After our almost too classy, too grown up, stay at the Grand Floridian we were reluctant to stay at Disney Port Orleans Riverside. Especially since French Quarter has 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, a favorite old movie of ours. And all we could think about was our little sister asking ” why is everyone dying in this movie?” Because that’s what the old south was, serious. Serious glamour, serious class, serious money, serious issues. Serious. Not fun. Luckily, we did get some extra fun sass from The Princess and the Frog, but… would we recommend it?
Before we dive in to the particulars, let us just say that a huge pleasant surprise we had staying at this resort was the easy transportation. Buses in the parks going back to the resort definitely arrived with that 20-30 minute window. So we weren’t standing around for an hour waiting to go back to the room. Definitely a plus when we’re leaving the parks at midnight. The Disney Port Orleans Resort was about a 10-15 minute bus ride from every park. With the exception of Animal Kingdom, which was about a 20/25 minute ride. This was a major surprise!!! Other moderate resorts we stayed at in the past could have us on the bus for 25-30 minutes depending, but this was not the case here, we actually started timing it just for fun. This had not been the case at either Pop Century or Art of Animation , and is definitely a draw if easy transportation is a priority for you.
Disney Port Orleans Riverside Resort Look and Feel
O.K. 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 not a resort you will ever see a highschool, cheer club, or little miss pageant frequent. That said, if you’re looking for secluded… this is the resort for you.
We were lucky enough to stay in the Magnolia buildings. These are right across from the main buildings on the other side of the river, so we had easy access to everything. Perfect for those late night food court runs for drinks or food. Definitely request Magnolia as your building choice if you can. Because this resort is huge.
The grounds at Disney Port Orleans are gorgeous. Very grown up and respectful. You won’t find any large animatronics, statues or Disney related items flanking the outdoor structures. That said, this was sort of a drawback for us. While we love a high end resort as much as the next person, we probably wouldn’t be coming to Disney if we didn’t expect some Disney thrown in to the experience. We’d just go to Travaasa instead. Across the bridge from the Magnolia building, past the pool, is the River Mill. This building is gorgeous. During regular operation the mill wheel moves all day long to add to the theme of the resort.
The Riverside Mill Food Court
So, much to our dismay the Riverside Mill was 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. Our issue 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. And frankly, we are super impressed with the Sassagoula Soda and Fireworks 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 a few experiences here, and it could have just been us!
Boatwrights Dining at Riverside
Boatwrights is the formal table service restaurant at this resort. How we really wanted this restaurant to be Princess and the Frog inspired. Thankfully, we’ll be getting that at Reflections Lakeside Lodge Resort once construction is complete. Boatwrights is very pretty with a boat building theme. This restaurant is pretty small, perhaps indicative of lower crowds but the 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 area at Riverside is absolutely gorgeous.
Port Orleans Riverside Resort Rooms
The resort rooms at this Disney moderate resort were your basic Disney resort room, with sliding curtain to the vanity, tv, coffee maker, etc. Pretty average size and adequate for your typical 4 people. We heard that some of the rooms were being updated, so fingers crossed this expands to the whole resort in time for the 50th Anniversary in 2021. They 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 still they were very down played to the point where you really had to look for the Disney references to notice them.
Staying On Property at Walt Disney World Perks
In addition to the basic resort offerings Riverside had some nice perks. The covered bus stops, walking paths around the parks, and access to Disney Springs had us swooning! Here’s the lineup of things available at Riverside.
Disney Spring Ferry from Port Orleans Resorts
Ferry Boat Access to Disney Springs and French Quarter. 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.
Pool and Poolside Bar
The poolside bar here is almost a mini restaurant all on its own! A very nice, laid back setting, you could easily spend all day just hanging out at the pool and drinking, if that’s your style. Also, since this main pool is not overly kid-centric, many of the guests just stayed at the pools flanking their individual buildings, since it was 95 degrees out in September and who wants to walk any farther than you have to?
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.
New Balance Running/ 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 French Quarter, 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.
Port Orleans Riverside Resort Price
We’ve been attempting to make the rounds to all the Disney resorts for a while now, so being able to grab Riverside during a sale or bounceback deal was really the only way we could have afforded this one for a longer stay. Especially since as travelers who spend most of our time in the parks it’s hard to justify the pricey Disney resorts unless we’re doing a resort day to make it worth it. A moderate Disney resort, Port Orleans Riverside, prices can range from 180-400 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.
Disney Port Orleans Riverside Review
All in all this resort was very nice. We would definitely stay again. Towards the end of our vacation we decided this may be a great place for a older adults, girlfriend getaways, or families traveling with teens who were “over” the Disney thing. For the moderate price range we’d always rather be at Caribbean Beach or lets face it any resort with a beach. But, the good luck with transportation here would definitely have us considering this resort for a shorter vacation because that —was pretty amazing. 🙂