My New Favorite Disney Resort: The Port Orleans Riverside
After taking 3 trips to Disney World in less than 3 years I think it’s safe to say that Stink is a true “Disney Baby”. So it only made sense that for her 3rd birthday we’d take her to see the Mouse…again. I wanted this trip to be really special for her and when I was planning it I had first settled on staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, splitting the cost of the 2-bedroom villa with my grandparents. Alas, my budget didn’t quite stretch that far so I started checking out some of the moderate resorts.
The only moderate resort my extended family has tried was the cabins at Fort Wilderness. This looked like a great option but again the price tag was just a little steep. My grandparents suggested the Art of Animation, a value resort they had stayed at the year before but the rooms were over $200 a night, pretty high for a value resort. As I was checking out Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside rooms I saw that they offered Royal Guest Rooms, complete with princess pictures on the wall and a massive headboard that lit up with fireworks at the touch of a button.
I was sold.
Three additional rooms were booked for my extended family and everyone chose to stay in the preferred rooms across the river. The only difference between a preferred room and a regular room is the location. Preferred rooms are closer to the lobby, pool, restaurants, etc which made it a no-brainer for my grandparents who wanted to do as little walking as possible.
The regular rooms, while lacking the unique light-up headboard, have their own bonus feature: a small murphy bed that can accommodate a 5th guest. Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort offers a similar setup but at all the other Disney resorts you have to book a suite or villa with that many people, making the Port Orleans Riverside a great option for large families.
Still, between the two rooms I liked ours better. I loved the royal princess theme and each morning Stink enjoyed waking up and pressing the button to watch her fireworks glow in the dark. The only downside to our room was a lack of storage space. Compared to our stay at the Beach Club Resort there was no closet space, only a shelf next to the sink where we could store a few bags. Dresser space was plentiful but it would have been nice to have a place to stow away our large suitcases.
Port Orleans Riverside has a wide selection of tasty food. We spent most of our time eating at the Riverside Mill Food Court (we were on the Disney dining plan) but we hopped over to the Sassagoula Floatworks Factory in Port Orleans French Quarter for lunch and to sample their beignets. I was pretty disappointed in their food, though their food court was much less crowded than the Riverside Mill.
Not only does the Port Orleans Riverside have better food than the French Quarter but they have more activities too. Cane pole fishing was the highlight of one of our mornings as 12 of us tried our luck at fishing. It was supposed to be for the kids but it turned out that playing with the worms was much more fun than watching a bobber float in the water.
The cane pole fishing is located on Ol’ Man Island along with the resort’s playground and largest swimming pool. Despite the fact that we were visiting in early January Brandon decided to let Stink go for a swim. The pool is heated so nobody was shivering but the small kiddie pool was a little too shallow and cold for Stink’s liking. Even my grandmother decided to go for a dip but then spent most of the time in the warmer waters of the jacuzzi.
Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter guests can hop between the resort pools. The French Quarter pool was pretty impressive and a portion is currently under construction for a new children’s water play area but the walk was a little too long for us just to go for a quick dip so we stuck to our pool at Ol’ Man Island.
Adults and teens looking for a little entertainment should head to the River Roost Lounge to see Yee-Haw Bob Jackson. Yee-Haw Bob has a great sing-along piano performance Wednesday through Saturday evenings (8:30 till midnight) but don’t expect to hear any Swanee River. This is Disney and that means Disney songs! Still, it’s a great performance without being overly Disney and if you’re over the age of 21 you can enjoy alcoholic beverages in the lounge.
The Verdict: I LOVED staying at the Port Orleans Riverside and would definitely consider staying here again. The price of the rooms was great, our room was regularly priced at about $220 per night but with my grandparent’s military discount we got our rates for about $150. The murphy bed in the regular rooms was a great option for my 6-year old nephew who is getting too big to share a bed with his mom and our entire family enjoyed the activities and food that was offered.
What to Do: The cane pole fishing was the highlight of our time at Port Orleans and something I would recommend for kids of all ages. There are evening horse-drawn carriage rides, surrey bike rentals for 4 or 6 people, an arcade and marshmallow roasting as well. Or you can always take a boat down the river to Disney Springs for some shopping!
Child Friendly? Of course! And with all the activities at Port Orleans Riverside there is something for everyone to enjoy. If you have a princess then I definitely recommend the Royal Guest Room, it’s truly a unique experience.
Pet Friendly? None of the Disney resorts are pet-friendly but Disney partners with Best Friends Pet Care for pet boarding, offering a discount for resort guests.