Hey! Morgan here, with Neverland Navigation Co., your personal guides to all things WDW and beyond! Trying to decide on a Disney World hotel? You’ve come to the right place. We are here to help you choose the best option from the more than 20 options within the “Disney Bubble.”
The hotel we are talking about today is a “moderate” hotel. There are 3 hotel levels: value, moderate and deluxe. I personally think the Fort Wilderness Campgrounds and cabins need to be in their own special category, but we are not reviewing them today, so I will leave that for another discussion. Today we are reviewing Port Orleans, Riverside. Port Orleans is comprised of two different hotels, French Quarter and Riverside. They are usually similar in price and the rooms are similar. Both have a New Orleans theme but in drastically different ways. French Quarter has a Mardi Gras theme, Riverside is themed like the Louisiana countryside. It focuses on the bayou and country living. Without looking up what Disney would tell you is the difference between a value and a moderate hotel, let me tell you what we noticed to be different. There was a ceiling fan in our room in this “moderate” room. Hallelujah! I get that some people don’t care about ceiling fans, but I am a person that has to have the fan going (even if it’s cold in the room) to get good sleep. So for me, this was a big plus. With that being said, that was the ONLY major noticeable difference to us between a room at a ‘value’ resort (the renovated ones at least, like All Star Movies or Music or Pop Century) and a ‘moderate’ room. The room did not appear to be bigger and it did not have more appliances (both have a mini fridge and a small single-serve coffee maker) You could argue that the furnishings are nicer in the ‘moderate’ hotels, but that seems to have more to do with the theme. The Port Orleans Riverside rooms have 4 poster beds, but that fits the plantation manor theme. Whereas Pop Century (and All Star Music and Movies, see our review of them here --> https://bit.ly/3d3Eny1) have a Queen bed with a more modern headboard and a queen Murphy bed, which better fits the theme there. I might even give the win to the rooms with the Murphy bed because when it is not in use as a bed it opens the space up and gives you an extra table to sit at. The vanity in the bathroom looked nicer in Port Orleans but again, it tied in with the theme. They used faux marble for counter and table tops, whereas the value resorts used something more modern but less grand and expensive.
The room tour you will find in the video above, and the statements I made about the comparisons of the room we stayed in as compared to a value resort room are referring to a “standard view room.” There are a few room options to choose from at Port Orleans Riverside. There is the standard view room, the woods view, the pool view, and the river view room and I wouldn’t pay extra for a woods, pool, or river “view”. Let me explain. Your room doesn’t come with a balcony with a view. That might make it worth the price hike, but you don’t get that. It hardly comes with a window with the view you are paying for. You have to walk out of your room and to the railing in the “hallway” to see the view that you are paying for. Not worth it, in my opinion. If I had a balcony that I could sit on and sip my coffee while enjoying a view, it would maybe be worth the money for me. But I wouldn’t pay extra for a view that wasn’t really a view from my room. The next step up is the “Royal Room.” These are intricately decorated in royal decor and have more Princess and the Frog themeing. Basically, it’s decor upgrades. I do love The Princess and the Frog, so this could be worth it, especially if you are coming at a time when the price difference between a standard and a royal room isn’t too much.
A few more things about the rooms. Port Orleans, Riverside is one of the few Disney hotels that are pet friendly! As of this writing, you can bring your dog with you for $50 extra per night. When we entered our room we didn’t notice a dog smell or anything, which I was happy about. The room we stayed in had the loudest air conditioning unit ever. It was ridiculously loud. I thought maybe it was just our room, and maybe the unit was breaking down, but a google search revealed that others have had this same complaint. I don’t know that you would have the same experience but we can only report on our experiences and this was, unfortunately, a bad aspect of our stay.
Each moderate resort (as well as 2 of the more expensive value options) has a secondary mode of transportation, in addition to the buses which every WDW has. For Port Orleans Riverside it is a boat that takes you from Riverside to French Quarter or Disney Springs. Why would you want to go from your hotel to another hotel? Because that’s where the beignets are! Duh! Port Orleans French Quarter is KNOWN for the made-to-order Mickey-shaped beignets. Seriously! They have a cult following! Also, I am an advocate for exploring all the different hotels to check out the intricate decor and to find the hidden Mickeys that the Imagineers have snuck in the decor around all the hotels and parks. Just as importantly, the boat ride to Disney Springs is quite magical. It is slow-moving and interesting and a really fun way to get to Disney Springs to shop or dine or both. The boat was just a really cool perk. The gentleman that captained (captained? Is that right?) our boat shared all sorts of fun information about things we were passing while we were gliding along. It was a peaceful and unique journey.
The hotel grounds are where the differences between a value and a moderate really shine. Value resorts have a gift shop, a “main” big pool with fountains and fun decor, a pool bar, one or two smaller pools, an arcade, and a food court. The moderate resorts have all of that PLUS a hot tub, an indoor bar/lounge, and a sit-down restaurant. Plus the main pool has a waterslide. Port Orleans Riverside has 5 total pools, where All Star Movies (value) has 2 pools and Pop Century (value) has 3. Another thing Port Orleans Riverside has going for it is some “extras” like horse-drawn carriages and bike rentals. You could even go fishing here.
For food options, there is a sit-down restaurant called Boatwrights. We ate there (review to come!) and it was good. But not great. With so many AMAZING dining options I have a hard time recommending this one unless it is just too convenient to pass up for you. It is probably better than the quick-serve, but it just didn’t blow us away. The “food court” here is called Riverside Mill Food Court. The theme is fun, with a big water mill attached to the outside of the back of the seating area. It has a fun country vibe and everything, down to the mismatched chairs, fits in with the theme. The food is decent, but not great. I would recommend getting a refillable souvenir soda cup for $19.99 that can be refilled for the entire length of your stay. I do find these to be a good value, especially if your stay is longer than a couple of days. They are not refillable in the parks though, only at the resort. But for $20 you get a cute souvenir cup and all the soda/coffee/tea/hot chocolate that you can drink during your stay. There was also a quaint bar with a fireplace called River Roost that turned into quite the hot spot at night when they added live music. We got a cloyingly sweet drink at the pool bar when we headed over there for cover from the typical Florida late afternoon storm. That bar also has a fun theme, but the frozen drink we got was REALLY sweet, so be prepared for a toothache.
I would also say the buildings that house the food court, restaurant, check-in, gift shop, etc are just nicer than the buildings at the value resorts. It seems like more money was put Ito the architecture and the themeing. I love the larger-than-life statues at the value resorts that are the basis of their decor, but the main building seems a bit cookie-cutter at the value resorts. For reference, please feel free to go back to our full review of the All Star Hotels. The buildings at Port Orleans Riverside have a LOT more detail and visual interest than the main buildings at the value resorts.
All in all, we WOULD recommend Port Orleans, Riverside. However, if you aren’t going to take advantage of the grounds and will mostly just be using the bedroom for sleeping/showering, you might be better off saving some money and staying at a value (NOT All Star Sports though! Don’t stay there until it has been renovated! See my blog about those resorts for more info here --> https://bit.ly/3d3Eny1. Or the YouTube video review here --> https://youtu.be/l95fDCmSgUY) If you want a little more than the value resorts offer then this is good option. The laid-back Louisiana country vibe is like no other resort that I have ever been to. Did this review help you? Pretty please subscribe to our YouTube channel or check us out in all the places we hang out! TTFN! Ta Ta For Now!