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Port Orleans General Manager Val Bunting to leave after 6yrs

Posted Saturday 25th July 2015, 3:42am (EDT) by The Sassagoula Sentinel

Port Orleans General Manager Valerie Bunting will soon be moving to a new position within Walt Disney World. After six very successful years overseeing Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter, Val will be going back to her original park operations roots as "Director, Parks Arrival Experience, Program Management and Park Support" (and no, I'm not really sure quite what that entails either).

From my own experience, and from other people’s comments, Val is an inspirational, enthusiastic and well-liked leader, and lots of great stuff has happened under her watch - including a major refurbishment of the entire resort, the introduction of the popular Royal Guest Rooms, and not to mention the amazing feat of keeping these two resorts running at close to 100% occupancy year-round.

Val has previously worked in senior management positions at both the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom (see 2009 News Post) and her strongly guest-service oriented attitude will no doubt prove a real bonus for any Disney post. I'll add more details once the announcement of her successor has been made public - it’ll be fascinating to see who is going to replace her, and they're certainly going to have a tough act to follow!

Good luck in your new role Val, and I hope you enjoy it as much as you seem to have enjoyed looking after the Port.


Update 1 August:

The new General Manager of Port Orleans has been announced as Suzette Noble, who has for a number of years been the General Manager of Downtown Disney Merchandise.

She started her Disney career in 1997, having previously been a manager with Chico's, the women’s clothing retailer. Prior to working at Downtown Disney, Suzette was general manager, Disney's Animal Kingdom and liquidation merchandise operations. Her husband is also a senior manager at Walt Disney World, so the Mouse obviously runs deeply in their household.

Update on Val Bunting, February 2016: Shortly after Val's departure from Port Orleans to head up the overall Park Arrivals Experience team, Disney reorganised the operational structure to bring that function directly under each park's individual management structure. Val moved over to take charge of the Entertainment division at Disney's Hollywood Studios, and has recently had overall responsibility for the Animation Courtyard area added to her remit.

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Advanced Notice of Planned Refurbishment Work

Posted Thursday 2nd July 2015, 3:46am (EDT) by The Sassagoula Sentinel

As always, I need to preface this sort of posting with the fact that plans and dates can change at any time and I don't currently know any more than what I've stated below. As and when more concrete information and exact dates become available, I'll post further updates here. And of course maintenance and refurbishment are always going to be ongoing somewhere - there'll be other projects down the line in 2016 too, which I'll be able to let you know about closer to the time.

Beginning in early October 2015, work will commence on removing the old children's splash pool at Doubloon Lagoon in order to install a new "Interactive Water Feature" play area. I’m sure you've seen these popping up at other Disney resorts, and now it'll be French Quarter's turn - and I hear from someone who has seen the plans that it should be rather impressive. Don't worry though, the work shouldn't impact on the main swimming pool facilities. No word as to when the Riverside children's pool will get the same treatment, but presumably that will happen too at some stage.

Roofing refurbishment will commence on the Magnolia Terrace mansion building (building 85) at Port Orleans Riverside in January 2016. This will be the same kind of work that was undertaken on Oak Manor (building 90) during the equivalent time period back in 2014, and so will presumably involve temporary closures of portions of the building on a rolling basis to avoid inconveniencing guests. Even so, guests should be aware that there will probably be scaffolding visible around the current work areas, and some daytime noise too. By way of comparison, the Oak Manor work in 2014 took about six months to complete and was finished in mid July, see the 2014 news post.


Update on 22 Nov: Construction work on the new Port Orleans French Quarter children's water play area is running slightly behind schedule due to some permitting issues, and it is now scheduled to open on 19 January 2016.

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Cocktail Servers and New Menu for Muddy Rivers from 5 July

Posted Wednesday 1st July 2015, 1:46pm (EDT) by The Sassagoula Sentinel

Starting July 5th, Port Orleans Riverside will be bringing back the cocktail servers at the Ol' Man Island pool area. There will also be a new bar menu, including specialty drinks that will be unique to Port Orleans. Keep an eye on these news pages, and on the Muddy Rivers page, for more information.

Update posted on 2 July: I've just updated the Muddy Rivers page with the new menu, which starts on Sunday 5 July.

The food is still the same as the previous menu, and many of the existing drinks remain the same too, but there are a number of specialty drinks which are new and unique to Port Orleans (a traditional Hurricane, Front Porch Freeze, Gata-Melon Juice, NOLA Cola, and the non-alcoholic Bull Frog Brew). One cool option is the 'All That Jazz', which is a layered frozen drink containing three of the other new cocktails.


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Independence Day 2015 (3rd and 4th July) Special Events

Posted Tuesday 30th June 2015, 5:00pm (EDT) by The Sassagoula Sentinel

The previously-published Recreation Schedule already covers the basic details, but here's a bit more information for anyone staying at Port Orleans this coming Independence Day weekend (Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th July) who is not intending to spend the whole day at the parks. Most of the main activities will be taking place at Riverside, but French Quarter guests are very welcome to join in the fun too.


Riverside Fair (3rd and 4th July)

  • Hours: 5pm to 8:30pm
  • Location: Riverside Lobby Courtyard (inside the Lobby in case of inclement weather)
  • Food and Beverage will be selling themed drinks and food items
  • Merchandise will be selling themed items as well
  • There will be character greetings, as well as a live band throughout the event
  • Complementary face painting, where guests have the opportunity to choose between a few themed designs
  • Each division of Port Orleans will be hosting their own 'booth' which will include a game of some sort (Recreation will provide the prizes for each booth)
  • Recreation will be hosting activities throughout the event as well, including a dance party, cake walk, trivia, and opportunities to win more prizes!
  • Recreation will also be offering Mickey Tie Dye: Guests can tie dye their own shirt, and even find a hidden mickey within their tie dye. Both child and adult size shirts will be available, and the activity will cost $17
  • At the end of both the 3rd the 4th events, guests can enjoy the Movie under the Stars at 9pm in front of Building 90 Oak Manor (3rd: The Princess and the Frog, 4th: Big Hero 6)
Poolside: Ol’ Man Island at Riverside (3rd and 4th July)
  • Food and Beverage will be hosting an outdoor barbeque where guests can purchase food and drink items from noon to 5pm
  • Recreation will be hosting themed activities from 1pm to 4:45pm
Poolside: Doubloon Lagoon Pool at French Quarter (4th July only)
  • French Quarter will be hosting themed poolside activities from 1pm to 6pm
  • This will be followed by Campfire at 7pm and the Movie under the Stars (Lilo & Stitch) at 9pm

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