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Trial allowing pet dogs in Guest Rooms starts at POR on 15 Oct

Posted Friday 13th October 2017, 12:12pm (EDT) by The Sassagoula Sentinel

Port Orleans Riverside will become one of four trial ‘dog friendly resorts’ starting on Sunday 15 October 2017, allowing guests to bring a maximum of two pet dogs on vacation with them.

A new pilot program will be trialled at Port Orleans Riverside (and three other Disney properties) starting on Sunday 15 October 2017 which will see the resort become ‘dog friendly’ for those guests who wish to bring their pet dogs on vacation with them.

  • Initially all accommodation categories at the resort were intended to be dog friendly, but that has very quickly been restricted to just Standard and Garden View rooms for new Port Orleans Riverside bookings, with the intention of using building 24 where possible.
  • Guests will be able to bring up to two dogs with them, staying in their room. There are no size, weight or breed restrictions.
  • To bring your dog with you on your upcoming visit, please call 1-407-939-7539.
  • Each guest room participating in the program will have easy access to outdoor pet walkways for exercise and green spaces with pet relief areas.
  • While dogs will be allowed to stay in guest rooms, they will be expected to be well behaved, leashed in public resort areas and properly vaccinated.
  • Guests must sign a waiver which explains where the pets can go, responsibilities of the guest, etc. A copy of this document can be DOWNLOADED HERE.
  • Guests are requested not to leave their animals unattended in rooms for longer than 7 hours at a time, and Disney requires that animals must be capable of being silent during their stay, stating "If noise is heard, you will be called to address the noise within 30 minutes".
  • There is a $50 per night per room fee for guests who bring a dog (or dogs) with them.
  • Guests will get an amenity package delivered on check-in day with various items for their pet. "Pluto’s Welcome Kit" includes mat, bowls, a pet ID tag, courtesy plastic disposable bags, puppy pads and dog walking maps.
  • Guests will not be able to receive housekeeping service while there is an unattended dog in the room, and a Pluto “Do Not Disturb” door hanger will be provided to indicate to hotel staff that there is a pet present.
  • The other pilot properties are Art of Animation, Fort Wilderness Cabins, and the Yacht Club (the nightly fee at the Yacht Club will be $75).
  • The pilot is currently accepting reservations through until October 2018.
  • Other animal facilities - including dog walking, day care and other pet services - are available just over the road at the Best Friends pet care facility. For details, please call 1-877-4-WDW-PETS (1-877-493-9738), or visit www.bestfriendspetcare.com.
  • Pet merchandise is coming soon to participating resorts.
For more information about this new trial program, including other restrictions and policies, guests should contact 1-407-W-DISNEY.

Update on 14 Oct: Rooms will receive a more thorough cleaning at departure including carpet and upholstery cleaning. The room assignment department will try to put guests with pets into certain rooms; how successful they are will depend on whether they know about the guest bringing a pet in advance or not.

Update on 18 Oct: So we are now a few days into the trial and the public outcry on social media and via communications directly to Disney has taken everyone by surprise - heck, it even took me aback, and I know how vocal Disney fans can be. I think it's safe to say that Disney completely underestimated the passion that many people would have on this subject, and the initial plans are being modified and policies rewritten on the fly at the moment. This process will probably remain fluid over the next few weeks, and Disney is closely monitoring and listening to the feedback and will continue to adjust procedures to try to make this trial work for everyone.

Initially, as will have been seen from the printed Dog Relief Area maps, it was intended that all these happy fluffy pets (which everyone would surely like) would be permitted in any type of guest booking at Riverside, and the early announcements did state that the whole resort - barring certain areas such as food & beverage and swimming pools - would be canine accessible as long as the animals were kept under control and on a leash. However over the last 48 hours that intent has been severely trimmed back and they are now aiming to try to restrict dogs to only Standard and Garden View rooms, and the current intention from the room inventory department at Riverside is to use building 24 as much as possible for any guests who book to stay with their pets. This building is well away from the common areas, is located right next to the parking lot to make getting pets to and from rooms easier, and has a nice grassy area nearby to allow dogs to be exercised.

However, although the telephone Reservations Center is now advising guests who wish to bring dogs with them that this will only be possible for Standard and Garden View rooms, the initial announcements - and even the currently posted wording on the Disney website - do not require guests to book that way, nor to preregister their dogs. Thus it is entirely possible that people who have booked for other room categories using the Disney website, via travel agents, through Expedia, etc. will simply show up at the front desk accompanied by their pet(s) and ask to pay the daily fee. This could mean that, in the short term at least, dogs will still need to be accommodated in other areas of the resort in order to comply with existing bookings. This will of course be closely monitored and subsequent deep-cleans arranged for any affected rooms, but at this stage it cannot be guaranteed that other areas of the resort will remain completely dog-free.

I have reached out to my contacts at the resort who have said that so far (i.e. in the first three days of the program) they have not yet had a single dog staying at the resort. Over the next seven days there are currently just four one-night reservations with associated comments indicating that the guest plans to bring a dog with them, against more than 100 comments over the same seven-day period asking to be assigned to a room away from the dog friendly areas. Those four one-night reservations are apparently all from local Florida residents, and personally I would not be at all surprised to find that some or all of them turn out to be from social media aware guests, or even bloggers or website owners, testing out the new policies for themselves. If there have been any booking cancellations because of this new policy then they have already been replaced with new reservations, as Riverside is either sold out or very close to it for the rest of the month.

Please remember however that we are still only three days into a year-long trial period and there is plenty of time for any of the above information to change in line with practical needs and guest comments and experiences.

Update on 21 Oct: A copy of the waiver document which guests need to sign when they check dogs in to the hotel can be DOWNLOADED HERE.

A few interesting new bits of information:
  • So far, the room assignment department at Port Orleans Riverside has not been given any specific directions from Walt Disney World management to indicate that they must enforce the accommodation of all dogs in building 24 only, so they are still expecting that existing booking for other room categories will be assigned to one of the original four dog-friendly areas (buildings 15, 24, 80 and 95 on the map) although building 24 will definitely be the preferred choice wherever possible. For example, if a guest had booked a Royal River View Room room six months ago, and they now state that they wish to bring a dog with them, they will be assigned a room in building 95 close to the originally marked Dog Relief area on the Dog Friendly Locations map. Similarly, someone who originally booked a Preferred Location room would be placed in building 15.
  • Any guest who has expressed a wish to be located away from dogs will be assigned a room as far away as possible from those original four designated areas.
  • As far as common areas go, at the moment dogs will be permitted - under control and on leashes - in all common areas of the resort except for Food & Beverage locations (such as Boatwright's Dining Hall, the food court and presumably the River Roost Lounge) and the fenced pool areas. The lobby and even merchandise shop are fine, as are all the public pathways. This policy is covered by the wording in point 12 of the waiver document.
  • The maximum seven hour 'alone-time' rule will be mostly left to guests' honesty, but in cases where there is concern the electronic door-lock system can be interrogated remotely to prove how long a room has been left unattended. Similarly, Disney are aware that there may be situations where the required 30-minute return time to attend to a barking dog may potentially be difficult to enforce when guests are away from the hotel.

Initial collateral leaflet for guests arriving with dogs. This is information still subject to change.


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Room and Package Discounts Announced for Spring 2018

Posted Wednesday 4th October 2017, 6:06am (EDT) by The Sassagoula Sentinel

Walt Disney World has just announced several new discount offers for hotel stays and packages during Spring 2018, and unusually the Port Orleans resorts are included for at least some of these offers. These discounts will have limited availability and will sell out quickly (and you may find restrictions on some dates and room categories) so book as soon as you can and be flexible with your dates if you want to snag a bargain. As always, I recommend visiting MouseSavers.com for full details of this and any other Disney offers.

The sections of the offers which relate to the Port Orleans resorts are as follows:

Gift of Magic Offer (room-only or as part of a package)

  • Get "up to 20%" off a room-only booking (or the room portion of a package booking) at Port Orleans Riverside or Port Orleans French Quarter for most arrival dates from 1 January 2018 to 14 April 2018.
  • Disney Visa Card holders can get an increased discount level of up to 30%.
  • Park tickets can be added to form a package, but there is no discount on the tickets. However if you decide to add a five-day or longer park hopper ticket, Disney will apparently give you an extra day free.
  • No minimum stay is required but any dates which don’t fall within the valid period, or are blacked-out, will get charged at full rack rate.
  • Another website (Inside the Magic) is reporting that Port Orleans bookings are only getting a 10% discount, and for the period from 1 January until 22 February you may not be offered the deal on Friday or Saturday nights.
  • Book by 2 January 2018.
Play, Stay, Dine Package Offer (dining plan discount as part of a package)
  • Get a discount on the regular Disney Dining plan when you book a package at Port Orleans Riverside (French Quarter is excluded from this offer) for arrival dates from 1 January 2018 to 10 March 2018.
  • For moderate resorts the discount off the Dining Plan works out to around 45%, and while you can upgrade to the Deluxe Dining Plan if you wish, the cash value of the discount remains the same.
  • Minimum stay is 3 days and you need to include at least a 2-day park ticket for each guest.
  • Arrival dates must be within the offer period but you can stay as long as you like and receive the full discount until the end of your stay.
  • Book by 22 December 2017.

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French Quarter Guest Room Refurbishments due to start 6 Jan 2018

Posted Saturday 30th September 2017, 12:43pm (EDT) by The Sassagoula Sentinel

The planned dates for the upcoming Port Orleans French Quarter guest room soft-goods refurbishment project are as follows. Please remember that this schedule may be subject to minor changes:

  • Building 2 — Jan 6 – Feb 9, 2018
  • Building 3 — Jan 23 – Feb 25, 2018
  • Building 1 — Feb 10 – Mar 13, 2018
  • Building 5 — Feb 26 – Mar 31, 2018
  • Building 4 — Mar 14 – Apr 16, 2018
  • Building 6 — Apr 1 – May 4, 2018
  • Building 7 — Apr 17 – May 20, 2018
In order to minimise disruption the work will be undertaken on a floor-by-floor basis for each building, starting on the third floor and working down to the ground floor. There should be very little impact to guests staying in the other buildings, and no one will be allocated to a room on a floor that is currently under construction. However it is possible that guests may be allocated to rooms on other floors in the same building, depending on occupancy requirements at the time.


No further details or photos are available as yet, but the work will most likely include changing out the carpeting for hard wood-effect flooring, possibly adding a shutter of some sort between the bedroom and the vanity area, and other general decor and soft goods replacements including the addition of a larger Smart TV hung on the wall. I would be most surprised if we didn’t also see some of the added features that have been popping up at other resorts (for example Pop Century) such as USB charging sockets, extra storage options, etc. And if we are really lucky, perhaps something a little less stark than the plain-white bed linen that recently appeared at the resorts. Only time will tell.

Once French Quarter is complete, refurbishment will commence on Riverside’s Alligator Bayou section, and finally the Riverside Magnolia Bend mansion buildings will complete the project in 2019.

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October 2017 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules

Posted Thursday 28th September 2017, 6:11am (EDT) by The Sassagoula Sentinel

The October 2017 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules for Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter are now available. See the main Recreation Activities Schedules page for full-size printable PDF versions.

The main feature swimming pool operating hours are currently 10am—10pm. These hours are enforced and the feature pools are gated and locked when there are no lifeguards on duty, however the five Riverside leisure (quiet) pools are generally available at any time (within reason).

Movies Under the Stars will be screened at 7:30pm on Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday at Riverside, but only on Friday & Saturday at French Quarter. The evening campfire activities will take place from 5:30pm-6:30pm on the same evenings as the movies at French Quarter, but every day at Riverside (now confirmed). There are no movies scheduled for Sunday, Tuesday or Thursday.

Halloween Activities — Tuesday 31st October 2017


  • 2:30pm Mickey Tie-Dye ($) at Ol’ Man Island Pool
  • 3:30pm Ol’ Man Island Ghoul Party at Ol’ Man Island Pool
  • 6pm—8pm Boo: On the Bayou! Located in the courtyard near the Riverside Lobby. Join us for these fun activities in the courtyard:
    Themed treat stations starting in the courtyard and continuing around Ol’ Man Island. Offerings and supplies are subject to availability.
    A costume contest is available for all ages! Please check in by 6:15pm to participate.
    Create your own slime souvenir ($) at our Slime Lab!
  • 8pm—9pm Happy HallowGLOW Party Located in the courtyard near the Riverside Lobby. Light up the night with ghoulish delight! Join us for bright lights, dancing, prizes, games and more!
  • 9:30pm—10:30pm Spooks, S’mores and More! Located on Ol’ Man Island, enjoy complimentary marshmallow roasting at the campfire pit.
French Quarter
  • 2:30pm Ghosts, Ghouls and Games Pool Party
  • 3:30pm Halloween Arts & Crafts ($) beside the Doubloon Lagoon Pool
  • 6pm—9pm Mardi Ghoul Bash in the Courtyard outside the Main Lobby. Join us to celebrate Halloween with a trick or treat trail, DJ, Mickey Tie-Dye ($), dancing, games and fun for the whole family! Join us at 6:00pm for our costume contest.
  • 9pm Chilling Campfire between Buildings 5 & 6
  • The French Quarter Pumpkin Hunt: Trick or Treat? Thirteen of Disney’s most mischievous villains have taken over Disney’s Port Orleans Resort French Quarter and are hiding around the Resort. We need your help to find them! To get started, visit the Front Desk to pick up your booklet. Find all 13 villains, and return to the Front Desk to claim your sweet treat.

Some other activities to watch out for (on select days, see schedules for details):
  • SassagoulaSelfie Scavenger Hunt — Grab a map and join in on an exciting selfie scavenger hunt around Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside. To get started, visit the Riverside Levee Marina from 9:00am-5:00pm! Be sure to share your selfies with the hashtags #SassagoulaSelfie and #PortOrleans.
  • “Beignet Dash” Fun Run — A quick early morning Sunday Runday dash around French Quarter resort, finished with a tasty beignet (payment required). Check-in begins at 7:30am on the riverwalk between building 5 and the Doubloon Lagoon Pool. The run begins at 8:00am.
  • Fat Tuesdays — Let the good times roll! Join us every Tuesday at Doubloon Lagoon Pool for activities celebrating the spirit of Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter. There’s Mardi Gras magic for all ages!
  • Mardi Gras “Mask”-erade — Sashay your way down Alligator Alley to join in on Mardi Gras fun! Located near the Musical Alligators at French Quarter, our Mardi Gras fun will include dance parties and mask-making ($)
  • Family Game Night — Join us at the Mardi Grogs patio seating at French Quarter for a night filled with games and fun for the whole family.
    Glow with the Flow Pool Party — Come glow with the flow at our nighttime pool parties, at both Port Orleans Resorts.
  • Arts & Crafts or Mickey Tie-Dye T-shirt decoration — Explore your creative side with themed poolside arts & crafts / Create your own Mickey Tie-Dye shirt to commemorate your Walt Disney World Resort vacation (payment required).

Live Evening Entertainment

No visit to Port Orleans Riverside would be complete without spending an evening in the company of the legendary “Ye Haa” Bob Jackson at the River Roost Lounge, playing 8:30pm—midnight four nights a week (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday). Note: Bob will be away performing at a private event on Saturday 14 October.

Port Orleans French Quarter’s Scat Cat’s Club does not currently have "official" resident musicians, but filling the gap admirably are Jason Thomas and Billy Varnes, two members of the fabulous Off Kilter rock band which used to perform in Epcot’s Canada pavilion. Occasionally when one of the boys is not available, Greg Hayworth (from Mulch, Sweat & Shears) will sit in. The dates are only announced a month or so in advance (generally most Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays) but if you happen to be around for any of their evenings (8:30pm—11pm) do yourself a favour and pop along, they are highly recommended.

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