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Arneil the French Quarter Greeter Celebrates 30 Years at WDW

Posted Sunday 11th June 2017, 4:32pm (EDT) by The Sassagoula Sentinel

[Posted by friend-of-the-site Steve Denney]

Congratulations Arneil!

On June 20th, Arneil, the instantly recognizable and very popular Greeter at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort French Quarter, will be celebrating 30 years as a Walt Disney World Cast Member. Arneil, who is a Viet Nam veteran, came to Disney from Illinois in 1987. He began working at EPCOT Center as an Attractions Host in Future World at what was then called World of Motion (which later became GM’s Test Track.) He also worked at the much-missed Horizons attraction before that too closed.

In 1990, when the Walt Disney World Yacht and Beach Club Resorts first opened, Arneil became one of their original Bell Services cast members. He remained there for sixteen years, subsequently transferring to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge in 2006.

After nearly five more years at Wilderness Lodge, Arneil was encouraged by his friends in Disney management to take on the role for which he has since become so well known. In 2010, Arneil created the colorful “Monarch of the Mardi Gras” persona for the many guests arriving, departing or just passing through the lobby at Port Orleans French Quarter.


Anyone who takes a few minutes to stop and chat with Arneil will quickly appreciate that he loves people, and particularly enjoys the opportunity to interact with all of the diverse cultures and backgrounds that are represented by Disney guests.

Although his first name is of Scottish origin – he is named after a family friend in Glasgow – Arneil is primarily of Dutch heritage. It doesn’t take much encouragement for him to share his Dutch roots with anyone who is interested, and you’ll find that he has some interesting, and famous, ancestors.

Arneil is an avid reader with a keen interest in history and languages, so it should not surprise anyone to know that he speaks several languages fluently, including Dutch, Flemish, German and Afrikaans. But what may not be so obvious is that he is also able to greet guests in more than a dozen more languages. Saying “hello,” “goodbye,” or simply exchanging well wishes in such diverse tongues as Spanish, Hindi, French, Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Greek, Polish, Italian, Vietnamese, and Arabic has become second nature for him, and an integral part of his Mardi Gras persona.

Arneil, with his plume-adorned top hat and clad in the bright green, gold and purple of Mardi Gras, has become an iconic presence in the French Quarter lobby, often the first cheery face that you see on arrival, and the last to wish you “Bon Voyage” as you depart.

I encourage you to stop and chat whenever you have the time, and especially if you happen to be at French Quarter on Tuesday June 20th don’t forget to congratulate him on thirty years with Walt Disney World, a milestone certainly worthy of recognition and appreciation.

Incidentally, although Arneil may not be a member of these forums, he does read the posts from time to time - so, if you have any comments, memories or well-wishes for him, post them here or on this Facebook thread and we’ll make sure he sees them.


Last summer, I wrote a short song for Arneil which I presented to him at the end of one shift, along with a copy of the lyrics as a keepsake. The acoustics of the glass and tile lobby were not exactly conducive to getting a studio-quality recording with non-professional video gear, but a few attempts later in Scat Scat’s we got something that while maybe not technically perfect seemed to capture the spirit nicely. You’ll note that Arneil was quite familiar with the lyrics by then, and started acting them out as we went along!


June 2017 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules

Posted Monday 29th May 2017, 5:05am (EDT) by The Sassagoula Sentinel

The June 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.

As from Sunday 28 May, the main feature swimming pool operating hours are 9am—10pm which will continue during the peak summer months. These times are enforced and the feature pools are gated and locked when there are no lifeguards on duty, however the five Riverside quiet pools are generally available at any time (within reason).

Movies Under the Stars will be screened at 8:30pm on Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday at Riverside, but only on Friday & Saturday at French Quarter. There are no movies scheduled at either resort for Sunday, Tuesday or Thursday.

The evening campfires are currently still suspended due to local dry conditions and fire hazards.

Riverside is adding some new activities into the mix this month in a similar vein to those introduced at French Quarter in May:

  • Swashbucklin’ Saturdays — A fun-filled day of Pirate activities. The activities start at 1pm on Ol’ Man Island and wrap up with the screening of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl at 8:30pm.
  • Sunday, Tuesday & Thursday, 8:30pm—9:30pm: Glow with the Flow Pool Party — Join us on Ol’ Man Island as we Glow with the Flow of the Sassagoula River into the night! The parties occur on evenings when there is no Movie Under the Stars showing.
  • Daily: #SassagoulaSelfie Scavenger Hunt — Grab a map and join in on an exciting selfie scavenger hunt around Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside. Guest may visit the Riverside Levee Marina from 9am—5pm daily to get started.
  • Continuing Daily: Arts & Crafts ($), Mickey Tie-Dye T-shirt decoration ($), Ol’ Man Island Pool Party, and other regular poolside activities. Times vary, see schedule.
French Quarter’s new activities continue this month too, with slightly less emphasis on poolside games and Movies Under the Stars than Riverside:
  • Sunday 8am: “Beignet Dash” Fun Run — A quick early morning dash around the 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.
  • Monday & Tuesday, 7:30pm—9:30pm: Doubloon Lagoon Glow Party — Come glow with the flow at the Doubloon Lagoon Glow Party.
  • Wednesday 7pm—9pm: Family Game Night — Join us in Scat Cat’s Lounge for a night filled with games and fun for the whole family.
  • Thursday 8pm—10pm: Mardi Gras Musical Mixer — Bebop on down to Scat Cat’s Lounge for a night filled with your favorite musical activities.
  • Friday & Saturday 8:30pm: Movies Under the Stars (Jungle Book (2016) and Cars this month).
  • Daily: Mardi Gras Pool Party — Bring the whole family for fun and exciting games during our afternoon pool party! Also Disney Trivia or Name That... on select days. Times vary, see schedule.
  • Daily: 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). Times vary, see schedule.

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).

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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Build-Your-Own Bloody Mary at the Muddy Rivers pool bar

Posted Sunday 28th May 2017, 3:54pm (EDT) by The Sassagoula Sentinel

A new adult-oriented activity is being trialled at the Muddy Rivers pool bar: Build-Your-Own Bloody Mary.

Available Sunday lunchtimes, 11am-1pm, for $13 you can get a Bloody Mary made with whatever extras you desire - including Ham & Salami, Cheese, Bacon, Pickles, Limes, Celery and Peppers.

This is currently a test, but if successful they plan to move it indoors to the River Roost Lounge.

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Port Orleans Riverside Barbecue Events - 16 and 29 May 2017

Posted Monday 15th May 2017, 3:27pm (EDT) by The Sassagoula Sentinel

Apparently Tuesday 16th May 2017 will be National Barbecue Day! Who knew? Well obviously someone in the Port Orleans Riverside Food & Beverage team received the memo anyway, as the resort will be providing a mini Food and Wine festival all of its own between 5:30pm and 8:30pm on Tuesday 16 May. Representatives from the resort’s brewery sponsor Abita will be on hand, and the chefs have dreamed up a range of delicacies to suit every taste that will be freshly cooked for guests. There will be plenty of other fun too, including music, dancing and craft activities.

Rather than buying one specific meal, you will be able to purchase special coupons to redeem for the various food and drink items at the event. For $15.99 adults will receive four coupons, while children will get two coupons for $8.99. Drinks will cost £12.50 for two beverage coupons. You will also be able to make use of Disney Dining Plan credits.

  • Smoked Brisket with Homemade Mac & Cheese, paired with Sassagoula Sweet Tea.
  • Grilled BBQ Shrimp with Southern Style Cheesy Grits, paired with the Abita Amber.
  • Grilled Andouille Crusted Zellwood Corn on the Cob.
  • Abita Turbo Dog BBQ Pork Slider with Summer Slaw, paired with the Abita Turbo Dog Beer.
  • Spicy Satsuma Bayou Wings, paired with a Citrus Crush.
  • Southern Sweets, paired with a Bailey’s Frozen Cappuccino.
Memorial Day (Monday 29 May) will also see an afternoon outdoor barbecue event located beside the Muddy Rivers pool bar on Ol’ Man Island. Similar to the ones held on other recent public holidays which have proven very popular, you will be able to purchase a selection of freshly grilled items:
  • Cheeseburger $10.29
  • BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich $9.99
  • Grilled Hot Dog $7.49
  • Grilled Corn on the Cob $3.99
  • Sassagoula Shaved Ice (assorted flavors) $3.99 [Presumably not grilled!]
  • All Entrées will be served with choice of two sides, which include coleslaw, baked beans, and house-made chips.
  • All items are eligible on the Disney Dining Plan.

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"Ye Haa" Bob Jackson Celebrates 20 Years of Port Orleans fun

Posted Thursday 4th May 2017, 3:22am (EDT) by The Sassagoula Sentinel


On the 4th of May 1997, a new piano player named Bob Jackson made his first appearance at the Cotton Co-Op lounge at Disney's Dixie Landings Resort, following a recommendation to apply from none other than the lounge's previous incumbent who he met at a gig at Orlando's Blazing Pianos bar. Dixie Landings (renamed a few years later to Port Orleans Riverside) was to become the regular home for his "Ye Haa Bob" persona for the next 20 years.

Surprisingly at the time, the Cotton Co-Op was not especially well-known as a nighttime entertainment venue, filled mainly with weary tourists relaxing after a long day at the parks, or guests waiting for their reservations at the nearby Boatwright's Dining Hall. However Bob saw the potential to turn this location into a lively destination attraction, and his duelling piano background, which necessitated getting people up on their feet and singing along, gave him the experience needed to bring the same vibe and energy to his new home.

Two decades later, and now an official Walt Disney Legacy Award recipient, "Ye Haa" Bob Jackson is still wowing the crowds four nights a week at what is now known as the River Roost Lounge. His zany mixture of toe-tapping, sing-a-long standards, and increasingly frequent Disney classics performed in his own inimitable and enormously energetic style, attracts a multi-generational crowd from babes-in-arms to octogenarians, all of whom are encouraged to join in the fun, and his amazing memory comes to the fore as he interacts with his audience members by name.

Away from the Port, Bob is a talented musician and composer in his own right. He began playing piano from a very early age, and was a music composition major at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. He has also worked at many other locations around Orlando (such as Rosie O'Grady's at the new-defunct Church Street Station, SeaWorld, and Universal's CityWalk) and around Walt Disney World (including the Diamond Horseshoe Revue in the Magic Kingdom). Bob has recorded at least ten CDs (available from his website) including collections of his own original material. He also regularly performs at local churches and for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families at the wish-fulfilling "Give Kids the World" village.

As Bob so often says at his shows, "no one has more fun than us," and given that he can count the likes of Disney/Pixar's Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter among his many fans, he's probably right!


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