Sorry, this FAQ thread is now at its 250 page limit (again!) and needs to be closed. Please see the new updated version located HERE. See you over there! Welcome to the Port Orleans Riverside FAQ 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 22 July 2012) 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, both of which are now complete. Also completed just before Christmas 2011 were Alligator Bayou lodges 14, 36, 37 and 38. In early 2012, Oak Manor went into refurbishment and reopened on 9 March 2012 with 256 all-new "Royal Guest Rooms". The remaining 256 Royal Guest Rooms, located in Parterre Place, were opened on 13 April. Note: these are the only two buildings at Port Orleans which will have Royal Guest Rooms, and they all feature two queen beds (no Kings and no extra murphy beds). Finally, the remainder of the Alligator Bayou lodges will be completed, starting with building 24 which closed for refurbishment on 15 April. Currently completed and fully re-opened are: 24, 16, 17, 28, 15, 27, 25, 18, 39, 34 & 35. The refurbishment of the rooms in the final building, 26, is also complete and it will be re-opened for guests on 1st August once some roofing work is complete. See www.portorleans.org/rehab.php for the latest news. There are now NO non-refurbished rooms left at the resort, the last ones having been closed on 24 June 2012. All rooms now feature two Queen Beds instead of the old doubles (or a single King Bed if you have booked that option) and all Alligator Bayou rooms now feature a pull-down Murphy bed instead of the old trundle bed. 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 - with the exception that the mansion building rooms do not feature an extra bed for a fifth person. 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 ten room categories: Standard, Garden View (which is new for 2012), Preferred Location, King Bed, Water View and River View. Starting from 9 March 2012, the new Royal Guest Rooms became available in Standard, Garden, Water and River Views. Each room category has its own pricing level. Note: there are no Preferred Locations or King Beds available in the Royal Guest Room buildings. The 512 new Royal Guest Rooms are located exclusively in Oak Manor and Parterre Place and are all fitted with two queen beds (no Kings or Murphy beds). Standard View rooms can overlook many areas of the resort, but most commonly will face the parking lots. Garden View guarantees that you won’t be looking out over a parking lot and you should get a more pleasant view of gardens, bayou, courtyards, fountains, etc. Water View gives you a view of either a pool or possibly 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 queens and can be located anywhere on the resort. Disability Accessible rooms are also available, a few with one King Bed but now mostly with two queens. 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 $244 for the Christams Holiday week (2012 prices). There is a further tiered pricing structure for the new Royal Guest Rooms starting at the same price as regular River View rooms. 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 (aged 18 or over) occupying one room. The surcharges for the different room categories are generally as follows: Garden View: $10 Preferred Location: $25 King Bed: $25 Water View: $25 River View: $30 Royal Room Standard View: $30 Royal Room Garden View: $40 Royal Room Water View: $55 Royal Room River View: $60 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 (many of which are now surcharged as Preferred Locations, but 16 and 17 are still good choices). 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! For more information on the best room locations and how to make special requests, please see here. What facilities are in the rooms? All rooms are approximately 314 square feet and feature two queen size beds. Rooms containing one King Bed are available for an extra charge. The Alligator Bayou rooms also feature an extra pull-down Murphy bed which allows this section to sleep five people, although these beds are not really suitable for anyone over about five foot tall. 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 an external corner room, as these have two windows rather than one and thus tend to be brighter. All rooms include: phone, flat-screen 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 (new Cuisinart dual-cup type, supplied with free coffee pods), hair dryer, iron & ironing board, clothes hanging rail. In mid-December 2011, FREE in-room wi-fi internet access was introduced throughout the Port Orelans resorts. Some disabled-accessible rooms are available with slightly more floor space which mostly feature a roll-in shower and wheel-chair height accessible facilities such as safe, single 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. Daily recreational activities are held around the pool area and the island also features a children’s playground and an evening campfire around which stories are told as you roast your smores. 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). At night there are outdoor movie screenings in the turfed courtyard in front of Oak Manor building. 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 further details, 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) portorleans.org 2012. Used here by permission.