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December 2016 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules

Posted on Sunday 4th December 2016 by The Sassagoula Sentinel

The December 2016 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules for Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter are now available. See the main Recreation Activities Schedules page for full-size printable PDF versions.

For the next few months, the main feature swimming pools will be operating their winter hours of 10am—9pm. These hours are enforced, and the feature pools are now gated and locked when there are no lifeguards on duty, however the five Riverside quiet pool are not locked so you can use these pools at any time (within reason). The evening campfires are scheduled for 5:30pm—6:30pm (please ignore the typo on the Riverside calendar), and the Movies Under the Stars will be screened at 7:00pm, with both activities occurring on alternating days at the two resorts — Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday at Riverside, and Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday at French Quarter.

From 3:30pm—4:30pm daily, there will be Holiday Crafts hosted in each of the resort lobbies. These paid activities include: Create Your Own Picture Frame, No Sew Pillows, Create Your Own Countdown Plaque, Create Your Own Map Coasters or Ornaments, and Character Fuse Beads. Also, for the entire month of December, every Saturday will feature Holiday-themed poolside activities.

The format of the Recreation Calendar handout sheets has changed this month, with all of the activities for each resort now listed on one side only (a resort map is printed on the back). Please check back closer to Christmas for the specific Holiday activities.


Live Evening Entertainment

No visit to Port Orleans Riverside would be complete without spending an evening in the company of the legendary “Ye Haa” Bob Jackson at the River Roost Lounge, playing 8:30pm—midnight four nights a week (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday). During December, his shows will have a distinctly festive feel.

Port Orleans French Quarter’s Scat Cat’s Club does not currently have official resident musicians, but filling the gap admirably are Jason Thomas and Billy Varnes, two members of the fabulous Off Kilter rock band which used to perform in Epcot’s Canada pavilion. Occasionally when one of the boys is not available, Greg Hayworth (from Mulch, Sweat & Shears) will sit in. The dates are only announced a month or so in advance (generally most Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays) but if you happen to be around for any of their evenings (8:30pm—11pm) do yourself a favour and pop along, they are highly recommended.

Jason & Billy at Scat Cat’s: December 5, 6*, 11, 12*, 13*, 17, 18, 19, 20*, 26, 27* & 31. Note: Jason will be playing with Greg Hayworth* on December 6, 12, 13, 20 & 27.


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Changes to Port Orleans Bus Services

Posted on Thursday 1st December 2016 by The Sassagoula Sentinel

According to Orlando Park News, there have been a few minor, but very welcome, changes to the bus service provided at the Port Orleans resorts.

First, there is new a dedicated Internal Shuttle bus linking all four Riverside bus stops and French Quarter. There has been an Internal Shuttle system in place since early December 2015, which ran in conjunction with the Disney Springs route, but apparently this has now been extended to use a dedicated bus. The new shuttle service starts at 6:30am and provides round-trip transportation from French Quarter to Riverside South, West, North, and East until 12:30am daily, extended to 1am on Fridays and Saturdays.

Also, in an effort to reduce bus overcrowding and wait times during the peak demand period, from approx 8am until 11am the service from Riverside to the Magic Kingdom will now operate using two separate buses. The first will stop at the South Depot only, and the other will cater solely for the three outlying circle Depots, West, North and East. This should make using the outlying bus stops a much more attractive proposition for guests visiting the Magic Kingdom in the morning.

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Happy Thanksgiving - which means Christmas is not far away!

Posted on Thursday 24th November 2016 by The Sassagoula Sentinel

Wishing a Very Happy Thanksgiving to everyone at Port Orleans today and during the extended Holiday weekend - and especially to the dedicated cast members who will be working today to keep the guests comfortable and happy.


And as is the custom, the Christmas decorations went up this week - in fact most were in place by Monday - and the whole resort is looking really festive this year, especially French Quarter.

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(Thanks John for the photos)

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Port Orleans French Quarter Food Court Re-opens

Posted on Monday 21st November 2016 by The Sassagoula Sentinel

The Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory food court at Port Orleans French Quarter re-opened to guests on Saturday 19 November after a four-month refurbishment with a brand new menu and completely updated kitchen facilities, along with a new cleaner look. The fully updated menu is now available on our main food court page.

Notable changes include a New Orleans inspired menu, which includes many old favorites (such as beignets of course) alongside lots of exciting new options. New breakfast items include Breakfast Po’ Boys, Cajun Grit Bowl with Shrimp, Molasses-Cream Cheese Cinnamon Roll, Jumbo Sweet Potato Belgian Waffle, Grilled Steak and Scrambled Eggs, and Crispy Fried Chicken on Biscuit with Maple Bacon Jam. For Lunch/Dinner you could try Crawfish Mac & Cheese Burger, Create-Your-Own Signature Rice Bowl or Create-Your-Own Pasta, Southern Classic — ‘Meat & Three’, Cajun Bayou Pizza, Jambalaya, Daily Po’ Boys, Sassagoula Power Salad or French Quarter House Salad. Gelato has replaced the traditional ice cream flavours, which is a great upgrade.

Your food will now be served on real bamboo plates with proper metal cutlery instead of the previous paper plates and plastic knives and forks, bringing a much more upmarket feel to the dining experience. The trash & tray disposal areas have also been improved to allow depositing items for washing separately from general food waste and pizza boxes (although oddly nowhere for plastic bottles?) however only time will tell whether this may create something of a bottleneck when the food court is particularly busy.

The five food service counters have been reorganised slightly (the bakery is now in the middle for example) and the existing windows at either side of the service area have been removed. The redesign has also opened up access through to the main seating area (where the Grab'n'Go cabinets used to be) and moved the registers into that space instead. New taller Grab'n'Go cabinets have been installed in the middle of the already rather cramped space in the middle of the service area, which will surely just cause more congestion to the queues during busy periods? Within 24 hours staff were trying to address this issue by moving the cabinets around, but I'm surprised nobody realised the potential problem during the planning stages. I'm guessing they didn't want the service/register area to extend out any further out in the seating area as they are now quoting the restaurant capacity as 395 compared to the original 300.

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Refillable cold beverages are now available from eight new Coca Cola Freestyle machines - a very popular replacement for the previous two regular drink fountains - offering a far wider range of carbonated, still and diet options. The central beverage island is themed to resemble an unfinished 'work in progress' Mardi Gras parade float - or so they tell us anyway, but it doesn't seem very intuitive until you've been told.

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Which brings us neatly to perhaps the most controversial change: the theming, or perhaps more the lack of it. For a long time, guests have commented negatively on the huge 'creepy' masks hanging from the ceiling as part of the Mardi Gras float factory theme, and removing those faces was always going to be part of the overall plan for the refurbishment. However now there is nothing at all hanging from the ceiling, just industrial-looking steel girderwork and skylights (which admittedly does give the benefit of making the room feel lighter and more airy). The remaining few salvaged Mardi Gras props are now displayed on shallow balconies above doorways, where you may spot Tiana and Prince Naveen hidden within the playing card designs. The colourful New Orleans jester which previously stood proudly just outside the serving area is gone too. Even the flooring is now a nondescript grey rather than the warm earth tones that were featured before, and the chairs and new tall stools are cold metal designs rather than wooden.

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I have been told that there is still some detail work to be completed which won't be ready until January, and that they didn't want to risk delaying the re-opening any further to wait for it. This will apparently include some chandeliers for the main seating area, but it's hard to see how that will make a major impact in mitigating the rather stark and utilitarian feel.


The official ribbon-cutting ceremony, attended by French Quarter General Manager Punam Dayabhai-Jairambhai and one of the Walt Disney World Ambassadors, took place at 8:30am - however the food court had actually opened several hours earlier because it would have been impossible to transition the live food service from the previous day's temporary location back to the main food court during food service without causing major disruption to guests.



Regular visitor Steve Denney was on hand to bring us the latest opening news as it happened (all of which was posted live on our Facebook page over the weekend) and he has since consolidated his thoughts and photos into a review article in the comments.

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For other reports, please see Disney Parks Blog post, the DISboards overview, and the excellent AJ Wolfe's Disney Food Blog article (AJ's site is always well worth a visit for the excellent foodie photos anyway).

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French Quarter food court prepares for re-opening on 19 Nov

Posted on Thursday 17th November 2016 by The Sassagoula Sentinel

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So is everyone ready for Saturday's grand re-opening of the Port Orleans French Quarter food court? There's still some decor detail to be completed (although it seems that the ceiling will be plainer than before) but they are already testing out the kitchens on some very willing cast member victims (no guests yet, sorry) and the feedback is pretty good!

Breakfast choices include Sweet Potato Belgian Waffles, Buttermilk Pancakes with various toppings, Grilled Steak and Scrambled Eggs, Whole Grain Croissant Breakfast Sandwich, Crispy Fried Chicken on Biscuit with Maple Bacon Jam. All apparently served on real flatware with real cutlery rather than the previous paper plates and plastic knives and forks (which also means less waste I assume). The beverage island now features eight Coca Cola Freestyle machines instead of the previous two multi-dispenser units for cold drinks.

As we reported previously, the Grand Opening will be on Saturday morning at 8:30am, spread the news! So is anyone planning to head over there? Here are a few quick teaser pictures to whet your appetite...

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Update 18 Nov: Menus as promised:

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