Hold on to your government subsidized office chairs and try not to have another stroke (the website is not insured) because we’re headed out to Port Orleans French Quarter for an exciting look at the newly refurbished lobby.
French Quarter recently underwent a lobby refurbishment that lasted about two months – from May 13th through July 12th. Above is a picture of the registration/check-in area walled off with a temporary concierge desk situated out front.
Check-in moved to this magical closet to the left of Scat Cat’s.
Outside, Disney completed some exterior work on the walkways.
French Quarter, along with Riverside, completed an extensive room refurbishment last year that brought queen beds, upgraded furniture, flat screen televisions, all new carpeting, etc.
There was a time when it was easy to recommend Coronado Springs because it was the only resort with queen beds. With French Quarter and Riverside seeing recent upgrades along with queen beds, Coronado’s only real in-room advantage is the wood door that separates the vanity/sleep areas. There is some talk about an extensive refurbishment to Caribbean Beach Resort’s rooms, but I wouldn’t expect it to start this year.
But that construction is behind us as the new lobby opened on July 12th with an official dedication on July 18th.
From the other side.
This is what the lobby used to look like for the sake of comparison/TEARING THE OLD VERSION APART. You’ll notice some changes in the pillars, floor tile, lighting, ceiling, and desks among other things. Gone are the bars along the check-in desks that made it feel reminiscent of a bank that’s been robbed one too many times. And there’s now a convenient opening in the middle of the long desk so cast members can more easily assist guests with luggage and distribute stickers. Sure, you could stay at the Ritz for less, but do they have Mickey stickers, asbestos, and pixie dust? I think not. Or maybe the asbestos and pixie dust are the same thing. But this is a company that lists The House of Whispering Willows, Bijutsu-kan Gallery, Leave a Legacy, and Stave Church as Epcot attractions, so I feel like asbestos and pixie dust count as two things.
The chandeliers are gone, making the area “feel” a little bigger.
Zoomed in, you can see how much more open the concierge/check-in “feels” along with the opening in the middle.
A better look at the seating section for adults. My little grinch heart melts a little bit every time I see those itty bitty chairs in front of the Mickey cartoons.
And zoomed out with the fountain as the centerpiece of the lobby.
On the opposite side sits Scat Cat’s. In addition to being a bar, it also provides ample seating should you wish to dine outside of the main dining area.
While not quite Yee-Haw Bob, Tom may not require you to blow along. As far as I know, longtime favorite Elliot Dyson is not on the schedule, but that may change.
The rest of the resort is unchanged for the most part. The store looks the same and like the other Moderates (with the exception of Ft. Wilderness), doesn’t offer any resort-specific merchandise.
The usual in wine, beer, water, and soft drinks.
375ml bottles run $12 – $14 for the most part.
1. 714 BC.
2. Depends on how many are “being refurbished” after plowing into guests the day before.
5. Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather. That’s a stupid question.
6. 1995, generally speaking. Although if you really want to bigtime somebody, you can point out Tinker Bell is two words.
7. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop.
8. Gothel, Facilier, and Witch.
9. Counting or not counting the one that goes to Animal Kingdom?
10. NOT ENOUGH AM I RIGHT?
One drawback to French Quarter is the small food court and lack of a table service restaurant. You can walk or take most buses to Riverside to dine at Boatwright’s or hop on the boat/bus to Downtown Disney, but it’s an added inconvenience. While Boatwright’s (Riverside), Maya Grill (Coronado Springs), and Shutters (Caribbean Beach) aren’t destination restaurants by any stretch of the imagination, what they do have going for them is convenience if you find yourself staying at the resort.
Said food court. With the fewest number of rooms of any Moderate, the space is often adequate, but it can get pretty crowded in the morning. Crowds are also heavier when it’s raining because people head back to the resort or don’t leave at all.
And this is the only resort quick service where Grandfather Sun looks down and judges you for choosing the fries over the one ounce bag of old apple slices.
Here’s what’s on the menu:
While on the small side, there are a wide variety of options, including some themed perfectly to the resort. You won’t find gumbo, po’ boys, muffaletta sandwiches, or creole burgers in many other places.
And unlike those girly size portions of sorbet and gelato, French Quarter offers the finest in mass produced Edy’s. If you order an Ice Cream Sandwich, close your eyes, and think really hard about what Tom Hanks would have wanted, you might even be able to convince yourself that Main Street Bakery still sells Nescafe and Cinnamon Rolls baked in a warehouse off Kirkman Rd.
The Create Your Own Salad is an excellent, fresh, potentially healthy option. Their Chicken Quesadilla is very good also.
But the real stars are the beignets, available at three for $2.99 or six for $4.29.
The dough pillows are fried while you wait and then sprinkled with powdered sugar. Two tips: Make a quasi-tablecloth with napkins. Don’t sneeze. They’re an outstanding, unique snack or dessert and some of the best $4 you’ll spend on property. One other recommendation: They do take at least five minutes to prepare. You might want one person to stand in line and order while others head to the various stations to order “real food” like chili dogs and pepperoni pizzas.
The seating area can get loud, which is why I recommend heading out to the seating area in front of Scat Cat’s.
As you’ve probably heard, RapidFill is coming to Disney resorts. This RFID system will bring some changes to your fountain beverage experience. Refillable mugs will have a new pricing structure:
- $8.99 for 1 day
- $11.99 for 2 days
- $14.99 for 3 days
- $17.99 for length of stay (4+ days)
A day is defined as a calendar day rather than a 24 hour period. So if you make the wise decision of purchasing your mug for one day and fill it up at 11:58pm, you won’t be able to fill it up two minutes later. On the plus side, guests can use their mug at any resort. Currently, your mug is officially only for use at the resort at which you’re staying. While the above picture is of the old refill station, new RapidFill dispensers have already been installed in several resorts and are just waiting for the mugs to arrive and the system to go live.
For whatever reason, refillable mugs are a hotly debated topic on the various Disney forums. The following has been true for the last several years:
- Refillable mugs cost around $16 with tax. Disney policy is that they are only useable at the resort you’re staying at for the duration of your current reservation.
- The mugs look the same at all resorts and the design has not changed in some number of years. Nobody (guests or staff) will have any idea if you purchased your mug on this trip or brought back an old mug. Chances are cast members won’t even notice if you’re using a mug from the water parks or a mug purchased in 2001 for that matter.
- Disney policy is that mugs are not for use outside of the resorts.
- Disney’s cost for carbonated beverages, teas, cocoas, etc. is very low. But that isn’t the company’s loss when you use a cup from a previous visit. Disney’s lost revenue is the amount you would have spent to purchase a new mug or fountain beverage. So they aren’t trying to protect themselves from losing seven cents worth of Coke Zero if you bring back an old mug. They’re trying to protect themselves from losing the $15.95 you aren’t spending on a new mug each visit.
- Enter RapidFill.
During the All-Star Sports RFID beverage test last year, there were a number of limitations on how the mugs and fountain beverages could be used. For example, a regular fountain beverage (the paper cups that cost around $2.79) could be filled four times over the course of one hour.
There were more limitations on the plastic refillable mugs. After filling a resort mug, there was a mandated five minute wait before you could fill the mug again. While this is obviously a “security measure” to make sure people aren’t filling one resort mug and dumping the contents into another cup, it could prove annoying in practice. The mugs hold around 12 ounces of liquid. If you’re walking all the way to the beverage station in Old Port Royale at Caribbean Beach Resort from Trinidad South (a ten+ minute walk each way), you’ll probably find yourself filling up the mug once or twice, guzzling the contents, and then filling it up again to take back to your room or outside with your meal. That wasn’t possible during the Sports test because you’d have to wait five minutes between each fill. As far as I know, the “rules” for the new system are not publicly known. I’m sure dazney got an earful from guests over having to wait five minutes in between fills. Not to mention those times where you press the Coke Zero button and “nasty clear carbonated beverage” comes out.
But bringing back old refillable mugs to use on a second, third, etc. vacation is a thing of the past once RapidFill comes online as early as later this month.
Hopefully Joffrey’s will arrive alongside those new beverage machines.
French Quarter has a small play area for kids in an un-obvious location right next to the bathrooms in the back of the seating section to the right of the ordering area.
The play area is at 10 o’clock.
Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperating well on this particular visit. More exterior pictures of the resort are available here: https://www.easywdw.com/uncategorized/port-orleans-french-quarter-sassagoula-river-floatworks-scat-cats-lounge-pool-bar-grounds-etc/ That link also explains a bit more about what I like so much about French Quarter. Also check out Craig’s excellent look at French Quarter with better pictures of the rooms.
On our last visit, the registration area looked like this with walls up on the entire left side.
As far as construction walls go though, these are among the most magical you’re likely to run into.
Since then, the lobby has gotten a complete overhaul. You’ll notice new furniture, flooring, colors, carpeting, desks, and just about everything else. The theme stays the same – it’s supposed to make you feel like you’re booking passage with the Sassagoula Steamboat Company.
The prison bars have been removed here too. Disney probably paid a consulting firm $675,000 for the knowledge that physical barriers between staff and guests make the experience feel less personable.
Like the other resorts, Riverside offers activities at the pool and around the resort most of the day.
French Quarter activities. Guests at either resort are welcome to use the amenities at the other resort. So if you’re staying at French Quarter and want to catch The Mighty Ducks (and who would blame you), you can walk or bus over to Riverside to watch.
Boatwright’s is the resort’s table service restaurant. Reservations are usually available on the same day, but it does get crowded when it’s raining and on Friday/Saturday nights. If you’re headed over, try to make a reservation via the My Disney Experience app before it crashes. It’s kind of a race against time just like if it was a fun arcade game.
The cornbread is excellent, in addition to Abita on draft.
Riverside Mill is the resort’s quick service arm.
It’s one of Disney World’s best with a wide selection of fresh food and ample indoor seating.
I got a kick out of the salad menu with the gigantic picture of a brownie next to it. Pam Brandon, does it still count as a Mickey Check meal? Because I really have no idea whether the baked chicken breast or chili cheese fries are healthier for my child without a symbol telling me so.
It’s hard to do much better than the create your own pasta.
Prepared fresh and to your specifications, it’s “literally” a ton of food for your money.
Drinks full size: https://www.easywdw.com/reports9/drinkpor.jpg.
Moving outside to to the wasteland that is an unedited world. THIS IS NOT THE RESORT PROMISED TO ME IN THE MICKEY MAIL.
Out of the shower.
Body by Victoria.
I don’t remember seeing all the hammocks around.
I like Muddy River’s a lot. You can sit under the roof away from the pool and enjoy your beverage or take it poolside.
Abita on draft is available out here too.
Or HDR’d out.
The Bayou Campfire Pit is located down to the left of the pool area.
Riverside and Ft. Wilderness offer fishing. The cabin is also located to the left of the pool across from the campfire.
This is not inviting you to tell a sob story about your ex.
It’s basically free. The times may not be terribly convenient, but if you’re planning a lazy day back at the resort, it might be fun to head out to the dock for a while.
Larger: https://www.easywdw.com/reports9/golfcart.jpg. The bayou may not be particularly authentic with a golf cart in the middle of it.
Larger: https://www.easywdw.com/reports9/nogolfcart.jpg. Five seconds in Photoshop. Photography is a scam.
During our last visit, Alligator Bayou was getting a massive overhaul inside and out. As a reminder, Bayou rooms are the only Moderate rooms on property that can officially sleep five people. The more comfortable Murphy bed replaced the trundle beds last year. Fort Wilderness Cabins (sort of in the Moderate class) sleep six, but they run a minimum of a magical $325 a night.
Densely forested with the rooms furthest away from the main building far removed from the typical hustle and bustle of a Disney resort, they’re a good choice if you’re looking for a bit of peace and quiet. Buildings 14, 15, 18 and 27 are classified as “Preferred” and see the $30/night upcharge compared to Standard View rooms. Request building 16 or 17 to be closer to the main building without paying for the Preferred location or buildings 24 and 25 to be furthest away from the main building, pool, restaurants, etc. As usual, PortOrleans.org has all the info you could hope to find if you’re planning a stay at French Quarter or Riverside.
Arcadian House and Magnolia Terrace in the Magnolia Bend still feature the traditional Magnolia Bend decor inside the rooms.
While all rooms in Oak Manor and Parterre Place have been converted to the Royal Guest Rooms.
Hide yo’ wives. Hide yo’ children.
I guess that was a lot of words for a lobby update.
The website accepts returns but doesn’t offer refunds.