I’m just going to come right out and say it from the get go, we love Port Orleans Riverside! On our first visit to this resort we became very familiar with the lay of the land and what Port Orleans Riverside has to offer. Even though we were visiting during Hurricane Irma, it made for a very memorable honeymoon! Due to the hurricane, the parks were closed for about two and a half days, so we spent a lot of time getting acquainted with Riverside and we thoroughly enjoyed our time here, despite the reason we spent so much time exploring it!
Here’s our breakdown of Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort, and why we can’t help but love it here.
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside is a Moderate Resort, but I will say the theming is executed extremely well here and there is no shortage of atmosphere or those Disney details that whisk you away to another place entirely. In the case of Riverside, that place you’re whisked away to can be likened to the bayou and mansion houses of rural Louisiana. I was thoroughly impressed with the level of theming at Riverside and found it to be quite a jump from the All-Star Resorts in the Value Resort tier.
The main building at the resort is called the Sassagoula Steamboat Company. This is where you will find the lobby with the concierge desk, the check-in area as well as Boatwright’s Dining Hall, Riverside Mill Food Court, the resort shop Fulton’s General Store and the River Roost lounge.
The room buildings are basically split into two areas. Magnolia Bend is home to the large mansion-like buildings with rose gardens and neatly landscaped lawns. This is where you will find the Royal Guest Rooms. The other area of the resort is Alligator Bayou, a more rustic area with cottage-like buildings and lush, natural greenery. Both areas of the resort are picturesque and comfortable with a relaxing quality about them.
The Sassagoula River runs through the resort and it makes for some lovely pictures and strolls. I highly recommend walking along the river path that winds through the entire resort to see how the theming changes throughout.
It is worth mentioning that Riverside is one of the dog-friendly resorts at Walt Disney World. There are rules and restrictions that you can find here which may interest you if you are considering bringing your dog to Port Orleans. If you are allergic to dogs and plan on staying here you can request an allergy clean of your room, or you can ask them to note the allergy on your reservation so you can be placed in a room that does not allow dogs.
The River Roost Lounge boasts a long-time, guest favourite cabaret performer Yehaa Bob Jackson. This legend performs with his rocking piano, playing boogie-woogie musical stylings and effortlessly weaving his unique brand of comedy throughout the evening. Audiences are frequently called upon to participate in the shows, so be prepared to be called onstage.
He only appears select nights, so check the resort schedule if you’re interested in seeing him perform (and we highly recommend you do!)
The food and dining options are one thing I’m not quite as enthusiastic about here. We tend to grab breakfast at the resort on most days and the Riverside Mill Food Court has fairly regular menu items for Disney quick-service resort offerings. There are some good snacks available here and the lunch and dinner options aren’t bad by any means but there’s nothing either of us really get excited about.
It’s nice to have a table service option at the resort and it can be very convenient but again, Boatwright’s Dining Hall isn’t something we get excited about. This is one of the few places on property you will find Creole menu items. If you’d rather explore a wider assortment of dining experiences, hop on a boat to Disney Springs and get a meal there instead.
A Sister Resort
If you follow the Sassagoula River, you will eventually make your way to Riverside’s sister resort, Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter. French Quarter is smaller than Riverside but that’s not a bad thing. French Quarter does have its own charming theme of the historic crown jewel of New Orleans – the French Quarter.
As a guest at either Port Orleans Resort, you are welcome to use the pool at both Riverside and French Quarter. The resort shop is worth stopping in and so is Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory, the quick-service location at French Quarter. Here you will find Mickey shaped beignets. These are worth making the trip for since you won’t find them anywhere else on property.
There are a number of room views available at Riverside, including standard, garden view, water view, king-sized bed rooms, preferred rooms (closer to the main building) and there are some rooms with the option for a 5th sleeper. These have a child-sized pull-down bed. If you are a short adult, you would likely fit as well. These beds fold down under the TV unit and they feature some lovely Disney artwork.
The rooms are all basically the same across the resort in terms of each having two queen beds (unless you have a king room) and each room has a double sink and mirror area with the shower/tub and toilet combo in a separate room.
The Royal Rooms
Our favourite room-type at Riverside are the Royal Guest Rooms. These are a great splurge, or a wonderful way to make your Disney vacation a little extra special without going up into the Deluxe Resort tier. These rooms feature portraits of the Disney princesses, but with the portrait of Tiana being the focal point here, since she is the princess from New Orleans.
Tiana has also left a letter to the guests of these rooms, which we thought was a lovely touch. When we met Tiana at the Princess Fairytale Hall in the Magic Kingdom, I told her we were staying in one of her rooms and she asked if we got her letter! It was one of those amazing Disney touches that catches you by surprise and really adds a bit of magic and immersion to the experience. For as small as it sounds, it made a lasting impression on me and I absolutely loved it!
The Royal Guest rooms also have beautiful headboards that feature a firework scene in the bayou and with a little press of a button those fireworks light up (courtesy of some fibre optics)! These are a highlight of the Royal Guest Rooms.
There are lots of little details in these rooms that make them just a little more special than other rooms. The faucets are shaped like magic lamps, there’s Aladdin’s magic carpet in the carpet pattern and there are even silhouettes of the Disney princes. However, I do have to wonder if the magic carpet will eventually disappear as it seems Disney is slowly removing all the carpet from resort rooms.
Overall, I would say these rooms are a little bit more ornate. I would highly recommend them for honeymooners and for anyone visiting who might be a princess or fairytale fan. If you want Disney touches in your resort room, this the room to book for your next vacation.
The main pool, Ol’ Man Island, at Riverside is one of my favourite pools at Disney. We’ve spent more time in this pool than probably any other on Disney property. It’s 3.5 acres that was built to be an old abandoned sawmill. It has the rustic charm of the Alligator Bayou section and a ‘swimmin’ hole’ feel. There are wooden contraptions all around the pool spouting out water and a waterslide. Nearby is a hot tub and the Muddy Rivers pool bar.
There are also five leisure pools which offer a quieter swimming experience. Scattered around the resort, you won’t find slides or waterfalls at the leisure pools, but they’re a great option when looking for a quick dip or a quiet poolside lounge chair.
As we mentioned earlier, guests of Riverside are also welcome to use the Doubloon Lagoon pool at French Quarter which features a sea serpent slide. There is also a great splash pad area for smaller children.
There is a kiddie pool area available for smaller children at Riverside near the Ol’ Man Island pool if you don’t feel like making the trek to the French Quarter to visit the splash pad.
Between the two Port Orleans resorts guests have so many pool options available to them. If pool time is important to you, Riverside is the perfect resort pick.
One thing we really like about Riverside is the boat service to Disney Springs. You can catch a water taxi near the main building and it will take you to Port Orleans – French Quarter. After that, it goes down the river past Old Key West and Saratoga Springs and on to Disney Springs. I like having different transportation methods available to me when getting around Walt Disney World. It enhances the overall vacation experience. The boat is not the quickest way to Disney Springs, nor the quietest, as the motor can be loud. That being said, the scenery and setting more than make up for it.
The main transportation option is the bus shuttle service to the parks and Disney Springs. Riverside is a large resort so there is a bus loop that consists of four stops. The stops are the North Depot, East Depot, West Depot and the South Depot. All the bus stops have the wait time screens to help you gauge when the next bus will be arriving for each park. The South Depot is the stop closest to the main building. It is almost always the last stop before heading to the parks.
We’ve always had positive experiences with the buses at Riverside. Honestly, four stops never really seem to have that much of an impact in terms of wait times.
There are number of extras available at Riverside, some are free and some have an extra fee.
Currently on Mondays and Fridays at 8:15am up to 20 resort guests can take a 30-minute free yoga class by the pool. As with all the resorts, there’s Movies Under the Stars each night which is a great way to end an evening. There is also a campfire in the evenings at Riverside. Both are complimentary.
Extras with an additional cost include the bike rentals and horse drawn carriage rides along the river. The cost for the carriage ride is currently $55 USD for 25 minutes. The carriage fits 4 adults or 2 adults and 3 small children. Reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance and are recommended.
You already know we are big fans of the theming and southern hospitality at Riverside. Disney has done a fantastic job at filling this resort right to the brim with charm. They’ve created an extremely relaxed atmosphere, which is exactly what we want at the end of a long park day.
The ability to walk along the river pathways at Riverside is a major highlight for me. Ryan and I also love the option to take a boat ride to Disney Springs. Also, the resort doesn’t feel big or overwhelming, even if on paper it’s one of Disney’s larger sized-resorts. It feels quaint and welcoming. It is rustic and elegant all at once. Perhaps Riverside is more to my personal taste when it comes to the theming, but I do believe that this resort can offer any guest a more than enjoyable experience.
Are you planning a trip to Walt Disney World? Would you consider a stay at Port Orleans Riverside? Let us know in the comments below. Or, if you’ve already stayed at Port Orleans, let us know what you think! We’d love to hear from you!