Happy New Year at Port Orleans, and a review of 2014

News Updates about the Port Orleans Resorts.
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Happy New Year at Port Orleans, and a review of 2014

Unread post by Admin » January 1st, 2015, 7:11 am

I'd like to wish everyone a fabulous New Year - I hope 2015 is a good one for you, and hopefully it will include at least one visit to our favourite resort hotel.

I'm sure there will be lots to look forward to at Port Orleans this year, and a few changes might even be coming in the very near future. For example, I hear that following the successful trail period in the summer there will soon be a permanent facility for direct-to-room check-ins which, although optional, will be a very useful feature for returning visitors who already know the resort. And all those people who have been longing to be able to pick up some resort-specific merchandise at the gift shops might just be in for a pleasant surprise the next time they visit [see news update on 3rd Jan for some pictures and prices of new products].

It also seems like an opportune moment to do a quick roundup of some of the little bits of Port Orleans news from last year which may not have made the headlines:
  • The new Sassagoula River Ferry dock at Downtown Disney opened in mid-August, using a custom-built jetty linked to a new footbridge between the Rainforest Café area and the Saratoga Springs Resort:
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  • For guests using the Disney Dining Plans, the included Refillable Mugs are now often distributed from the main registration lobby during busy times, so you can pick them up as soon as you check in.
  • A limited-menu continental breakfast has recently been made available at the River Roost Lounge featuring pastries, coffee, etc. Very convenient for a quick pre-park snack with no lines.
  • The road layout at the main bus stops has been modified slightly to accommodate the turning circles of double-length articulated "bendy" buses which should help to ease the waiting times during busy periods. Photo of the work site in August:
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  • During the summer, the landscaping teams trimmed back some of the larger trees which were starting to obscure guests' views. In particular, the river-facing courtyard at Magnolia Terrace (near to the pretty little gazebo) has been opened up considerably, and there will be more flowering plants added to bring a splash of colour to that area:
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  • The old thick quilted comforters were removed from guest bedrooms earlier in the year, to be replaced by plain white sheeting and a decorative bed-scarf across the foot of the bed. There is a possibility that the somewhat incongruous white covers may be replaced by more tastefully themed colours at some point in the future.
  • Trials were held in some French Quarter rooms to see if removing the adjustable blinds from guest rooms might help to make the rooms brighter. I don't know whether this test will be expanded to the rest of the resort, but I rather hope not as the only remaining option for guest privacy was to shut the curtains completely, which rather defeats the object:
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  • Winter operating hours for the main feature pools (9am-10pm) were introduced at the start of December, and it is likely that the hours will be reduced still further in January/February. The campfire and movie schedules have also been trimmed back a little for the low season, with events now occurring on alternating days at Riverside and French Quarter.
  • A new backstory-themed menu was introduced at Boatwright’s Dining Hall at the end of October, and a trial was carried out in November/December offering a selection of cold food options at the Muddy Rivers pool bar.
  • Major work was completed on the Oak Manor roof during the Spring/Summer, necessitating a rolling closure of parts of the building for several months.
  • On 2nd March, the popular boat rental facility at Port Orleans Riverside's marina was shut down. It was initially speculated that this might have been due to the ongoing construction work in the Downtown Disney area, but at the moment it seems that the closure will be permanent.
  • On 24th February, the resort airline checkin/bag-drop service was extended to include some International flights in addition to the existing domestic routes.
It's been a busy year for this site too, with several new features and information pages being added to portorleans.org. FastPass+ and My Disney Experience are now a staple part of any stay at Walt Disney World, and details were added to the site back in February. Also, lots of work has gone into updating the building floorplan maps and creating new panorama views of all of the guest room types. There's also been plenty of behind-the-scenes activity to make the site menus and forums operate more reliably on some mobile devices and make the News pages more easily browsable. Plus all the routine adjustments to cover the 2015 room price releases, updates to the restaurant menus, monthly recreation schedules and so on. Here's a quick summary from the Site Updates page:
  • 13-Dec-14: Rewrote the News parsing PHP code to tidily paginate the display pages and provide better access for individual items.
    09-Dec-14: Added more details and photos to the two resort gift shop pages, Fulton’s General Store and Jackson Square Gifts & Desires. Long overdue!
    06-Dec-14: Revised the top menus to be more compatible with iPhones. Also updated fonts and made some other site-wide layout tweaks.
    03-Dec-14: Completed 6 new 360° panoramas, including new in-room images showing the updated bed covers.
    18-Nov-14: Added new food options being offered for a trial period at the Muddy Rivers pool bar.
    15-Nov-14: Updated all of the food court and pool bar menus and prices (Riverside Mill, Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory, Muddy Rivers and Mardi Grogs).
    04-Nov-14: Added the full 2015 room rack-rate pricing structure, including graphical representations of the seasonal price fluctuations.
    01-Nov-14: Further updated building floorplan maps (corrected the annotations for some connecting Accessible rooms) and added a direct access page to make it easier to view or download individual maps.
    29-Oct-14: Updated the choices and prices to reflect Boatwright’s Dining Hall's new ‘themed’ menu.
    09-May-14: Updated building floorplan layouts to include details of all Connecting Rooms.
    01-May-14: Site now includes Google Ads, hopefully remaining fairly unobtrusive within the overall user experience. Visitor donations just weren’t covering the overall running costs, so a necessary evil I’m afraid.
    11-Apr-14: Added new Mobile layout to the Discussion Forums to make them easier to use on phone screens.
    31-Mar-14: Added Sassagoula Pizza Express menus and poolside & in-room delivery details.
    30-Mar-14: Updated site layout and menu bar to provide easier site navigation.
    03-Feb-14: Added “My Disney Experience” page covering the Disney website & mobile app, Magic Bands, FastPass+, etc.
Well, that's about it for now - have a very Happy New Year everyone!

Andre

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MardiGroggy
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Re: Happy New Year at Port Orleans, and a review of 2014

Unread post by MardiGroggy » January 1st, 2015, 10:03 am

As always Andre, your yeoman efforts on our behalf are GREATLY appreciated. A big THANK YOU for all you do, all year long! May 2015 be a "magical" year for us all!!!

p.s. Looking forward to the return of some resort-themed merchandise and NOT wanting the blinds to be removed. Guess I'll be sending another email to WDW Guest Communications.
MardiGroggy
Aka: Steve

"Laissez les bons temps rouler!"

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Re: Happy New Year at Port Orleans, and a review of 2014

Unread post by Admin » January 1st, 2015, 8:37 pm

These were recently posted by @Schmoofy, out there in the Twitterverse. I've just updated the first post too.

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

Stephen
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Re: Happy New Year at Port Orleans, and a review of 2014

Unread post by Stephen » January 2nd, 2015, 1:04 pm

Thanks Andre for posting the @Schmoofy (out there in the Twitterverse) photos. Any news about French Quarter merchandise? The Riverside stuff looks fantastic! Can't wait for our April vacation.

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Re: Happy New Year at Port Orleans, and a review of 2014

Unread post by RiverRooster » January 3rd, 2015, 5:34 am

Happy New Year to all! The resort themed merchandise was flying off the shelf this week, hopefully a good indicator that it will stay and new items will be added.

The fishing hole has a new sponsor, "Let'sgofishing.org" with new signs out near the walkway.

The resort has also removed the inner row of trees at building 85 (Magnolia) providing views of the river for more of the rooms and really opening up the area. The gazeebo is actually visible from the building.

A limited menu continental breakfast has been available in The River Roost - pastries, coffee and such... convenient and no lines.

You can now play tetherball, located between the playground and the campfire and another hammock has been added along the path near the fishing hole.

Always nice to see positive changes at The Port!

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Re: Happy New Year at Port Orleans, and a review of 2014

Unread post by Admin » January 3rd, 2015, 6:03 am

Thanks for the info, I'll update the news posts. The trees at Magnolia Terrace were cut back in August (I watched them doing it in fact, I must get the photos updated!). Looks really good now, doesn't it?

I assume the fishing sponsor site is http://lets-go-fishing.org/ as without the dashes it redirects to some weird religious page.

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

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