We have been staying at Port Orleans/Riverside since it opened in 1992, and it has truly become our “home away from home” while we are at Walt Disney World. Formerly called “Dixie Landings”, it merged with Port Orleans, and now this huge Resort is divided between Port Orleans, French Quarter and Port Orleans, Riverside. Riverside is absolutely a living picture postcard of the “old South”, with the landscaping and building designs of the early 1800’s. I have listed 9 reasons this has become our favorite place to stay at Disney World.
1. Friendly, Courteous, and Helpful Resort Cast Members — You would think over the years, we would have had at least a couple of bad experiences with cast members, but I can honestly say that at Port Orleans/Riverside, I have only memories of the complete hospitable attitude of all the different Resort cast members we came in contact with, including the “check-in” clerks, food court servers and cashiers, boat pilots, bike rental personnel, etc. If we had any problems, they were quickly and adequately addressed, for example, when a stuffed animal left on the bed was accidentally taken away to the laundry, we let management know, described the animal and where it came from in hopes that they might find it, but with no luck; however, the next day a brand new animal was left in our room. We were never even asked to produce a receipt. How nice is that? I have more stories of extraordinary helpfulness, but I have 8 more reasons to list.
2. Accommodations — Port Orleans/Riverside has over 2000 rooms, divided into two sections, Magnolia Bend and Alligator Bayou. Most of the rooms have the usual furnishings and amenities:
2 queen beds, a Murphy pull down bed, flat screen TV’s, mini fridges, iron, ironing board, hair dryer, and a small safe for your valuables. Magnolia Bend has the theme of 2 and 3-story mansion style homes, reminiscent of the plantation homes in Mississippi many decades ago. All the rooms are themed according to what you would find in a southern mansion, with light yellow walls, lovely floral bedspreads, dark wood furnishings, and built into the headboards are beautiful scenes from Disney classic movies. Magnolia Bend rooms are located across the bridge over the Sassagoula River, which connects guests to the main lobby, gift shop, and dining facilities. Alligator Bayou rooms, located near the lobby and beyond the Magnolia Bend area, are more rustic in décor and feature brass bathroom fixtures, hickory branch bedposts, quilted bedspreads, and the same amenities as Magnolia Bend. We have actually stayed at both areas over the years, and like them both equally.
Royal Rooms – These unique rooms are themed after Princess Tiana (from “The Princess and the Frog”)and feature ornate beds with a fiber optic light show in the headboards and distinctive artwork highlighting Disney princesses. These royal rooms are gorgeous and the furnishings, artwork, bedspreads, curtains, and even the carpet give guests a truly “royal” experience.
3. Resort Amenities — Port Orleans/Riverside has an ample supply of amenities to take advantage of:
- Complimentary Wi-Fi Internet
- ATM—A 24-hour ATM is located in the front lobby
- Banking — Guests may exchange foreign currencies at the Front Desk or Lobby Concierge
- Childcare Services — In-Room babysitting, as well as numerous Children’s Activity Centers
- Laundry & Dry Cleaning Services — 24-hour self service laundry room
- Locker Facilities – complimentary poolside lockers
- Merchandise Pickup & Delivery — Theme Park merchandise is delivered to your Resort
4. Resort Activities: There are activities here that any member of your family or group would enjoy:
- Bike and Surrey Bike Rentals — Rent a bike or surrey bike and enjoy your trip around the Resort on a mile-long paved pathway which takes you along the Sassagoula River across a bridge, past Magnolia Bend, or you can visit Port Orleans/French Quarter via this same pathway.
- Fishing — Catch and release fish with an old fashioned cane pole near Ol’ Man Island
- Medicine Show Arcade — Have fun in this large game room, where you can battle aliens, play sports, race cars, dance to a beat, make music, and try your hand at pinball, air hockey, and much more.
- Children’s Playground — A uniquely themed playground located near the main pool
- Jogging Trail—Put on those running shoes and run or walk along the Sassagoula River on a mile-long paved pathway
- Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides — Experience a leisurely ride in a horse-drawn carriage along the scenic banks of the Sassagoula River and chill out after a long exciting day at the Parks.
- Pirate Adventure Cruise — For children ages 4-12—Young pirates don bandanas, board a pontoon pirate ship and set sail on a adventuresome search for pirate treasure. After they follow the clues and find the treasure, the young buccaneers split up the booty as they enjoy a snack and beverage.
- Cajun Campfire Activities — Gather your family and friends for an old-fashioned campfire and marshmallow roast, then stay around for an outdoor movie under the stars. Cast members are on hand to hand out towels to sit on while enjoying the movie.
5. Swimming Pools — Port Orleans main swimming pool is named Ol’ Man Island and is designed to resemble an abandoned sawmill with wooden bridges, water overflowing a replica water sleuth, a 95-foot long rustic water slide built into the millworks, a kiddie pool, and for the adults a relaxing whirlpool tub. In Addition to this fun-filled pool, there are five leisure pools located on the rest of the property; 3 in Alligator Bayou and 2 in Magnolia Bend. Here at Riverside there is no shortage of watery activities or a gentle swim in a quiet pool.
6. Transportation — Sassagoula River Cruise boats—These open air canopied boats transport guests from Port Orleans/Riverside to Downtown Disney (soon to be “Disney Springs”) with a stop at Port Orleans/French Quarter. They run approximately every 20 minutes. This is such a relaxing, enjoyable way to travel. It’s especially serene at night.
Disney Bus Transportation—Port Orleans/Riverside Resort has four bus depots located around the Resort for easy access to Theme Parks, Water Parks, Downtown Disney, and other entertainment areas.
The buses run approximately every 15 minutes, beginning one hour before the Parks open until 1 ½ hours after the Parks close, or until every guest is picked up.
7. Dining—Boatwright’s Dining Hall — Dining at Boatwright’s is like dining in a rustic shipyard warehouse somewhere in the heart of New Orleans, Louisiana. Hanging lanterns, the skeletal hull of a fishing boat hanging from the ceiling, and shipbuilding tools and equipment enhance the atmosphere of the “Big Easy”. The food is authentic New Orleans cuisine, like Cajun crawfish bites, gumbo and jambalaya, all with that unique flavor of the Louisiana Bayou. Some tasty choices are voodoo chicken, sweet tea-brined pork chops, prime rib or fresh catfish to name a few. Top your meal off with some bread pudding or pecan pie. It’s a meal fit for a Cajun King.
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8. Riverside Mill Food Court — This huge dining hall is filled with enough seating capacity for a small army. There are large round tables, square tables that can easily be placed side by side, with more than enough chairs, which are all shapes and colors. My favorite spot is a table by the window near the big mill wheel, which powers a working cotton press. There are six food stations which will satisfy any craving, a bakery, grill, pizza & pasta, specialties, salads, and a carving station. Grab ‘n’ go items are also available. You can even order a whole pizza for several for a large get together. It’s great to be able to enjoy a different meal each time you visit this awesome food court. At breakfast, try the “create your own” omelet. You pick the veggies & meats, then watch as your omelet is being prepared. Add some fried “taters”, and you have a good ole’ southern style breakfast. The two sided drink station is enormous, with plenty of beverages to choose from, and the coffee is always fresh and hot. When you buy a souvenir mug, refills are free.
9. River Roost Lounge & Yeehaw Bob Jackson — “Yeehaw Bob” is one of the funniest family-friendly entertainers around and appears at Port Orleans/Riverside every Wednesday through Saturday evenings. He and his “boogie woogie” dancing piano put on a show that causes audiences to laugh, sing, and get up and “dance to the music”, most of which is ragtime and “oldies but goodies”. Bob is a master when it comes to interacting with his audience, and there is never a moment of silence during his performance. Even young children get involved when Bob marches around the room with all the youngsters following along behind him. Guests from other resorts come to Port Orleans/Riverside just to catch his show, and it’s free for anyone. Bob even stays around after the show to sign autographs and take pictures. He is definitely one of the “good guys”! The River Roost Lounge is a full service bar, also serving light snacks until the kitchen closes, usually around 9:00pm. I would recommend getting to there early, have a snack, then enjoy the show! It’s entertainment at its best!
The laid-back, quiet, “old south” charm of Port Orleans/Riverside will keep you coming back again and again, just like it does for my family and myself. If you expect to get the best hospitality, a variety of activities, clean, stylish accommodations, good food, excellent entertainment, a convenient souvenir and gift shop, great transportation, and ultra-friendly Resort cast members, you will be very pleased when you stay at Disney’s Port Orleans/Riverside. We have enjoyed each and every one of our stays at this fabulous Resort and will continue to do so every time we visit Walt Disney World.
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