Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort Review
Port Orleans Riverside is a moderate resort at Walt Disney World, located in the Disney Springs Resort Area. The resort sits on approximately 200 acres and offers over 2000 guest rooms, making it one of the largest resorts at Walt Disney World.
This review of Port Orleans Riverside will discuss rooms, recreation, dining, transportation, and other amenities at the resort. Additionally, I’ll add a few pros and cons to consider when planning a stay here.
Port Orleans Riverside Review
Port Orleans Riverside is designed to reflect life on the Bayou in rural Louisiana. The resort has two sections: Magnolia Bend and Alligator Bayou.
Magnolia Bend is made up of four white mansions with manicured lawns representing the softer side of Louisiana. Alligator Bayou resembles the backwoods of the Bayou with an overall woodsy feel.
Riverside sits next door to sister resort Port Orleans French Quarter, which is a much smaller resort. The theming at French Quarter has a nod toward New Orleans with touches of Mardi Gras.
Both resorts are located on Disney’s Sassagoula River, with only a short walk between them. Guests are welcome to use the amenities available at either resort.
Rooms at Port Orleans Riverside
When selecting a room at Port Orleans Riverside, the options can get confusing. So we’ll start with Magnolia Bend, which is home to the mansions.
The four mansions at Magnolia Bend are:
- Arcadian House
- Magnolia Terrace
- Oak Manor
- Parterre Place
Magnolia Bend is home to standard guest rooms and royal guest rooms. The royal guest rooms are located in Oak Manor and Parterre Place.
We upgraded to a royal guest room on our last stay at Port Orleans Riverside. Unfortunately, this was before I started the website. Therefore, I don’t have any room photos available.
With that being said, the royal rooms were not anything to write home about. Not only that, they are located on the far end of Magnolia Bend.
I had never visited Port Orleans Riverside when I initially reserved the room. So, I had no idea that the resort was so large.
For whatever reason, I thought that we would have a good room location since we were reserving an upgraded room. However, had I done any research, I would have realized that was not the case.
So, what is a royal guest room? Well, it’s a room that is a little more decorated than a standard guest room. You can expect more attention to detail in the room’s fixtures and furniture. Disney princesses are featured in the room’s artwork.
Additionally, the headboards have a button that makes the art above the bed light up. Sure your children will probably think the headboard element is fun, but that’s about it.
Oh, and you’ll get a letter from Princess Tiana at check-in. This letter is not something you would get if you stayed in a standard room. It was also not a big deal, as you can probably imagine.
Unfortunately, because of the room and its location, I ended up with a bad taste in my mouth for Riverside. I was left feeling like I had paid a considerable amount more for a room that had no extras.
And we were nowhere near a bus stop, which was unbelievably frustrating considering how much time we spent in the parks on that trip. It’s only in recent years that I’ve begun to appreciate the resort’s beauty and would consider staying there again.
Ultimately, I wouldn’t recommend paying for a royal room upgrade. And I wouldn’t necessarily consider it a positive if I received a magical upgrade to one.
The only Port Orleans Riverside room that I would consider an upgrade is preferred. By Disney’s standards, a preferred room at Riverside means close to dining, shopping, transportation, and the resort’s main lobby.
Unfortunately, there are no preferred rooms available in Magnolia Bend. However, the mansions do have the following options for room views:
- Standard View
- Woods View
- Pool View
- River View
Additionally, there’s an option to upgrade to a room with a king-size bed. All of the standard guest rooms in Magnolia Bend have two queen size beds, with the exception of the king upgrade.
As for the room views, I wouldn’t consider paying for an upgrade here either. All of the rooms at Port Orleans Riverside have exterior access. Unfortunately, there are no balconies available.
So if you pay for an upgraded view, you’ll have to look out from the large front window of your hotel room. I don’t know about you, but we rarely open the curtains when we stay in this type of hotel room. Everyone that passes by can see your entire room if you did.
Thankfully, Magnolia Bend does have elevators. All of the mansions have three floors in the middle and the outer buildings have two stories. There is an elevator shaft in the center of each building. Exterior staircases are located on the corners.
On the other side of the resort, we have Alligator Bayou, the more rustic section of the resort. Alligator Bayou consists of 16 different buildings.
Each building in this section of the resort has two stories. Unfortunately, there are no elevators in the Alligator Bayou section of the resort.
The only other resort at Walt Disney World that doesn’t have elevators is Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. And Old Key West only has elevators in select buildings.
Related: Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort Review
However, this is where the resort’s preferred rooms are located. Preferred rooms are located in buildings 14, 15, 18, and 27 in Alligator Bayou.
While you might think that the elevator is a deal-breaker, there is another reason that guests consider rooms in this section of the resort. Alligator Bayou rooms have two queen size beds and a 5th sleeper.
The additional sleeper is a huge perk for families of five. Riverside and Caribbean Beach are the only moderates that have this upgrade available.
The fifth sleeper is a single pull-down Murphy bed located under the television area. This bed comfortably sleeps guests up to around 12 years old.
Most will have to consider one of the Disney World Villa Resorts (Disney Vacation Club) to find a room to accommodate five or more guests. Additionally, a few of Disney’s value resorts offer family suites.
Rooms in Alligator Bayou have the following upgrades:
- Woods View
- River View
- 5th Sleeper
- Pool View
- King-Size Bed
Like Magnolia Bend above, I wouldn’t necessarily consider the room views a significant upgrade. However, if you feel like you’ll be miserable looking out from your room to a parking lot, you can always pay more.
Now that you’ve got a good idea of your room options let’s look at what recreation items are available at the resort.
When it comes to recreation at Port Orleans Riverside, there are plenty of things to do at the resort. Like, most of the resorts we cover, I recommend planning a full resort day during your vacation.
For starters, you could spend an entire day at the resort’s swimming area. Ol’ Man Island is a three-acre island designed to resemble an old sawmill.
This pool area is home to a 95′ long water slide and several other fun water elements.
Additionally, there’s a playground available on Ol’ Man Island.
And this area is home to the Muddy Rivers Pool Bar.
In addition, a campfire and Movies Under the Stars are held nightly at the pool area. There will be a recreation schedule available at the resort during your stay. It will list the movies that are playing each night of the week.
Riverside Resort is also home to a Fishin’ Hole. The Fishin’ Hole is located on Ol’ Man Island behind Muddy Rivers.
Guests can participate in cane pole fishing daily between 7:00 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. for a small extra fee. The fee includes cane poles, bait, and dock time.
Or you might elect to rent a guided fishing tour along the Sassagoula River at Port Orleans Riverside. These tours can accommodate up to five guests and usually last two to four hours.
More information about reserving this type of excursion is available here on Disney’s site. All fishing at Walt Disney World is catch-and-release only.
Another extra cost item the whole family might enjoy at Port Orleans Riverside is a horse-drawn carriage ride. These carriage rides last 25 minutes and are usually available in the early evenings. You can reserve this experience in advance here on Disney’s Site.
Port Orleans Riverside is such a large resort that you or your group might want to tour it via a bicycle ride. Or better yet, you might want to try a Surrey Bike rental.
The following prices were posted on my last visit for these items:
- Bike Rentals $9.00 per 60 minutes or $18.00 per day
- Surrey Bike (2-seater) $20.00 for thirty minutes
- Surrey Bike (4-seater) $22.00 per thirty minutes
- Cane Pole Fishing $6.00 per thirty minutes
- Guided Bass Fishing $235 for a two-hour excursion
- Guided Bass Fishing $455 for a four-hour excursion
Note: Fireworks Cruises are listed in the photo above. However, these cruises launch from different resorts. Therefore, while you can rent a cruise here, you will have to travel to another resort to participate.
Additionally, Port Orleans Riverside has five leisure or quiet pools spread out over the resort’s grounds. There are three pools located in the Alligator Bayou section of the resort and two pools in Magnolia Bend.
We have an entire article that details the different pools at the resort if you want to learn more.
Related: The Pools at Port Orleans Riverside
For those who prefer a little fun indoors, make sure not to miss the resort’s arcade. Medicine Show Arcade is located off the resort’s main lobby in the Colonel’s Cotton Mill building.
It’s a large arcade packed with games.
Lastly, you may remember that I mentioned it wasn’t until recent years that I started to appreciate Riverside’s beauty. A few years ago, I started doing a little recreational jogging.
Often, I would work on the blog during the day, and I would drive over to a resort to take a jog in the evenings. This practice helped me learn the layouts of some of the larger resorts in detail.
Somehow, during that time, Port Orleans Riverside managed to win me over. So, if you enjoy walking or jogging, this is an excellent resort to do so.
Here is a look at the jogging trail posted at the resort.
Related: Best Jogging Trails at Disney World
I’m sure that all of this recreation talk has probably caused you to work up an appetite. So let’s continue with a look at the dining options at Riverside.
There are several dining options available at Port Orleans Riverside. The resort features a large counter service food court, a table service restaurant, a bar with a lounge, and one pool bar.
Here’s what they have:
- Riverside Mill Food Court is located off the resort’s lobby and offers five different stations. The quick-service is open daily from 7:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m.
- Boatwright’s Dining Hall is the table service dining location for Port Orleans Riverside. This restaurant is open nightly from 5:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. Expect American cuisine with a touch of creole. You can preview the menu here.
- River Roost–River Roost Lounge is the bar and lounge located immediately off the lobby of Port Orleans Riverside. This location is where the infamous Yehaa Bob Jackson performs on Wednesday through Saturday evenings from 8:30 p.m. until midnight. The act is a musical and comedy medley mix.
- Muddy Rivers–Lastly, Muddy Rivers is the resort’s pool bar located at Ol’ Man Island. This pool bar offers the classic Disney cocktail menu and limited quick-service food options.
Related: Port Orleans Riverside Restaurant Guide
Additionally, since Disney’s French Quarter is so close to Riverside, guests can walk over and enjoy the lounge, pool bar, or counter service at the resort. French Quarter has an excellent counter service dining location. However, they do not offer table service dining.
Related: Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory Review
While it’s true that there aren’t many dining locations at Port Orleans Riverside, there is one factor we’ve yet to discuss. Disney Springs is only a short boat ride away from Port Orleans Riverside.
Disney Springs offers close to 60 dining establishments. There are so many restaurants available. It’s hard to keep up with them all. Make sure to check out our guide with tips for enjoying a meal there.
Related: The Best Restaurants at Disney Springs
Briefly, we’ll look at the transportation options available at Port Orleans Riverside. As we just discussed above, Disney Springs is only a short ride away from the resort via a water taxi.
The water taxis stop at Riverside, French Quarter, and Disney Springs. They travel back and forth in that exact order.
Additionally, Port Orleans Riverside offers bus transportation to the following locations:
- Magic Kingdom
- Hollywood Studios
- Animal Kingdom
- Blizzard Beach
- Typhoon Lagoon
- Disney Springs
So if you don’t care to take the boat to Disney Springs, you can always catch a bus. For more in-depth coverage of the options available at Riverside and the French Quarter, make sure to check out the transportation guide.
Related: Transportation Options at Disney’s Port Orleans Resorts
It’s important to mention that Port Orleans Riverside has an internal bus system with four bus stops. The bus stops travel in the following order.
- South Depot (Main Lobby)
- West Depot
- North Depot
- East Depot
During less busy times, the resort shares bus service with French Quarter. One of the things to consider is that you’ll likely spend a decent amount of time on the bus, given all the stops it makes along the route.
Extras at Port Orleans Riverside
We’ve covered a good bit of ground in this Port Orleans Riverside Review so far. However, I felt a few odds and ends were missing.
For starters, the resort’s lobby is referred to as the Sassagoula Steamboat Co. building.
Inside you’ll find all of the main amenities at the resort. This building is home to the arcade, counter service restaurant, table service restaurant, gift shop, River Roost lounge, and the resort’s check-in area.
The check-in area is in this large room with plenty of seating. Most of us bypass check-in these days with Disney’s text-to-room service. However, it’s not uncommon for guests to visit this area at least once during their stay.
The resort’s gift shop, Fulton’s General Store, is sizable and has a good variety of merchandise.
I recently did a photo tour of the gift shop. Make sure to check out that article if you want to see what all you might find inside.
Related: Fulton’s General Store at Riverside
Those planning to do laundry should be able to find a laundry room near your building. There is a laundry room available at each quiet pool.
Pros and Cons of Staying at Port Orleans Riverside
Overall, Port Orleans Riverside is a lovely resort offering two vastly different landscapes. While I think that most will enjoy a stay here, there are a few pros and cons you’ll want to consider.
The fact that Port Orleans Riverside is such a large resort is a positive for some and a negative for others. Due to the resort’s size, there is more to explore and tons of recreation items available.
However, the resort’s size contributes to the need for an internal bus system. If you’re leaving for Magic Kingdom first thing in the morning from the main bus stop, the bus will make three more stops before ever leaving the resort. That’s a lot of extra time on the bus.
Additionally, you might have to sit through several bus stops and have a long walk back to your room when returning. Those who can’t walk long distances might consider Port Orleans French Quarter.
I have an article comparing the resorts in great detail. While they sit next to each other, they have several considerable differences.
Related: Port Orleans French Quarter vs. Port Orleans Riverside
As we discussed, Riverside doesn’t have a ton of dining options. However, this is not a huge deal if you’re willing to take the boat down to Disney Springs for several meals during your stay.
And Riverside is one of the few resorts that offers the 5th sleeper for an extra guest. The price alone for the additional guest accommodation could be the thing that tips the scale toward a stay here.
Just don’t forget if you receive a second-floor room assignment in Alligator Bayou that you’ll have to take the stairs. Of course, you can always request bell services to bring your luggage to the room. However, with recent staffing shortages, it could take a while.
Overall, Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside is a large resort that offers a retreat from the busyness of the Disney Parks. The grounds are romantic, and the location along the scenic river is charming.
For many, the variety of landscapes offered at the resort is appealing. Unfortunately, others may find the resort overwhelming due to its size.
If you’re looking for something different from your typical Walt Disney World Resort, or need that extra bed, this might be the perfect fit!
And if you’ve read this entire review of Port Orleans Riverside, and you’re still unsure, you might consider a few other resorts:
- Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort Review
- Gran Destino Tower Review
- Saratoga Springs Resort Review
- Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort Review
In addition, all of our articles for Port Orleans Riverside are available here. Or you can browse our entire list of Disney World Resort Reviews.
In the comments: Have you stayed at this resort before? Did this review of Port Orleans Riverside answer your questions about planning a stay here?