Heading out to check on the Port Orleans Riverside Resort. We’ll take a look at the French Quarter next. The Riverside is my third favorite of the Walt Disney World moderate resorts. It’s strikingly beautiful, but I’m less crazy about the immense size, bus situation, and overall amenities. If I’m looking to stay at a resort as spread out as the Riverside, I prefer the Coronado Springs’ pool, health club, fitness center, dedicated bus service, and dining options. With the recent room refurbishments at both the Riverside and French Quarter, they are much closer to the Coronado in terms of in-room amenities. Before, the Coronado enjoyed queen beds and much nicer furnishings. That distinction no longer comes into play, though I still prefer the Coronado’s wood doors that separate the sleeping area from the vanity area. But I’m nit-picking obnoxiously with that one. You can hit me. And when I say hit me, of course I’m talking about throwing your monitor against the wall. But trust me, I feel a little pinch every time someone does that. Click here for my lengthy look at the Coronado Springs Resort.
As far as the Riverside versus the French Quarter, the French Quarter is my favorite of the moderate resorts. While it isn’t going to win any awards on aesthetics, the fact that it’s so compact is hard to overlook. You can’t be more than a five minute walk away from the Sassagoula Floatworks quick service for your morning bagel and hot cocoa, the pool for a quick dip, the bus stop after a restful break, or the boat dock for an evening at Downtown Disney. Anyone that has marched the 30 minute round trip from the Ranchos section of the Coronado Springs Resort to Cafe Rix for a doughnut and coffee can attest to how nice it would be to walk seven minutes instead. There’s also just one bus stop at the front of the resort. French Quarter and Riverside often share buses and the French Quarter is always picked up and dropped off first, except for the Downtown Disney route that operates in reverse. That means French Quarter guests will almost always get seats on the way to the theme parks, whereas Riverside guests are much more likely to stand.
On the flip side, Riverside beats out French Quarter in a number of categories. Its quick service eatery is far larger, with superior offerings and a healthier variety. The French Quarter doesn’t have a table service restaurant, while the Riverside features Boatwright’s. Riverside’s pool blows French Quarter’s out of the water, to be as cliche as humanly possible. Somewhat more debatable is the lounge area, though I give that to the Riverside as well. It’s also much easier to board the boat to Downtown Disney from the Riverside. French Quarter guests only board if there’s room after first picking up Riverside guests.
Also at the Riverside, rooms in the Alligator Bayou section can theoretically sleep up to five people, though it’s a tight fit. With the renovation, more comfortable Murphy beds have been installed in place of the smaller, less comfortable trundle beds. However, it’s no longer possible to request an additional roll-away bed in any Magnolia Bend room, including the new Royal Guest Rooms. The same is true at the French Quarter, where all rooms officially sleep four people.
The size of the Riverside can be mitigated if you book a preferred room in Alligator Bayou buildings 14, 15, 18, or 27. However, these rooms now book as a separate category that costs an additional $25/night, or $175 over a seven night stay.
In my last post, Bryan informed us that “A couple of your pics looked like crap.” So I’ve decided to “one up you” and downsample every image in this post to 14.18 pixels. We’ll start out at the Riverside’s main bus stop and work our way inside. A better comment: “If you asked my boys what the best part of our last trip was, they will tell you ‘seeing the gorilla pooping over the cliff and we got a picture of it!’ I just had to throw this out there with all the butt talk!” I’m not sure how we descended this far into the bowels of the Internet, but I’m not complaining.
The lobby refurbishment continues. It should be completed by the middle of June. It shouldn’t affect your stay in any meaningful way. Beginning Thursday, online check-in may take place out here and concierge services will be offered across the way in front of the River Roost.
This is the main check-in area with the refurbishment walls to the left. On Thursday, that area will reopen and the area we’re currently looking at will be walled off.
The theme is probably lost on most people. The main registration area is supposed to make you feel like you’re booking passage with the Sassagoula Steamboat Company. We’ll be seeing a lot of Sassagoula references throughout our walk, not to mention both resorts border the Sassagoula River. In “real life,” the cities listed above all border the Mississippi River.
Fulton’s General Store is the resort’s main gift shop. Inside, you’ll find the usual merchandise:
This was the first time I had ever seen a 24-pack of beer in a Disney gift shop. That case of Heineken would run you $42, which isn’t just crazy in the grand scheme of things. This is the same store that sells 6-packs of Budweiser, Bud Light, Coors Lights, and Miller Light for $15 or individually at $5.25/can. $1.75 a pop for Heineken isn’t just insanity.
Just for reference, the 375ML bottle of Jack Daniels runs $16.95. That wine in the top right is the same chianti we saw at the Enoteca Castello in the Italy Pavilion that’s bottled exclusively for Disney also at $16.95. Considering the 750ML bottle of Vikingfjord Vodka we saw in the Norway Pavilion was $21.95, something like that might be a better bet.
In case you’re in the market for a larger bag of chips or loaf of bread. There’s no resort specific merchandise at the Port Orleans and none is expected any time soon.
Despite largely generic merchandise, there are some neat touches around the gift shop though. The gift shop over at French Quarter is going to be much more sparsely themed, so if gift shop theming is important, this is your resort!
Even Donald can’t believe there’s something $10 or less at a Disney gift shop.
Or the nephews are too much.
Is it Morty and Ferdie Mouse? Bet you didn’t think that I knew that!
Poor Goofy, always up to something. Both set pieces are animated.
Get your caricature done between 6pm and 10pm inside the gift shop.
The River Roost is the resort’s main lounge area. The area pictured here is used more of a hang out during the day. You’ll see a lot of families waiting while they send one person to check the group in/out. Feel free to do the same. River Roost doesn’t start serving food and drinks until 4pm.
Yee-Haw Bob Jackson entertains guests on the good nights of the week. Double check the end time during the lobby refurbishment, it may be 11pm instead of 12pm. He’s a ton of fun and you’ll definitely want to check his show out if you’re staying at the resort.
Said River Roost before it opens. It’s a nice, friendly, inviting area. I’m not saying you can’t get in a fight here. I’m just saying it’s not inevitable. I have an HDR version of this, but I’m not going to subject you to it.
Keeping up with the steamboat theme, luggage abounds.
And the shipping schedule on the wall.
We’ll take a moment to look over the generic Disney World drink book.
A few of these food items are unique though.
If you’re wondering if I’ve had the Pineapple Upside-Down Martini, then I can tell you with 100% honestly that I have. Very tasty. Can’t comment on the Tinker Bell Punch.
Abita is from Louisiana and the Amber is a pretty decent Munich-style Lager. It looks better than it tastes, but sometimes that’s all that matters. Most of the mixed drinks call for about two ounces of actual liquor.
For example, the Long Island Iced Tea is:
Preparation: Build in mixing glass (except Coke), add ice, shake & pour into collins glass, top with Coke
Garnish: Lemon Wheel
Tito’s Handmade Vodka: 0.5
Bacardi Superior Rum: 0.5
Hendrick’s Gin: 0.5
Sweet and Sour: 3
Or the Very Berry Punch:
Preparation: Build in Mixing Glass, add ice, shake & pour into glass
Bacardi Razz Rum: 1.25
Bols Peach Schnapps: 0.5
Orange Juice: 1
Cranberry Juice: 2
After the Roost opens.
Also inside the main building is Boatwright’s Dining Hall, the resort’s table service restaurant that it shares with the French Quarter. It’s virtually never anywhere close to what might be considered “busy.”
There’s also a tall entrance from the other side of the resort.
I haven’t been to Boatwright’s in approximately forever. Someone suggested visiting at night and I might do just that with a meal at Boatwright’s attached.
The restaurant is clearly visible from the walkway that connects the lobby and the resort’s quick service, Riverside Mill:
I’m just saying there are a lot of weapons handy on the wall if you and your spouse (kids) get in a fight.
And now over to the Riverside Mill.
We’ve got plentiful inside seating.
And two toasters.
And ketchup, mustard, and mayo.
For your pleasure. That’s a pretty serious looking creamer machine.
Freshly Tossed Salads:
The Bakery and Ice Cream:
Obviously a wide variety.
Snacks, including the $4.95 Family Size bags as snack credits:
The Disney Dining Plan:
I opted for the Make Your Own Pasta:
This is marinara sauce, penne pasta, shrimp, broccoli, artichoke hearts, and peas. Mother would be so proud. With a side of your stereotypical burnt garlic bread. This was amazing. I often giggle a little bit when I hear about Disney quick service items that are “big enough to share.” Because you’re talking to someone that could polish off two $14 Chicken/Rib Combos at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe without blinking an eye. Chalk it up to the Disney appetite. But this was so much food and I didn’t really capture it in the picture. Everything about it is made fresh to order, other than the sauce from that vat you see being stirred above. They fry ten shrimp up for you fresh on the skillet. Boil the pasta. Pile the raw vegetables onto the skillet and cook them up fresh. Everything is served hot. As embarrassing as it is, I had trouble finishing it. I don’t think you’ll be able to. If you’re headed back to the Riverside for Lunch or Dinner, I highly recommend the Pasta. Amazing and I’m pretty sure you can split one.
In Part 2, we’ll head outside!