Page 1 of 1

A Disney Lovers First Stay at Riverside Sept 22-30

Posted: September 30th, 2015, 9:32 pm
by srankin2
We just returned today from our first stay at Riverside (we have stayed at other Disney resorts in the past) and before I forget anything (and I am avoiding the mountain of laundry) I wanted to share our experience to the group. The resort was beautiful, it was so relaxing which is a nice change from when you are not at the park. The staff very helpful and when we did eat at the food court, there was plenty of selection and the food was very good. I am breaking my trip report down categories in attempt to make it most useful for other members of this forum. I have included additional information that relates to Disney as I feel it may be helpful or of interest to other guests planning a trip.

Magical Express - the POR line up for Magical Express was far longer than any of the other line ups, the staff at the airport was great at getting everyone on a bus quickly, we maybe waited 20 minutes to board the bus. (I was told by the front desk that the resort was at capacity which was odd for this time of year). The ride from the airport is approximately 30 minutes and our checked luggage was in our room 2 hours after we arrived.

Groceries - we were on the dining plan using our quick service meals for lunch, table service for dinner and snacks when needed. We cashed out our remaining snacks at the end of the trip for treats to take home. For breakfast I order cereal, milk, yogurt as well as bottled water and a case of beer. I have used Garden Grocer many times in the past and did again on this trip. Their website has a lot of options and they even will accept special requests. I was able to order cereal and yogurt they don't offer on their site and at no additional cost for the special request items. If you are planning on ordering with them do so in advance as they offer discounts the further in advance you order. You select a 2 hour delivery window of when you want your items delivered and they send you a notification via text when the delivery has been completed. My groceries arrived before I did, bell services stored them for me in the fridge and brought them to my room along with my luggage.

Room Assignment - as I am Canadian my magic bands were not mailed to me and I had opted to not use the ones from my last trip so I picked up new ones at the front desk at the express check in counter as I had checked in online. I did hear from other guests on the Magical Express that they were receiving texts with their room assignments so they were able to go to their rooms without even stopping at the lobby. If you are visiting from the US or if you are an international traveler with previous Magic Bands this is a great way to skip the check in step altogether.

Room Request - our flight arrived in Orlando at 11:15 a.m., we were at POR within the hour and our room was ready despite the resort being full. We paid for a Garden View Royal room, I did put in a room request when I made the booking as well as followed it up with a fax 5 days before check in (as mentioned on this site). I requested a first floor room in the Oak Manor Building that was close to the bridge and the quiet pool. We were assigned Room 9061 which was on the front of the building, the view was of some bushes (nothing amazing) but what was great is that there is a walk way that goes through the building to the quiet pool. I feel like the room assignment met my requests, had I been assigned a room such as 9065-9070 I would have been a little closer to the bridge but further from the pool. Movies were also shown in the court yard in front of Oak Manor.

Royal Rooms - The Royal Rooms are great, we were celebrating my daughter's 13th birthday at Disney and she loved the room. Watching the fireworks on the headboard every night was enchanting. Storage wise there are 3 large drawers in the dresser, their is a bar with hangers located near the sinks and above the bar is a shelve so you can also put clothes there. I do not like to live out a of a suitcase so I also purchased hanging cube organizers, they velcro around the hanger bar and were great for everyone's socks, underwear and shirts. A six cube organizer is around $10 and they fold flat in your suitcase. In terms of location/price if you have a family of four or less the Royal Rooms seem to be about the same cost as the preferred rooms in Alligator Bayou and are not much further away from the main buildings.

Buses & Bus Stops -in the morning we typically made use of the South Depot stop. The stop has a TV screen which displays approximate arrive times for each park bus which was useful. I have 2 suggestions for POR staff in regards to the South Depot stop, they should switch the 2 areas around so that Magic Kingdom is under the first gazebo, it draws the largest crowds so having all those people walk through the first gazebo which is for Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Disney Springs and Blizzard Beach created a lot of traffic. The other suggestion is that actual lines should be created like there are at the parks when waiting to catch the bus. Many times people who arrived early and got a seat on the bench were beat out by families who arrived late and quickly moved towards the curb when the bus was pulling up. (This also could be resolved by people just being polite). POR did typically have a staff member at the South Depot Bus stop to manage traffic and call for extra buses when necessary. More than once a Disney Cruise bus and a large Mears bus pulled up to take guest to various parks, Disney may have been down a few of their regular transit buses as I have never seen this before. In regards to buses leaving directly from South depot to the parks versus stopping at the other depots first I was not able to figure out a pattern. Typically if you were heading to the park for opening you would go directly to the park but there were days that were exceptions. When returning from the parks we got off at the East or South depot, which ever stop was first.
-The wait for a bus at the end of the night especially from Magic Kingdom could be long. Disney had staff managing the flow of people at the POR bus depot in an effort to get everyone on the bus as quickly as possible.
- Travel time to Epcot and Hollywood Studios was typically 10 minutes, Magic Kingdom was under 15 and Animal Kingdom is the farthest taking about 20 minutes from the front gates of POR.

Pools -We used the pool at Old Man Island the first day, lots of action going on, games for the kids, dance party and small water slide. All the other afternoons while taking a break in between parks we used the quiet pool as it was close to our room. The quiet pool was never busy,there were washrooms right there (laundry mat as well) as well as a small selection of life jackets for children (there were more available at the main pool.) Sometimes a snack cart came around to the quiet pool as well.

Resort Amenities - The walking/running trail around POR and French Quarter is beautiful, I walked it first to take pictures but then ran it as well. We did make it to French Quarter twice to have the Begneits (definitely recommend, they are a delicious snack).
-We returned early from the parks one night and spent some time listen to Yee Ha Bob, he is an amazing entertainer and definitely a must see.
- Arcade - our welcome package did provide a voucher for the arcade so we did make use of that. They have some great pinball machines, watch out for the Indian Jones one the ball return seems to stick and you could be out your money.
Boats - the boat service to Disney Springs is wonderful, it is so relaxing and such pretty scenery along the way. The boats run every 20 minutes and every 10 minutes from 4-11. We took the boat to eat dinner at T-Rex, for those of you dining at this restaurant it has a great atmosphere for children but it is very large so even with reservations it takes a while to be seated. Don't plan on eating there if you have specific plans such as fast passes as you may be late.

Weather - we have been to Florida 3 times in the last 4 years during this time of year and this year we definitely had the most rain. One evening it rained from 6-9 and our last day the whole day until about 5. Pack your ponchos if you are visiting in the next little while just in case. If you are okay with being out in the rain it is a great time to ride some of the more popular rides with little to no wait (except Seven Dwarfs Mine Train).

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party - this was my first time attending the party, I thought it was great and definitely worth the price of the ticket, if you are looking to save money consider not buying park tickets for the day of the party. Before going to the event consider what is most important to you, is it riding the rides, meeting the characters (many of which are not normally out) or seeing the parades and shows. For guests who don't have young children I recommend watching the later parade and riding the rides while the families with young children are waiting for/watching the parade.

Wild Africa Trek - as a birthday surprise we booked WAT, it was a great experience but for adults, tweens and teens. 3 hours in a small group with a guide, 100s of professional photos of guests and the animals and lunch on the savannah, definitely memorable.

Non-Disney Transportation - The morning of our Wild Africa Trek there were extra magic hours at the Animal Kingdom in order to have to get up incredibly early to guarantee that we were there on time I arranged transportation through Mears. My initial plan was to book at taxi but Mears car service which is flat rate was cheaper then any cab company and if you booked online you saved 10% so for those of you who are considering venturing after Disney property this may be something for you to consider. You can get an instant quote online and they send you text notifications the night before confirming your ride as well as the day of when you car is dispatched and when it arrives at the resort.

Monorail - if you haven't done so before I recommend taking the Monorail from Magic Kingdom to Epcot at least once, it is quick trip and the monorail goes right through EPCOT so it is a great way to get some pictures of Spaceship Earth.

Fastpasses- twice during my stay I noticed that one of my fast pass selections was appearing in Green on the My Disney Experience App and had an extended time on it. i.e. my fast pass for Test Track was from 9:10-10:10 a.m. but when I checked upon arriving at the park it was now from 9 a.m. - 9:00 p.m., apparently the ride opened late and Disney provided this flexibility to guests in case you had other plans

Extramagic Hours - I tend to avoid EMH in the morning as that park tends to get crowded really quickly, however if you don't have really young children the EMH evening hours can be great. The Magic Kingdom was open until 1 a.m. one night, by 11 many guests had cleared out of the park, there was little to no wait for many rides, we met Ana and Elsa in under 10 minutes and not to mention I got some great pictures of the castle and mainstreet with so few guests around.

Celebrations at Disney - the staff at POR and everywhere we visited went out of their way to wish my daughter happy birthday. Arrangements can be made with the front desk to have Goofy call and wish your special someone a happy birthday. I also ordered a castle cake from Disney cakes that came out at the end of our meal at Chef Mickey's.

Re: A Disney Lovers First Stay at Riverside Sept 22-30

Posted: October 24th, 2015, 9:58 am
by MissMaggieMay
What a great trip!! Thanks for the helpful info!

Re: A Disney Lovers First Stay at Riverside Sept 22-30

Posted: October 25th, 2015, 3:24 am
by Admin
Wow, that certainly covers the whole trip! Sounds like you had a great time.

Re your comment about POR being at capacity this time of year, it actually doesn't surprise me too much. Both Port Orleans resorts are extremely popular, and even at supposedly quieter times of the year they can be very close to 100% occupancy. That's one of the reasons that they are quite often excluded (or at least very limited) when Disney runs special price promotions or free dining offers, as they simply don't need to offer discounts to fill them.

The bus routes do have a general pattern to them, but it varies both by park and by time of day so it's very hard to work it out (and occasionally Disney modifies it a bit anyway). See for a general guide anyway.


Re: A Disney Lovers First Stay at Riverside Sept 22-30

Posted: November 26th, 2015, 12:59 pm
by nashjw58
Had to chuckle when first reading your breakfast list. Case of beer each morning seemed a tad excessive.

Re: A Disney Lovers First Stay at Riverside Sept 22-30

Posted: November 26th, 2015, 1:24 pm
by Admin
LOL, I see what you mean...