Ask It Results: Port Orleans – Riverside vs. French Quarter
Last week, we asked “Which is your favorite of the two Port Orleans resorts?” This week, we’re back with your answers. The Port Orleans resorts have an interesting history at Walt Disney World. We recommend anyone who would like to learn more to check out PortOrleans.org, a fan site maintained by friend of TouringPlans, André Willey.
So how did you vote?
French Quarter – 800✅
Riverside – 595
Let’s compare the two resorts.
Port Orleans Size
Riverside is by far the larger of the Port Orleans resorts. Port Orleans Riverside has two sections – Magnolia Bend and Alligator Bayou. It has 2048 rooms and four bus stops. French Quarter is more compact with 1008 rooms and one central bus stop. You can see interactive maps of Riverside and French Quarter in our Disney hotel coverage. Many of you who chose French Quarter as your favorite pointed out the manageable size of the resort as a big advantage over Riverside.
Port Orleans Pools
Riverside has one very well-themed feature pool at Ol’ Man Island with a large and shaded bar and grill – Muddy Waters – for refreshments as you enjoy the water. Riverside also has five quiet pools. This is a tie with Caribbean Beach for most pools at a Disney resort (pre-Caribbean Beach construction anyway).
French Quarter has one “feature pool” and no quiet pools. It has a dragon-themed water slide, but the Doubloon Pool pales in comparison with Ol’ Man Island.
Port Orleans Food
Both resorts have food courts that serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The offerings are similar, but Sassagoula Floatworks at French Quarter does offer hot, fresh beignets all day. This is a powdered sugar-covered WIN in my book.
Because of its larger size, Riverside does have a table service restaurant, Boatwright’s Dining Hall. Dinner is the only meal served here. I’m not sure what it says about Boatwrights that I’m not sure if I’ve ever eaten there or not. I think I have (I’ve stayed at Riverside several times), but it must have been completely unmemorable.
It’s worth noting that French Quarter is the only Disney Moderate with no full-service restaurant.
Port Orleans Entertainment and Recreation
Even though the River Roost at Riverside gets all the attention, Scat Cat’s Club at French Quarter also has live entertainment. Both have more than decent food and drink menus. I think Scat Cat’s is a hidden gem among Disney lounges, especially at a moderate resort.
Bike rentals and horse-drawn carriage rides are available at Port Orleans. You can book these at the Riverside marina. Boat rentals are no longer available. Catch and release fishing is offered at Riverside. You can find out more about these by calling 407-WDW-PLAY or 407-WDW-BASS for fishing.
Themed Rooms and Other Room Notes
Riverside includes “Royal Rooms,” which are princess themed. These are in the Magnolia Bend section of the resort. Riverside also has rooms with a pull-out bed to accommodate a fifth child or adult you don’t like in your room. French Quarter rooms all sleep four. Riverside is dog-friendly with a $50/night surcharge.
Transportation and Getting Around Port Orleans
Riverside and French Quarter are connected by a walking path that runs along the Sassagoula River, a manmade canal. Allow about 10 minutes to walk from lobby to lobby. Free water taxi boat service connects Riverside and French Quarter with continuing service to Disney Springs. Disney calls this journey “leisurely” and “soothing,” which is true, but also Disney-speak for “slow.” Allow an hour, or drive or take a bus if you’re trying to make a dinner reservation at Disney Springs.
Depending on crowd levels, Riverside and French Quarter may share buses to the theme parks and Disney Springs. Guests at Port Orleans may use the bus system to get around the resort as an alternative to walking or the boat. Frankly, it’s a little convoluted to do it and may not be an option all day. If you’ve used Disney buses as internal transportation at Port Orleans, let us know how it went in the comments.
Finally, be aware that both resorts charge $19/night for guest self-parking. Parking for dining and recreation is free.
Choosing one resort over another involves making trade-offs in size versus amenities, but in truth the two resorts do mostly operate as one entity and moving from one to another isn’t much of a hardship.
Thanks for voting and look for today’s poll.
One thought on “Ask It Results: Port Orleans – Riverside vs. French Quarter”
We stayed at PO French Quarter in July, 2014 and too me the smaller size makes it far better! There is less of a walk to the feature pool, food court, buses and the dock (for the boats down to Disney Springs).
I stayed at PO Riverside back in 1997 (called “Dixie Landing” back then) and there was a lot a walking around that resort just to get anywhere it seemed.
Another big benefit to French Quarter, at least during our visit, was that the Disney World buses (to the parks,etc.) seemed to make their first stop at French Quarter and then made their make over to the 4 stops at Riverside. So for us, there was always room to get on but as the buses went over to Riverside they filled up quickly and often after the first stop the bus was nearly full – so the guests waiting at the other 3 stops often could not get on.
Then at night, coming back from a long day, the buses again stopped at French Quarter first – nice! I can’t say this is still the way they do it and not sure if you are planning your trip how you could determine that, but it was perfect for us.
Over the years I’ve stayed at the Contemporary and Poly in the early 80’s, Riverside in 97 and Old Key West in 2005. French Quarter was my favorite for the price, atmosphere and convenience.