Previous Major Maintenance and Refurbishment Projects
Note: For current and planned maintenance work, please see the Refurbishments Page.
This history page will not include every piece of small maintenance or refurbishment work that the resort has undertaken, as minor projects and routine maintenance such as painting and landscaping are ongoing all the time. However the more major projects - generally with work lasting longer than a week or two, and which the site has followed from start to finish - will be archived here for anyone interested. The most recently completed projects will be shown first.
Special thanks to regular Port Orleans guest John “RiverRooster” Schmidt who has provided invaluable photo updates during his trips. For lots more of his photos, please see his Guest Photo Gallery page.
Riverside Building 85 (Magnolia Terrace) Roofing Work
Completed on schedule mid-July 2016
Roofing refurbishment will commence on the Magnolia Terrace mansion building (building 85) at Port Orleans Riverside in January 2016. This will be the same kind of work that was undertaken on Oak Manor (building 90) during the equivalent time period back in 2014, and so will presumably involve temporary closures of portions of the building on a rolling basis to avoid inconveniencing guests. Even so, guests should be aware that there will probably be scaffolding visible around the work areas, and some daytime noise too. By way of comparison, the Oak Manor work in 2014 took about six months to complete and was finished in mid July (see the 2014 news post).
Update 28 January 2016: The Magnolia Terrace (building 85) roofing work will be split into five phases, and is expected to run through until 15th July. The first phase has already commenced, which comprises the whole of central section of the building. That section should come back into service on 26th February and then work will commence on each of the four outer ‘wings’ in turn.
Update 21 February 2016: Extra weekend work is helping to catch up on a slightly delayed start, and phase one is still on schedule for completion by 26th February, after which it looks like they will be moving on to one of the northern wings of the building (the end facing towards Acadian House). As rooms were removed from inventory during the roofing work, the extended downtime is being used to perform deep cleaning, carpet extraction and other general painting/maintenance on the guest rooms.
French Quarter Children’s Aquatic Play Area (Opened 7 March 2016)
The brand new (and long awaited) children’s Aquatic Play Area opened to guests at 9am on Monday 7 March 2016, complete with plenty of whimsical - and suitably drenching - water play features, all with a unique New Orleans twist. Many thanks to Denise from MouseSteps.com and Jeff Lange for this great video of the ribbon-cutting event:
Port Orleans French Quarter Aquatic Play Area, opening ceremony
Beginning in early October 2015, work commenced on removing the original children’s splash pool at Doubloon Lagoon in order to install a new Interactive Water Feature play area. You may have seen these popping up at other Disney resorts, and now it will be French Quarter’s turn — and I hear from someone who has seen the plans that it should be rather impressive. Don’t worry though, the construction work won’t impact on the main swimming pool facilities at all, including the water slide and the hot tub.
Update January 2016: 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 the end of February.
Update 11 February 2016: Work is still progressing gradually on the children’s water play area, and it looks like they have now finished the underground piping work and laid most of the remaining concrete pathway. Although there still appears to be a lot of work left to do, the target completion date currently remains at 29 February.
Additionally, construction staff are working around the perimeter edges of the main pool area, adding additional wrought-iron safety fencing between the pool deck and the Mardi Grogs seating area, and also installing lockable gates at the main entry/exit locations. I believe this is most likely part of a general Disney response to two recent tragic incidents involving children who accessed hotel pools unaccompanied or outside of lifeguard hours (see Orlando Sentinel articles in March 2013 and July 2015).
Update 14 February 2016: More concrete has been laid and some of the heavier equipment has been removed now. It looks like they have fitted the gratings over the edge drainage channel. Landscaping and laying of soft flooring has not yet been started.
Update 21 February 2016: Lots of progress this week, including fitting of the remaining water-slide segments and the removal of the protective covers from some of the water features. On Sunday 21 February, after the final Pebble Tec coat had been applied earlier this week (there is apparently no cushioned flooring) they started filling the basin area with water via garden sprinklers, presumably for initial drainage and leak testing before they start on the various underground-fed elements. The final sections of concrete pathway are nearly ready for laying, and the plumbing control systems and piping are being hidden behind permanent walls.
The new fencing surrounding both the main pool and the water play area is almost complete, and most of the gates have now been installed — although not all are fully functional yet. The fencing is similar to the existing wrought-iron design, although slightly shorter and less ornate — whether the existing product was no longer available, or the new sections are just a cheaper alternative, is not clear.
Update 25 February 2016: The target completion date for the French Quarter children’s water play area has again been slightly delayed, this time from 29th February to 6th March. Workers are starting to add the final detailing and test the water features, but landscaping, fencing and some remaining pathway construction over the buried pipework is still to be completed.
The Mardi Grogs pool bar has just had some new features installed, including pretzel and popcorn machines and air heaters to allow more people to sit outside during the cooler winter months. Pretzels are priced at $3.19 each, or $4.19 with a cheese dip, and popcorn is $3.50 (plus tax).
Update 29 February 2016: Testing of the water elements commenced this afternoon, and it looks great with lots of spray fountains and a fun fill-and-tip water wheel at the top. Thanks as always to John Schmidt for sending the photos and video. The splash play area is marked as having a sloped depth of 11 inches in the middle, and will presumably have the same 48-inch height restriction as per other resorts.
The remaining pathways have now been laid around the water play area and landscaping added, and most of the green construction fences have been removed, but other current work includes the removal of the steps from the northern access pathway to the hot tub, adding ramped access from the Mardi Grogs bar to the seating area, and replacing some worn-out decking on the boat dock.
Update 5 March 2016: Work is now basically complete on the Aquatic Play Area and the opening ceremony is scheduled for 9am on Monday 7 March 2016. Cast Members and Guests are welcome to attend the official ribbon-cutting.
They are currently testing the new water play area at Port Orleans French Quarter. Remind me, is there some sort of age limit on this thing...? :) [Thanks to John Schmidt for catching and uploading this]Posted by PortOrleans.org on Monday, 29 February 2016
Riverside Ol’ Man Island Pool Maintenance (Completed 5 March 2016)
The Port Orleans Riverside main feature pool on Ol’ Man Island (including the children’s pool and the hot tub) will be closed from 11th January 2016 until 4th March 2016 for routine maintenance work and perimeter fencing modifications. This could potentially run a little longer, but those are the most accurate dates I have at present.
The closure will be limited to the pool area itself (including the kids’ pool, hot tub and Muddy Rivers pool bar). All of the through-route walkways, the children’s playground and the fishing hole will remain open — although letters recently sent out to guests indicate that some pathways may need to be temporarily closed during the work. There will be no evening campfires at Riverside during January at least, but the French Quarter alternative site will be available daily.
The River Roost Lounge in the main building will be opening a little earlier in the day than normal to compensate for Muddy Rivers being closed, which is not uncommon during January/February anyway as it can get a bit cold for people to sit out by the pool. All of the five quiet pools at Riverside will remain open, as will the French Quarter Doubloon Lagoon pool which may be used by Riverside guests (and a free shuttle service is in place).
Update 11 February 2016: Work is continuing on the Ol’ Man Island pool refurbishment, and more vegetation has been cut back beyond the seating areas in readiness for the installation of new perimeter fencing. Work is currently still on schedule for completion by 4 March.
Additionally, the main access bridge leading from the Riverside Marina and food court over to Ol’ Man Island is currently closed for three weeks to allow worn-out wooden decking to be replaced, and for some structural work on a support beam to be completed. This work has been timed to coincide with the refurbishment of the feature swimming pool and the reduced occupancy levels in the Magnolia Terrace mansion building to attempt to reduce the amount of guests inconvenienced by the closure.
The bridge should be re-opened by Saturday 27 February, but in the meantime guests will need to use the riverbank pathways and alternative bridges in order to cross to the other side of the resort.
Update 14 February 2016: New lighting poles have been added (still to be painted) and metal support posts for the access gates have been installed across the pathways. It is still unclear whether the rest of the perimeter barrier will be tastefully ‘in tune’ with the wooden post, slat and rope designs around the rest of Everett Peace’s reclusive little island, or whether Disney will take the easier option and just use metal railings (which incidentally do work very well with the wrought ironwork theming at French Quarter).
Skimming of the inside of the pool now seems mostly complete and they have started tiling the upper edges. The new tiles appear to be a generic mottled brown/beige rather than the whimsical bayou foliage and wildlife design that was there previously.
Update 21 February 2016: The Ol’ Man Island project is progressing quickly, and is reported to be on target for its planned reopening date of 4th March. Refurbishing of the slide is complete and the final gel coat has been applied, and maintenance work on the decorative water channel is also finished. It looks as though the main pool’s Pebble Tec layer has also been applied (although from the photos more finishing still needs to be done, and some overflow edge tiling is not yet complete) and on Sunday workers were filling the pool with water to continue testing it.
Lots of work has been carried out on the Muddy Rivers building too, with extensive wood repairs, a new counter, and new electrical and drink dispenser systems (plus two additional beer taps). The poolside bathrooms are being refreshed too, including the addition of a companion bathroom. The bar staff have been given an access date of 2nd March to start restocking in preparation for reopening to guests few days later.
There is still quite a lot of concrete work to be completed, including a new ramp up to the hot tub to replace the old steps, and several sections of damaged deck that are being relaid. About half of the new perimeter safety barrier has now been erected, and while the new metal railings don’t fit in quite as well as they could with the rest of the predominantly wooden detailing, much of it is hidden by foliage so it doesn’t stand out too badly. Some sections next to the walkways appear to be more suitably themed though.
On the access bridge, in addition to the new decking, two underlying support beams have been replaced and workers are also replacing some of the boards on the curved arches and along the sides. This work is on-track for the bridge to be reopened to guests slightly before the main island opening date.
Update 28 February 2016: The access bridge from the Riverside Marina to Ol’ Man Island reopened for guests around 5pm on Friday 26 February, albeit with a few areas of paintwork that still need finishing.
Work is progressing well on the main pool area, and the pool itself was refilled several days ago. The perimeter fencing is almost complete, and lockable gates are being installed across all of the pool-access pathways. While the gatepost edging is at least styled in keeping with the island theme, the outlying fences and the gates themselves are all metal and more than one person has commented on the new “Stalag Riverside” look. Hopefully once the foliage is allowed to grow a bit the fence will be much less noticeable, and there has already been some new planting on the mansion building side of the island. At least it’s better than the incongruous wire-mesh fencing that has recently been added around the Polynesian leisure pool.
There is still a lot of work to be completed on the restrooms and the River Roost bar area (there isn’t even a bar counter-top at the moment!) but the expectation is still that the area will be ready to be handed back to the resort team by Friday 4 March. This does not necessarily mean that the pool will reopen to guests on that day though, as final approvals from the Reedy Creek folks will be needed, along with resetting all the furnishings in the area and revisiting the training of the lifeguards (as one of the guard stations has been moved slightly). The most likely opening date at the moment is Saturday 5th March, but that could still move either way.
Update 29 February 2016: Cement work outside of the restrooms is making progress, and bar elements such as the counter-tops now appear to be done and thematic detailing is being restored. Final touches on landscaping are being worked on, and they are skimming and brushing out the pool. Some minor finishing work was still being done to the bottom of the slide. A double-handrail and a chair lift have been added to the already somewhat cramped hot tub.
Update 5 March 2016: After a flurry of last-minute activity, restocking the bar, finishing off the new fencing and clearing away the debris and equipment, the area was handed back to resort staff on Friday 4th March to allow them to start rearranging the sun beds, checking safety equipment, and preparing the island for guest access.
At 9am on Saturday 5th March, Ol’ Man Island finally reopened to guests, and the Muddy Rivers pool bar was once again supplying its customary southern libations as if nothing had happened...
Riverside Oak Manor Roofing Refurbishment Work (Completed 18 July 2014)
See News Item from April 2014.
French Quarter Doubloon Lagoon Pool Refurbishment Work (Reopened 4 March 2014)
See News Item from November 2013.
Refurbished Campfire Locations (July—September 2013)
See News Item from August 2013.
French Quarter Registration Lobby Refurbishment (Reopened 18 July 2013)
See News Item from July 2013.
Riverside Registration Lobby Refurbishment (Reopened 26 June 2012)
See News Item from June 2012.
Guest Room Refurbishments (2010—2012)
All of the guest rooms at Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter were refurbished during 2010—2012 to feature brand new decor, flat-screen TVs and two Queen Beds instead of the old doubles (or one single King Bed if you have booked that option). All of the Alligator Bayou rooms now feature an extra pull-down Murphy bed instead of the old trundle bed. A summary of the last round of construction dates is given below, or you can check out the archive posts in our News Pages for the building-by-building details.