In September 2018, we had a brief stay at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort: Riverside. After hearing and seeing so many positive reviews, we wanted to experience this moderate resort for ourselves. What we found was an enjoyable, quiet resort that should be an option for any Disney World visitor who wants something a bit nicer than the values, but more affordable than the deluxe resorts.
Upon arrival, we found the staff to be extremely helpful and friendly. Despite a long line at check-in, we were assisted promptly and met with some “southern charm” which fit perfectly with the theming of the resort.
Our room was on the first level of one of the buildings in Alligator Bayou, a location that has more rustic theming compared to the plantation-style Magnolia Bend. We ended up being in one of the Preferred Locations, though we didn’t book one prior to our arrival. This meant that we were close to the lobby and quick service areas, relatively speaking.
Let’s take a look at things a bit more specifically.
As you can see on the map below, Port Orleans: Riverside is a large resort. Big thanks to PortOrleans.org for this incredible map.
Depending on what building you’re staying in, the walk to the main lobby or to the food court can be a bit of a lengthy one.
The bus system has four stations, which can be a bit confusing if you don’t remember which location (North, South, East and West) is the closest to your room. We ran into that issue, which admittedly was our own fault, after a late night at the Magic Kingdom. We returned at the North depot, when we should have gotten off at the South or West depots. This led to a long and sort of confusing walk back through the dark. As confusing as it was, it was honestly quite peaceful.
Knowing the resort map, or taking a picture of it on your phone, may help alleviate any navigational problems you might encounter.
We failed to take pictures of the room in our rush to get to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Forgive us! That being said, the room was spacious, clean and had some fun rustic theming. The bathroom had two sinks, and then a separate room with the toilet and shower. Everything was pretty nice, though the shower head probably could have been replaced.
The room had two queen beds and an additional pull-out bed that featured the theming from the Princess and the Frog. Comfortably, the room could sleep five, which meant we had more than enough space for all of our luggage for just the two of us.
Our most significant complaint was the fire alarm kept going off shortly after our arrival. We called the front desk, who after about five minutes on hold and more alarms sounding, explained a contractor was doing testing. No harm there, but a note in the room or a message at the front desk at check-in would have been appreciated.
Let’s get to one of the most important parts of any resort – the food. Port Orleans: Riverside has a main food court located next to the lobby. There’s Boatwright’s Dining Hall, a table-service option, and Riverside Mill, which is a more generic food court.
We only ate in the Riverside Mill food court, so we can’t offer any thoughts on the table-service option.
The food court was about what you’d expect at Disney, with different sections offering different types of food. You’ll find baked goods, sandwiches, salads, chicken fingers, burgers and a handful of items that seem to be unique to the resort. There wasn’t anything too over the top, but there was a wide enough selection that most eaters should find something they like.
The space itself was very large, with amble seating at any time of day. We expected breakfast to feel very crowded, but we found that there wasn’t an issue finding a table even during the morning rush.
One fun feature of Port Orleans: Riverside is the ability to take a boat to Disney Springs. If you’re planning on doing some shopping or eating at Disney Springs, this is a much more enjoyable method of transportation. However, it is a fairly long boat ride, so make sure you leave enough time.
Disney buses provide transportation to all of the theme parks. As with many values and moderates, brace for some very full buses due to the multiple pick-up and drop-off points around the resort.
Pools and Recreation
The main pool is located on Ol’ Man Island, and while we didn’t have any time to swim, it looked like a lot of fun. The pool isn’t enormous, but it had some fun theming and water features that made it feel more fun than a normal pool. Other more “quiet” pools were located around the resort.
Beyond swimming, there’s also Surrey Bike Rentals, playgrounds, jogging paths, fishing, movies under the stars, campfires and much more. If you’re not planning on spending a full day or night at the parks, you’ll find plenty to do back at the resort.
We enjoyed our brief stay at Port Orleans: Riverside. The resort was big, but it didn’t feel too big. The food options were good, albeit a bit expected, but they were convenient. Transportation had a fun alternative for Disney Springs, though the usual issues with the larger resorts and crowded buses were present.
Most importantly, would we stay there again? Yes, we would.
Port Orleans: Riverside provides a tranquil and peaceful atmosphere that makes you feel like you’re in a unique and special place. Combined with a price that’s much more appealing than other options, we recommend checking out this resort when you’re planning your next Disney World vacation.