Five Things to Love about Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort

Have you ever walked through the front doors of a Walt Disney World Resort hotel and instantly fallen in love? It's happened to me a few time (Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge, I'm looking at you). Last week it happened again when I stepped into Disney's Port Orleans Riverside Resort. We're talking LOVE at first sight.

What do you love about Port Orleans Riverside?What do you love about Port Orleans Riverside?

There is SO much to love about this moderate resort, but for the sake of brevity, today I'm going to focus on the five things I loved the most. Let's take a trip to Port Orleans Riverside!

The Rooms and Theming: When it comes to Disney World hotels some people are of the mindset that the room doesn't matter much because you're not there much. I'm not that kind of person. I want a nice room with a nice view that is close to the important stuff like food and transportation.

At Port Orleans Riverside, we had paid for a garden view room but when we checked in SUPER early (like before 7 a.m.) we were upgraded to one of the Royal Guest Rooms! This was a lovely surprise and it meant we were in the area called Parterre Place, quite close to both the dining and bus stops.

Port Orleans Riverside mansionsPort Orleans Riverside mansions

The Royal Guest Room was perfect for fans of the Disney Princesses (we are!) and it was more than enough room for my family of four. The room featured two queen beds, a table with two chairs, dresser, refrigerator, a small cushioned bench, double sinks, and (of course) a separate bathroom/shower area. There's a curtain you can pull to close off the sink area for added privacy (or to not wake up your family members).

The room was decorated with royal touches including photos of the princesses and more. The headboards were the best part - at night you could press a button and see fireworks light up the headboard!

Magical headboards at Port Orleans RiversideMagical headboards at Port Orleans Riverside

The overall themeing of the hotel is less "Disney" and more Southern charm. The lobby is beautiful with large ceiling fans, and the resort area is divided into Magnolia Bend featuring mansion-like buildings and the more rustic (but equally as beautiful) Alligator Bayou Lodge area. After taking a surrey bike ride around the entire resort it's safe to say I'd stay in either part of the resort!

The Sassagoula River runs through the resort and I loved the peaceful feeling around the entire resort. In my humble opinion, it's one of the most picturesque resorts on property.

The Royal Guest Room buildings at Port Orleans RiversideThe Royal Guest Room buildings at Port Orleans Riverside

Location: Port Orleans Riverside is located in the Disney Springs resort area and is closest to Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios. The bus rides to and from both of those theme parks were the shortest of our visit. The bus ride to and from the Magic Kingdom was rather quick too, with the trip out to Disney's Animal Kingdom taking the most time.

The bus system at Port Orleans Riverside includes four stops " South Depot, West Depot, East Depot, and North Depot. Our stop was the South Depot (closest to the main building) and on most mornings the buses were not too full at pick-up. At night, the South Depot is the last stop, but overall it took about 10-15 minutes to drop off at all four stops each night. The bus stops also have the Disney Transport screens so you can see the estimated time of arrival of your bus.

Disney Transport screen at Port Orleans RiversideDisney Transport screen at Port Orleans Riverside

And, if you're looking to visit Disney Springs or Port Orleans French Quarter you can hop on the boat starting at 10 a.m. each day and travel down the Sassagoula River!

Sail down the Sassagoula River at Port Orleans RiversideSail down the Sassagoula River at Port Orleans Riverside

The Pools: When you plan your Disney vacation for late July/early August you'll definitely want to plan some time at the swimming pool (heck, swim year-round!). And at POR, you can choose to spend time at the Ol' Man Island (the main feature pool area) where you'll find a large pool with a 95-foot-long slide, a kiddie pool, a hot tub, and the Muddy Rivers Pool Bar (which we'll talk about in a bit).

Take a dip in the pool on Ol' Man IslandTake a dip in the pool on Ol' Man Island

There are also five quiet pools at the hotel and we found ourselves visiting the quiet pool near our room when the main feature pool got too busy. The quiet pools are no-frills pools but they do the job of keeping you cool in the heat! Towels are provided at all pools (you'll find them in the laundry facilities at the quiet pools).

Muddy Rivers Pool Bar: After a long, hot afternoon at the theme parks you might want to kick back and relax at the pool with an ice cold drink. At Port Orleans Riverside, you'll want to visit the Muddy Rivers Pool Bar. The bar features a large seating area around the bar, including tables (which are a good choice when it starts to rain at the pool).

Muddy Rivers Pool BarMuddy Rivers Pool Bar

The Muddy Rivers Pool Bar is also home to my new favorite drink at Walt Disney World: Gata-Melon Juice. The frozen concoction is made with Midori Melon Liqueur, Pineapple Juice, Monin Banana, and Pina Colada mix. And it's served in a souvenir Hurricane glass! This bright green, sweet and fruity drink is my new go-to (which means I need to get back to POR soon!)

Gata-Melon Juice from the Muddy Rivers Pool Bar!Gata-Melon Juice from the Muddy Rivers Pool Bar!

Dining Options: At Port Orleans Riverside you'll find the Riverside Millquick service dining location, Boatwright's Dining Hall table service, and of course in-room pizza delivery if you prefer that option. The Riverside Mill Food Court features a large dining room area (that is SUPER busy during the breakfast hours), and several food bays including a bakery area, grill area, pizza and pasta, and a carving station.

We dined twice at Riverside Mill for dinner and both times the food and service were good. Both of my daughters have food allergies and the chefs went above and beyond in their allergy-safe service. The first night my oldest daughter ordered a gluten free pizza, and while it took longer than it should have, the pizza received rave reviews. The second dinner she ordered a burger with a gluten free bun and "safe" fries and Chef Marco's service was superb!

Bacon Cheeseburger with gluten free bun and allergy safe friesBacon Cheeseburger with gluten free bun and allergy safe fries

One of the nights my husband and I decided to order a large pizza for dinner (not room service but in the dining hall) and it was actually quite good. (Not Via Napoli good, but still good). The pizzas are made to order and cooked quickly and they're served piping hot. Other options at dinner included the burgers, jambalaya, a muffaletta sandwich, create-your-own pasta (also very good!), and the carving station (one night was turkey with all the trimmings).

Large pepperoni pizza from Riverside Mill Food CourtLarge pepperoni pizza from Riverside Mill Food Court

If you're looking for a table service option you can check out Boatwright's Dining Hall which is open nightly for dinner. The menu features Southern dishes including Fried Green Tomatoes, Pimento Cheese Fritters, Cajun Bayou Catfish, Shrimp and Grits, Jambalaya, and more. It's one of those off-the-radar spots so you'll likely have no problem getting in for dinner.

And I have to mention dessert (because DESSERT!). One night I saw a guest with a huge homemade cookie ice cream sandwich and I asked the cast member at the bakery about it. You can choose two homemade cookies and any flavor of ice cream and viola! Ice cream sandwich heaven. My husband and I chose chocolate chip cookies with mint chocolate chip ice cream and it was divine!

Dessert from the bakery at Riverside MillDessert from the bakery at Riverside Mill

After a much-too-quick week at POR it was time to say "until next time." The hotel has moved up my list of favorite resorts at Disney World and is currently at the top of my list. I can't wait to go back again!

These are just a few things I loved about our stay at Port Orleans Riverside, but there's so much more to love at the resort. If you've stayed at POR we'd love to hear your favorite things about the hotel so be sure to leave us a comment!

wdwizbest wrote on Mon, 08/07/2017 - 19:12:

wdwizbest's picture

I wish PO FQ still had it's table service restaurant. The new food court is nice but I wish there was another dining option like RS has.

wdwizbest wrote on Mon, 08/07/2017 - 19:17:

wdwizbest's picture

I guess we could always go to RS for their dining options.

jsm1225 wrote on Tue, 08/08/2017 - 11:40:

jsm1225's picture

I whole heartedly agree Port Orleans Riverside is absolutely wonderful. It is peaceful, beautiful and very Southern. I am from Baton Rouge, so I know Southern. We had stayed there quite a few years ago, tried several other resorts and returned to Riverside this year. I truly had forgotten how wonderful it is. I believe it is my favorite resort in all the World. If you haven't tried it, you should. You almost forget you're at Walt Disney World while you are at the resort. One could truly have a wonderful vacation without leaving the resort. Of course, you would want to take the boat down the river to Disney Springs, for even the boat ride is a really nice picturesque trip. Don't miss the carriage rides at night and the surrey bikes during the day. One might even get to chat with Tiana around the dock. Awesome resort! Oh, and the staff is wonderful!

Traci C wrote on Tue, 08/08/2017 - 18:15:

YES!!!! ... to all of this! I cannot wait to go back! :)

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