Here’s a little something new I’m trying out. Each week I’ll cover a different Walt Disney World Resort. I’ll talk about the details: the pros, the cons and the tips, tricks and strategies as it pertains to Christmas (or other highly crowded times.)
As I’ve mentioned in the past, surviving your Walt Disney World Christmas vacation—or any trip for that matter—often requires a ton of planning. Part of this planning means choosing the right resort for your family. The right resort and theming can drastically improve your experience.
I decided to start with Port Orleans French Quarters, as we’ve been staying there the past couple of years and it’s fresh in my mind.
Resort: Port Orleans French Quarters
As one of the smaller and quieter resorts on property, Port Orleans French Quarters has grown quite the cult following. Aptly named, Port Orleans French Quarters, often abbreviated to POFQ, features a “Big Easy” theme. It’s decorated to resemble the French Quarters of New Orleans, with cobblestone walks, jazz music playing in the background and the smell of magnolias in the air. The rooms feature colorful outside-facing doors, with interiors full of rich, bold hues of purple and gold.
Personally, I really like the theming of the resort. As you enter the lobby, you’re often welcomed by a lively greeter decked in colorful garb. The sun-soaked atrium lobby, while small, is very relaxing. The lobby leads out to a courtyard with outdoor seating, where guests can sit and enjoy the jazz background music or enjoy a meal from the Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory. The outside area features a cobblestone walkway, along with wrought iron and well-maintained landscapes and topiaries.
Christmas Decorations & Theming: 6/10
Most moderates do a decent job of decorating, but they pale in comparison to the Deluxe resorts. The indoor lobby features a few Christmas trees decorated in gold and purple ribbons and ornaments. The atrium also features a few poinsettias. I wouldn’t choose the resort just for the Christmas decorations, though.
The resort does offer a horse-drawn carriage ride around the grounds. I believe it’s offered year-round, but it really adds to the Christmas spirit during the holiday season.
Port Orleans French Quarters is one of the smaller resorts on property. This really comes in handy after a long day at the parks. Most rooms are only 5 minutes from the bus stop, depending on how fast you walk. Nothing beats coming home at 2am after Extra Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom and being able to head straight to your room and jump into bed within 5-10 minutes.
The size also makes it one of the quieter resorts at Disney. While a few rooms face the pool, we’ve never had a problem with noise. In fact, I’ve taken a few peaceful walks around the grounds. Outside of the background music and a few ambient noises, it’s a pretty quiet resort.
Port Orleans French Quarters has one bus stop, located at the front of the resort. While this may sound like a downfall, it’s a pretty big benefit. The French Quarters often shares a bus with Riverside, but it’s the first stop going to and coming from the park. This really comes in handy when heading to the park for rope drop or after a long day. I remember stays at Coronado Springs when we’d have to pass on buses that were already full or had to wait as it made additional stops.
The resort rarely, if ever, combines buses to and from Magic Kingdom. It may combine buses for Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and EPCOT, but will split them up during peak travel dates, like Christmas week.
While Disney transportation led to a few headaches last trip—like when a Hollywood Studios bus didn’t show up for nearly an hour and we missed on our FastPass+—but we never had a problem getting on a bus when it did show up at French Quarters. It’s a huge benefit during crowded times at Disney and unique (as far as I know) to the resort.
Both French Quarters and Riverside offer boat transportation to and from Disney Springs. The boats are combined in the evening, which is worth remembering if you’re in a hurry. It’s an incredibly relaxing trip and very convenient, considering the Disney Springs bus is almost always combined.
The biggest downfall to Port Orleans French Quarters is its lack of a Table Service restaurant. While Boatwright’s Dining Hall, at Port Orleans Riverside is a short walk, boat ride or bus ride away, the lack of Table Service deducts a few points from French Quarters.
The food court, Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory, is current under renovation with a reopening date not yet confirmed. A temporary location has been set up next to the lobby and guests are urged to venture over to Riverside and dine at the Mill Food Court.
The breakfasts at Sassagoula Floatworks were your typical Disney Quick Service breakfast offerings: egg dishes served with meat and potatoes, Mickey waffles and a bakery section. Lunch featured New Orleans influenced offerings, like Po’ Boys. The biggest draw for the food court was the beignets, freshly prepared upon ordering.
I’d recommend Port Orleans French Quarters. It was very good to us, despite our most recent stay being less than stellar. It’s a small, quiet resort with a fun theme. It’s beautifully manicured and well kept, and the view of the Sassagoula River is amazing. All rooms are within close proximity to the lobby and bus stop and transportation is almost always a breeze, which comes in handy during crowded times.
Tips & Tricks:
– Try and get a room in Building 1, 2 or 5. During our first stay, we were placed in building 5, facing the Sassagoula River. Nothing beat waking up for Rope Drop and seeing the sun rise over the trees, reflecting off the Sassagoula River. During another stay, we were placed in Building 1 with a “parking lot view.” We happened to have a corner room with a view of the parking lot, as well as the Sassagoula River.
– 30-minute horse-drawn carriage rides up and down the Sassagoula River depart from Boatwright’s Dining Hall at the Port Orleans Riverside Resort. While it’s offered year-round, it definitely has a Christmas feel to it.
– If you happen to stay at Port Orleans French Quarters during New Year’s Eve, the resort hosts a New Year’s Eve party outside the lobby. They put up a giant screen projecting Dick Clark’s New Years Rockin’ Eve and hand out noisemakers. They also serve many snacks and non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks, like champagne, wine and beer. If you’re looking to avoid the crowded parks, this is certainly a nice alternative for a “quieter” night. We once dined at Downtown Disney then took the boat back to ring in the New Year at the resort.