On our most recent trip to Walt Disney World, my family and I had the chance to stay in a resort we had never tried before, Port Orleans Riverside. Although I had been to the resort a few times for dinner or to see Yeeha Bob Jackson, I had never stayed there. How did it measure up?
I have to say that this is the place where Riverside disappointed the most. We used Disney’s Online Check-In service because we would need to pick up our room keys and Dining Plan entitlements early in the morning on the day we checked in. Our hostess that checked us in was pleasant enough, and got the keys and information quickly.
From that point forward, however, the service was not up to Disney standards. The second day we were staying at the resort, we came back to take an afternoon break around 2:30 p.m., and the room had not been serviced by Mousekeeping. I thought this was odd, but not completely strange. We went to the pool for two hours to give them time to come back, but upon our return, still no service to the room.
That was one instance. Then, on the day we were checking out, the lobby was staffed by only one cast member to get people taken care of on their way out. While that cast member was very sweet and took care of my check out process quickly, she was overwhelmed with people trying to check out. As far as service goes, I would have to say that Port Orleans Riverside was below average for Disney.
This is an area where Port Orleans Riverside really shines. Start with the beds – they are amazingly comfortable. The difference between the beds in Pop Century or Riverside is huge. In addition, Riverside beds come with a trundle bed underneath one of the main beds, so if you have two children, like I do, they don’t have to sleep in the same bed. It’s a great value for the price of the room.
That’s just one of the little touches that makes Riverside rooms so wonderful. There are plenty more. Up to date TVs, a bench seat next to the wall for getting ready or putting on your shoes, a fridge in the room – these are all small touches that make the room more comfortable. My favorite is the curtain that can be drawn between the bathroom/sink area and the bedroom. When you are trying to get kids to sleep, this is a great touch that keeps the room dark while you’re getting dressed or ready for bed.
I don’t expect much from Moderate resorts in terms of Table Service dining, but Boatwright’s, the restaurant at Port Orleans Riverside was a let down even with low expectations. It is designed to be a Cajun or Southern style restaurant, but the food was bland and a little tasteless for that kind of food. I had jambalaya at $17.99, but it had more of the tomato taste than the spicy, meaty taste you would get in good Cajun restaurants. Not to mention the fact that Boatwright’s is only open for dinner, which makes it difficult to experience.
The food court was not much better. We had breakfast there, and the selection was rather sparse compared to what I have seen in the Value Resorts. At Riverside there was the standard bounty platter ($8.29) consisting of eggs, bacon, sausage, breakfast potatoes, French toast sticks and a biscuit. The eggs were a little cold, the meats were rubbery and the biscuit stale. I was not impressed with either dining option at Riverside.
This is the other area where Port Orleans Riverside shines. For a moderate resort, there are a ton of activites for everyone to do all around the resort. Start with the main pool, Ol’ Man Island. Featuring a waterslide, spouting fountains, a spa/hot tub and a kiddie wading pool, this was the highlight of our visit to the resort. Located right next to the pool was the Muddy Rivers Pool Bar, so it was easy to watch my kids, have a tropical drink and enjoy a sunny July afternoon.
Elsewhere around the resort there are other great activities to enjoy. On the island, you can do cane pole fishing in a stocked pond, ensuring that kids of all ages will get a fish. Near the main building, guests can rent watercraft and cruise the SassagoulaRiver in paddle boats and the like. There are carriage rides through the grounds each evening, as well as the aforementioned Yeeha Bob performing in the River Roost Lounge most evenings.
This is another area where Riverside fails to impress. The resort is spread out over two huge areas, Alligator Bayou and Magnolia Bend. This means the Disney resort buses have to stop at several bus stops throughout the property to pick up guests. Having been through a bad bus experience on our last trip, we did not even bother with buses this time. However, we spoke with guests at the resort who had, and not one of them had a positive word for the bus system.
The upside of the transportation at Riverside is the Sassagoula River. Guests can catch a boat to nearby Port Orleans French Quarter and then on to Downtown Disney in a relaxing boat ride. It is not efficient, that’s sure, but if you are in it for the journey more than the destination, this is a fun option. It’s also fun to walk through the resort, as the landscape is amazing, and the buildings are complimentary to the lush foliage. Just watch out for lizards and snakes…I saw a lot of lizards and one snake.
So overall, how does Port Orleans Riverside measure up for the price paid? That’s a very conditional question. Our rate was an Annual Pass discounted rate of $165 plus tax for a standard view room. For Disney property, that’s not a bad rate, and for the quality of the rooms and the amenities around the resort I was very happy. Standard rates for the resort range from $154-234 for standard view rooms. For the higher end of that price range, I would want better dining options and reliable transportation. If you are renting a car and/or will be eating most of your meals away from the resort, I would say Riverside is a good option for you. Otherwise, if you’re looking for a Moderate, try the sister resort Port Orleans French Quarter.