Top Ten Reasons for Choosing to Stay at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort (part two)

6. Evening Horse-drawn Carriage Rides

What better way is there to relax after returning from a hectic day running around the theme parks than a relaxing horse-drawn carriage ride? This gentle 25-minute ride for up to four adults, or two adults and three children — either all around Riverside or over to French Quarter and back — is the perfect way to chill out and enjoy the resort’s beautiful surroundings.

And for couples, this romantic escape has been the setting for more than a few wedding proposals.

Horse-drawn carriage rides are a popular early-evening attraction at Port Orleans

Horse-drawn carriage rides are a popular early-evening attraction at Port Orleans

What better way to experience the resort than from your very own carriage?

What better way to experience the resort than from your very own carriage?

7. The Compactness of French Quarter

Port Orleans French Quarter is actually one of the smallest and most compact of Disney’s on-site hotels. With just 1,008 guest rooms spread across seven conveniently located three-story buildings, it’s easy to see why people find it so easy to navigate around this delightful resort. There really aren’t any ‘bad’ locations, or long walking distances, to be found, and some of the rooms are mere steps away from the food court door or the bus stop.

If you’re looking for a Value or Moderate Disney resort and you want to avoid too much of a hike back to your room after a long day at the parks, look no further than French Quarter.

The French Quarter food court is just yards from the closest accommodation building

The French Quarter food court is just yards from the closest accommodation building

8. Five People can stay in a Moderate room

Port Orleans Riverside’s Alligator Bayou rooms feature a secret hidden gem, guaranteed to please families of five — or any other occupancy groups for whom two queen beds just doesn’t provide quite the perfect sleeping arrangement. See that themed wooden bench seat, which looks like it’s been made from leftover steamboat-company packing crates? Pull down on the strap and suddenly you’ve got an extra bed, complete with a hidden painted mural of the laid-back alligator Louis from the Disney feature film Princess and the Frog.

While this Murphy-style bed would not be suitable for most adults, for children or anyone under about 5' 3" it’s the perfect solution to bedtime barnies. Of course, it might start a whole new argument amongst the kids as to who gets to try out this fun new night-time feature first.

Every Alligator Bayou room provides an extra pull-down bed

Every Alligator Bayou room provides an extra pull-down bed



 
 

9. Seven swimming pools, including two feature pools

Pool hopping between the different Disney resorts is a definite no-no, but there’s no need to even contemplate it when you are staying at either of the Port Orleans resorts as you have a selection of no less than seven swimming pools to choose from.

French Quarter’s main feature pool is the fun Doubloon Lagoon, complete with its kid-friendly Mardi Gras decorations and a dragon-themed water slide. Over at Riverside there is Ol’ Man Island, a larger and more secluded pool area, themed as an old fashioned swimming hole complete with its own much longer water slide.

In addition, there are five further quiet/leisure pools dotted around the Alligator Bayou and Magnolia Bend sections which are available to all Port Orleans guests.

And back on Ol’ Man Island, a short walk past the Muddy Rivers pool bar brings you to an old fashioned Fishin’ Hole. For a small fee, you can kick back and relax and see what’s biting this morning in their well-stocked catfish, blue gill and bass pool. It’s catch and release of course, but still not an activity you’d immediately expect to find in the land of Mickey Mouse.

Ol’ Man Island feature swimming pool at Port Orleans Riverside

Ol’ Man Island feature swimming pool at Port Orleans Riverside

“Doubloon Lagoon” feature swimming pool at Port Orleans French Quarter

“Doubloon Lagoon” feature swimming pool at Port Orleans French Quarter

One of the two Magnolia Bend leisure pools at Port Orleans Riverside

One of the two Magnolia Bend leisure pools at Port Orleans Riverside

One of the three Alligator Bayou leisure pools at Port Orleans Riverside

One of the three Alligator Bayou leisure pools at Port Orleans Riverside

Who’d have thought this Fishin’ Hole was in the middle of Walt Disney World?

Who’d have thought this Fishin’ Hole was in the middle of Walt Disney World?

10. The Riverside Mill food court

Not many food courts can offer a working 35-foot water wheel and its accompanying milling equipment as a centrepiece, but that’s just one of The Riverside Mill’s charms. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the venue provides a wide range of varied food options throughout the day, including very popular Create-Your-Own Pasta and Salad dishes, carved meats, flatbreads and pizzas, muffalettas, seafood dishes (such as Shrimp Salad Po’ Boys) and much more.

OK, so the Riverside Mill doesn’t serve the legendary Port Orleans beignets, but they are just a short riverbank stroll away over at French Quarter’s sister food court, the Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory.

Note: the Riverside Mill has seating capacity for 450 guests, but even so it can still get very busy, especially as people are preparing to leave for a day at the parks, so I’d advise trying to avoid the busiest peak times such as 8am-10am.

The Riverside Mill, complete with working 35 ft water wheel

The Riverside Mill, complete with working 35 ft water wheel

Lots of seating at The Riverside Mill, but at peak times it can get crowded

Lots of seating at The Riverside Mill, but at peak times it can get crowded

Special Honorable Mention

In the true tradition of all the best top-ten lists, I also need to add an extra special honorable mention: ┬áthe Cast Members. While I know that Disney-trained cast members are not a unique attribute for Port Orleans alone, their cheerful attitude and amazing helpfulness really put the Disney resorts on a different level to most other hotels — and the welcoming Southern charm of the Port Orleans backstory really seems to have been taken to heart by its staff.

Riverside and French Quarter have some of the nicest and most friendly cast members that I’ve ever come across — and that’s at every level, from the General Manager and the back-room teams to the Doormen, Food & Beverage staff and the Housekeepers.

Arneil the Greeter welcomes guests to Port Orleans French Quarter

Arneil the Greeter welcomes guests to Port Orleans French Quarter

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