Riverside-June 27-29, 2015

How was your stay at Riverside? Leave your comments or full trip reports here. Photos welcome.
Forum rules
This forum is for Port Orleans RIVERSIDE Trip Reports, not for general questions. Please try to keep your reviews relevant, informative and useful to other visiting families. Thanks!
User avatar
MardiGroggy
Posts: 290
Joined: August 11th, 2013, 10:30 am
Location: North Florida

Riverside-June 27-29, 2015

Unread post by MardiGroggy » July 2nd, 2015, 1:57 pm

We are now back from our 3 day weekend at Riverside, which went quite well in spite of the oppressive heat. Now, I was born and raised in Florida, so heat in the summer isn’t unknown to me, but this year’s early summer heat spell has been brutal by any standards. We adjusted our activities accordingly, so here are some things that may be of interest here. We arrived early, as usual, but our room was ready and exactly as requested (by fax) in the Alligator Bayou section (Bldg. 36). We were in our room by 2:15pm, then off to a late lunch reservation at DTD. Apparently there was a storm that had passed through the area shortly before out arrival, as the boat transportation had been suspended for a while and was just re-starting as we reached the dock, so we were on the boat fairly quickly and had a smooth ride to DTD. We stopped at Design-a-Tee to make up a shirt for Riverside (already had one for FQ), as there are still no Port Orleans resort specific clothing items, other than the blue ball cap for Riverside. Andre has a couple of pictures of the shirts I had made up, so perhaps he will post them here for me. I don’t have the tech savvy to do that on my own yet. Anyway, construction is running full blast, still, at DTD as they work on turning it into Disney Springs. We saw the Boathouse restaurant from the water side, but did not try to eat there. ($$$$) It looked interesting, at least. We limited our walking due to the heat, but had a great lunch at Rainforest and dessert at Ghirardelli. Then back to Riverside for some quiet time before YeHaa Bob in the evening.

Throughout the visit I was feeding photos to Andre so he could update this site, although most of them were more informational (signs, etc.) than scenic. All in all, the place looks great, but was quite full of people for the weekend, so there were lines and lots of activities all around. When we visited FQ it was noticeably more subdued, but FQ was not available on the FL resident deal they were running, so that is why we were at AB. I sent Andre photos of the FQ bus stop, although it doesn’t look much different to me, other than some evidence of road and curb changes in front of the shelters. I checked about current entertainment at Scat Cat’s and was told that there is a DJ there on Saturday and Tuesday nights, and a “guy who plays the guitar” on Sundays and Mondays. Well, we spent Saturday evening with Bob, so I went over to Scat Cat’s on Sunday evening. I was pleasantly surprised that the “guy who plays the guitar” was a fellow named Andy Burr, who frequently plays at a number of other (non-Disney) venues and in a variety of music styles. We chatted for a while and he said that he is currently booked there sort of on a week to week basis, with no long term commitment from Disney. He also said that he usually performs with at least one or two other musicians, sometimes with a full band, but Disney didn’t have the budget for more than a solo act. Andy seemed a little anxious about being alone on the stage, but he should not have been. I was impressed with his song selections and his arrangements, which were his singing along with his guitar and harmonica, plus some backing tracks on his computer. He clearly has done his homework on the venue, as he performed mostly tunes that reflected the French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana, Creole, Zydeco and Pop/Jazz theme of the resort. Also, he was engaged with the audience and reasonably relaxed for being in that one-man hot seat. I did not stay for the whole evening (early rollout for the Train tour the next morning), but by the end of the second set he had three young girls (I’m guessing between 5 and 10 years old), who were there with their parents, up and dancing around with his “party songs.” It has been a while since I have seen that kind of energy at SC, so I took that as a hopeful sign. I sincerely hope that Disney keeps Andy on at SC, including expanding his days or even enable him to bring his other band mates, as I think he will be well received and bring some life back into the club. I have already sent an email to WDW Guest Communications to that effect, so I hope they listen. By the way, I think I recall correctly that he said that he had a spot at Riverside for the July 4th activities, so if anyone is going to that, keep an eye out for him. He’ll be happy to see you. I gave him the info for this website (he was not familiar with it), so he may check in here. I’m sure he would be glad to meet anyone who stops by for any of his shows, and I certainly hope that he is still there when Andre is in town in August. Unfortunately, the photos I sent to Andre were taken with my iPhone and the lighting in the club only yielded mostly fuzzy photos. I will be trying to send one other Andy photo to Andre, so maybe he can post it here. Andy’s website is: http://www.MountainBrew.net

Otherwise, I was also pleased to see that Scat Cat’s had a table server on duty the night I was there. Apparently this is a fairly new addition to the club, and a welcome one as far as I’m concerned, as we always had to order at the bar in the past. Keep your collective fingers crossed on that one, too. There were a few resort themed items in Jackson Square, as reported elsewhere on this site, but still no hats or clothing items. They had a FQ plastic tumbler that I don’t recall seeing before, that looked from a distance like a Tervis, but it was not. The label said: “hand wash,” if that tells you anything. The rest of FQ looks pretty much the same as when we were there last fall, so nothing else new to report that I know about. Again, Andre has updated menu info for the Floatworks, Scat Cat’s and Mardi Grogs.

On Sunday we were also able to get a reservation for Boatwrights on relatively short notice (using MDE on the iPhone), so my wife decided that my “birthday dinner” would be a day early, since Monday was going to be an early day at MK, with a 3 hour drive home. Also on Sunday I tried doing my best manatee imitation at the quiet pool next to our building, as a respite from the heat. The pool was anything but quiet that afternoon, mainly because of the full house bookings, but it was still quite refreshing just being able to find a quiet spot on the shady side of the pool and just veg out for a while. The main pool on the island was crowded, but full of the usual activities. I stopped at Muddy Waters to check on the food service, and it is continuing at this time, with apparently some thought to having a wandering server to help with orders for the bar and the limited food service. All good things, as far as I’m concerned.

We left early on Monday for MK, but all was as it should be all weekend with our room condition, so we were very happy with the value for the money we spent on the lodging this trip. We’re still waiting to see how we can make the most of the new room rates that are coming, but I’m concerned that we retirees may be getting priced out of our home away from home. Time will tell.

Several of you have expressed an interest in the “Behind the Magic of Our Steam Trains Tour.” I will add info about that later, when I have time to type it up. It was a great tour and well worth the money, and even worth the before dawn checkout we had to do to get there in time. More on all of that later.

Please let me know if you have any questions.
MardiGroggy
Aka: Steve

"Laissez les bons temps rouler!"

User avatar
Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 2075
Joined: September 11th, 2008, 6:44 am
Contact:

Re: Riverside-June 27-29, 2015

Unread post by Admin » July 2nd, 2015, 4:53 pm

Thanks for all the help Steve, lots of the menus are now updated with your provided info. I'll upload those pics for you shortly too, just doing the new Muddy Rivers menu info at the moment. Looking forward to hearing about the steam train tour when you get a chance to post that too.

Andre
Image
- The Unofficial Visitor's Guide to the Port Orleans Resorts in Orlando, Florida -

User avatar
MardiGroggy
Posts: 290
Joined: August 11th, 2013, 10:30 am
Location: North Florida

Re: Riverside-June 27-29, 2015

Unread post by MardiGroggy » July 4th, 2015, 5:25 pm

Several folks have asked for a report on the “The Magic Behind Our Steam Trains Tour” that we took on Monday, June 29th. I have been trying to book this tour for several years now, but there has always been some impediment to getting it done. As far as I can tell, they don’t offer it on weekends, which are the usual days that we are there, and it is sufficiently popular that spaces are hard to get, especially on short notice. So, the first bit of advice I can offer is: book it as soon as you know your available dates. Keep in mind that there is a 48 hour cancellation policy on this one, and it must be paid for in advance. Also, like the other behind the scenes tours, it doesn’t link to your MDE account, so keep track of your confirmation number separately. Now, for some specifics from our tour.

Check-in time for this one is early, 0715 for a 0730 start. That means not only early rising, but carefully assessing your transportation options in getting to the MK on time. It is well before the usual opening time, even for extended park hours days, so plan accordingly. In our case, we were planning on leaving for home later in the day, so we opted to drive to the MK. If you are doing that, you want to skip the main parking lot at that time of the morning and park at the Contemporary Resort. This is, in fact, the recommended procedure from the Disney tour folks. All you have to do is show your ID, and possibly your tour confirmation number, to the gate security officer at the CR and you can park in the lot (all day, if you are staying in the park after the tour), right near the walkway that goes to MK. It is about a 10 minute walk from the lot to the main entrance, but it is mostly level ground and, thankfully, the temperature at that time of the morning was still very pleasant for us. The check-in point is directly in front of the floral Mickey, just below the Main Street station. That, by the way, is just inside the security checkpoints, but not actually past the turnstiles. We were there by about 0705, and our host, Matt, showed up with our nametags and audio gear just before 0730 (I think he was running a little late, but no problem for us). We just sat on a bench and watched the “rope drop” crowd begin lining up. After handing out our gear, Matt warned us that it would be about an hour before the next bathroom break. PLEASE NOTE: This turned out to be incorrect, as it was actually about 2 full hours before we were back to Main Street and our official restroom break. There are restrooms to the far right of the waiting area, next to the Guest Services windows, so for you morning multi-cup coffee drinkers, go early, go often and don’t push your luck, if you know what I mean. When we entered the park, we went in through the set of turnstiles to the right side entrance (away from the rope drop folks), so we breezed right in, using our Magic Bands. (Park admission is required, in addition to the tour price, btw.) One other note at this point. I had read in past reviews that some had complained that it was hard to hear the tour guide. I don’t know if they were using the personal audio system at that time, but they are now. As a result, we had no trouble hearing anything, unless we were near something else making a lot of noise (think opening ceremonies or street shows), but Matt just stopped talking for a few minutes until the noise either stopped or moved on. These audio devices are the same that they use on the other tours, with the receiver in a neck pouch and an earpiece. Unlike the larger tours, we did not get spread out enough that reception was ever a problem.

We went first to the Main Street Station platform where one of the trains was waiting just for us. It took us on the usual clockwise route around the park, stopping just before the Fantasyland Station to switch to the track that leads to the roundhouse area. We then backed a few hundred yards to the roundhouse. This stretch between the main track and the roundhouse was the only place on the tour that we were not allowed to take any photos. All other locations, including the roundhouse area, were no problem. Once at the roundhouse, we de-trained and Matt oriented us to the area and began his explanation of the train preparation activities. We did not actually go inside the roundhouse or any of the shop areas, but you could look into the roundhouse during the description of the work that is done there. I won’t go through all the details, but I will say that we spent about an hour and a half getting a run down on all of the maintenance, operations and safety checks that take place before any of the trains can head out into the park for passenger service. Included in the orientation was an in-cab explanation of the engine controls and the duties of the Engineer and Fireman. This was done in 4 person shifts, so if you were not doing that, you could look around the outside of the engine and take lots of photos. At the end of this part of the tour, Matt took some extra time to let some of the guests get a photo “at the controls.” Lots of smiling going on! After that, the train crew took over the engine, in our case #4, the Roy O. Disney, and made a good show of lighting off the boiler (great photo op) and getting the train ready to take us back to the park. One special note here is that all of this is outdoors, so being prepared for whatever weather you encounter is an absolute must! In our case, it was getting hotter by the minute, so most folks were trying to find some shade in an area that we were allowed to safely stand. My wife and I had each taken a bottle of water along with us, which was a really smart thing to do.

The return trip included one final demonstration of the required safety checks, and took us back to Main Street Station. At that point, we left the train and went to the Chamber of Commerce building for a 15 minute water (bottled water provided) and restroom break. As I said earlier, this was the first restroom opportunity once the tour started (no guest facilities at the roundhouse) and it was a full two hours from our start time. After the break, we went back to the Main Street Station for a further explanation of the background of the four engines that serve the WDW trains, which was done at the regular exhibits on the ground floor of the station that anyone can read on their own. Matt, of course went into a bit more detail than the boards had, so we didn’t need to stand there and read them. Then we went upstairs to the “waiting room” for a final bit of history behind Walt Disney and his life-long interest in trains and railroading. This lasted about 30 minutes and was very detailed. At the end of the briefing, we all received our “The Magic Behind Our Steam Trains Tour” collectors pin, available, of course, only to guests who have taken the tour. After that, we turned in our audio sets and we were on our own for the duration. The tour is listed for 3 hours, and that was the time we spent. On our tour there were 16 people, but I don’t know how many they can actually accommodate. As far as my wife and I are concerned, it was well worth the money, $54.00, plus tax ($115.02 for the two of us), and the early rising that an old retired guy like me normally tries to avoid. In fact, we may just do it again sometime down the road. I really like trains!

Sorry for the length, but I hope this is of interest. Please let me know if you have any questions.
MardiGroggy
Aka: Steve

"Laissez les bons temps rouler!"

JohnB
Posts: 46
Joined: September 15th, 2011, 12:17 pm

Re: Riverside-June 27-29, 2015

Unread post by JohnB » July 5th, 2015, 10:09 am

Thanks Steve. Great report. Now we will have to add this to our WDW to-do list.

User avatar
Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 2075
Joined: September 11th, 2008, 6:44 am
Contact:

Re: Riverside-June 27-29, 2015

Unread post by Admin » July 12th, 2015, 5:51 am

Some of Steve's photos:

Image

Image

Image

Image

Andre
Image
- The Unofficial Visitor's Guide to the Port Orleans Resorts in Orlando, Florida -

User avatar
MardiGroggy
Posts: 290
Joined: August 11th, 2013, 10:30 am
Location: North Florida

Re: Riverside-June 27-29, 2015

Unread post by MardiGroggy » July 12th, 2015, 8:34 am

Thanks for posing those, Andre. Since they don't have any Port Orleans T-shirts for sale in the general stores, I made up my own at the Design-a-Tee at DTD. They only have the one resort logo to work with, but you can add whatever copy you want, so these are what I made up.

Also, good to see Andy checked in on the Scat Cat's thread. I hope we see more of him!
MardiGroggy
Aka: Steve

"Laissez les bons temps rouler!"

lizzieanne
Posts: 11
Joined: July 6th, 2015, 4:25 pm

Re: Riverside-June 27-29, 2015

Unread post by lizzieanne » July 12th, 2015, 9:06 am

Thanks for the info! I'll be at POR in the AB section for the first time for Wine & Dine weekend in November! :) Excited!

Post Reply