In 2001 the Port Orleans and Dixie Landings Resorts were merged. The combined Moderate resort, called Port Orleans, is divided into two sections. The smaller, southern part that previously was Port Orleans is now called the French Quarter. The larger section encompassing the former Dixie Landings is labeled Riverside.
Riverside draws on the lifestyle and architecture of Mississippi River communities in antebellum Louisiana. Spread along the Sassagoula River, which encircles â€œOlâ€™ Man Islandâ€ (the sectionâ€™s main swimming area), Riverside is subdivided into two more themed areas: the â€œmansionâ€ area, which features plantation-style architecture, and the â€œbayouâ€ area, with tin-roofed rustic (imitation) wooden buildings. Mansions are three stories tall, while bayou guesthouses are a story shorter. The river-life theme is augmented by groves of azalea and juniper. Riversideâ€™s food court houses a working cotton press powered by a 32-foot waterwheel.
Each of Riversideâ€™s 2,048 rooms is 314 square feet. Most provide two double beds, a table and two chairs, and two pedestal sinks outside the bathroom. Rooms in the Alligator Bayou section of Riverside feature brass bathroom fixtures, hickory-branch bedposts, trundle beds, and quilted bedspreads. Rooms in the plantation-themed Magnolia Bend section of Riverside are more conventional, with light yellow walls, dark wood furnishings, and teal carpets with dark-blue floral patterns. Room refurbishment is under way throughout Riverside, but the look will be substantially the same as before.
Many readers have written asking us to emphasize that, aside from the differences in guest rooms described above, all the rooms are more or less the same regardless of the facade of your building. In other words, if your building looks like a mansion, that doesnâ€™t mean your guest room will look like it belongs in one.
Riverside has one full-service restaurant and a food court. The restaurant is a 15-minute walk from many of the guest buildings. The Disney bus system links the resort to all Disney World destinations. The commute to restaurants in other hotels may be 40â€“60 minutes each way. Walking time from the most remote rooms to the transportation loading areas is 10 minutes.
A multigenerational family from Little Rock, Arkansas, shares the following:
We loved Port O rleans. The cast members were very friendly and helpfulâ€”much more so than at the Polynesian. The grounds were absolutely beautiful. The rooms were also very quiet as opposed to the Polynesianâ€™s. The only downside about this resort is the shuttle service: it was standing-room-only much of the time, and this was the off-seasonâ€”we wonder how bad it would be in July! However, we liked the resort so much, we canâ€™t wait to stay there again.
A family of adults from Boston agrees:
Riverside was very nice. You downplayed how beautiful the grounds and wildlife are.
But a New York City reader doesnâ€™t think the atmosphere lives up to its promise:
Although the Riverside section is modeled after mansions of the Old South, this will have no bearing on oneâ€™s stay. The outside decor of each building is simply a â€œshellâ€â€”thereâ€™s little or no decor inside your guest room that corresponds to the theme. (Believe it or not, the official Disney guidebook actually suggests this property as a â€œromanticâ€ alternative for those who cannot afford the Grand Floridian. Talk about an exaggeration!)
Finally, from a Wayland, Michigan, couple:
Weâ€™ve been staying at WDW resorts every other year since 1988, and the bus service at Port Orleans Riverside was our worst ever.
|Hotel||Definitely (+/- since 2010)|
|Disney's Port Orleans Resort Riverside||68% (0%)|
|Average for WDW hotels||74% (+3%)|
|Average for off-site hotels||79% (+10%)|
|Average for vacation homes & condos||95% (N/A)|
|Hotel||Definitely (+/- since 2010)|
|Disney's Port Orleans Resort Riverside||83% (-8%)|
|Average for WDW hotels||90% (+1%)|
|Average for off-site hotels||94% (+5%)|
|Average for vacation homes & condos||100% (N/A)|
Good (and Not-So-Good) Rooms at Disney's Port Orleans Resort Riverside
Riverside is so large that we use bicycles whenever we work there. All told, there are 20 guest-room buildings (not counting flanking wings on two buildings). Divided into two sections, Alligator Bayou and Magnolia Bend, the resort is arrayed around two pine groves and a watercourse that Disney calls the Sassagoula River. Magnolia Bend consists of four three-story, grand-plantation-style complexes named Acadian House, Magnolia Terrace, Oak Manor, and Parterre Place.
Though Magnolia Bend is on the river, only about 15% of the guest rooms have an unobstructed view of the water. The vast majority of rooms overlook a courtyard or parking lot. Trees and other vegetation block the view of many rooms actually facing the river. The best views in Magnolia Bend are from the third-floor river side of Acadian House (Building 80), which overlooks the river and Olâ€™ Man Island.
To the south are Magnolia Terrace (Building 85) and Oak Manor (Building 90), each in an H shape. In them, only second- and thirdfloor rooms on the very top of the H (facing the river) have an unobstructed water view. Ask for Rooms 9416, 9417, 9039, 9042, and 9239â€“9242. Both H-shaped buildings, however, are nearer the front desk, restaurant, lounge, and shopping complex than is Acadian House. Continuing south, Parterre Place (Building 95) has a number of rooms overlooking the river, but they also overlook the parking lot on the far shore. In general, with the few exceptions described above, if you really want a nice river view, opt for Port Orleans French Quarter downriver.
Alligator Bayou, the other part of Port Orleans Riverside, forms an arch around the resortâ€™s northern half. Sixteen smaller, two-story guest-room buildings, set among pine groves and abundant gardens, offer a cozy, tranquil alternative to the more-imposing structures of the Magnolia Bend section of Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter. If you want a river view, ask for a second-story water-view room in Building 27 or 38. Building 14 also offers some river-view rooms and is convenient to shops, the front desk, and the restaurant, but itâ€™s in a noisy, high-traffic area. A good compromise building for families is Building 18. Itâ€™s insulated from traffic and noise by landscaping, yet is next to a satellite swimming pool and within an easy walk of the Guest Relations building.
Disneyâ€™s Port Orleans Riverside map shows two lakes north of the river bend, suggesting additional water views in Alligator Bayou. But these are dried-up lakes now forested with pine. This area, however, is richly landscaped to complement the â€œpine islands,â€ and though out of sight of water, it offers the most peaceful and serene accommodations in the Port Orleans resort. In this area, we recommend Buildings 26, 25, and 39, in that order. Note that these buildings are somewhat distant from the resortâ€™s central facilities, and thereâ€™s no adjacent parking. In Alligator Bayou, avoid Buildings 15, 16, 17, and 24, all of which are subject to traffic noise from nearby Bonnet Creek Parkway. Remember: All Port Orleans guest buildings have exterior corridors. When you look out your window, a safety rail will be in the foreground, and other guests will periodically walk past.
|Creative swimming areas||Large, confusing layout|
|Nice guest rooms||Extreme distance of many guest rooms from dining and services|
|Beautiful landscaping and grounds||Insufficient on-site dining|
|Pleasant setting along Bonnet Creek||No easily accessible off-site dining|
|Food courts||No character meals|
|Convenient self-parking||Congested bus loading areas|
|Children's play areas|
|Varied recreational offerings|
|Boat service to Downtown Disney|
Disney's Port Orleans Resort Riverside Dining
- Boatwright's Dining Hall (Table Service)
- River Roost Lounge (Bar or Lounge)
- Riverside Mill Food Court (Counter Service)
|Magic Kingdom||12 minutes|
|Animal Kingdom||16 minutes|
|Disney's Hollywood Studios||13 minutes|
Antebellum Louisiana plantation, bayou-side retreat
|Quietness of Room||B|
|Shuttle to Parks||Yes|