Sorry, this 2011 FAQ thread is now full and closed, please see the new updated version located at: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2851271 See you there! Welcome to the Port Orleans Riverside FAQ Thread Quick Facts: Resort: Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Address: 1251 Riverside Drive, Lake Buena Vista, Florida, 32830-1000 Tel: (407) 934-6000 Fax: (407) 934-5777 Official Website: disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts/port-orleans-resort-riverside Reservations: (407) 934-7639 or www.disneyworld.com, or your favourite travel agent Opening Date: 2 February 1992 (under its former name of Dixie Landings) Location: Downtown Disney area Category: Moderate Rooms: 2,048 Closest Theme Park: Epcot Closest Water Park: Typhoon Lagoon Closest Entertainment/Shopping: Downtown Disney Introduction Port Orleans Riverside is the largest section of the 3,056 room Port Orleans Resort complex which is situated about two miles north of the Downtown Disney area along the banks of the Disney-created Sassagoula River. The other section is is Port Orleans French Quarter and the entire complex was formed by the merger of the old Dixie Landings Resort and the Port Orleans Resort in March 2001. Each area (Riverside and French Quarter) is treated as a separate hotel by the Disney Reservations Center, and each has its own check-in area and facilities. However, guests staying at Riverside may use all the amenities at French Quarter and vice versa – including sharing the swimming pools. It’s just a short ten-minute riverbank walk between the two locations, or you can use the free ferry boats. Room Refurbishments, 2011/2012 (Information updated November 2011) A resort-wide room refurbishment program commenced on 26 June 2011, which should hopefully be complete by August 2012. The project started with Acadian House and Magnolia Terrace, which are both now complete, and work is currently underway on the first four Alligator Bayou lodges (36-39). Two of these (36 and 37) were re-opened during November, and the other two are due to open on 9 and 16 December. In early 2012, all 512 of the rooms in Oak Manor and Parterre Place will get the new Royal Room treatment (with Oak due to re-open on 17 February and Parterre on 23 March). Note: these are the only sections of Port Orleans that will be getting Royal Rooms. Finally, the remainder of Alligator Bayou will be completed over the following four/five months. To minimise disruption, only one building will be down at a time, although there may be a slight overlap period in some cases. The newly refitted rooms include Queen size beds to replace the old doubles, flat-screen TVs, and completely updated furnishings, fittings, carpets, etc. What is the layout of the resort? The Port Orleans Riverside Resort is split into two sections, Alligator Bayou and Magnolia Bend, plus the main facilities building (the Sassagoula Steamboat Company) and a recreational area (Ol’ man Island) which is located centrally between the two areas. Alligator Bayou consists of 16 two-story buildings with 64 guest rooms in each (with room numbers 14xx to 39xx). As the buildings are fairly small, there are no elevators. The area is themed as a rustic backwater bayou, with dense foliage, meandering streams and pathways, small pools and pretty bridges. The rooms follow this rustic style and feature such themed items as bed-posts hewn from logs. Note: some people love this theming, while others comment that it feels rather ’basic’. Magnolia Bend consists of four larger 256-room plantation style ‘mansion buildings’ (Acadian House, Magnolia Terrace, Oak Manor and Parterre Place) laid out in more formal gardens with fountains and courtyards (room numbers 80xx to 95xx). The rooms are more ornate and plushly decorated, although the actual size and facilities provided are identical to those in Alligator Bayou. The mansions are all three storied buildings near the main entrance (where the elevators are located) and two stories in the outlying blocks. The Sassagoula Steamboat Company main facilities building is themed as a riverboat depot and an old-fashioned cotton mill, and it provides the resort’s lobby and front desk facilities, shop, restaurants and bars, the main bus stop and ferry boat dock, plus boat and bike rental facilities. Ol’ Man Island is home to the main feature swimming pool with slide, hot tub and pool bar, the Fishin’ Hole, a children’s playground and a seasonal campfire setting. What types of room are available? There are now five room categories: Standard, Preferred Location, King Bed, Water View and River View (surcharges apply for the latter four). For 2012, a new category of Garden View will be introduced, also at a surcharge but slightly lower than the other options. Also in 2012, starting from 17 February 2012, new Royal Themed Rooms will become available, first in Oak Manor and then Parterre Place. Standard View rooms can overlook woods, courtyards, garden areas or parking lots, with Garden View presumably guaranteeing that you won’t be looking straight out over a parking lot. Water View gives you a view of either a pool or the Sassagoula River - but to be guaranteed a River View you will need to book that as a category. Preferred Location guarantees you a room fairly close to the main building and bus stop, located ONLY in Alligator Bayou lodges 14, 15, 18 and 27. King Bed rooms contain just one King-size bed instead of two doubles/queens and can be located anywhere on the resort. Disability Accessible rooms are also available, some with one King bed and others with two doubles/queens. The 512 new Royal Rooms will be located exclusively in Oak Manor and Parterre Place, and will all be fitted with two queen beds. How much does it cost? Room prices vary by weekday/weekend, season and room type, starting from a basic $159 per night for weekdays in Value season up to $239 for the Christams Holiday week (2011 prices). There will be a further tiered pricing structure for the new Royal Rooms in 2012. These prices are all plus the local 12.5% tax. Note: There is a $15 per person surcharge for having a third, fourth or fifth adult occupying a room. The surcharges for the different room categories are generally as follows: Garden View: n/a in 2011 ($11 in 2012) Preferred Location: $25 ($28 in 2012) King Bed: $25 ($28 in 2012) Water View: $25 ($28 in 2012) River View: $30 ($34 in 2012) Royal Room Standard View: $34 (from 4 March 2012) Royal Room Garden View: $45 (from 4 March 2012) Royal Room Water View: $62 (from 4 March 2012)) Royal Room River View: $68 (from 4 March 2012) If you book room-only with Disney you will pay a one room/night deposit in advance and the balance upon arrival. Cancellation with a full refund is possible up until six days before arrival, or 45 days for package bookings. Some discounts, such as AAA and WDW Annual Passholder apply, but these are limited and often sell out very quickly once the rates have been released. Can I request a particular location or room type? Some people prefer to request one section or the other and it’s always best to make your requests along with your initial booking. You can also try faxing or phoning the resort a few days before you arrive (no more than five days) as a reminder, but please be aware that Disney will not guarantee any locations apart from on specific medical grounds. Generally speaking, the best locations for access to the main building and bus stop are buildings 14-18 and 27 in the Alligator Bayou section (mostly now surcharged as Preferred Locations). Magnolia Terrace and Oak Manor in the Magnolia Bend mansions are also good. Booking a River View room will also tend to assure you of a room without too long a walk to anywhere. Some areas, such as many of the Alligator Bayou lodges in the twenties and thirties, and the far sides of the mansion buildings, are rather remote and while there are several outlying bus stops you might find yourself a very long way from breakfast! What facilities are in the rooms? All rooms are approximately 314 square feet and feature two double beds (which will be replaced with queen size beds during the refurbishment). Rooms containing one King bed are available for an extra charge. The Alligator Bayou double-bedded rooms (only) also feature an extra pull-out trundle bed which allows this section to sleep five people. Note: the trundle bed is smaller than a normal single bed and so is really only suitable for children up to about age ten. Connecting doorway rooms are available, but again these are not guaranteed unless there are unaccompanied minors occupying the second room. Another often-requested option is a corner room, as these have two windows rather than one and thus tend to be brighter. All rooms include: phone, TV, clock, small fridge (no freezer compartment), bathtub/shower, toilet, two wash basins, table & two chairs, bedside table, cabinet with drawers (beneath the TV), air conditioning & ceiling fan, cabled internet access ($9.95 for 24 hours), small wall-safe, coffee maker (four-cup basket filter type, supplied with free coffee), hair dryer, iron & ironing board, clothes hanging rail. Some disabled-access rooms are available which mostly feature one King-size bed, a roll-in shower and wheel-chair height accessible facilities such as safe, wash basin, etc. Is smoking allowed in any of the buildings? No, smoking is no longer permitted in any part of Walt Disney World apart from specially designated smoking areas which are clearly marked on the resort maps. What time can I check in and can the resort store my bags? Rooms are officially available from 3pm but you can check in at the front desk as early as you like. You may get lucky and find that a room happens to be ready earlier, or otherwise Bell Services can store your bags while you head off to enjoy the hotel facilities or the theme parks. Check-out is by 11am, although you can request a free later check-out time (up to 1pm) as long as the room is not need urgently for other guests. Again, Bell Services will store your bags until you are ready to depart, and they also have a fridge for items which need to be kept chilled. Note: the main pool has showers, lockers and changing rooms if you want to take a dip after you have checked out. What options are there for eating and drinking? The Sassagoula Steamboat Company building houses a counter service food court and a table-service restaurant, a lounge bar and the hotel shop which sells packeted snacks and drinks. The Riverside Mill is the resort’s food court, themed as a working cotton mill from the mid-1800s. It contains five varied serving stations offering everything from bakery goods and burger/chicken meals to carved meat joints to pizza and make-your-own-pasta, plus a grab-and-go area for quick fresh snack items. Refillable mugs are available for a one-off fee (currently $13.99 plus tax) which can be topped up at the beverage station for free for the rest of your stay. The one downside at this food court is that you collect all your food from the various counters and only then queue up to pay, which means that at very busy times (such as 9am for breakfast) it can take a while before you sit down to eat. Boatwright’s Dining Hall is the only table-service restaurant at either of the Port Orleans resorts, and is situated in a recreation of an old shipbuilder’s yard, complete with the partially-completed ”New Orleans Lugger” boat hanging from the ceiling. As with all of Walt Disney World these days, advanced dining reservations are strong recommended - call (407) WDW-DINE to book up to 180 days in advance of the first day of your stay. The food has a generally Cajun style, but there’s plenty to choose from for everyone. The Sweet Potato Cakes and Banana-stuffed French Toast for breakfast were especially recommended, but sadly from 22nd February 2009 Boatwright’s no longer serves breakfast, only dinner from 5pm to 10pm. The River Roost lounge offers specialty drinks, appetizers, and some great sing-along piano musical entertainment from “Ye Haa” Bob Jackson in the evenings (Wednesday-Saturday from 8.30pm). Light snacks and drinks are also available from the Muddy Rivers pool bar on Ol’ Man Island. Fulton’s General Store is the resort’s gift shop, and apart from all the usual Disney and resort merchandise they also carry a selection of essentials plus snack items and bottled drinks, newspapers & magazines, medicines, etc. Note: While you can buy milk and some other essentials here, remember that this is a hotal shop so expect to pay a premium price. If you want to buy a bit cheaper but don’t have transportation, try the Hess gas station just over the road from Planet Hollywood at Downtown Disney. What about recreation facilities? Ol’ Man Island contains Riverside’s main feature swimming pool, which is themed as an old-fashioned swimming hole located on a wooded island surrounded by the Sassagoula River. The main pool has waterfalls and a 95 ft slide, plus there’s a separate kiddies pool, hot tub and the Muddy Rivers Pool Bar if you just want to sit on the porch with a drink. Life guards are on duty until 8pm (10pm seasonally) when the slide closes, but there are often people still swimming until well after midnight. Towels are provided free of charge and there is a towel-return bin next to the pool. Ol’ Man Island also features a children’s playground area and a campfire around which stories are told as your roast your smores (seasonal winter activity). There is also a Fishin’ Hole where you can rent a cane pole and catch catfish, perch, bass and bluegill. There is a catch-and-release policy so you’ll have to throw ’em back. You can also book a fishing excursion on the Sassagoula River - bring your own rod and tackle, or rent them. Port Orleans Riverside also has five smaller ‘quiet’ pools – two in the Magnolia Bend area and three in Alligator Bayou. These are open 24 hours, but they do not have lifeguards or provide towels (although there are towel-return bins). There are guest-operated pay laundry facilities at each of the quiet pools ($2 per load, plus $2 for drying). The Medicine Show Games Arcade is located just off the main lobby. At the marina just behind the main lobby you can rent a pontoon boat, Boston Whaler, Sea Raycer (two-person water mouse boat) or pedal boat/canoe and travel up and down the Sassagoula River. You can also rent pedal cycles and four-wheel ‘Surrey Bikes’ from this area. On Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday mornings, children aged 4-12 can experience the Bayou Pirate Adventure, a supervised riverboat excursion in search of hidden treasure. Cost is $34 plus tax per child, including a snack lunch. Horse-drawn carriage rides are offered in the evenings (weather permitting) from 6pm to 9:30pm. Cost is $45 per 25-minute ride for up to four adults (or two adults and three small children). You can make reservations at the Riverside marina, or in advance via (407) WDW PLAY. What transportation options are there? Port Orleans Riverside features four bus stops with free Disney bus transportation to all of the Disney theme parks, water parks and the Downtown Disney area. Buses run at least every 10-20 minutes from one hour before park opening until 1.5 hours after each park closes. Note: you cannot get to the other resort hotels very easily and will need to plan enough time to change at a theme park or at Downtown Disney. The bus service is the subject of some controversy as this is a large resort and sometimes the bus service is shared with French Quarter (which often gets the first pickup on the route). Even though separate services are run at peak times, and almost always for the Magic Kingdom, if you’re trying to get back from a park (along with the rest of the masses) after a fireworks show, you may experience a lengthy wait. There are four bus stops at Riverside, so if you board at the first one (usually the South Depot, next to the main lobby building) then you may have to go round the other three stops before the bus actually departs for its final destination. Epcot is the closest resort (usually less than 10 minutes from leaving the resort), then Studios, Magic Kingdom and finally Animal Kingdom (sharing its service with Blizzard Beach) which can take up to 20-25 minutes. If you’re travelling to Downtown Disney, a much more relaxing and romantic option is the 20-minute free water taxi service which runs along the Sassagoula River every 10-20 minutes from 10am to 11pm. Outside of these hours you’ll need to take the bus to get to or from Downtown Disney, and during the day that bus also serves Typhoon Lagoon. Where can I find out more detailed information, see photos, etc? For more information and some photos, please refer to the Port Orleans Riverside DIS Resorts Page and the DIS Port Orleans Riverside Photos Page. You could also try the Port Orleans Unofficial Guide website at www.portorleans.org which tries to answer just about any Port Orleans questions you may have - and has over 2,000 photos too. There is also a fabulous Port Orleans Riverside photo thread right here on the DIS to get you excited ready for your trip. Port Orleans Riverside FAQ text and photos (c) Andre Willey 2011. Used here by permission.