Resorts Unwrapped: Port Orleans Riverside

Resort: Port Orleans Riverside

Level: Moderate 

Rooms: 2,048

A few years ago my family began staying at Port Orleans French Quarters. We fell in love with the resort’s quaintness and size. The French Quarters resort is the sister resort to Port Orleans Riverside. In fact, the resorts are often mentioned in the same breath. They both share many park buses and are within walking distance of one another. With similar themes, many feel that they’re the same resort. While similar, both the French Quarters and Riverside resorts are very much different. Both have their pros and cons, as well as their own cult following.

Theming: 8/10

 

Similar to Port Orleans French Quarters, Port Orleans Riverside very much immerses guests in the theme and motif of New Orleans. While French Quarters celebrates the charm of Mardi Gras and the French Quarter, Riverside pays homage to the Mississippi-Bayou area of the Old South.

Both French Quarters and Riverside are wonderfully decorated I think the themes are the best of any Moderate Resort, however, I give Riverside the slight edge. French Quarter’s relies heavily on its lobby to carry the theme. The outside area of the lobby resembles the French Quarters, while the buildings and walkways feature rod iron and bright colors. The Riverside, on the other hand, carries the theme throughout the resort. It feels more “complete.” Most of the resort hugs the Sassagoula River and the buildings serve a purpose to the theme. The Mansion buildings look like mansions; the Alligator Bayou buildings resemble rustic lodgers; and the landscaping is meticulously maintained to sustain the atmosphere.

That’s not to take away from French Quarters. Believe me, French Quarters outscores Riverside in a few categories. When it comes to themes, though, French Quarters is a bit more hokey, while Riverside has that old time Southern charm.

Christmas Decorations & Theming: 6/10

 

Riverside has a towering tree inside its lobby, which also separates the resort from French Quarters, which features a few smaller Christmas trees. The resort also has bunting throughout the lobby and plenty of Christmas lights at night. I was surprised to see the amount of decorations. I wouldn’t say it dramatically outnumbers French Quarters, but it was unexpected. Normally the larger trees are reserved for the Deluxe Resorts, but Riverside was able to fit a taller tree within its lobby, which was decorated according to the Riverside theme.

Size: 5/10

The resort is very large. Guests placed on the east side of the resort or northeast area will have a decent 5-10 minute walk to the lobby, food court and boat dock. Despite its size, the resort often feels a bit overcrowded.

Transportation: 4/10

Even with four different stops, many of the bus stops are far away from the buildings. The buses are reportedly very sporadic and unreliable. When your bus finally arrives, it’s often overcrowded.

Food: 7/10

I’ve always been very impressed with Riverside’s food choices. With both a Table Service and Quick Service, you have plenty of options for meals. We first tried the Quick Service, Riverside Mill Food Court, last year. After arriving at Disney around noon and having not eaten all day, we were pretty hungry. We decided to forego Sassagoula Floatworks and head over to Riverside to check out its food court.

Riverside Mill Food Court doesn’t serve anything revolutionary. It’s your run-of-the-mill (no pun intended) Quick Service, but it certainly has more options than your typical resort food court. Whereas Sassagoula Floatworks features a menu that matches the resort’s French Quarter theme, Riverside Mill Food Court features everything from burgers and fries, to flatbread pizzas and even a create-your-own salad and pasta station. Above all, it’s one of the only spots to get the Magic Cookie Bar, one of the most underrated desserts on property. This dense, filling brownie and cookie hybrid combines graham crackers, chocolate and butterscotch nibs, coconut, nuts and condensed milk for an outrageous dessert that not even I could finish in one sitting!

Chicken tenders and fries, Pepperoni Flatbread and a Caprese Flatbread.

Chicken tenders and fries, Pepperoni Flatbread and a Caprese Flatbread.

I’ve heard mixed reviews about Riverside’s Table Service, Boatwright’s Dining Hall. Some people love it, some hate it. It has a cajun influence, with dishes like Voodoo Chicken, Shrimp and Grits and Crawfish Mac and Cheese. Those from the south hate Boatwright’s and rightfully so. After all, I’m not a big fan of Italian food at Disney, as New York is such a hotbed for pizza and pasta. Cajun food is also an acquired taste, which may lead to the restaurant’s negative reviews.

Overall:

Port Orleans is a love it or like it resort. French Quarters and Riverside could combine to form the best moderate resort on property. Just as each resort has its cult following, they both have their own unique benefits. Riverside’s biggest benefit is its food and theme. In my opinion, the food court and theme at Riverside is better and more consistent. French Quarters is smaller and has better transportation. You can’t go wrong with either resort—it all comes down to personal preference.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Both French Quarters and Riverside have changing rooms and showers at the pools. This could come in handy for late flights. If you check out at 11am and choose to head to the park or relax at the pool before a late flight, keep a small carry-on handy and shower before leaving on the Magical Express.
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