After our almost too classy, too grown up, stay at the Grand Floridian I was reluctant to stay at Port Orleans Riverside, when obviously French Quarter has more fun. I mean, I 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 mine, and all I could think about was my 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. 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 me 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 they promise, so we weren’t standing around for an hour waiting to go back to the room. Definitely a plus when we’re leaving at midnight. Port Orleans Riverside 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 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.
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. I 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, which 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.
The grounds at this resort 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. Even under construction, 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! A promising food selection and nice layout were the only things great here. The food we had was disappointing ( which you can read about on our private vacay recap post here with password: pixiedust ) and the mornings 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.
Boatwrights is the formal restaurant at this resort. Very pretty with a boat building theme, this restaurant is pretty small, perhaps indicative of lower crowds. Menu wise it has all the Louisiana fare you would expect at a southern restaurant, but again, nothing here to really write home about.
Port Orleans Riverside Resort Rooms
The resort rooms at Port Orleans Riverside were your basic Disney resort room, with sliding curtain to the vanity, tv, coffee maker, etc. Pretty average size and adequate, we heard that some of the rooms were being updated, so fingers crossed this expands to the whole resort at one point.
The headboards were inlaid with some very light detailing featuring characters from Princess and the Frog, but even then they were very down played to the point where you really had to look for the Disney references.
Staying onsite at Walt Disney World Perks
In addition to the basic resort offerings Port Orleans had some nice perks.
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?
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.
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.
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/bounce back 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 who only really sleep at the resort it’s hard to justify the pricey ones unless we’re doing a resort day to make it worth it. A moderate Disney resort, Port Orleans Riverside prices can range from 122-400 a night. Yes, that’s quite a range dependent on the time of year, booking, festivals, number of guests… oh so many variables.
Disney Port Orleans Riverside Review
All in all this resort was pretty nice. 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 so we probably wouldn’t spring for this resort again unless a great deal came up. The good luck with transportation however may pull us back in the end because that —was pretty amazing. 🙂