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Mardi Gras events at Port Orleans, 9th February 2016

Posted on Sunday 31st January 2016 by The Sassagoula Sentinel

With all the departmental shake-ups going on at Port Orleans at the moment I'm still awaiting the full Recreation Schedule files for February (although quick photos are on the site). However I can confirm that the annual Mardi Gras 'pargo parade' put on by cast members will be going ahead on Tuesday 9th February at 10am, albeit on a somewhat smaller scale than in previous years.

This year’s theme will be "Candyland", but only six instead of the usual ten pargos will be used. The different lines of business (Custodial / Engineering / Food & Beverage / Front Desk / Housekeeping / Merchandise / Operations Learning & Development / Recreation / Watercraft Transportation / etc) will be combining to create the floats, and I'm not sure whether there will still be a departmental competitive element or not.

Update on 2 Feb: I've just been informed that the afternoon Mardi Gras activities planned for Port Orleans French Quarter on Tuesday 9 February, including the character greetings, have been CANCELLED for this year. The cut-down version of the cast member pargo parade will still take place at 10am though. The Recreation Activity Schedules that had already been printed for this month have been withdrawn, so I've removed them from the site too. I'll provide further updates as soon as I know more.

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Maintenance Updates & Management Restructuring News

Posted on Friday 29th January 2016 by The Sassagoula Sentinel

A quick roundup of the latest news on the various refurbishment projects going on around Port Orleans, plus a bit more on the current Management Restructuring process.

French Quarter Children's Water Play Area

Work was originally scheduled to be completed by 24 December 2015 but work-permit issues delayed the planned re-opening date until 19 January 2016. However construction is obviously overrunning considerably beyond that based on the photos taken on 23 January which show water piping is still being installed and they haven't even started on laying the flooring yet. The information that I'm hearing at the moment is pointing towards an opening date of around 29 February 2016.

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Riverside Ol' Man Island pool refurbishment

Work commenced on schedule on 11 January 2016 and the target completion date is still 4 March 2016. The work is mostly routine maintenance and perimeter fencing modifications. All of the through-route walkways, the children's playground and the fishing hole currently remain open, although letters recently sent out to guests indicate that some pathways may need to be temporarily closed during the work and the children's playground may also be affected at some point. There are no evening campfires at Riverside at the moment, but the French Quarter alternative is still available daily. A free shuttle service to French Quarter is in place, and the five quiet pools at Riverside are open as normal. The River Roost Lounge in the main building is opening a little earlier in the day than normal to compensate for Muddy Rivers being closed.

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Riverside Magnolia Terrace roofing work

The building 85 roofing work will be split into five phases, and is expected to run through until 15 July 2016. The first phase has already commenced, which comprises the whole of central section of the building. That section should come back into service on 26 February and then work will commence on each of the four outer 'wings' in turn.

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For more information and photos, see the Refurbishment News page.


Management Restructuring

A major reorganisation of the management structure at Port Orleans (and many other areas of Walt Disney World) is currently in progress, and some details are now starting to emerge. The following information is pieced together from multiple sources, but I'm sure there's more news still to come:

  • The current Port Orleans General Manager, Suzette Noble, will now become the General Manager for Port Orleans Riverside, while Port Orleans French Quarter will get its own General Manager (still to be announced).
  • The French Quarter Merchandising Manager has been transferred to the All Star Resorts as Duty Manager. The Merchandise departments will now team up or partner with their Food & Beverage counterparts.
  • "Proprietors" appears to be a newly-created level of management, reporting directly to the General Managers. The former Food & Beverage managers, James Campbell and Matthew Vaché, will be Proprietors for Riverside and French Quarter respectively.
  • The current Guest Service Managers for each resort (Lon Rydberg at Riverside and Stefanie Shomper at French Quarter) will now be referred to as Guest Experience Managers, reporting to the Proprietors, and their remit will now include Recreation operations.
  • There will also be separate Executive Housekeepers at both properties instead of the current combined operation.
Good luck to everyone in their new roles - I suspect it's going to be a busy adjustment period!

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Walt Disney World Management Structure Reorganisation

Posted on Sunday 24th January 2016 by The Sassagoula Sentinel

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Walt Disney World is embarking on (yet another) reorganisation of its management infrastructure. The changes broadly relate to the organisation of management reporting structures, with departments now organised more by physical location rather than thematically. Reporter Sandra Pedicini writes:

"The reorganization will give general managers and executives authority over geographic locations – say, the Magic Kingdom's Frontierland – rather than traditional categories such as merchandise or food and beverage. The philosophy is to take a more holistic approach to management, focusing on the overall guest experience, Disney said."

Of particular interest to Port Orleans aficionados will be the element of the plan to assign each hotel its own individual General Manager, rather than the previous practice of one person overseeing several resorts. This may result in Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter becoming somewhat more autonomous than they have been in the past.

As I understand it at present, the current Port Orleans General Manager, Suzette Noble, will retain overall control of the Riverside resort, while a new General Manager (still to be announced) will be brought in to oversee French Quarter. There will also be some shake-ups in the way the various lines of business are managed, such as Recreation now coming under the overall local control of each resort's Guest Services manager (previously Recreation was a combined team) and the Food & Beverage managers at each resort will now incorporate Merchandise into their remit. Both resorts will also gain their own Executive Housekeepers, rather than having one large team covering both resorts. Whether or not this will alter the current policy of cast member roles sometimes being shared between the two resorts is still unclear, but Disney have announced that there will be no lay-offs as a result of these changes.

It seems unlikely that there will be any significant impact on the overall guest experience, at least in the short term, but perhaps giving French Quarter its own autonomy may result in more facilities being provided directly for guests staying there, rather than everything being shared with Riverside? And it surely can't escape the notice of an incoming General Manager that French Quarter is the only Disney Moderate Resort that doesn't currently operate its own table service restaurant in addition to a food court.

More changes will no doubt become apparent over the coming weeks, but to me this all vaguely smacks of someone in an executive position at Walt Disney World with too much time on their hands looking to "make their mark". Let's wait and see what happens, it could be an interesting year...

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January 2016 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules

Posted on Thursday 31st December 2015 by The Sassagoula Sentinel

The January 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.

From 11 January onward, the feature pool on Ol’ Man Island at Riverside will be CLOSED for refurbishment work and is not due to reopen again until approx 4 March. The closure includes the children’s splash pool, the hot tub, and the Muddy Rivers pool bar - however the fishing hole and children’s playground will remain open. Riverside’s Recreational Activities will move over the main building area during the closure.

The access bridges leading to the island will remain open for most of this period, however you may find some individual bridge closures at times. The five quiet pools at Riverside, along with the main pool at French Quarter, will continue to operate normally.


The main feature swimming pool hours will reduce to 10am—9pm from 3 January.

The evening campfires will commence at 5pm this month and the Movies Under the Stars will be screened at 7pm daily at both resorts. Until 10 January the campfire events will take place on alternate days at the two resorts — Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday at Riverside, and Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday at French Quarter. From 11 January onward, the campfires will take place daily, but at French Quarter ONLY.

Continuing this month: The Disney Junior Pool Party (4pm daily) features music and activities from some of your favourite Disney Junior shows. Join in with awesome activities and games such as Sofia Says, Doc McStuffins Trivia, sing-alongs and much more! [at French Quarter ONLY from 11 January]

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Off Kilter's Jason Thomas & Billy Varnes live at Scat Cat's

Posted on Thursday 24th December 2015 by The Sassagoula Sentinel

Two members of Off Kilter, the popular celtic/rock fusion band which performed at Epcot's Canada pavilion prior to the now-defunct lumberjack show, are currently appearing live several evenings a week at Scat Cat's Club at Port Orleans French Quarter. Jason Thomas and Billy Varnes will be playing three blues/bluegrass oriented sets each evening, 8pm-11pm. Bring your requests - and they might even throw in an Off Kilter tune or two!

Planned dates until the end of January 2016 are:
Sunday, Dec 27
Monday, Dec 28
Saturday, Jan 2
Sunday, Jan 3
Monday, Jan 4
Tuesday, Jan 5
Sunday, Jan 10
Sunday, Jan 17 (after the Highland Games!)
Monday, Jan 18
Sunday, Jan 24
Monday, Jan 25
Sunday, Jan 31

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See https://www.facebook.com/events/462361727302964/

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