Disney World’s French Quarter Resort

by on March 21, 2012 53 Comments

Filed under: Resorts

On my most recent trip I split my stay between the Polynesian with my family and Port Orleans French Quarter with my friends. I had never stayed at French Quarter before; in fact, I had only stayed at one other moderate resort in the past. I always figured I’d either try to stay cheaply at Pop Century or treat myself to a deluxe resort, so a moderate always seemed like sort of a waste. Boy, was I wrong! I loved the staying at French Quarter, so I thought I’d take my post this week to tell you all about my time there.

My friends and I with the resort's greeter all decked out for Mardi Gras

It was love at first sight for me as soon as I pulled up to drop off my luggage and hit the parks. The theming here is really amazing! While the atmosphere is a Disney-fied version of New Orleans, it is really beautiful and a lot of fun. It is Mardi Gras all year here with masks and beads found everywhere from the food court to the pool. The main building called French Quarter Square houses a lovely atrium complete with a fountain. To the right is the check-in area and Jackson Square Gifts and Desires, where you can find souveniers or any toiletries you may have forgotten at home. To the left are the resort’s eatery and bar, but I’ll discuss them more later.

Once guests make their way outside, the rooms are divided into seven buildings. French Quarter is the smallest moderate resort, so it feels intimate and cozy. These buildings are three stories high, painted in soft, muted colors, and adorned with wrought iron details. Each room has an exterior entry, and you will have to brave the elements to get from the main building to your room. My room was just a few hundred feet from the action surrounding the main building, so if you ever stay here you might consider requesting building three.

I love most of the gardens at Disney World, but there was something especially charming about them here. They are nestled between each of the buildings and go a long way to contribute to the the theming of this gorgeous resort. Wrought iron gates surrounded flower beds, and old fashioned street lamps lit them and the pathways around them. I’m a sucker for a beautiful magnolia tree, and they can be found all over this property. The gardens go a long way to add to the resort’s charm and beauty.

The pool called Doubloon Lagoon plays right into the theme with its Mardi Gras float water slide and horn playing gators! The pool is large with a great looking slide sure to please kids and adults alike. As an added bonus the pool overlooks the Sassagoula River. There is also a hot tub in the complex, as well as a pool bar for those looking to enjoy a cocktail poolside. The pool is easy to find and centrally located directly behind the main building.

What is the Sassagoula River? It is the body of water running from Downtown Disney along the shores of the two Port Orleans Resorts, Saratoga Springs, and Old Key West. I think the river really adds ambiance to the grounds. I can’t’ explain my connection to all things aquatic, but I am happiest when I’m near water, so I was really excited to stroll along the river one morning while I took pictures for this blog post. There are “river view” rooms available, but without a balcony to enjoy it, I’m not sure it is worth the added expense. I would just set aside time to go for a walk and enjoy the sites. You could even take a walk to Port Orleans Riverside along the path adjacent to the water.

I was also quite pleased with our room. It had been newly refurbished with lovely cherry furniture, including fairly ornate headboards. The room included two queen beds, table and chairs, and a dresser with TV. The bathroom was split into an area with a double sink and closet space, with a separate room housing the toilet and shower. One of my favorite features of the moderate resorts is the curtain hanging between the main area of the room and the sinks. This makes sharing a room with friends really easy since we can change and get ready behind the curtain without having to wait for a turn in the room with the shower. Since I was coming from the Polynesian,which has some of the biggest standard rooms on property, it felt a bit tight, but it really wasn’t uncomfortable for three adults to share. The only thing I did notice was that it would be tough to maneuver an ECV in there.

For food, French Quarter only has a counter service restaurant called Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory and a bar called the Scat Cat’s Club. The counter service is actually pretty good as far as quick service eateries go in Walt Disney World, and since it is the only eatery at this property, it accepts the Tables in Wonderland card. The restaurant features Louisiana favorites like gumbo and beignets. I’m sure people who come from the Gulf Coast would turn their noses up at Disney’s version of their regional cuisine, but as a Northeasterner I thought it was pretty tasty. The bar left a bit to be desired and had pretty terrible entertainment. My friends and I wound up purchasing a bottle of wine at the bar and drinking it in the restaurant’s seating area to try to get away from the evening’s singer.

Like all Disney resorts, French Quarter guests enjoy complimentary transportation to the parks and other Disney destinations. The primary mode of transportation here is bus, but there is also a boat which takes folks to Downtown Disney along the river I previously discussed. The bus stop is out in front of the main building, so that is just another reason to request a room close by. At peak times we had our own bus service to and from the parks, but during most of the day the buses are shared with Port Orleans Riverside. Riverside has four bus stops, so sometimes it can take a while to make the circuit and get where you’d like to go. Also, the buses can get very crowded since they are shared between two resorts. If you can rent a car when you stay here, I would recommend it.

If you couldn’t tell I really enjoyed my time at Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter! I would stay there again in a heartbeat, and it has even inspired me to give some of the other moderate resorts a shot. Readers of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World seem to agree, giving this resort four stars and an overall B rating. French Quarter has long been a favorite of the moderate resorts, and since it is smaller than most Disney hotels, it is wise to try to book it as far out as possible.

What about you? Have you stayed at French Quarter? Tell me all about what you love and hate about this resort in the comments!


Posted on March 21, 2012

53 Responses to “Disney World’s French Quarter Resort”

  • I agree with all your points, this is at the top of our moderate list as we truely love the smaller feel it has. Thanks for the article it was a great read!

  • I stayed here in December and love it too. For the dollar, I loved it more then the Poly, which I stayed at in February.

    • You raise a good point about the value of the resort, Crissy. I love the Poly, but I can only afford to stay there every so often. Not that I’m complaining since I go to WDW a lot, but you get the idea. I’m sure I could swing this resort more often and still feel very comfortable and really enjoy my stay. Thanks for the comment!

  • We will be staying here for the first time at the end of May (small family of 3), we figured if we need to get someplace fast we will just make use of a taxi instead of having to worry about renting a car…vacation means no driving for us! We will be sure to post our experience with Port Orleans….looking forward to a fabulous trip!

    • I’ve heard a lot of WDW travelers say they’d rather not drive when they are on vacation so I completely understand that sentiment. You have to do whatever is best for your family and if the bus works for you that’s awesome! Thanks for the comments! I hope you have a great trip!

  • I loved this and agreed with almost everything except, we love Elliot Dyson in Scat Cats. He is fun and entertaining and we make a point to stop by and see him after we get back from the parks. He makes it a point to bring everyone into the show with singalongs. 🙂

  • That’s our favorite resort. I don’t know if I can get my wife to agree to stay anywhere else. Tried a value once, that didn’t go so well.

    • Haha I have some friends who hate going value too so they would get along just fine with your wife. I’m a big fan of Pop Century for the price, but I could get used to staying at French Quarter more often for sure. Thanks for the comment!

  • POFQ is our absolute favorite Disney resort. The boat to DTD is a huge sell for us and we find the bus service to be moderately swift to all parks. Great read!

  • This is my favourite resort by a long shot. I find the deluxe too spendy so I always choose moderates. But shhhhh about it, because I already sometimes find it’s full and I have to stay somewhere else! 🙂

  • by Kevin Crossman on March 21, 2012, at 10:29 am EST

    I liked the singer there. We very much enjoyed French Quarter. Small and intimate resort – easy to get to the main building even if you’re at one of the farthest buildings. Much better than other moderates such as Riverside or Caribbean Beach.

    • I’m glad people like him, he just wasn’t for me. I do really love the intimacy of this resort like you said though. Caribbean Beach definitely has a reputation for being really spread out. I haven’t stayed there yet, but it is on my list. Thanks for the comment!

  • It is nice that the resort is small so that it is easy to get around. It was also nice that during peak times the bus service was dedicated and fast. We didn’t have any problems using the bus service at all. Breakfast at the food court was pretty boring and monotonous. Also the beignets were disappointing. Mind you, Disney’s version is still fried dough with powdered sugar so it’s not bad tasting but nonetheless it in no way approaches the deliciousness of the original.

    • I’m sure the food isn’t anything that exciting for people who really love this type of cuisine, but since I don’t have it very often I thought it wasn’t half bad for counter service. I completely get where you’re coming from, though. I also liked that they had unique menu items for breakfast and lunch instead of just the standard burger. Thanks for the comment!

  • Along with @mouseaider, I agree with almost everything — except your comment about POFQ entertainment. We really love listening to Elliot Dyson. Enjoying a cocktail and listening to his show at Scat Cat’s is a great way to transition from a hectic day in the parks. Treating yourself to some very entertaining live music really is a *must* if you’re staying at French Quarter.

    Though POFQ shares a bus with POR during off-peak hours, it’s important to note that the bus stops at POFQ first. On your way to the park, it’s likely you’ll get a seat; if you don’t get a seat on the way back, well, at least you’ll be getting off first.

    Having POR walking distance away can be very handy, if you’d like to check out their larger food court, Boatwright’s restaurant, or see Yee-Haw Bob’s show at POR’s River Roost Lounge. We’ve sometimes taken the POR bus from the park and then walked home or taken the Sassagoula river boat back to POFQ.

    And the Sassagoula boats are a serious plus. In addition to the charm of the trip itself, it spares you the headaches of trying to park at Downtown Disney — yay!

    • You raise a good point about the bus system! I also like your idea about getting off the bus at POR and strolling back to French Quarter. That sounds lovely on a nice night.

      It seems quite a few people like the singer at this resort! It is great that he has a following, I just won’t be one of them. That is the great part about Disney World: there is something for everyone.

      Thanks for the comment!

  • We also love POFQ! Although we are not staying there on our upcoming trip to WDW, it will be our first choice on site for any future trip. We loved the quiet, the beautiful surroundings, how small the resort was and the staff! This was the first trip that we spent an afternoon at the pool and we loved the atmosphere.

  • Our family really liked POFQ as well – we have stayed at all 3 moderates and love them all(have to say Coranado is our favorite but this is a close second), but as stated above, taking the boat to Downtown Disney is so much better than a bus or car. Thanks for the review Kristin, I always enjoy them, especially when I have experienced what you have. It really helps us to try other things when we think alike.

  • Our family really liked POFQ as well – we have stayed at all 3 moderates and love them all(have to say Coranado is our favorite but this is a close second), but as stated above, taking the boat to Downtown Disney is so much better than a bus or car. Thanks for the review Kristin, I always enjoy them, especially when I have experienced what you have. It really helps us to try other things when we think alike. Try Coranado when you get a chance, if you liked PO gardens, the scenary there will blow you away. Just be prepared for a little more walking.

  • Kristen – nice review of the P.O. French Quarter. My family and I stayed twice at this resort years ago when it was simply “Port Orleans” (when “Riverside” was still “Dixie Landing”). We LOVED it – so much so that as our children have grown beyond their “Value Years” (i.e. the age where it makes the most sense to stay at a “Pop” or “All Star”), we decided it was THE only resort we truly wanted to be at.
    My dad uses an ECV to get around and he loves having the boat option to ride leisurely to Downtown Disney – it’s such an easy “on/off” procedure. He’s never found difficulty with the size of the room – though they do get a King Bed room so I’m guessing there’s more overall floor space.
    Like you, we absolutely love the tranquility and charm of this resort – while my children find that the ease of getting from the pool to the rooms is outstanding – they love that entire meandering pool with it’s shell waterfall, water spraying gators, and – of course – the slide!!
    Thanks for writing so positively about our favorite resort … it truly is Disney magic!!

    • That is great to know about your dad having no trouble with the ECV. Since none of us had operated one before it was really nice to have such a big space at Poly on my last trip. My mom banged into the furniture on more than one occasion so a smaller space just looked like it would be a disaster waiting to happen lol. Thanks for the comment!

  • I have heard great things about the French Quarter (many of which have been echoed here), and I am considering staying there for a future trip, but I am always a little put-off when I see photos of the pool area. It just looks so… creepy carnival-ish. Am I missing something? Does it have a charm that does not come across in photos?

    • Hi Alca … I can only speak to my families experience … we love, love, love the pool area. But to be honest, from the moment I saw it in pictures I thought it was really fun … love the bright colors and the way the “serpent” seems to dive in and out of the pool area (forming a bridge as well as the slide).

    • I really liked the pool! Unfortunately I didn’t take the time to actually have an afternoon of lounging around by the pool, but I thought the scenery was really cute. The decor is well done, there is jazz playing in the background, and the area overlooks the River. I thought it was great. I hope you give it a try! Thanks for the comment!

    • Hi alca, for what it’s worth, I’m not a fan of the mardi- gras in-your-face pool area either. Our kids loved it when they were little so we’ve stayed there twice. We did love the small resort convenience and the ambiance/ amenities otherwise, but I realized that I really need to get away from the over-stimulation- I just can’t relax with tacky fibreglass critters in my face (sorry, no offence intended to anyone who loves it). We often stay WL or Poly now, but spent a night at POR because we arrived a day early & LOVED the ambiance so much that we’re staying 2 weeks this summer. For me, having more subtle, relaxing theming is well worth the sprawl.

  • We just finished a year with Annual Passes (which means on our 3 visits, we stayed off-site), but previous to that, we DID stay on-site at POFQ and thought it was great.
    3-story buildings like here and the AS resorts make for a less-crowded resort than 4+ story buildings (Pop). Parking was ample and we stayed in Building 1 only 30 feet and 2 flights away from our car.
    Pool – very nice. Overall theming with “the squares” – excellent. Restaurant – ehh-minus. Hence the car that allowed us to eat elsewhere at WDWorld or even along 194.

    • The parking here was really convenient for sure! I hate when I have to haul all my stuff all over the place after parking the car at some other resorts. It is just part of the smaller, charming vibe here. Thanks for the comment, Doug!

      Also keep in mind sometimes you can get great discounts on property with your AP! I saved a ton on the first half of my last trip at the Poly for my family.

  • We stayed there 4 years ago and loved it, but had major issues with the boat service on our last day. Like the buses, the boat service is shared with Riverside. We found that the boat would be too full of Riverside people when it got to us, so that we had to wait for the 3rd boat before there was space for us.

  • This is my wife and I’s favorite resort… period! We have stayed approx 10 times, including our honeymoon, since it was named just “Port Orleans”… We love the surrounding area, how quiet it always seems, the river launch to DTD, etc… The only complaint, they closed the restaurant many years ago, it had an awesome breakfast buffet!

  • My husband and I have only stayed at POFQ so we can’t compare it to other Disney resorts — nor do we want to. The ambiance of the resort is just perfect for us. I love the background jazz music that plays throughout the resort giving a fun feel to the grounds. And I love the landscaping. I’ve heard that there are plans to re-landscape the resort, I’m hoping the change isn’t drastic. As for Elliot Dyson, instead of saying there was “terrible entertainment” perhaps you could have said that the entertainment was not to your taste. I feel this was a disrespectful to him. We enjoy sitting through a few songs when we return in the evenings and hear him playing. We aren’t jazz lovers but we find his music and style to be quite relaxing and a trip to POFQ wouldn’t be complete without including at least one pause with Elliot.

    • Thanks for the comment, Deb! I didn’t mean to offend any readers with my comment on Elliot Dyson. I should have thought about it more before expressing my opinion harshly. We bloggers like to give our honest opinion, but I’ll be more mindful of how I express it in the future. I’m so glad you enjoy the resort!

  • My husband and I stayed there during our honeymoon 5 years ago. We stayed in building 7 and had a king bed and river view. I absolutely loved my stay there! We found it particularly appealing as a young couple with no children – not as many kids as at the values, but not as expensive as the deluxes. Since then, I’ve stayed at the Yacht Club and am on my way to the Contemporary on Friday, but POFQ will always hold a special place in my heart as the first Disney resort I stayed at! Thanks for the wonderful review and memories!

    • Actually, we were in building 6, not 7. Room 6140 to be exact – it’s a great room and I recommend requesting it!

    • Thanks for the comment, Katie! Did you find paying for the water view was worth the extra money? I’d do it in a heartbeat if I had a balcony to enjoy it. Have a great stay at the Contemporary!

  • This is our absolute favorite resort. We’ve stayed in building 5 with a pool view and super close to pool, main building and bus terminal…worth the couple extra $. Never had an issue with bus times either. My son loves the pool games and movies in the park also. I could brag endlessly about our experiences here.
    Was disappointed that when I booked for this year with free dining all rooms were already taken so we are staying at Riverside. A short walk over for our favorite morning treat of beignets 🙂

    • I think you will like Riverside too, Adelle! It is the only other moderate I’ve stayed at and I really liked it. It is a bit spread out so just prepare yourself for that. Otherwise it is lovely. Thanks so much for the comment!

  • This is the first Disney resort I took my husband to in order to re-introduce him to WDW after a long since-childhood hiatus. This was a great resort for 2 adults with no kids. It was super quiet, even during a busy spring break week, and a perfect resort for my husband’s first time as an adult. Since that trip we’ve also stayed at Pop and the Beach Club together and he still talks about how nice French Quarter was. Our only minor complaint was the shared buses with all 4 Riverside stops…that got a little old. Great review!!

  • We stayed at the French Quarter in January and loved it. We loved walking around the grounds and took a ton of pictures of teh sunrise on the river. The boat ride to Downtown Disney is so convienent it is a peaceful trip. The only resort I like better is Port Orleans because I like the bayou feel, but since it is French Quarter’s sister resort we were glad we tried them both. Five stars.

  • We stayed at POFQ for the first time last November, and we’re hooked. We’ve previously stayed at POR and that was lovely as well, but the smaller layout of FQ is really ideal for us, as my parents are now in their 70’s and navigating the smaller grounds is much easier for them. I LOVE having the queen beds; my kids have definitely outgrown sharing the double beds at the value resorts (no problem when they were kids, but they’re teens now!) and the queen beds, coffee maker, and refrigerator alone justify the upgrade from value to moderate IMO. In five visits in the past six years, we’ve never stayed at the same resort twice, but this November, we are definitely returning to POFQ!