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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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Port Orleans French Quarter food court to reopen 19 November

Posted on Saturday 12th November 2016 by The Sassagoula Sentinel

I've just had confirmation that the "Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory" food court at Port Orleans French Quarter will be reopening to guests on Saturday 19 November, featuring "American cooking inspired by the flavors of New Orleans". There will be some brand new menu items, plus some old favourites of course. After a couple of days of internal menu testing, the official ribbon-cutting ceremony will be at 8:30am on 19 November.


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And of course it wouldn't be French Quarter without...
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November 2016 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules

Posted on Saturday 22nd October 2016 by The Sassagoula Sentinel

The November 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.

The main feature swimming pool opening hours will remain at 9am-10pm during November. The evening campfires will operate from 4:30pm until 6pm this month, 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.


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 (Weds—Sat).
Note: Due to other commitments, Bob will not be performing his regular Port Orleans shows on Saturday 29 October, Thursday 3 November or Friday 4 November.

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. Their 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 (8pm—11pm) do yourself a favour and pop along, they are highly recommended.
Jason & Billy at Scat Cat’s, November 2016 (Saturday—Tuesday): November 5, 7, 12, 13, 14, 20, 21, 26, 27 & 28. Jason will be playing with Greg Hayworth on November 8, 15, 22 & 29. No shows are scheduled for November 1, 16 & 19.


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Hurricane Matthew due to impact Florida, theme parks closed

Posted on Thursday 6th October 2016 by The Sassagoula Sentinel

I'm sure everyone has been following the news of Hurricane Matthew, which is now hours away from reaching the Florida coastline and is then expected to push its way up the East coast over the next couple of days. Most of central Florida is now on high alert, and Disney have announced that the theme parks will all close at 5pm on Thursday and remain closed all day on Friday, with any outdoor events (such as the Halloween parties) cancelled.

The Fort Wilderness Campground has been completely evacuated, and the treehouse villas at Saratoga Springs (next to the Sassagoula River) and the lagoon-side bungalows at the Polynesian Village Resort are also being closed for the duration and guests relocated.

The resorts will be laying on extra support - food, drink, supplies, entertainment, etc - for guests who will presumably be advised to remain in their rooms during the worst periods of the impending weather system, which currently looks likely to be around the middle of the day on Friday.

I'll post more information on what Port Orleans are doing as-and-when I get updates. Obviously the situation is very fluid at the moment, as the predicted track and severity of the storm changes hour-by-hour, and multiple contingency plans are being put into operation.

My thoughts are with the cast members and guests at my favourite place right now - hunker down and stay safe everyone.

[Update on Friday morning] I've heard that in the expectation of the food courts being closed on Friday, the WDW resorts have been selling emergency snack boxes containing a very small sandwich, a piece of fruit, packet of chips, and a tiny cookie (not even a drink) for $12.99! This really smells like gouging to me - IMHO these should be provided for free to all guests who will be effectively trapped in their rooms. However I gather that if you complain, the cost is being refunded - I guess the cast members must feel guilty about charging for it too. And it probably goes without saying, but all Disney transportation will be shut down for the whole of Friday, and the airports are closed to all commercial flights too.

[Update on Friday afternoon] The resort food courts re-opened for breakfast this morning, initially with slightly limited menus to help process the heavy demand as quickly as possible. With the hurricane now past the Orlando area, the Walt Disney World theme parks are scheduled to be open tomorrow (Saturday) at 8am, with everything else following soon after. Disney Springs will be re-opening around 5pm on Friday evening, although probably not everything will be open initially.

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