Sassagoula River Cruise
One of the unique features of the Port Orleans resorts is that they were constructed on the banks of the Disney-created Sassagoula River, a gentle 2½ mile waterway which winds its way through the woods, past the Treehouse Villas and the Saratoga Springs Resort, to Lake Buena Vista and the Downtown Disney shopping, dining and entertainment complex.
The fictional Sassagoula Steamboat haulage company which plies the waters around the Mississippi delta also operates a range of very real water craft in Florida. Some are available for hire — see the rentals page — but the biggest gem is the “Sassagoula River Cruise” ferry, a free service which takes guests from the Port Orleans resorts all the way down the river to Downtown Disney. The twenty minute boat trip is a very pleasant and relaxing alternative to road transport and shouldn’t be missed.
The fleet consists of 15 boats spread out over four routes, all decked out in a lively brightly-coloured yellow and blue livery, with suitably fitting Southern names:
- Memphis Miss
- Louisiana Lady
- Sassagoula Sunset
- Bayou Princess
- Crescent City Queen (spelled “Cresent City Queen” on the boat’s name plate)
- Magnolia Blossom
- Florida Queen
- Buena Vista Queen
- Saratoga Queen
- Blossom Queen
- Jazz Lady
- Delta Lady
- Azalea Bloom
- Southern Breeze
- Jazz Queen
As from the end of May 2009, the boats run four separate ferry routes from various Downtown Disney dock areas, so be careful to catch the right service. The Port Orleans “Sassagoula River Cruise” service currently departs from the original Downtown Disney Marketplace dock next to the Rainforest Cafe, while the services for Old Key West and Saratoga Springs both operate from the dock behind Paradiso 37 on Pleasure Island. There is also an internal shuttle boat service which runs between the three Downtown Disney locations.
- Yellow Flags, departing from Downtown Disney Marketplace dock (right-hand queue line): Sassagoula River Cruise service for Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort and Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter Resort.
- Blue Flags, departing from Pleasure Island dock: Service for Disney’s Saratoga Springs DVC Resort & Spa, including the new Treehouse Villas dock.
- Green Flags, departing from Pleasure Island dock: Service for Disney’s Old Key West DVC Resort.
- Red Flags: Internal Downtown Disney water taxi, circular route running from the Marketplace dock (next to the Rainforest Cafe) directly over to the West Side dock (opposite Cirque du Soleil) and then back via the Pleasure Island dock (behind Paradiso 37).
The river cruise service linking Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter to Downtown Disney commences from Riverside at 10am daily. The service runs approximately every 20 minutes until 4:30pm, and then every 10 minutes until the final boat leaves from Riverside at 11pm. The last boat back from Downtown Disney departs at 11:30pm, and after then you will need to use the free bus service which operates until approximately 2am.
The Downtown Disney local water taxi (red flags and signs) operates from 10:30am until 11:30pm with stops at Downtown Disney Marketplace, Downtown Disney West Side and Pleasure Island. The service runs every 15 minutes until 4:30pm and then every 10 minutes thereafter.
The journey time between Riverside and French Quarter is about five minutes and the onward trip to Downtown Disney takes another 15-20 minutes. The boats have a limited seating capacity and are very popular, especially later in the afternoon, so please allow plenty of time for your journey just in case you don’t manage to get onto the first boat that comes along. Wheelchair guests can be accommodated and the boat pilot will attach a ramp to help you embark and disembark safely.
Please remember that the boat service only operates subject to local water and weather conditions, and will cease operating if lightning storms are forecast or water levels are too high.