Review: Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside

Our review of Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside is based on our single experience staying there November 13th thru 18th, 2009. The service, cleanliness and theming are comparable to other Disney moderate resorts, fully living up to the usual Disney standards.

The grounds are a bit confusing. We had some trouble finding our room at first but once you get your bearings its ok. Riverside is very picturesque, especially in the mornings. The reflections in the calm waters of the Sassagoula River…

Disney's Port Orleans-Riverside Mill

Disney's Port Orleans-Riverside Mill

Disney's Port Orleans-Sassagoula Steamboat Co.

Disney's Port Orleans-Sassagoula Steamboat Co.

…and the way the morning sun comes thru the trees is beautiful.

Disney's Port Orleans-Alligator Bayou

Disney's Port Orleans-Alligator Bayou

Disney's Port Orleans-Alligator Bayou

Disney's Port Orleans-Alligator Bayou

The main pool is not nearly as big as the one at say, Caribbean Beach, but it does have a water slide and some water spouts for the kids. If you want to do some exploring, the Alligator Bayou area is lush and winding and it’s just a short walk to check out the Port Orleans French Quarter too. The room layout is typical of other moderate resorts, basically identical to those we stayed in at Caribbean Beach, just themed differently. Some of the Riverside water view and standard view rooms with two double beds also offer a trundle bed for a maximum occupancy of five. As of 2009 I would say that the rooms at this resort could stand a refresh in terms of a coat of paint and some new furniture. This didn’t jump out at me but when you look at the details one would hope that the rooms at this property are nearing the top of the list for renovation.

In my mind the best part about Riverside was the dining options. We have not eaten at Boatright’s Dining Hall, the table service restaurant at Port Orleans Riverside, so I can’t give any opinions on that. However, in our opinion, the counter service options offered at the Riverside Mill food court are some of the best. There is a pastry shop with all sorts of wonderful goodies. There are make to order sandwiches, salads and hot food. Servings were enough for the two of us to split one entrée and be satisfied. For breakfast the hot food was scrambled eggs with whatever fixins’ you wanted and the the usual Mickey waffles. Lunch consisted of gourmet sandwiches, interesting pastas and salads, and a selection of made to order stir fry entrées. The River Roost Lounge is a full indoor bar and lounge and has a separate section with a piano player that does fun sing-a-longs to entertain the kids. The Muddy Rivers Pool Bar by the main pool serves drinks and snacks. They were getting ready to close as we arrived for a drink in early evening. I asked about their hours and the bartender said they would stay open as long as they had customers but in mid-November crowds were very light so they usually closed up fairly early.

I would be comfortable recommending Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside resort to anyone looking for moderate price range accommodations on Disney property. If you are looking for the very freshest rooms I may point you more toward Caribbean Beach since I know they have done some recent renovations. For the amount of time we spend in our room this doesn’t bother us and the excellent quick service food options are a big plus that will keep us coming back.

Disney Resort Pools: Caribbean Beach

Although we have now been to Disney three times, we have only stayed at two resorts. For our first trip we knew we wanted to stay at a moderate resort. We wanted something a bit “more” than a value resort, (perhaps originally thinking “if we are going to do this once, we’ll spend the extra money”. Little did we know…) but a deluxe resort was definitely out of our price range. So our choices were between Caribbean Beach Resort, Coronado Springs and Port Orleans. We decided on Caribbean Beach mostly because of the pool…

So doesn’t it just figure that for our first trip the main pool at Caribbean Beach was closed for complete renovation? Thankfully, the kids didn’t seem to care much, the other pools were open and to them just the fact that they were swimming in Disney was awesome. But when it came time to plan the second trip, the kids knew they wanted to return to C.B. to experience the new pool having been enticed by the pictures posted on the construction walls.

Disney's Caribbean Beach Main Pool

Disney's Caribbean Beach Main Pool

Well, the new pool is amazing. It is very large with the deepest area being just over 4 feet (perfect for my kids who aren’t the greatest swimmers). There is a small slide at the shallower end, a larger tunnel slide at the deeper end and a zero-depth-entry area.  The whole area has a dilapidated Spanish style fort theme with turrets, bridges and cannons that spill water. Next to, but separate from, the main pool is a kiddie area themed around a pirate ship with more slides, a dump bucket and water cannons. There are also 2 large Jacuzzi type pools in the main pool area, they would each fit about 8 to 10 people.  There is plenty of chaise and table seating, even during the busy July season, we were able to find open chairs.  The pools are open 24 hours.  The main pool does have lifeguards and their schedules vary by season.  When the lifeguards go off duty the water slides close.  The other “quiet” pools in the resort don’t seem to have lifeguards.  Towels are available, so you don’t have to bring your own (or use your room towels) and there are adjacent  showers and bathrooms.  Having yet to experience many other of the Disney resort pools, I’m not sure how this one ranks in Disney standards.  But when you have a tough time getting your kids out of the pool to go watch fireworks at Magic Kingdom, I think that says a lot!