My family and I just returned from an amazing vacation at WDW. My husband and I had previously stayed at Dixie Landings (now Riverside) for our honeymoon in 2000. This time we had our 6 year old son and 4 year old daughter with us for their very first visit. To say that we loved our stay at French Quarter would be an understatement. We seriously loved everything about it! We chose the French Quarter this time because of the age of the kids. We wanted a smaller, more compact resort with a pool suited to their ages. The FQ fit the bill and then some. When we arrived in the morning, we were greeted by a Mardi Gras man that handed the kids plastic coins. They were given beads at registration and "First Visit" buttons. I had faxed a request for building 4 about 5 days prior to our arrival, however, the CM assigned us a room in building 1. When I objected and mentioned my fax, she immediately made a phone call and made everything right. We stayed in room 4306 (third floor) in building 4 facing a beautiful courtyard. We had an easy walk to the food court, main building and a shortcut to the bus depots. Our room was awesome. The mini fridge did not have a freezer section, as I had hoped, but held a gallon of milk, at least 6 bottles of water, juice boxes, fresh fruit (grapes,fresh cut melon, fresh pineapple) and 8 containers of yogurt all purchased from WeGoShop.com and delivered to luggage storage on the afternoon of our arrival. The new double sink vanity offered a bit of storage below-and definitely a huge improvement over the pedestal sinks that existed prior to the renovations. I purchased a $5 over the door pocket shoe organizer at Wal-Mart and had everything organized and at my fingertips- a place for everything and everything in it's place-it just made things so much easier in the morning and at bedtime. There was plenty of room to hang clothes, too. We brought our own hangers from home, but I'd say there was at least a dozen wooden hangers provided, along with an ironing board and iron, and a hair dryer. The privacy curtain was a nice touch, too. The bureau offered 3 large drawers, and a 3 or 4 peg wall shelf which was perfect for hanging beads, ponchos, hats and hoodies.
The toilets are quite loud as others have reported, but our room on the top floor was quiet, and we rarely heard anything from neighboring rooms. The elevator made using our rented stroller a breeze, too.
I'm a pretty fussy sleeper, but I found the mattresses and pillows to be quite comfortable. The table and two chairs was enough for the kids to eat breakfast and a bedtime snack. After a particularly long day at AK, we arrived at our room wearing our ponchos (yet again!) and found that our maid had made a spectacular display with our Disney stuffed characters. I brought 4 of them from home and she set up a water slide on the bed using towels. It was such a wonderful thing to find at the end of a long day. Her name was Violet, and I left her a thank you note and nice tip.
The food court was great! I would highly recommend the pot roast dinner. It was so delicious that my husband and I ate it three times during our stay! The beef was so tender it practically melted in your mouth. Yum...I really have to search for that recipe on the net! The dining plan offered so much food, we were able to split a couple meals and have enough credits to carry us through our 7th day of departure. The counter service meals included a bottled drink at the resorts, which was overkill, considering the refillable mug. But I guess it was useful for those that did not purchase water or drinks in advance. Since the adult meals came with a dessert, and the kids meals did not (although you could get a pre-packaged cookie as one of their sides), we let the kids pick what they wanted, which was usually a brownie or a cupcake, both of which were delectable.
The pool was wonderful and they had music and games for the kids every afternoon. The dragon slide was just right for my kids. Not too big and not too small. We stayed mostly in the large pool, but there was also a small kiddie pool for little ones. There were plenty of lounge chairs, but it was tough to find one from 3-5 PM. I used the laundry facility about midway through our stay. It was located in the pool area so it was really convenient to use during pool time. The facility was adequate, but $2.00 a load seemed a bit pricey to me. Then again, it has been a really long time since I visited a coin op laundry. The washing machines were all top load, with menacing-looking agitators, so I washed most of our things on the delicate cycle and dried everything on the lowest heat setting, too. One drying cycle got the job done.
We visited the campfire one night and enjoyed roasting marshmallows. Unfortunately, there weren't any s'mores.
The 9 PM movies were a bit late for my kids. After early mornings in the parks, and afternoons in the pool, they just couldn't stay up for the movies, and no way were they going to take a nap! Perhaps, if we visited during the winter months the 8 PM start would work for us, as would the earlier fireworks. The only thing we were able to see on this trip was the Main Street Electrical Parade. I'm a bit bummed about that, but I guess sacrifices are a part of parenthood.
One night we decided to walk down to the Riverside. It was a pleasant, scenic and relatively short walk. The kids played in the large playground. No yucky mulch here! Disney spares no expense including rubberized playground surfaces. We had dessert there (the cookie bars are awesome!) and shopped in their larger store. They did have a lot more of a selection than at the FQ. We enjoyed an evening ride back to the FQ on the water taxi.
On the morning of our departure day, the kids enjoyed the Pirate Bayou Adventure that sets sail from Riverside's dockside area. They went out from 9:30 to 11:30 AM, giving me some much needed "alone time" to finish packing and to take care of checking our bags at the airline check-in station. They had such a blastl! They were given pirate scarfs, eye patches, plastic pirate swords, beads, water and a snack. When the kids (about 10 in all) arrived back, they engaged in some menacing pirate banter with a departing river taxi driver, threatening to board his ship and make him walk the plank. LOL Their final treasure came from the big chest on the back porch of Riverside, where they each received pirate party bags stuffed full of pirate loot!
While we waited for the Magical Express around 6 PM or so, two CM'S that I recognized from the pool and campfire, set up a Wii for MarioKart. My son was in heaven, having been separated from his beloved game for 7 days. A little British girl (about 7 or 8 years old) played Jenga with another CM. He was really great with her, and she even ended up beating him! I enjoyed watching the game so much that before I knew it, the bus had arrived and we sadly left the FQ.
I can't say enough positive things about POFQ. We absolutely loved our stay here! I feel like I've been suffering serious withdrawal from Disney Magic and Mardi Gras for the past 3 days.
We probably won't be back to WDW for a couple of years, but even when my kids are a bit older, we would choose to stay here again. The grounds are so lush and beautiful and it's smaller size just made us feel at home. With just one bus stop in the resort (unlike the 4 over at Riverside), we had fairly quick service, and shorter lines at the parks for our return trips, too. I also love the fact that all of the amenities are shared by both Riverside and FQ guests, giving you pool, dining and recreational choices that you don't get with other resorts.
My family gives the French Quarter 8 thumbs up and we can't wait to stay here again!