Why Port Orleans Riverside is the Only Moderate Resort For Me

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Welcome to Port Orleans Riverside!

When planning a Disney World Vacation there are a number of decisions to make ranging from which FastPass+ reservations to make, what ticket option to choose, how to get there, and more. But one of the most important, if you’re staying on property, is which Disney World Resort to choose.

Now as you may have guessed, the size of your budget will narrow down your options. Disney has conveniently grouped the Disney Resorts into three different categories based on price with Deluxe Resorts being the most expensive and Value Resorts being the least. Moderate Resorts fall somewhere in the middle in regards to price and consist of several popular destinations: Disney’s Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs, the Fort Wilderness Resort Cabins, Port Orleans French Quarter, and Port Orleans Riverside.

When I have a Moderate Resort level budget, my resort of choice is one that offers variety, a comfortable atmosphere, delicious dining, a great pool selection, and a convenient location; for me, Port Orleans Riverside offers all of the above and more. Read along as I explain why Port Orleans Riverside is the Only Moderate Resort for Me!

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Port Orleans Riverside Royal Room

Variety

As an Annual Passholder to Walt Disney World, I like something new and different when I visit my favorite place in the world to keep visits fresh, but I wouldn’t be a Passholder if I didn’t like the familiar either. Port Orleans Riverside gives me both! You see, Riverside has two differently themed sections: Alligator Bayou and Magnolia Manor. The guest rooms in Alligator Bayou can be found in the more wooded areas of the resort grounds and invoke the rustic charm of the Louisiana bayous. The guest room décor consists of log furniture and earthy tones. Magnolia Manor guest rooms are housed in buildings which resemble white columned Southern mansions and can be found along the Sassagoula River. The guest room décor in this section of the resort is more refined and elegant with picturesque scenes painted on the headboards and touches of blue. Lastly, Port Orleans Riverside is also known for its special Royal Guest Rooms which are themed after Disney Royalty. They are filled with references to the Disney Princesses and their princes, as well as a few of their personal items. For example, you may find Aladdin’s magic carpet under your feet or a letter from Princess Tiana on the table! While the rooms are sure to be a hit with kids, particularly the firefly and firework effects on the gorgeous headboards, they are tastefully done in royal blue and gold and with just the right amount of pixie dust. I personally love that there are three different room styles to be experienced at this single resort; and having stayed in all three, I can say that they do make each visit fresh and unique.

 

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Love those carpets!

Atmosphere

If asked to describe Riverside and its atmosphere, I would have to say that it’s casually elegant. While I love the elegance and grandeur of the Grand Floridian Resort, I can’t say that I feel at home there or even that comfortable. But at Riverside, I feel both. There’s the white and gold lobby with its giant paddle fans and rich Magnolia carpets, but also the cozy fireplaces at the River Roost and Boatwright’s Dining Hall and the whimsical, mismatched chairs at the Riverside Mill Food Court. I also appreciate that I never feel detached from the resort and its atmosphere when staying at Riverside. Moderate Resorts — as well as Value Resorts — are known for being spread out and having guest room buildings scattered throughout the resort.

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View of the Sassagoula River

This is a source of complaint for many guests who prefer not to hike to their rooms for the night or who see more of the parking lot than the lobby or the pool. While I have had these complaints myself when staying at other Moderate Resorts, I haven’t at Riverside. Even if my room is a little farther than I like, I still feel connected to the Riverside experience. After all, the grounds only contribute to the resort’s laid back, picturesque feel with its gorgeous gazebos and fountains, well-lit pathways, and the old fashioned bridges over the Sassagoula River.

Dining

Of course, dining plays a huge role in why Port Orleans Riverside is the only Moderate Resort for me and I have to start with the Riverside Mill Food Court. It’s my favorite food court in all of Walt Disney World for its six stations each offering delicious, crowd pleasing menus. My personal favorite? The build-your-own pasta station! I rarely get tired of eating here because there’s so much to choose from and everyone in the family finds something they like here.

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Love Boatwright’s Dining Hall’s Bananas Foster!

I’m also a fan of the Riverside Mill Food Court’s size. I don’t recall a single time where I haven’t found an open table. The overall structure only adds to the experience because, true to its name, the cavernous food court looks like the inside of an old mill with exposed beams and machinery and the functioning water wheel just outside. Riverside’s restaurant, Boatwright’s Dining Hall, has a theme all its own; it’s designed after a shipbuilders shop and even has the skeleton of a boat hanging overhead and tools hung on the wall. The Southern/Cajun menu may be the restaurant’s biggest draw with items such as jambalaya, gumbo, catfish, crawfish, and cornbread. But I must admit, my meals here have been hit and miss throughout the last few years. That is not true, however, of the dessert menu. It never disappoints with Southern staples like pecan pie, bread pudding, and bananas Foster over angel food cake! So where else can you refuel at Riverside? Well, in addition to Muddy Rivers, the resort’s poolside bar, Riverside also has a lounge next to Boatwright’s Dining Hall. The River Roost is famous for Yehaa Bob, a family-friendly, cabaret performer that has become somewhat of a Riverside staple. Be sure to arrive early on nights he performs!

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Every Disney World Resort offers a pool — and almost always more than one — but Port Orleans Riverside offers six pools! Yes, six. The resort’s centerpiece pool, Ol’ Man Island, is 3.5 acres and, in keeping with the resort’s theme, features the remains of an old sawmill. It also offers a pretty awesome slide. The other pools are typically referred to as “quiet pools” as they don’t the draw the kids as much as Ol’ Man Island. They are were you want to retreat for rest and relaxation. With all these options, you have an excellent chance of enjoying some crowd-free swim time during your stay!

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While Port Orleans Riverside may not be next door to the Magic Kingdom like the Contemporary Resort, or be within walking distance to Epcot like the Beach Club or Boardwalk Inn, it still offers a convenient location for a Moderate Resort. For starters, Riverside sits right next door to Port Orleans French Quarter so you can take advantage of that resort’s sights and atmosphere and famous beignets! Riverside is also not far from Disney Springs and even offers free water taxi transportation with a picturesque view to boot. Finally, Riverside is located just a short drive or bus ride from Epcot, which I personally enjoy as Epcot just happens to be the park I usually spend the most time at when visiting Walt Disney World.

While every Disney World Resort offers its own unique theme and perks, Port Orleans Riverside meets all of the requirements on my Disney Resort check-list better than the other resorts in my price range. This is why Port Orleans Riverside is the only Moderate Resort for me. But now I want to know if there are any other Port Orleans Riverside fans like me out there? If so, what is your favorite thing about this resort? Let me know!

Savannah Sanders

Savannah has been visiting Disney World since she was a year old and has gone back almost every year since. In the real world, she teaches high school history and government and enjoys writing about all things Disney. Savannah can be reached on Twitter @DisneyParkSavvy.

12 thoughts on “Why Port Orleans Riverside is the Only Moderate Resort For Me

  • October 7, 2015 at 3:47 pm
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    We just returned from our stay at Port Orleans Riverside ~ we loved everything about it! Our favorite resort by far! We cannot wait to return to WDW and the Riverside.

    • October 8, 2015 at 10:19 am
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      So glad to hear you enjoyed your visit!

  • October 7, 2015 at 10:00 pm
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    What’s your favorite value resort?

    • October 8, 2015 at 10:23 am
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      Hmmmm… I’m a fan of both Pop Century and Art of Animation. I would probably say Art of Animation if it was a little less expensive!

  • October 7, 2015 at 10:08 pm
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    We’ll be checking in there Monday, our first time staying on property, I can’t wait!! It was hard deciding between Riverside and French Quarter, I just love the theming at both.

    • October 8, 2015 at 6:01 am
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      The nice thing is that you don’t really have to choose, if you stay at one, you can still enjoy the amenities of the other! I love having another pool (yes, I guess six just isn’t enough) to choose from and a second food court and lounge. Plenty of variety as Savannah said! We like to do a resort day, and we never get bored. You can eat 3 meals in a different location each time. You can fish, ride in a carriage, rent bikes and surreys or have the kids go on a pirate adventure, without leaving the resort! Then enjoy a campfire and a movie at night.

  • October 8, 2015 at 12:34 pm
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    Love POR resort.
    Out of all the resorts we’ve stayed at, it is my favorite.
    Going back there in February.
    Been there with our kids AND alone. Works great for both.
    Feels like home are also the words I’ve used to describe it. It really does feel like my 2nd home.

    Your article nailed it. Everything you mentioned is exactly why we love it there.
    The Riverside Mill is also my favorite quick service in all of WDW. Be Our Guest lunch is a close 2nd.

    It’s so tranquil there. Even when there are several people, it doesn’t feel crowded.
    Thx for the memories and the pre-trip excitement.

    • October 8, 2015 at 8:53 pm
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      Kevin, I always enjoy hearing from fellow POR fans. Hope you have a great trip in February and thanks so much for commenting!

  • October 8, 2015 at 7:26 pm
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    just booked the bounce back for POR for next year. This makes me feel great about that choice! We’ve stayed at probably half of the resorts at WDW, but never POR. Looking forward to all the things you mention. I was a little worried about bus service, which you didn’t mention so hoping it’s not an issue. I think the water taxi to DTD now Disney Springs is one of the best perks of this resort.

    • October 8, 2015 at 9:04 pm
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      Jennifer, so excited to hear that you’ve booked your first stay at POR! I’m sure you will enjoy it. I can tell you that throughout all of my stays at POR that I’ve had very few complaints with the bus service. In fact, I think the bus service at POR is better than what I’ve experienced at some Deluxes. Hope that helps and thanks for commenting!

  • October 11, 2015 at 10:39 am
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    POR is the first resort that we stayed on-site & that’s where I was bitten! It is a lovely resort. I will be returning in a few weeks and I am excited to recall the great memories of when my children were little. This is a resort that you cannot go wrong with! I agree with everything you said 🙂

  • October 13, 2015 at 9:40 pm
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    We just booked our 6th stay at POR for summer 2016. Bringing our newly adopted 14 year old son from China for his first WDW experience. There was no other option for us. Love YeeHa Bob!

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