy Rivers Pool Bar – you don’t have to leave Ol’ Man Island to enjoy a selection of drinks. Muddy Rivers offers an excellent porch area to sit while sipping frozen drinks, beer, sangria, and other choices. If you’re feeling a little hungry, a selection of sandwiches and salads are also available.
There are plenty of recreational activities at Disney’s Port Orleans Resorts. Similar to all other Disney Resort hotels, Guests can take part in the following activities at both Resort hotels:
- nightly campfire, known as the Cajun Campfire at French Quarter and Campfire on de’ Bayou at Riverside
- pool parties, poolside activities, and trivia
- Movies under the stars are available on select evenings at each Resort. Films are shown at the French Quarter Green and Magnolia North Pool Deck.
- surprise character sightings in the Resort lobbies
- arts and crafts, available for an additional fee
- bicycle and Surrey Bike rentals from the Riverside Marina
Activities exclusive to Disney’s Port Orleans Resorts are:
- Live jazz music in Scat Cat’s Club Lounge – Guests can order beverages and snacks inside or sit and enjoy the atmosphere and entertainment.
- Mardi Gras Doubloons and Beads – stop by the French Quarter lobby and speak to a Cast Member. You may receive a fun surprise.
- Yehaa Bob Jackson in River Roost on Wednesdays through Saturdays, 8:30 p.m. to 12 a.m. Prepare for an evening of comedy and musical stylings of Disney standards, storybook classics, and wacky piano playing from a Disney legend.
- Cane Pole Fishing at the Fishin’ Hole on Ol’ Man Island
- Guided fishing excursions from the Riverside Marina – Guests can book ahead at the Front Desk.
- Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides from the Riverside Levee Marina. Guests can take in the scenic views along the Sassagoula River from a horse-drawn carriage nightly. Each carriage ride travels up the river to French Quarter and around Riverside Resort.
Reasons Why We Love Staying Here
Here are the reasons why we choose to stay at Disney’s Port Orleans Resorts again and again:
- Theming – these Disney Resort hotels are genuinely stunning. You won’t tire of strolling along the paths and admiring the view.
- Location – we’d argue that Disney’s Port Orleans Resorts has the best location of all the Walt Disney World Resort hotels. You’re right in the heart of the magic and only a short journey away from all Disney Parks.
- Rooms – we enjoy staying in any of the Guest rooms at Disney’s Port Orleans, especially the Royal Guest Rooms. Staying in a Royal Guest Room adds extra magic to your Disney experience.
- Beignets – as a Guest of Disney’s Port Orleans, you are ideally situated to enjoy Beignets every day of your Disney vacation if you wish.
- Disney Springs – being just a short boat ride away from Disney Springs means you have a wide selection of dining locations just a little further from your Resort hotel.
Have you stayed at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort yet? If not, you’re in for a wonderful stay during your next Disney vacation.