Wow, I'm pretty impressed...
The way my wife and friends stared at me after this statement, I began to wonder if a velociraptor had appeared over my shoulder. You see, I'm not easily impressed when it comes to hotels, especially the resorts found at Disney. I've often complained - more like ranted - about the Mouse's watered down definition of "deluxe," so I can understand the disbelief of my travel partners when I shared these thoughts on The Port Orleans Riverside Resort.
|The Lobby Building|
Perhaps what gave Port Orleans a fighting chance more than anything was my outlook from the start. I was genuinely excited to experience Riverside, the last remaining Disney resort I had yet to visit. There aren't too many out there that can say they have stayed at every Disney resort, but for years the hotel snob in me didn't care much about the distinction, since achieving it meant I had to stay at Riverside. It wasn't long after we checked in that I realized just how misguided that line of thought really was...
|The Mansions of Magnolia Bend|
Port Orleans is a giant complex which consists of two separate and unique resorts - Riverside and the French Quarter. In addition, Riverside is also divided into two sections, with the Alligator Bayou taking one on a trip to the Mississippi delta, while the Magnolia Bend is a visit to the historic mansions of old Savannah. For our visit, we were placed in the Bayou section, and the late night walk to our room made me wonder if I was living out a scene from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
With nearly 100% occupancy year-round, Disney's resort rooms take quite a beating. What impressed me about our room, however, was the lack of noticeable wear and tear. The customary banged up walls and furniture were non-existent, and I found the overall layout of our room to be very comfortable. The bath was especially impressive, with dual sinks and what appeared to be relatively new tile floors. Overall, for a moderate level resort, I would say the room rivaled that of several "deluxe" properties around Disney.
As with all of Disney's value and moderate tier resorts, the primary option for food is the Riverside Mill Food Court, while Boatwright's is a table service option for dinner. I would normally prefer to suffer through a Matthew McConoughey movie than visit a resort food court, but I found the one at Riverside to be downright pleasant. I enjoyed breakfast one morning, free from the traditional zoo-like atmosphere, and found it to be mostly empty on my 14 other visits for coffee.
|Riverside Mill Food Court|
Location - Port Orleans is centrally located for fairly easy access to all of Disney's theme parks. There is also a shuttle boat which runs between the resort and Downtown Disney.
Piano Bob - An icon of Disney World entertainment, Piano Bob's show in the River Roost Lounge has a bit of a cult-like following. This was my first time experiencing his sing-a-long show, and I've definitely been missing out all these years.
Price - For the quality of the room and overall resort, it really is hard to beat the price. If given the choice between Port Orleans or one of Disney's overpriced "deluxe" resorts, I'd choose Port Orleans every time. This from a hotel snob...
|The Legendary Piano Bob|
Layout - Riverside is ginormous. Our room was a ten minute walk back to the main building, which made my coffee runs that much more annoying. Next time I know to request a building close to the lobby.
Transportation - If you plan on using Disney transportation to the parks, you are pretty much stuck with the bus. Be prepared to make 3 stops within the Riverside complex, and another at the French Quarter, before you actually start heading to your destination.
Exterior Room Entries - Just a pet peeve of mine. That's all...
|The Main Pool at Riverside|
As I packed the car to head home from our weekend away, I felt almost ashamed for having shunned Port Orleans Riverside for so long. For years the hotel snob in me refused to give it a chance, yet looking back I can't come up with a single good reason why. I'm sure there is some applicable cliche involving books and covers and such. Whatever the reason, Riverside managed to impress this hotel junkie, and perhaps even more impressive, it did so without breaking the bank.
~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~