Disney Port Orleans Riverside Resort Review

Disney Port Orleans Riverside Resort Review

After our almost too classy, too grown-up, stay at the Grand Floridian Resort we were reluctant to stay at Disney Port Orleans Riverside. Especially since French Quarter seemed much more fun. I mean, we don’t know why or how French Quarter has a King Triton pool, but it just screams “way more fun”! Riverside, however, was going to be a journey into the old south inspiration courtesy of Gone with the Wind. And all we could think about was our little sister asking ” why is everyone dying in this movie?” Luckily, we had been given the heads up that Princess and the Frog elements could be found here and there, so with fingers crossed for some fun New Orleans vibes we headed to this Disney Moderate Resort. And we were pleasantly surprised by many things, but would we recommend Port Orleans Riverside Resort for your Disney Vacation?

Disney Port Orleans Riverside

Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort Theme

the atmosphere at this moderate Disney resort is calm and classy. Hidden in the bayou, there are walks, greenery, and little gazebos and fountains that pop up all over the place. Perfect for cute picture backgrounds or as cozy places to curl up and read. It’s very calm here. We say that a second time because this is probably not a resort you will ever see a high school, cheer club, or little miss pageant frequent. That said, if you’re looking for something secluded… this is the resort for you.

Port Orleans Riverside Resort is separated into two areas of the old south, Magnolia Bend and Alligator Bayou. Each area has its charms, and if you’re wondering where to stay at Port Orleans Riverside Resort and which building to request, here are a few things to know. 

Disney port orleans riverside magnolia

Disney port orleans riverside resort

Magnolia Bend

Themed in the style of the Old South, this part of the resort is covered in Plantation-style mansions. With sweeping gardens, trails, fountains, and the overall elegance indicative of the early 19th century. This area is broken into four buildings: Acadian House, Parterre Place, Oak Manor, and Magnolia Terrace. We have been lucky enough to stay in the Magnolia Terrace and Oak Manor buildings, which are right across from the Sassasougla Steamboat Company which houses the main restaurants, gift shops, and lounge. Just on the other side of the river, we had easy access to everything. Perfect for those late-night food court runs for drinks or food. The rooms in the Magnolia Bend buildings are decorated with classic light wood furniture and landscape scenes from the rural south, with nods to the Princess and the Frog throughout. 

Disney port orleans riverside alligator bayou

Alligator Bayou

The Alligator Bayou area is filled with Old Louisiana-style lodges. These buildings are numbered, not named, and offer a rural southern feel, filled with shady pathways, old bridges, and streams throughout. The buildings closest to the main buildings are Sassagoula Steamboat Company and the South Bus Depot are 14, 15, 18, and 27. These are considered preferred rooms but are able to be requested. Unlike the Magnolia Bend rooms, rooms in the lodges are filled with darker woods and a more rustic theme. Typically featuring Ray the Alligator from Princess and the Frog. 

Disney port orleans riverside resort review

Disney port orleans riverside resort review

Disney port orleans riverside resort review

Port Orleans Riverside Resort Grounds

The grounds at Disney Port Orleans are gorgeous. Very grown-up and respectful.  As a result, you won’t find any large animatronics, statues, or Disney-related items flanking the outdoor structures. There are a few nods to Princess Tiana here and there, this is not an overly “Disney” themed resort.  While we love an elegant resort experience as much as the next person, we probably wouldn’t be coming to Disney if we didn’t expect some Disney thrown into the experience. This, however, is not a bad thing! Much like Animal Kingdom Lodge, the theming of this resort is plenty to hold its own, without a bunch of Disney characters thrown in. 

Sassagoula Steamboat Company

The hub of the entire Port Orleans Riverside Resort is the Sassagoula Steamboat Company, featuring a real River Mill, and housing the resort’s restaurants, gift shop, lounge, check-in desk and more. This building is also home to the main bus stop on the property. The River Mill building is gorgeous and can be seen from the bridge. During regular operation, the mill wheel moves all day long to add to the theme of the resort. Complete with water towers, this resort is beautifully themed and true to the area and time period it portrays here. 

Port Orleans Riverside Resort Map

To get a good idea of the breadth of Port Orlean’s Riverside Resort, this map shows the layout. You can see the buildings, spaces, and the neighboring French Quarter Resort. Each cluster has its own pool, and there are four bus stops here. Also, note that there is a Ferry Dock that allows transportation to and from French Quarter Resort and Disney Springs. Plus walking trails across the entire resort allow for easy access to both resorts throughout your stay. 

Disney port orleans riverside resort restaurants

Disney port orleans riverside resort restaurants

Port Orleans Riverside Resort Restaurants

Port Orleans Riverside has just a couple of restaurants, and frankly, none to write home about. That said, the resort’s walking proximity to French Quarter offers even more dining options. The Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory, for instance, serves up beignets, and New Orleans-inspired cuisine, but you’ll have to venture to French Quarter to get it. But, if you’re looking for something simple and nearby, then you can try any of Port Orlean’s Riverside Restaurants. You’ll find a quick service restaurant, table service restaurant, pool bar, and lounge here. 

Port Orleans Riverside

The Riverside Mill Food Court

The Riverside Mill offers up southern cooking like Jambalaya and chili alongside classics like burgers and chicken. For breakfast, you can expect mickey waffles, eggs, and even plant-based dining options have arrived here. Much to our dismay, the Riverside Mill food felt terribly sub-par. We blame it on the lighting. The food we had was somewhat disappointing though the Riverside Mill Menu was nice and varied. Another issue for us was that the mornings get pretty crazy busy. Now, if we were staying at the All-Stars Resorts ( which we love!) this may have been expected and tolerated, but for what you pay at a moderate resort, we expected more.

As noted before, we were super impressed with the Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory over at French Quarter. So maybe we’re biased? But don’t let this deter you from digging in and loving Riverside Mill. We only had a few experiences here, and it could have just been us! 

Disney Port Orleans Riverside Mill Food Court

Boatwrights Dining at Riverside

Boatwrights is the formal table service restaurant at Port Orlean’s Riverside resort. But, oh, how we really wanted this to be a Princess and the Frog Restaurant! However, Boatwrights is very pretty with a boat-building theme, in another unfortunately dark space. . This restaurant is small, perhaps indicative of lower crowds but the Boatwrights Menu has all the Louisiana fare you would expect at a southern restaurant. And if we weren’t talking just about the food we could also mention this outdoor area at Riverside is absolutely gorgeous. 

Disney Port Orleans Riverside Boatwrights

Disney port orleans riverside resort pool bar

Muddy Rivers Pool Bar

Serving up sandwiches, and non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks, Muddy Rivers Pool Bar is located on ‘Ol Man Island. Featuring a covered seating area, connected to the main areas of the pool, this place offers shade and a quick bite so you don’t have to venture too far from the pool. Check out the Muddy Rivers Pool Bar Menu. 

Disney port orleans riverside resort river roost

Disney port orleans riverside resort river roost

River Roost

River Roost offers a cozy, welcoming atmosphere. Perfect for a break after a long day at the Parks. The River Roost Lounge Menu is filled with both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and a few appetizer options. Open 5 pm- 11 pm, this lounge features a sing-along piano player, Bob Jackson, causing a ruckus Wed-Sat evenings at 8:30 pm.  Situated just off the main lobby area of the resort, this is a nice place to grab a bite or drink before your evening plans. 

Port Orleans Riverside Resort Rooms

The resort rooms at this Disney Moderate Resort were a nice surprise with a more modern vibe. Of average size and adequate for your typical 4 people. In the Magnolia Bend buildings the rooms are are very prettily themed, just like an old plantation in the south. The headboards were inlaid with some very light detailing featuring characters from Princess and the Frog. And other elements featuring the landscapes of the South popped up in paintings and decorations. 

Port Orleans Riverside Resort Princess Royal Rooms

If you’re looking for the Royal treatment you can request the Royal Rooms at Port Orlean’s Riverside. At about $60 extra per night, these rooms offer up more Disney-inspired decor fit for a princess. And unlike the Pirates Rooms at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, which are being discontinued in 2023, reports of the Royal Rooms have been that they’re actually worth it.

Taking extra attention to detail and offering prime locations within the resort to get to and from everything easily. Complete with gilded swirls throughout the decor, and Magical lamp gold faucets. Tassels on the tapestry curtains and princess portraits on the wall make these rooms every princess’s dream. While the upcharge for these rooms may not warrant choosing this over Disney’s Boardwalk Inn or Animal Kingdom Lodge, if you’re traveling with children, this room is a great way to add more Disney to a resort that isn’t covered in Disney IP. 

Princess rooms at Port Orleans Resort

Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Pet-Friendly Rooms

As one of the Disney Resorts that allow pets, Port Orlean’s Riverside Resort lets you bring a dog, or two on your vacation with you. For an extra fee, and with rules around which areas of the resorts allow dogs, you can peruse the Disney Dog Policy for Port Orleans Riverside to see where you can play and walk with your pup during your stay. 

Disney port orleans riverside resort boat

Port Orleans Riverside Transportation

In addition to the basic resort offerings, Riverside had some nice perks. The covered bus stops, walking paths around the resort, and access to Disney Springs had us swooning! Here’s the lineup of things available at Riverside.

Bus Transportation

The only transportation to the parks available at Port Orleans Riverside is by Bus. For travel from the resort to the parks we highly recommend checking the resort section of your My Disney Experience App for bus wait times. As they can vary throughout the day depending on how busy it is. Port Orleans Riverside has 4 Bus Stops, so the buses will stop at each before heading to the parks which can take some time. The Disney Port Orleans Resort was about a 10-15 minute bus ride to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. About 15-20 minutes to Magic Kingdom and about 20-25 minutes to Animal Kingdom. 

Ferry Transportation

As a Disney Resort with Ferry Boat Access, we loved that this one included stops at Disney Springs and the French Quarter Resort. Whether you were wanting to meander over to Disney Springs in the morning or grab the boat later at night back to your resort, the ferry comes every 20 minutes, and travels 20 minutes back and forth all day. A great option if you’re looking to stay at the resort one day to keep away from the busy parks, but still want to go somewhere special to grab lunch or shop without driving or waiting for the bus! 

Disney port orleans riverside pools

Disney port orleans riverside pools

Port Orleans Riverside Pools

‘Ol Man Island

The main pool for the resort is located on ‘Ol Man Island and a  fun pool to try out if you’re looking for something rustic and fun. This pool is themed watering hole style. The pool’s theme is “abandoned sawmill” and features a 95-foot-long waterslide and daily activities and games at the pool. This 3.5-acre island in the river also includes a whirlpool tub, kiddie pool, and the Muddy Rivers pool bar. 

We found the main pool to not be too busy, with many of the guests just staying at the pools flanking their individual buildings. Of course, since it was 95 degrees out in September and who wants to walk any farther than you have to?

Disney port orleans riverside pools

Leisure Pools 

Each building has its own pool with each in a very nice, laid-back setting, you could easily spend all day just hanging out at the pool and relaxing. There are 3 pools in Alligator Bayou and 2 pools in Magnolia Bend. While none of the smaller pools have poolside bars, you can always head to the main pool on ‘Ol Man Island for beverages and snacks to bring back. 

Walking trails at Port Orleans

Port Orlean’s Riverside Recreation

Movie Under the Stars at Port Orleans Riverside

Disney’s Movie Under the Stars is hosted on Ol Man Island, at Riverside Resort. And takes place each evening, weather permitting, and features an evening campfire on select nights. This outdoor movie is a fun way to relax into the evening hours, and the seclusion of the island makes it feel just like camping. 

Horse Drawn Excursion at Port Orleans Riverside

One of the best ways to see the entire resort is by horse and carriage. At $55 per ride, you can enjoy a leisurely 25-minute excursion along the Sassagoula River. The carriage seats 4 adults or 2 adults and 3 small children. You can make reservations on the same day and it’s a great way to add some fun to the day if you’re taking a break from the parks. Book a Carriage Ride.

Bike Rental at Disney Resorts

Several of the higher-end resorts have bike rentals so we were happy to see this resort offer this as well. Especially since you could potentially travel all over the place with these bikes. With French Quarter right next door and Disney Springs accessible from a very long sidewalk (1-hour walking) you could potentially use the bike to travel everywhere. Check out the Disney Resorts with Bike Rental if you’re looking for a lazy riding day. 

Bike Rentals at Disney Port Orleans

New Balance Running and Walking Trail

While we do walk a lot when we’re at Disney nothing beats a nice morning or evening walk.  Especially if it’s been a busy day and you need to decompress. This walking trail wraps not only all of Riverside but also the French Quarter Resort, so you get great views and once again a calm atmosphere. Finding the running and walking paths at Walt Disney World is one of our favorite ways to recenter before heading to the parks. 

disney port orleans arcade

Medicine Show Arcade

The Medicine Show Arcade is located right off the lobby, and is a great way to spend a rainy afternoon if you choose the leave the Parks.  It is open 24 hours. 

disney port orleans laundry facilities

Laundry Facilities at Port Orleans Riverside

It can get hot at Disney. And rainy too. So you may find yourself needing to do laundry on your Walt Disney World vacation.  There are plenty of laundry facilities ton be found at Port Orleans Riverside. One laundry room is located at each pool, near the restrooms. There are plenty of washers and dryers available, so you should never have an issue being able to secure one to do your laundry. Laundry will cost you $3 to wash and $3 to dry. And there are vending machines offering laundry soap and dryer sheets at each laundry room, so no need to worry about packing your own unless you want to! 

Port Orleans Riverside Resort Cost

Port Orleans Riverside is one of five moderate resorts at Walt Disney World.  It’s a bit larger than its sister, French Quarter, which means there tends to be a little more availability and you can usually find this resort a bit discounted during a promotion.  As a moderate Disney resort, Port Orleans Riverside, prices can range from 180-to 400 a night. Yes, that’s quite a range dependent on the time of year, booking, festivals, number of guests… oh so many variables. Check out our cheapest and most expensive times to visit Disney World for insight regarding when you can find deals.

Typically around 260-300/ night, we’d say that these are a “special vacation” resort choice for us, depending on what our plans. We typically go a bit cheaper for regular trips that focus on the Parks, at Pop Century or the Swan and Dolphin Hotels. However, if you’re doing a longer Disney trip and want a new resort to explore, or perhaps with easy access to Disney Springs, we’d highly recommend Port Orleans Riverside. 

Disney port orleans riverside pools

Disney Port Orleans Riverside Review

Overall, we really enjoy this resort. We love the proximity of Port Orleans French Quarter to grab some beignets, and the atmosphere is just such a nice break from the Disney chaos. We don’t love the fact that the only way to get to the Parks is via bus, but that’s the case with a lot of resorts that are even more expensive, so we can’t fault it too much for that. And we are big fans of the boat transportation to Disney Springs.   This resort would be a great Resort for Disney Adults of all ages. Older adults, girlfriend getaways, or families traveling with teens who were “over” the Disney thing would also love it here. For the moderate price range, we’d always rather be at Caribbean Beach due to the food options available there and the ease of transportation thanks to the Skyliner

If you’re looking for a calm, relaxing atmosphere that makes you feel like you are actually on vacation while being in the middle of the rush of Disney, give Port Orleans Riverside a try!



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