Ultimate Guide to Port Orleans Riverside Resort at Disney World

Ultimate Guide to Port Orleans Riverside Resort at Disney World

After our almost too classy, too grown-up, stay at the Grand Floridian Resort we weren’t initially sure how we would feel about Port Orleans Riverside. Especially since the French Quarter Hotel 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”! Disney’s Port Orleans Resort, however, was going to be a journey into the old South inspiration courtesy of Gone with the Wind. 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! Read on to find out if we would recommend Disney Port Orleans Riverside Resort for your Disney Vacation!

Disney Port Orleans Riverside Magnolia Building

Disney Port Orleans Riverside Resort

This Disney Moderate Resort is spacious and calm. The resort grounds are beautiful. Though it feels expansive, it still has great details throughout the resort to match the inspired Southern theme. Just like Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, you can plan on multiple bus stops here since the resort is broken up into several sections.

The atmosphere here combines both the Bayou culture and the old South culture at the resort. With one area including more trees, lots of hanging Spanish moss, little water areas, and wooden shacks. The other area prominently features white buildings, water fountains, and manicured garden walkways. Throughout Disney’s port orleans resort riverside, 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. And due to the out-of-the-way nature of this resort, you won’t likely see high school groups, cheer clubs, or little Miss pageant frequent this one as much. That said, if you’re looking for something secluded… this Port Orleans Hotel at Disney World is the resort for you.

Port Orleans Riverside Disney Resort Theme and Areas

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 this Port Orleans Resort and which building to request, here is a breakdown of each space.

Disney port orleans riverside magnolia

Disney port orleans riverside resort

Magnolia Bend at Riverside Resort 

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. You can find standard rooms, 5th sleeper rooms, and the Port Orleans Riverside Princess Royal Rooms in this section.

Disney port orleans riverside alligator bayou

Port Orleans Riverside Alligator Bayou

Alligator Bayou at Riverside Resort 

The other section of the Disney Port Orleans Riverside Resorts is The Alligator Bayou area, and  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.  You can find 5th sleeper rooms in this area as well that often feature Ray the Alligator, super cute!

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 this resort 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 one of our favorite Disney Resorts, 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 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 Orleans 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 and Disney Springs. Plus walking trails across the entire resort allow for easy access to both resorts throughout your stay. Check out the Port Orleans Resort Walking Path between these two resorts.

Map of Port Orleans Resort Disney World

Disney port orleans riverside resort restaurants

Disney port orleans riverside resort restaurants

Port Orleans Riverside Resort Restaurants

Port Orleans Resort 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 Scat Cat’s Club in the main lobby, for instance, serves up beignets. Sassagoula Float Factory offers New Orleans-inspired cuisine, but you’ll have to venture to the French Quarter Resort Hotel to get it. But, if you’re looking for something simple and nearby, then you can try any of the Restaurants. You’ll find a quick service restaurant, table service restaurant, pool bar, and lounge here.

Port Orleans Riverside

 Disney 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. Riverside Mill food is pretty on standard for a Disney food court. And it can get very hectic in the mornings! So just be aware if you plan to grab breakfast there, you may want to mobile order instead. The food and menu overall are similar to what you’d find at a Value Resort like Pop Century. Though not as good as some other Moderate Food Courts we’ve tried before like the one at Coronado Springs. It’s fine, but maybe just not our favorite when it comes to food courts!

As noted before, we were super impressed with the Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory over at the French Quarter. So maybe we’re biased? But don’t let this deter you from digging in and loving Riverside Mill. We just feel like the other food courts have a better selection, and dare we say, better quality than Disney Port Orleans Riverside. But the positive side of that is that you can just walk to French Quarter if you prefer their food!

Disney Port Orleans Riverside Mill Food Court

Boatwrights Dining at Riverside

Boatwrights is the formal table service restaurant at Port Orleans Riverside Resort. But, oh, how we would love for 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. Since it’s not a busy restaurant, it’s usually easy to get a last-minute dining reservation. And it doesn’t draw crowds like some resort restaurants do.

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 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. Other elements featuring the landscapes of the South popped up in paintings and decorations.

riverside disney bathrooms

port orleans riverside tiana rooms

Port Orleans Riverside Princess Royal Rooms

If you’re looking for the Royal treatment you can request the Royal Rooms at Port Orleans Riverside. At about $60 extra per night, these rooms offer up more Disney-inspired decor fit for a princess. Complete with extra touches and fancy furniture, you also get huge paintings of each princess on the walls- adding to the castle-like decor. However, if you have a Princess Ariel fan then the New Little Mermaid Rooms at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort may be more to your liking. These, however, were great rooms and worth the extra cost.

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, the 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 Resort had some nice perks. The covered bus stops, walking paths that connect both Port Orleans resorts and access to Disney Springs had us swooning! But is this resort close to the Theme Parks?  For a breakdown of the amount of time it takes to get to each park from Port Orleans Riverside, read on! Note that this resort only offers Disney Bus transportation to the parks, and Disney Boat transportation to Disney Springs.

Bus Transportation

The only transportation to the parks available at 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. There are 4 Bus Stops, so the buses will stop at each before heading to the parks which can take some time. This 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 Access, we loved that this one included stops at Disney Springs and the French Quarter Resort. Whether you want 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

One benefit of staying at Riverside is that you also get access to Port Orleans French Quarter’s Pool as well! So you can just walk over or take the boat and have access to a whole new pool. Perfect for those hot summer days at Disney.

‘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 Orleans Riverside Recreation

Every resort at Walt Disney World has an array of activities and resort-specific fun. Check out all that Port Orleans Riverside has to offer for recreation.

Movie Under the Stars

Disney’s Movie Under the Stars, outdoor movie 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 Excursions

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 to be found at Disney 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 resort prices can range from 199 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.

Typically around 260-300/ night, we’d say that this is a price point we tend to shy away from if we are focused only on Park time. We typically go a bit cheaper for regular trips that focus on the Parks, at Pop Century, or the Swan and Dolphin Hotels. Or any of the Value Resorts at Walt Disney World really. However, if you’re planning to have some time to spend at your resort, or want to be close to Disney Springs, we think this is a great option.

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 there’s always Uber! We are big fans of the boat transportation to Disney Springs, which opens up a whole new world of restaurants and entertainment.

This resort would be a great Resort for Disney Adults of all ages. Older adults, and families traveling with teens who were “over” the Disney thing would love it here. We also like this resort for Girls’ Trips to Disney. For the moderate price range, we generally tend to go with Caribbean Beach due to the food options and the ease of transportation thanks to the Skyliner.  But we love Riverside and definitely keep it in mind for trips that we know we would be spending a lot of time at the resort.

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!

Co-Founder and Director at Polka Dot Pixie Co LLC | Website | + posts

Rochelle Mariah is a writer, designer and photographer with an MLIS in Information Science and a B.S. in Arch and Design. Determined to make Planning a DIY Disney Vacation easier she makes lots of lists and drinks lots of coffee. When not designing apparel at Polka Dot Pixie Shop, she's watching old movies and planning the holidays. She has been traveling to Disney destinations since 2010.

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