Port Orleans News

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New General Manager, John Berko, appointed at Port Orleans

Posted Wednesday 14th February 2018, 8:57pm (EST) by The Sassagoula Sentinel

We first mentioned this on our Facebook page back at the end of November when rumours started emerging, but for those who don't follow us on Facebook, or who haven't read the related Orlando Sentinel article, the Port Orleans resorts recently underwent a major management shake-up during Walt Disney World's latest round of cost-cutting measures.

Around 21st November 2017, Port Orleans Riverside's General Manager since August 2015, Suzette Noble, left the company after some 20 years of working in various management capacities at Walt Disney World. The General Manager of Port Orleans French Quarter, Punam Dayabhai-Jairambhai, briefly filled in to oversee both resorts before she too was transitioned away to become General Manager at Disney's All Star Movies.

Within a couple of weeks the existing General Manager of All Star Movies, John Berko, had been moved over to Port Orleans to take up a combined role overseeing both sides of the resort, Riverside and French Quarter. Ironically this had always been a joint management position in the past, most recently under the auspices of Valerie Bunting between 2009 and 2015 until she was transferred to a management role at the theme parks. For the past two years though there have been separate General Managers, Suzette at Riverside and Punam at French Quarter, but Disney appears to have decided to return the original combined structure with one General Manager overseeing both resorts.

Over the past few days, the in-room collateral has been updated to reflect last year's changes, and the Guest Welcome Letter is now signed from John Berko. Interestingly, and as far as I know for the first time, the letter also provides a dedicated email address, WDW.GM.PortOrleans@disney.com, which allows guests to pass on comments about their stay. The welcome letter assures guests that every email received will be read and personally responded to - either by John or one of his team - and he concludes by wishing guests a magical stay at Disney's Port Orleans Resort.

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish John well as he continues to settle into his new role at Port Orleans, and of course to Punam in her new position too. I would also like to extend my very best wishes and personal thanks to Suzette for all her work at Disney and for her help and support over the past few years.

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Mardi Gras Events — Tuesday 13 February 2018

Posted Saturday 10th February 2018, 10:14am (EST) by The Sassagoula Sentinel

If you happen to be visiting Port Orleans during Mardi Gras there are lots of fun activities around the resort and by the poolside which guests can take part in. Every year, Port Orleans cast members get the opportunity to enter a competition to see which department (Front Desk, Housekeeping, Custodial, Food & Beverage, etc) can dream up the most creative, best themed Mardi Gras parade floats based around the resort’s “pargo” cart vehicles. This year’s parade theme is Walt Disney World Sweets and Treats (Dole Whip Float anyone?).

  • 10am Mardi Gras Pargo Parade — Mardi Gras Pargo Parade traveling through both Port Orleans Riverside & Port Orleans French Quarter. See map for details.
  • 6pm—9pm Mardi Gras Masquerade — Join us in the Port Orleans French Quarter Lobby Courtyard for Mardi Gras fun for the whole family! Our Mardi Gras Masquerade will include a DJ, dancing, character meet and greets, a King Cake eating contest, a Decorate Your Own Mask craft (paid activity), a Decorate Your Own Glass craft (paid activity), giveaways, and more!
  • 9pm Movie Under the Stars — End your Mardi Gras celebrations by joining us on the green between Buildings 5 & 6 at French Quarter for a showing of The Princess and the Frog.

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Watch the annual Pargo Parade LIVE at 10am EST via the Eyes-on-Ears website.

First refurbished rooms re-open at Port Orleans French Quarter

Posted Thursday 8th February 2018, 7:51pm (EST) by The Sassagoula Sentinel

The first of the refurbished rooms on the top floor of building 2 at Port Orleans French Quarter re-opened to guests today. The new design is very understated - some on Facebook have even gone so far as to say it's a bit bland. The colours are more muted and the refreshed curtains are much more subtly 'New Orleans' themed than they were before. And of course there's still plain white bed linen, rather sterile in both the good and bad senses of the word.

Hard wood flooring with an attractive inlaid design effect has replaced the old carpets (which will now be much easier to keep clean) and the chest-of-drawers features a new top panel including power and USB sockets, and the chairs have been reupholstered. The over-bed lights have new oblong shades with subtle fleur-de-lys designs, and the switches have been replaced throughout. The lovely decorative borders along the ceiling edges are all gone too, just plain walls now.

There are some nice new touches such as a larger single main mirror and a repositionable round shaving mirror in the bathroom, and a wall-mounted TV (sadly with obtrusive white plastic conduit concealing the cables, shame they could not have channelled the wall during the refit). The wall safes now appear to have combination locks rather than physical keys.

Toiletries are now provided as large wall-mounted dispenser bottles in the bathroom rather than the small individual bottles which somehow always seemed to end up in guests' suitcases... :)

Most other fittings appear to have remained unchanged, such as the bed headboards, green bench seat, bathroom tiling and shower, hand basins and countertop, coat rack, and the single imagineering painting on the wall.

Many thanks to Jenni Lee over on the Port Orleans Magical Guide Facebook Group for her first photos. Please see our Gallery Page for lots more images and higher resolution versions too.

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February 2018 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules

Posted Saturday 3rd February 2018, 2:31pm (EST) by The Sassagoula Sentinel

The February 2018 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—8pm this month. 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 daily at 7pm at Riverside, but only on Mondays & Saturdays at French Quarter. Evening campfire activities will take place at both resorts on the same evenings as the movies (plus Fridays at French Quarter) from 5pm-6pm.

There are normally extra activities scheduled for Mardi Gras, which falls on Tuesday 13 February this year, but information tends to only be issued quite close to the date. One event that a lot of people enjoy is the Mardi Gras Pargo Parade which is run by the cast members, usually occurring in the morning around 10am-11am and running from Riverside to French Quarter.

Some other specific activities to watch out for (on select days, see schedules for details):

  • 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).
  • SassagoulaSelfie Scavenger Hunt (Riverside, 9am—5pm daily) — 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 9am—5pm. Be sure to share your selfies with the hashtags #SassagoulaSelfie and #PortOrleans.
  • Mardi Gras Movie Masquerade Scavenger Hunt (French Quarter, daily) — All throughout the resort, you’ll find masks themed to your favorite Disney movies, and we need your help to find them all! To join in on the fun, visit the Front Desk to pick up your clue guide. Return your completed clue guide to the Front Desk to collect a Mardi Gras surprise!
  • “Beignet Dash” Fun Run ($) (French Quarter, 8am Sundays) — Craving beignets? Join us on Sunday Runday for a quick 1½ mile dash around the Resort. Complete your race with a tasty beignet! Check-in begins at 7:30am on the Riverwalk between Building 5 and Doubloon Lagoon Pool and the run begins at 8am. Be sure to share your photos with the hashtag #FQBeignetDash.
    Note: there will be no Beignet Dash at French Quarter on Sunday 25 February due to the Disney Princess Half Marathon occurring the same day.
  • Painting on de’ Bayou (French Quarter, 6pm—8pm Wednesdays) — Let your artistic side shine! Join us in Scat Cat’s Club for an instructor-led painting class to design your own take-home masterpiece. The class is for guests aged 12 and up, and costs $35 per person, plus tax. Registration is limited to 16 guests per evening, please call 1-321-347-0750 for additional information or to reserve a spot. Share your masterpiece with the hashtag #PaintingOnDeBayou.
  • Lawn Games (French Quarter, 4pm—5pm Fridays) — Join us at the Courtyard between Buildings 5 & 6 for lawn games for the whole family.

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 on vacation from 1 Feb to 8 Feb, returning for his regular nights at Port Orleans Riverside from Friday 9th February.

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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Wine Tasting hosted by a Port Orleans Sommelier, Friday 26 January

Posted Tuesday 23rd January 2018, 3:21pm (EST) by The Sassagoula Sentinel

Another fun new activity will be offered as a trial at Port Orleans Riverside this Friday 26th January. Hosted between 3pm and 5pm, visit the River Roost Lounge for a special Wine Tasting session hosted by a Port Orleans Sommelier.

There is a $20 per person charge, which includes four wine samplings plus an item from the River Roost menu. The activity will be limited to a maximum of 15 guests, aged 21+ obviously. You can reserve your place in advance by calling 1-407-934-5265.

I hope it goes well and that more special events like this can be planned in the future.

(Thanks to Jim and John for the info and flyer)


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