Choosing the right Disney Resort for your Walt Disney World Vacation is important. Luckily, with over 25 resorts on Disney property, there are plenty to choose from. But, why does it matter? For us things like cost, transportation to and from the parks, dining options, resort activities, and atmosphere are vital. Of course, if you’re only choosing between Port Orleans Riverside or French Quarter Resort, then things just got easier. With a Moderate Resort price point, bus, and boat access, and a plethora of resort activities, there is plenty to do at both resorts. So what’s the difference between the Disney Port Orleans Resorts? Let’s dive in.
Port Orleans Riverside OR Port Orleans French Quarter
As you may have guessed Disney’s Port Orleans Resorts feature theming, food, style, and activities honoring the American South. At Port Orleans Riverside, you’re taken to the days of old with large plantation-like mansions and porched houses in the bayou. At French Quarter, you’re given a glimpse of the streets of New Orleans. Complete with jazz music around every corner, and reasons to celebrate Mardi Gras. Both resorts have charms of their own. One offers expansive grounds and a down-home feeling, while the other offers a boutique experience you’d find on Bourbon street. So if you’re deciding between Port Orleans Riverside or French Quarter Resort, here are some similarities and differences to consider.
How are they the Same?
While there are some significant differences between these two resorts, there are similarities too! As with all Disney Moderate Resorts, you’ll find good-sized rooms with bathrooms separated by a door or a curtain. And outside access to your room allows for easy coming and going throughout the day. Both resorts have pools, lounges, laundry facilities, gift shops, and the same kind of transportation options.
Both Port Orleans Resorts offer transportation to the Disney Parks, by bus. There is also additional transportation to and from either resort or Disney Springs, by boat. These resorts also include access to a walking path, which joins them to each other, as well as goes all the way to Disney Springs. Making Port Orleans Riverside or French Quarter Resort, are both great options if you’re adding shopping days to your trip.
The Walking Path that connects the two resorts is also quite nice and inadvertently gives you a 2-for-1 feeling if you choose to stay here. As the resorts are just a short walk, about 5 minutes, from each other, you get access to 2 gift shops, 2 dining areas, a restaurant, lounges, and more. Which is such a nice perk if you’re looking for a value add.
Commissary Dining Options
Both Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter Resorts have commissaries for easy breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. These centrally located cafeterias offer up a variety of meals, snacks, and drinks, that you can grab and go, or Mobile Order. At Port Orleans Riverside you’ll find the Riverside Mill Food Court which has plenty of food options and drink stations for refillable mugs. This food location is themed with classic southern cuisine. So you can grab burgers, fried chicken, fries, cole slaw, and more. At Disney’s French Quarter Resort, there is the Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory, which has many of the same food options but also includes things like jambalaya, gumbo, and beignets. All the foods you’d expect to see in the New Orleans area. Both food locations are wonderful on-site options for quick meals, and you can simply walk in, order your food and go. Seating is available inside for both locations. And French Quarter Resort also has outdoor eating areas to enjoy.
Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter both have Lounges. But they are each quite different. Port Orleans Riverside is home to the River Roost Lounge. This lounge includes the southern comfort of piano music and a bit of humor several nights a week. Disney’s French Quarter offers a big easy feel with a Jazz band performing Wednesdays through Sundays at the Scat Cat’s Club Lounge. Both lounges serve up specialty cocktails, mocktails, and small plates and are typically open from 5-11 pm. Since these resorts are within walking distance of each other, you may not need to choose your resort based on the lounge. But know that the atmosphere for each is quite different.
If you’re choosing between Port Orleans Riverside OR French Quarter Resort, the pool may be what helps you decide. While each location has a pool, they couldn’t be more different! Port Orleans Riverside pool takes its theme from the old rickety buildings and the Watering Holes in the days of old. As such, dark woods, wooden buckets, and a clackety water slide make up the pool area. Nearby you can find the pool bar in the building with an expansive porch, that includes not only drinks but quick lunch options as well.
At Port Orleans French Quarter, the pool theme is focused on Mardi Gras. As such you can find Triton on a Water dragon, cartoon alligators, jugglers and street performers, and more. All geared towards a fun party feel. As such, if you’re traveling with children, this pool would be more desirable. Simply because it relies on characters, as opposed to architecture, to create the atmosphere.
How are they Different?
Port Orleans Riverside or French Quarter Resort?
While Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter Resorts have many similarities, there are significant ways in which they differ. The theme, rooms, resort size, and additional dining options are all things to note. Especially, if you’re looking for a certain feeling from your Disney Vacation.
Port Orleans Riverside Resort is a large resort, and therefore actually split into two themes. While each honors the Orleans area of the American South, Magnolia Bend leans towards Plantation Mansion architecture, while Alligator Bayou highlights the swampland areas. These buildings are large in structure and sprawl the grounds. They are connected by a central gathering place that includes the main building, restaurants, a gift shop, surrey bike rentals, and the boat dock. The entire area is anchored by wooden bridges that cross the river and a Mill.
At Disney’s French Quarter Resort, the theming is quite different! With more of a boutique resort feel, French Quarter features a series of colored townhomes connected by iron balconies, and strew together by narrow streets that weave throughout the resort. The smallness of this resort allows for tucked-away areas with benches and fountains, much like you would find in New Orleans.
These resorts are also different when it comes to room options. Both resorts offer standard rooms with garden and river views. And rooms at each are well-sized, featuring two queen beds, dressers, a separate bathroom and vanity area, and a tv/coffee area. Port Orleans Riverside Resort also offers 5th Sleeper Rooms and the Royal Rooms, or Princess Rooms as they’re sometimes called. These specially decorated rooms are at a higher price point and feature elements of the Disney Princesses. An Aladdin’s Lamp faucet, heavy castle-like curtains, and framed portraits of the princesses adorn the rooms.
While none of these rooms have had the latest updates we’ve seen in the Pop Century Resort with pull-down beds, extra storage or tables. Or as in the Little Mermaid Rooms at Caribbean Beach Resort, featuring a fifth sleeper and a sofa, both resorts still offer a nice stay, with great theming.
One of the biggest differences between these resorts is size. While both are great walking resorts, with loads of pathways and central amenities, Port Orleans Riverside is the larger of the two. As such getting from one end of the resort takes a little time. It’s additionally sprawled across both sides of the river, so there are bridges to connect the resort in three separate areas. While this resort is not as big as Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort or Coronado Springs if you have children and plan to have late or early days in the parks, be prepared for the walking involved at Port Orleans Riverside.
Port Orleans French Quarter Resort, is much smaller, or at least feels smaller than its counterpart. As a resort with a boutique feel, even the farthest buildings on the property are still only about 5 minutes from the central square area. This made everything easier. Grabbing coffee, or cocoa, and heading to the cafe, or laundry took only minutes, which was such a nice surprise, given that we were staying in the farthest building on the edge of the property.
Table Service Dining Options
Another difference between the resorts is the additional dining options. Port Orleans Riverside has a table service restaurant called Boatwrights. While Boatwrights Restaurant at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside isn’t necessarily our type of restaurant, having a table service restaurant on the property is always a perk. And this one serves up a seafood boil, steaks, and southern cuisine to the max! Including cheesecake. While we feel the menu and decor are a little dated here, if you’re looking for a Disney Resort where you plan to spend your evenings, this is a great choice.
French Quarter Resort, however, doesn’t have a table service restaurant. This is a shame because it seems there would have been so many opportunities to really dig in with all the foodie history of New Orleans. But, it does have a cafe! So that’s good news. The Scat Cat’s Club Cafe is just off the lobby and serves up a variety of beignets, cafe au lait, and chicory coffee. Typically busy all day, this is a major benefit of staying at Port Orleans French Quarter. Freshly made Beignets at the ready, yes, please!
When considering Port Orleans Riverside or French Quarter Resort, know that some resort activities are the same. Both resorts host Movies Under the Stars and have a variety of pool-time activities, like trivia and games. Both resorts also have S’mores and a bonfire in the evening and mini crafts and classes specific to each resort. Be sure to check the recreation guide at each resort to see which additional activities are available during your stay. But, due to its size, Port Orleans Riverside has a couple of additional options that are well worth the time.
- Surrey Bikes: Found at a couple of resorts and the Disney BoardWalk, Surrey Bikes seat 2 to 4 people and can be booked for 25 minutes. Perfect to drive around the resort and see the sights, these bikes can be rented at the boat dock at Riverside.
- Carriage Rides: Another option you have at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside is to book a carriage ride. Here you can enjoy seeing the resort at leisure. The only other location that has this is Fort Wilderness Resort and Campgrounds.
Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter Resort
As a Disney Moderate Resort, we were surprised to see everything that Disney’s French Quarter Resort has to offer. We loved the smaller resort experience, making it so easy to get around. And while the transportation isn’t extra convenient, since only the Disney Buses are available, it was still quite easy to get around. Here is a glance at the Pros and Cons of this resort.
French Quarter Resort Pros
- Disney Boat Access to Disney Springs to Riverside
- Scat Cat’s Club Lounge includes live performances Wednesdays- Sundays
- Scat Cat’s Club Cafe serves fresh beignets all-day
- Smaller Resort makes it easy to get around
- The Rooms are a Nice Size
- Walking Path Access to Port Orleans Riverside and Disney Springs
French Quarter Resort Cons
- Only Disney Bus access to the parks
- No Table Service Restaurant
A Great Resort For…
- Families with small children
- Older Adults
- Disney Couples
Map of Port Orleans French Quarter
Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort
We love Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside for its expansive, easy, and calm atmosphere. It’s a great resort to come to after a long day in the parks. With ample paths for walking and courtyards with benches, there are plenty of places to relax. We also liked that the secondary pools are generally empty and offer opportunities for outdoor lunch at the tables, and lounging.
Riverside Resort Pros
- Disney Boat Access to Disney Springs and French Quarter Resort
- River Roost Lounge offers live performances several nights a week
- Standard, Royal Rooms, and 5th Sleeper Rooms Available
- Magnolia Bend and Aligator Bayou offer different themed areas
- Walking Path Access to Port Orleans French Quarter and Disney Springs
- A Table Service Restaurant, Boatwrights, is available
Riverside Resort Cons
- Only Disney Bus access to the parks
- Larger Resort means it takes a while to get around
A Great Resort For…
- Families with teens
- Families with little princesses
- Longer Vacations
- People who enjoy walking
Map of Port Orleans Riverside Resort
Port Orleans Riverside or French Quarter Resort?
While each of these resorts has something to offer, they each have their own charms, depending on what you’re looking for in a Disney Resort. If you like the history of the American South, New Orleans, and the like, then these resorts both share those unique cultures. As Disney Resorts, neither resort screams Disney. While there is some decor from Princess and the Frog throughout each resort, the Disney-esque feel is minimal. If you’re looking for a resort that feels like Disney, we’d recommend Art of Animation Resort, or one of the All-Star Resorts. Hopefully, this post has helped you get a handle on the differences between these two resorts. We love them both, and sometimes it’s just a matter of preference and vacation plans.
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.