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This Week's Port Orleans Construction Projects Update

Posted Monday 22nd February 2016, 7:52am (EST) by The Sassagoula Sentinel

Note: for more pictures and the latest information, please see the Maintenance and Refurbishment Page.

French Quarter - Doubloon Lagoon and Children's Water Play Area
(Due to open by 29 Feb)

Lots of progress this week, including fitting of the remaining water-slide segments and the removal of the protective covers from some of the water features. On Sunday 21 February, after the final Pebble Tec coat had been applied earlier this week (there is apparently no cushioned flooring) they started filling the basin area with water via garden sprinklers, presumably for initial drainage and leak testing before they start on the various underground-fed elements. The final sections of concrete pathway are nearly ready for laying, and the plumbing control systems and piping are being hidden behind permanent walls.

The new fencing surrounding both the main pool and the water play area is almost complete, and most of the gates have now been installed — although not all are fully functional yet. The fencing is similar to the existing wrought-iron design, although slightly shorter and less ornate — whether the existing product was no longer available, or the new sections are just a cheaper alternative, is not clear.

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Riverside - Ol' Man Island
(Due to open by 4 Mar, access bridge planned to re-open sooner)

The Ol’ Man Island project is progressing quickly, and is reported to be on target for its planned reopening date of 4th March. Refurbishing of the slide is complete and the final gel coat has been applied, and maintenance work on the decorative water channel is also finished. It looks as though the main pool’s Pebble Tec layer has also been applied (although from the photos more finishing still needs to be done, and some overflow edge tiling is not yet complete) and on Sunday workers were filling the pool with water to continue testing it.

Lots of work has been carried out on the Muddy Rivers building too, with extensive wood repairs, a new counter, and new electrical and drink dispenser systems (plus two additional beer taps). The poolside bathrooms are being refreshed too, including the addition of a companion bathroom. The bar staff have been given an access date of 2nd March to start restocking in preparation for reopening to guests few days later.

There is still quite a lot of concrete work to be completed, including a new ramp up to the hot tub to replace the old steps, and several sections of damaged deck that are being relaid. About half of the new perimeter safety barrier has now been erected, and while the new metal railings don’t fit in quite as well as they could with the rest of the predominantly wooden detailing, much of it is hidden by foliage so it doesn’t stand out too badly. Some sections next to the walkways appear to be more suitably themed though.

On the access bridge, in addition to the new decking, two underlying support beams have been replaced and workers are also replacing some of the boards on the curved arches and along the sides. This work is on-track for the bridge to be reopened to guests slightly before the main island opening date.

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Riverside - Magnolia Terrace Mansion Building Roofing Work

Extra weekend work is helping to catch up on a slightly delayed start, and phase one is still on schedule for completion by 26th February, after which it looks like they will be moving on to one of the northern wings of the building (the end facing towards Acadian House). As rooms were removed from inventory during the roofing work, the extended downtime is being used to perform deep cleaning, carpet extraction and other general painting/maintenance on the guest rooms.


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More Pool Area Construction Updates from 14 February

Posted Monday 15th February 2016, 10:39am (EST) by The Sassagoula Sentinel

On Riverside's Ol' Man Island, new lighting poles have been added (still to be painted) and metal support posts for the access gates have been installed across the pathways. It is still unclear whether the rest of the perimeter barrier will be tastefully ‘in tune’ with the wooden post, slat and rope designs around the rest of Everett Peace’s reclusive little island, or whether Disney will take the easier option and just use metal railings (which incidentally do work very well with the wrought ironwork theming over at French Quarter):

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Skimming of the inside of the Ol' Man Island pool now seems mostly complete and they have started tiling the upper edges. The new tiles appear to be a generic mottled brown/beige rather than the whimsical bayou foliage and wildlife design that was there previously:

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Meanwhile, over at French Quarter's Doubloon Lagoon, more concrete has been laid at the new children's water play area, and some of the heavier equipment has been removed now. It also looks like they have fitted the gratings over the edge drainage channel. Landscaping and laying of the soft rubberised flooring has not yet been started:


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More updates on the Port Orleans Management Restructuring

Posted Sunday 14th February 2016, 6:05am (EST) by The Sassagoula Sentinel

The recent changes in the management structure at Port Orleans are becoming a little clearer (well, to me at least!) so I thought a minor update was in order. The main aim seems to have been to reduce the amount of management layers between the General Manager level and the hourly-rate cast members to just two steps. Port Orleans was pretty much there anyway, so these tweaks have been relatively minor.

Several new "Proprietor" roles have been created, which are an amalgamated department manager role covering more than one traditional line of business, Where this has caused some positions to disappear (such as in Food & Beverage, Recreation and Merchandising) those staff have been redeployed as Duty Managers at different resorts and there have been no enforced job losses - although at least one retiree who oversaw Food & Beverage across multiple Sassagoula area resorts has not been replaced. A few hourly positions have been lost or reorganised too - such as the roving iPad-wielding additional checkin staff - but those CMs have been rotated into other roles within the same departments.

So the new management structure looks like this:

Port Orleans Riverside
General Manager: Suzette Noble
Proprietor, Rooms and Recreation: Lon Rydberg (also overseeing new Guest Experience Managers supervising the front desks)
Proprietor, Food & Beverage and Merchandise: James Campbell
Proprietor, Housekeeping and Custodial: Mintaka Senanayake (a previous Guest Service manager from French Quarter, before she transferred to Caribbean Beach three years ago)

Port Orleans French Quarter
General Manager: To be announced
Proprietor, Rooms and Recreation: Stefanie Shomper (also overseeing new Guest Experience Managers supervising the front desks)
Proprietor, Food & Beverage and Merchandise: Matthew Vache
Proprietor, Housekeeping and Custodial: Drew Weaver

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Ol' Man Island Bridge Closure and other Construction Updates

Posted Thursday 11th February 2016, 5:00pm (EST) by The Sassagoula Sentinel

The main access bridge leading from the Riverside Marina and food court over to Ol' Man Island is currently closed for three weeks to allow worn-out wooden decking to be replaced, and for some structural work on a support beam to be completed. This work has been timed to coincide with the refurbishment of the feature swimming pool and the reduced occupancy levels in the Magnolia Terrace mansion building to attempt to reduce the amount of guests inconvenienced by the closure.

The bridge should be re-opened by Saturday 27 February but in the meantime guests will need to use the riverbank pathways and alternative bridges in order to cross to the other side of the resort or to access the children's playground and the fishing hole.


Work is continuing on the Ol' Man Island pool refurbishment, and more vegetation has been cut back beyond the seating areas in readiness for the installation of new perimeter fencing. Work is currently still on schedule for completion by 4 March.

Progress is finally being made on the children's water play area at French Quarter, and it looks like they have now finished the underground piping work and laid most of the remaining concrete pathway. Although there still appears to be a lot of work left to do, the target completion date currently remains at 29 February.


Additionally, construction staff are working around the perimeter edges of the main pool area, adding additional wrought-iron safety fencing between the pool deck and the Mardi Grogs seating area, and also installing lockable gates at the main entry/exit locations. I believe this is most likely part of a general Disney response to two recent tragic incidents involving children who accessed hotel pools unaccompanied or outside of lifeguard hours (see Orlando Sentinel articles in March 2013 and July 2015).



For more photos, see the Refurbishment Information Page.

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