Port Orleans Riverside FAQs - LOOK HERE FIRST
Posted: March 18th, 2012, 8:00 am
Resort: Disney's Port Orleans Riverside
Address: 1251 Riverside Drive, Lake Buena Vista, Florida, 32830-1000
Tel: (407) 934-6000
Fax: (407) 934-5777
Official Website: disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts/port-orleans-resort-riverside
Reservations: (407) 934-7639 or www.disneyworld.com, or your favourite travel agent
Opening Date: 2 February 1992 (under its former name of "Dixie Landings")
Location: Downtown Disney area
Closest Theme Park: Epcot
Closest Water Park: Typhoon Lagoon
Closest Entertainment/Shopping: Downtown Disney
Port Orleans Riverside is the largest section of the 3,056 room Port Orleans Resort complex which is situated about two miles north of the Downtown Disney area along the banks of the Disney-created Sassagoula River. The other section is Port Orleans French Quarter and the entire complex was formed by the merger of the old Dixie Landings Resort and the Port Orleans Resort in March 2001.
Each area (Riverside and French Quarter) is treated as a separate hotel by the Disney Reservations Center, and each has its own check-in area and facilities. However, guests staying at Riverside may use all the amenities at French Quarter and vice versa - including sharing the swimming pools. It's just a short ten-minute riverbank walk between the two locations, or you can use the free ferry boats.
What is the layout of the resort?
The Port Orleans Riverside Resort is split into two sections, Alligator Bayou and Magnolia Bend, plus the main facilities building (the Sassagoula Steamboat Company) and a recreational area (Ol' Man Island) which is located centrally between the two areas.
Alligator Bayou consists of 16 two-story buildings with 64 guest rooms in each (with room numbers 14xx to 39xx). As the buildings are fairly small, there are no elevators. The area is themed as a rustic backwater bayou, with dense foliage, meandering streams and pathways, small pools and pretty bridges. The rooms follow this rustic style and feature such themed items as bed-posts hewn from logs. Note: some people love this theming, while others comment that it feels rather 'basic'.
Magnolia Bend consists of four larger 256-room plantation style 'mansion buildings' (Acadian House, Magnolia Terrace, Oak Manor and Parterre Place - the latter two now completely devoted to the specially themed Royal Guest Rooms) laid out in more formal gardens with fountains and courtyards (room numbers 80xx to 95xx). The rooms are more ornate and plushly decorated, although the actual size and facilities provided are identical to those in Alligator Bayou - with the exception that the mansion building rooms do not feature an extra bed for a fifth person. The mansions are all three storied buildings near the main entrance (where the elevators are located) and two stories in the outlying blocks.
The Sassagoula Steamboat Company main facilities building is themed as a riverboat depot and an old-fashioned cotton mill, and it provides the resort's lobby and front desk facilities, shop, restaurants and bars, the main bus stop, ferry boat dock and bike rental facilities.
Ol' Man Island is home to the main feature swimming pool with slide, hot tub and pool bar, the Fishin' Hole, a children's playground and an evening campfire setting.
What types of room are available?
There are currently ten room categories: Standard, Garden View, Preferred Location, King Bed, Pool View and River View. Starting from 9 March 2012, specially themed Royal Guest Rooms became available in Standard, Garden, Pool and River Views. Each room category has its own pricing level.
- Standard View rooms almost all face the parking lots, while Garden View guarantees that you won't be looking out over a parking lot and you should get a more pleasant view of gardens, bayou, courtyards, fountains, etc.
- Pool View gives you a view of one of the five quiet swimming pools, while River View will be overlooking the Sassagoula River.
- Preferred Location guarantees you a room fairly close to the main building and bus stop, located ONLY in Alligator Bayou lodges 14, 15, 18 and 27.
- King Bed rooms contain just one King-size bed instead of two queens and can be located anywhere in the resort except for Oak Manor and Parterre Place. Some have Pool or River views, or are located in the 'Preferred' buildings, but they still need to be booked using the King Bed category.
- The 512 Royal Guest Rooms are located exclusively in Oak Manor and Parterre Place and are all fitted with two queen beds (no Kings or fold-down Murphy beds).
- Disability Accessible rooms can also be booked, mostly featuring two queen beds although a few King Bed options are available. Some have roll-in showers while others feature bathtubs with easy wheelchair access.
Can I request a particular location or room type?
Some people prefer to request one section or the other and it's always best to make your requests along with your initial booking. You can also try faxing the resort a few days before you arrive (no more than five days) as a reminder, but please be aware that Disney will not guarantee any requests apart from on specific medical grounds.
Generally speaking, the best locations for access to the main building and bus stop are buildings 14-18 and 27 in the Alligator Bayou section (many of which are now surcharged as Preferred Locations, but 16 and 17 are still good choices). Magnolia Terrace and Oak Manor in the Magnolia Bend mansions are also good. Booking a regular River View or a Royal Water View room will also tend to assure you of a room without too long a walk to anywhere.
Some areas, such as many of the Alligator Bayou lodges in the twenties and thirties, and the far sides of the mansion buildings, are rather remote and while there are several outlying bus stops you might find yourself a very long way from breakfast!
For lots more information on the best room locations and how to make special requests, please see here, but here are a few tips:
- First, ALWAYS make sure that any requests are noted in your original reservation as this is the official method to log room requests for WDW hotels. This can be done by calling your travel agent or the Disney Reservation Center on (407) 934-7639.
- Online checkin can be done up to 60 days in advance, but the requests section which you can fill in is very limited. It would be best to do online checkin BEFORE sending any faxed requests, so any more detailed choices are not overridden.
- Send a FAX directly to the resort on 1-407-934-5777 about 3-5 days before your arrival date. Mark it for the attention of the Room Assignment Team, rather than for any individual. If you don't have access to a fax machine you can send a free fax online via www.gotfreefax.com.
- Provide your full details (name, address, phone number, email address and reservation number/arrival date). They may contact you about your requests, but don't worry if you don't get any confirmation back.
- Be polite but personable, and let them know how much you are looking forward to your stay at Port Orleans and how getting your requests fulfilled would make your stay extra-magical.
- Generally, try to request the features or details that you are looking for, rather than just quoting a set of building numbers (e.g. ask for "a mansion building room, fairly close to the food court and the main bus stop").
- Very specific requests (e.g. for one particular room number) can be hard to accommodate, although it might help to use room numbers to narrow down an area you are trying to describe.
- Try to explain the reasons for your requests, as that helps the room assignment team find other options in case your first choice may not be available.
- If you have multiple requests, try to prioritise them in order of your preferences.
- Do your homework first so you don't make requests that cannot be fulfilled (e.g. don't ask for a room with a fold-down Murphy bed when you have booked a Royal Guest Room, or book a Preferred Location and then request a mansion building room).
- You can ask if an upgraded room category might be available for your stay (e.g. a River View if you were only able to book Pool View) but obviously not all such requests can be granted. It certainly can't hurt to ask though.
- DISboards member Venomhatch has created a useful template which you can use as a base to help you construct a faxed request, see his thread for details.
Room prices vary by weekday/weekend, season and room type, starting from a basic $182 per night for weekdays in Value season up to $285 for the Christmas Holiday week (Standard View rooms, 2015 prices). Royal Rooms range from $233 to $372. These prices include the local 12.5% tax. For full seasonal pricing details for all room types, see www.portorleans.org/roomrates.php.
Note: There is a $15 per person surcharge for having a third, fourth or fifth adult (aged 18 or over) occupying one room.
If you book room-only with Disney you will pay a one room/night deposit in advance and the balance upon arrival. Cancellation with a full refund is possible up until six days before arrival, or 45 days for package bookings.
Some discounts, such as AAA and WDW Annual Passholder apply, but these are limited and often sell out very quickly once the rates have been released.
What facilities are in the rooms?
All rooms are approximately 314 square feet and feature two queen size beds. Rooms containing one King Bed are available for an extra charge.
All of the Alligator Bayou rooms also feature an extra fold-down Murphy bed which allows this section to sleep five people (or three in a King Bed room) although at 63" x 30" these beds are best suited for children or smaller adults.
Internal connecting doorways are available in about half of the rooms throughout the resort, but these cannot be guaranteed unless there are unaccompanied minors occupying the second room. Another often-requested option is an external-facing corner room, as these have two windows rather than one and thus tend to be brighter.
All rooms include: phone, flat-screen TV, clock, small fridge (no freezer compartment), bathtub/shower, toilet, two wash basins, table & two chairs, bedside table, cabinet with drawers (beneath the TV), air conditioning & ceiling fan, small wall-safe, coffee maker (new Cuisinart dual-cup type, supplied with free Joffrey's coffee pods), hair dryer, iron & ironing board, clothes hanging rail. H20-branded product is supplied, including bar soap and separate shampoo and conditioner. In mid-December 2011, FREE in-room wi-fi internet access was introduced throughout the Port Orleans resorts.
Note: In Summer 2013 a potential fault was discovered with some of the refrigerators in Disney hotel rooms, but by 20 November 2013 this situation had been completely resolved for all Port Orleans Riverside rooms.
Some disabled-accessible rooms are available with slightly more floor space which mostly feature a roll-in shower and wheel-chair height accessible facilities such as safe, single wash basin, etc.
Is smoking allowed in any of the buildings?
No, smoking is no longer permitted in any part of Walt Disney World apart from specially designated smoking areas which are clearly marked on the resort maps.
What time can I check in and can the resort store my bags?
Rooms are officially available from 3pm but you can check in at the front desk as early as you like. You may get lucky and find that a room happens to be ready earlier, or otherwise Bell Services can store your bags while you head off to enjoy the hotel facilities or the theme parks. Online check-in can be completed up to 60 days before arrival, and guests who have already received their 'Magic Bands' in advance are being offered the opportunity to have their room number sent to them via text message just before arrival, allowing them to bypass the front desk process completely if they prefer.
Check-out is by 11am, although you can request a free later check-out time (up to 1pm) as long as the room is not need urgently for other guests. Again, Bell Services will store your bags until you are ready to depart, and they also have a fridge for items which need to be kept chilled. Note: the main pool has showers, lockers and changing rooms if you want to take a dip after you have checked out.
What options are there for eating and drinking?
The Sassagoula Steamboat Company building houses a counter service food court and a table-service restaurant, a lounge bar and the hotel shop which sells packeted snacks and drinks.
The Riverside Mill is the resort's food court, themed as a working cotton mill from the mid-1800s. It contains five varied serving stations offering everything from bakery goods and burger/chicken meals to carved meat joints to pizza and make-your-own-pasta, plus a grab-and-go area for quick fresh snack items. "Rapid Fill" Refillable mugs are available for a one-off fee (currently ranging from $8.99 for one day up to $17.99 for length of stay) which can be topped up at the beverage station for free. The one downside at this food court is that you collect all your food from the various counters and only then queue up to pay, which means that at very busy times (such as 8am-10am for breakfast) it can take a while before you sit down to eat.
Note: the food court now serves Joffrey's coffee, not Nescafe.
Boatwright's Dining Hall is the only table-service restaurant at either of the Port Orleans resorts, and is situated in a recreation of an old shipbuilder's yard, complete with the partially-completed "New Orleans Lugger" boat hanging from the ceiling. As with all of Walt Disney World these days, advanced dining reservations are strong recommended - call (407) WDW-DINE to book up to 180 days in advance of the first day of your stay. The food has a generally Cajun style, but there's plenty to choose from for everyone. The Sweet Potato Cakes and Banana-stuffed French Toast for breakfast were especially recommended, but sadly from 22nd February 2009 Boatwright's no longer serves breakfast, only dinner from 5pm to 10pm.
The River Roost lounge offers specialty drinks, appetizers, and some great sing-along piano musical entertainment from "Ye Haa" Bob Jackson four evenings a week (Wednesday-Saturday, starting at 8.30pm).
Light snacks and drinks are also available from the Muddy Rivers pool bar on Ol' Man Island.
Fulton's General Store is the resort's gift shop, and apart from all the usual Disney and resort merchandise they also carry a selection of essentials plus snack items and bottled drinks, newspapers & magazines, medicines, etc. Note: While you can buy milk and some other essentials here, remember that this is a hotel shop so expect to pay a premium price. If you want to buy a bit cheaper but don't have transportation, try the Hess gas station just over the road from Planet Hollywood at Downtown Disney.
What about recreation facilities?
Ol' Man Island contains Riverside's main feature swimming pool, which is themed as an old-fashioned swimming hole located on a wooded island surrounded by the Sassagoula River. The main pool has waterfalls and a 95 ft slide, plus there's a separate kiddies pool, hot tub and the Muddy Rivers Pool Bar if you just want to sit on the porch with a drink. The main pool is open from 9am until 11pm (with reduced hours of around 10am-8pm during the winter months) and the closing time is now enforced due to life guard availability. Towels and children's floatation jackets are provided free of charge, and there is a towel-return bin next to the pool.
Daily recreational activities are held around the pool area and the island also features a children's playground and an evening campfire around which stories are told as you roast your marshmallows. There is also a Fishin' Hole where you can rent a cane pole and catch catfish, perch, bass and bluegill. There is a catch-and-release policy so you'll have to throw 'em back. You can also book a fishing excursion on the Sassagoula River - bring your own rod and tackle, or rent them.
Port Orleans Riverside also has five smaller 'quiet' pools - two in the Magnolia Bend area and three in Alligator Bayou. These are open 24 hours, but they do not have lifeguards. Like the main pool, towels and children's floatation jackets are available poolside. There are guest-operated pay laundry facilities at each of the quiet pools ($2 per load, plus $2 for drying).
At night there are outdoor movie screenings in the turfed courtyard in front of Oak Manor building.
The Medicine Show Games Arcade is located just off the main lobby.
At the marina area just behind the main lobby you can rent pedal cycles and four-wheel 'Surrey Bikes' from this area. Boat rentals were previously available until Disney discontinued the facility in March 2014. On Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday mornings, children aged 4-12 can experience the Bayou Pirate Adventure, a supervised riverboat excursion in search of hidden treasure. Cost is $34 plus tax per child, including a snack lunch.
Horse-drawn carriage rides are offered in the evenings (weather permitting) from 6pm to 9:30pm. Cost is $45 per 25-minute ride for up to four adults (or two adults and three small children). You can make reservations at the Riverside marina, or in advance via (407) WDW PLAY.
What transportation options are there?
Port Orleans Riverside features four bus stops with free Disney bus transportation to all of the Disney theme parks, water parks and the Downtown Disney area. Buses run at least every 10-20 minutes from one hour before park opening until 1.5 hours after each park closes. Note: you cannot get to the other resort hotels very easily and will need to plan enough time to change at a theme park or at Downtown Disney.
The bus service is the subject of some controversy as this is a large resort and sometimes the bus service is shared with French Quarter (which often gets the first pickup on the route). Even though separate services are run at peak times, and almost always for the Magic Kingdom, if you're trying to get back from a park (along with the rest of the masses) after a fireworks show, you may experience a lengthy wait.
There are four bus stops at Riverside, so if you board at the first one (either the South Depot next to the main lobby building, or sometimes the West Depot depending on the route being taken) then you may have to go round the other three stops before the bus actually departs for its final destination. Epcot is the closest resort (usually less than 10 minutes from leaving the resort), then Studios, Magic Kingdom and finally Animal Kingdom (sharing its service with Blizzard Beach) which can take up to 20-25 minutes.
If you're travelling to Downtown Disney, a much more relaxing and romantic option is the 20-minute free water taxi service which runs along the Sassagoula River every 10-20 minutes from 10am to 11pm. Outside of these hours you'll need to take the bus to get to or from Downtown Disney, and during the day that bus also serves Typhoon Lagoon.
Room Refurbishments, 2011/2012
All of the rooms have recently been refurbished and feature two Queen Beds instead of the old doubles and all Alligator Bayou rooms now feature an extra fold-down Murphy bed instead of the old trundle bed.
The resort-wide room refurbishment program commenced on 26 June 2011 and was completed on 1 August 2012. The project started with Acadian House and Magnolia Terrace, and then progressed on to Alligator Bayou lodges 14, 36, 37 and 38 which were completed just before Christmas 2011.
Early in 2012, Oak Manor started its refurbishment and reopened on 9 March 2012 with 256 all-new "Royal Guest Rooms". The remaining 256 Royal Guest Rooms, located in Parterre Place, opened on 13 April.
Finally, the remainder of the Alligator Bayou lodges were tackled, with the final building re-opening for guests on 1st August 2012.
Where can I find more detailed information, see photos, etc?
For further details, please refer to the Port Orleans Unofficial Guide website at www.portorleans.org, which tries to answer just about any Port Orleans questions you may have - and has over 3,400 photos too.
Port Orleans Riverside FAQ text and photos (c) portorleans.org 2015. Used here by permission.