Top Twenty Tips for Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort
Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort (POR) sits alongside the Sassagoula River in Walt Disney World. As a moderately priced hotel, Port Orleans Riverside is a popular lodging choice with WDW visitors.
Here are my top twenty tips for guests staying at this gorgeous resort:
Splurge on a Royal Room
In March 2012, Oak Manor and Parterre Place mansion buildings debuted Royal Guest rooms. Underneath the royal themeing, guests will notice that the amenities are similar to standard rooms at the moderate resorts.
Yes, these rooms may be a bit too princesss-y for some guests. However, the headboards that burst with a fireworks display add a touch of whimsy that will likely appeal to the whole family. See how many princess mentions your family can find. The beautiful Tiana definitely holds court here.
Princesses will feel right at home.
Take a Carriage Ride
The rustic ambiance of Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside can be viewed from a horse-drawn carriage ride. For $45 ($55 starting October 1, 2017), you’ll receive a 25-minute ride for up to 4 adults or 2 adults and 3 small children.
Make reservations up to 180 days in advance by calling (407) WDW-PLAY.
Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride
Hang at the Muddy Rivers Pool Bar
Muddy Rivers is a serene watering spot near the Ol’ Man Island pool. Refreshments are served up by an attentive bartender. Seating is shaded!
Sip a beverage at this relaxing bar.
Visit Disney Springs via the Riverboat
The leisurely boat ride from Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside to Disney Springs takes about 20-25 minutes with a brief stop at French Quarter. Operated by the Sassagoula Steamboat Co., the boats along this route sail under a yellow flag. Plus, this ferry service is complimentary!
Float down the river on a ferry boat.
Walk to Port Orleans French Quarter
For additional shopping and dining, take a leisurely stroll around the riverbend to Port Orleans French Quarter.
Of course, you’ll want to get some beignets while you’re there.
Messy but good!
Take Breakfast to Boatwright’s
In the morning, diners can take their quick service breakfast from the Riverside Mill food court to the dining room in Boatwright’s. It’s a quieter, less chaotic location.
Eat your quick service breakfast in Boatwright’s.
Look for Hidden Mickeys
I love looking for Hidden Mickeys!
Look closely at the mansion railings.
Look up high for Hidden Mickeys.
Alligator Bayou Room’s Murphy Bed
Families with young children will appreciate the pull-down Murphy bed.
Pull down child-size murphy bed.
Stop by River Roost
For musical entertainment, stop by River Roost in the evenings. During the day, this is a quiet place to wait for your Disney’s Magical Express return bus to the Orlando International Airport. For charging your electronics before your departure, look for electric outlets along the wall.
Recommendation: Order an Albita Purple Haze on tap.
Fishing excursions include fun amenities, including an experienced guide, rod and reel, tackle, artificial and/or live bait, non-alcoholic beverages, and one year BASS (Bass Anglers Sportsman Society) membership, which includes 11 issues of Bassmaster Magazine (one membership per excursion).
Reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance by calling 407-WDW-BASS. Choose between 2 and 4 hour trips!
Fish for largemouth bass.
Look for seasonal events
The Beignet Dash Fun Run takes place Sundays at 8AM at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter. Check-In begins at 7:30AM with a cost of $15 plus tax. You’ll receive a race bib, finisher’s medallion, a small goody bag, and a certificate for an order of three beignets at the Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory.
Join in a Fun Run.
Fulton’s General Store
Fulton’s carries necessities such as sundries, rain ponchos, and beverages. It’s also a relaxing spot to browse through the latest Disney merchandise. We love finding resort-specific goodies.
Stop by Fulton’s General Store.
Compare prices! A bottle of Dasani Water was $3.19 in the Riverside Mill food court compared to $3.00 in the General Store.
Online Check In
If you check-in online (and have a MagicBand) before your WDW arrival, you’ll be able to skip the Registration Desk. Watch for a text indicating that your room is ready; I love getting this text!
Your Resort Room is Ready.
On our most recent trip (August 2017), we arrived Riverside at 11:30AM. By the time we had lunch and walked around the resort for a bit, we had already received the “Your Resort Room is Ready” text at 10:07AM.
Riverside Mill Food Court
During prime dining hours, it gets crazy in here. Dine early or late for a less chaotic meal.
The pasta dishes here are satisfying. For dessert, get the chocolate cake. When you’re craving a snack or light meal, nosh on the breadsticks with marinara sauce.
Buses can be a tad bit aggravating at this resort. Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside often shares bus transportation with nearby French Quarter resort. Depending on what stop is nearest your building, you may find that exiting the bus at French Quarter and walking to Riverside is quicker. (I’m not kidding.) You’ll also want to line up near the blue line where the motor coach stops for a better chance of finding space on the next bus. This is a large resort and buses can be packed full during theme park rush hours.
Bus Transportation Arrival Times.
Fashioned after a Bayou swimming hole, Ol’ Man Island’s pool is a refreshing oasis for adults and kids of all ages.
Cool off at Ol’ Man Island.
Don’t miss the Recreation Calendar filled with fun activities. Some of your choices include bike rentals, evening campfires, and outdoor movies.
Go pedaling around the resort.
Note that the two-story Alligator Bayou lodge buildings do not have elevators. If this is an issue for your family, request a first floor room or lodging in the Mansion section of the resort.
Stairway at an Alligator Bayou building.
Disney’s Magical Express
Disney’s Magical Express took about 90 minutes from stepping off the Southwest airplane to arrival at Port Orleans Riverside. We made stops at Old Key West and French Quarter first. The longest wait that we endured was waiting for the bus to depart the airport once we were seated on board. It was about 9:30AM and since we were among the first passengers to board, it took time to fill up the bus. At least we were sitting down!
Bus Queues at MCO.
Our luggage arrived our room 2 hours and 50 minutes after our plane landed. We know because we were just settling in to take a nap; it was perfect timing.
Resort Airline Check-In and Luggage Storage
Resort Airline Check-In was well organized at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort. We dropped off our luggage in the morning prior to heading to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Boarding passes were delivered to our room the day prior so we only needed to have our luggage weighed and tagged.
Open 5AM until Noon.
After, we headed to the Luggage Room to store a carry-on bag. Again, service was exemplary.
Why Stay at Port Orleans Riverside?
Stay here for the choice of lodgings — Alligator Bayou or Mansion buildings — giving families two themed options. Also, Port Orleans Riverside boasts prime real estate along the Sassagoula River with the opportunity to take a boat to Disney Springs. With French Quarter around the river bend, Riverside guests get two resorts filled with fun activities within easy walking distance of each other. Book your stay at this WDW moderate resort!
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How Do I Add Disney’s Magical Express to My WDW Reservation?
Just like you, I’ve booked Walt Disney World vacations without adding Disney’s Magical Express (DME) during the initial booking process.
For many reasons, you may have been unsure about your transportation needs. Maybe you didn’t reserve your flights to Orlando International Airport (MCO) yet or perhaps you decided against driving when you saw an airfare sale. At any rate, you now need to add complimentary motorcoach transportation between MCO and your WDW resort.
No worries! I want to share how you can easily add Disney’s Magical Express to an existing reservation.
First, if you are working with a travel agent, they can take care of it for you.
Add Disney’s Magical Express Service
If you are making your own travel plans, follow these simple steps:
Step 1: Visit Disney’s Magical Express Airport Transportation Reservation at https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/airport-transportation-reservation/.
Fill out the DME form.
- Be sure to include your flight information. If you don’t have it, you’ll need to call later.
- Watch for an email confirmation.
- Print out and bring your email confirmation along with your MagicBands, if applicable.
DME at the Grand Floridian.
View a list of Disney Resort Hotels offering complimentary Disney’s Magical Express service and find out more about DME, Luggage Delivery, and Resort Airline Check-In.
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Walt Disney World Hotel Perks Offer Extra Magic
While we’ve stayed a few times off-site of the Walt Disney World property, we love the perks that guests receive when staying at a Walt Disney World (WDW) resort. My favorite reason for choosing an onsite hotel is the total Disney immersion; leaving the real world behind is an important factor for making the most of our family vacations. But there are even more benefits to staying at a WDW hotel.
Disney Magic Around the Clock
Travel under those beloved arches and you’ll be inside The Disney Bubble. Sounds weird to first time visitors but soon enough, you’ll know what your friends have been talking about. Total Disney immersion is a good thing for fans of Walt Disney World.
Disney World resorts have immersive themes!
What does this really mean?
Cast Members (Disney employees) handing out stickers to your kids (or you!), food shaped liked Mickey, housekeeping’s unique towel art, character wake up calls, and themed resorts (landscaping, pools, stores, restaurants, rooms) all reflecting their own special Disney ambiance.
Mickey Towel Art!
All you really need to know is that if you feel your real life worries have been whisked away AND you start singing silly Disney songs, exclaiming “Hakuna Matata” or “Jambo” to family members, and you find a Mickey Ears hat atop your head, you are surely experiencing vacation inside the Disney Bubble. And trust me, you don’t want any real life stress to pop that thing!
Life in the Disney Bubble!
Did you fly into the Orlando International Airport (MCO)? If you are staying at a WDW resort, you’ll be able to take Disney’s Magical Express to your hotel. Disney’s bus transportation service also includes complimentary luggage transfer. I love checking in my luggage at my home airport and seeing those same bags (that I’ve over-packed!) magically appear in my WDW room on Arrival Day.
Disney’s Magical Express provides transportation between WDW Resorts and the airport.
Once you are at your WDW hotel, you’ll be able to travel throughout the entire property via Disney transportation.
WDW Transportation includes buses and monorails!
This may include buses, boats, and monorails. WDW transportation can sometimes be time-consuming but it’s nice to have someone else cart the family around.
Ride the WDW Monorail.
Another one of my favorite perks is Resort Airline Check-In. If traveling on a participating airline (Alaska, American, Delta/U.S. Domestic Flights Only, JetBlue, Southwest, and United), your family can turn in suitcases to this designated spot at your WDW resort and your luggage will be transported for you — in reverse — all the way to your home airport.
Resort Airline Check-In is WDW hotel perk.
Considering that your bags are now heavier due to those irresistible Disney souvenirs, this service is a tremendous Walt Disney World resort perk. After all, my favorite carry-on Weekender Bag can only hold so much.
Disney Restaurants and Reservations
Want to dine at Be Our Guest Restaurant? Utilizing this benefit will be key to helping you obtain those hard-to-get dining reservations at the most popular Walt Disney World restaurants. So, how does this perk work?
The Rose Gallery at Be Our Guest Restaurant. Make an Advanced Dining Reservation!
Advanced Dining Reservations at WDW restaurants can be made 180 days prior to the date that you wish to reserve. Do you need to count the days? No. For years, I have used this handy tool.
The advantage for WDW Resort guests is that they can make a dining reservation 180 days prior to their check-in date PLUS make reservations for their entire stay (up to 10 days). No need to wait until the 180 day mark to reserve the buffet at Chef Mickey’s for the last morning of your vacation.
Make an Advanced Dining Reservation for Chef Mickey’s.
I don’t know what it is — maybe the Mickey-shaped waffles? — but even dining at a value resort’s food court is more fun than a value meal off-site.
Mickey Waffles — delicious for all ages!
And certainly, the resort sit down restaurants serve up delicious eats with interesting decor.
Make an Advanced Dining Reservation (ADR) at your resort hotel.
Off-site guests can dine at all restaurants on property (exception: pool bars with guest-only access), however it’s convenient to have these dining choices at your resort for breakfast, a mid-day meal, dinner, and/or a late night snack.
Disney Dining Plan
A Disney Dining Plan can be added to your hotel reservation. Some families like the convenience of pre-paying for their meals. If you book your trip with a Free Dining offer, you may save some serious cash off of your total vacation budget. Watch Disney’s Special Offers!
Adding a Disney Dining Plan to your WDW vacation package is a convenient way to pre-pay for your meals. No matter how it’s paid for, I love the Sweet and Sour Chicken at Yak and Yeti!
Our family prefers the flexibility of paying out-of-pocket so the value of this benefit depends on your vacation style.
If you find the perfect souvenir on your way to your FastPass+ at Expedition Everest, you may want to take advantage of Package Delivery.
Have your purchases sent to your Disney Resort.
You’ll have two options — pick up the package at the front of the park (for ALL theme park guests) or have it delivered to your Walt Disney World hotel’s gift shop. Either way, your hands are free!
Package Pick Up is available to all guests at Disney theme parks.
For an additional fee, you can have your treasures shipped home.
What are those colorful and waterproof bracelets that Disney guests are sporting? Well, they are not exactly the latest fashion craze. However, they are quite the magical tool given complimentary to WDW resort guests and annual passholders.
Believe it or not, those MagicBands are the key to Magical Express transportation, FastPass+ reservations, and theme park entry. Plus, guests can use their MagicBand to open their hotel room door, pay for purchases and dining, store Disney PhotoPass pictures, and more!
Use your MagicBand for access to the exclusive pool at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club.
Off-site guests can purchase bands after arrival.
Scan that band at any restaurant or store and you’ll have your purchases added to your hotel’s room account (if you’ve set up room charging privileges). This is part of the Disney Bubble that you have to be careful with as it’s easy to overspend. The convenience however is priceless.
Our teen son has been charging his food (and some souvenirs) to our room for years.
Buying a shirt with MagicBand!
Now, we don’t have to worry about lost room keys with charging privileges. It’s reassuring to know that the MagicBand is safe on Nic’s wrist for when he’s out exploring on his own and needs a beverage, snack, and/or meal.
Extra Magic Hours
With your Resort ID/MagicBand and a theme park ticket, your family can enjoy some extra time at select attractions in the parks. Check the official WDW calendar for morning and/or evening Extra Magic Hours being offered during your visit.
Watch for Extra Magic Hours.
Usually one park per day has extra hours in the morning or evening for resort guests.
We love early morning Extra Magic Hour at the Magic Kingdom!
Early FastPass+ Planning
A very handy perk is the ability to reserve select shows and attractions early. Using the My Disney Experience app or online tool, link your WDW hotel room and theme park tickets. After, you’ll have up to 60 days (30 days for off-site guests) before arrival to pre-book up to 3 FastPass+ experiences at one theme park per day. With early access to FastPass+ planning, you’ll get better availability and more of your preferred times.
Meet Anna and Elsa using the convenience of FastPass+
Want to ride Toy Story Midway Mania right before your dinner reservation? Just reserve an appropriate time. No need to run there first thing in the morning!
When our child was younger, we took advantage of the childcare facilities at Walt Disney World. Check in your child with well-trained staffed while you enjoy a date night, business meeting, or run a Disney 5K!
Lilo’s Playhouse is the Children’s Activity Center at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
Kids are even provided a meal of their choice.
Walt Disney World is home to three championship golf courses. As a Disney resort guest, you’ll get advanced tee times as an added benefit.
Theme Park Admittance During High Crowds
You may have heard tales told of the Magic Kingdom closing due to high capacity. It’s true; I’ve seen it. If you are a resort guest, you’ll have preferred admittance once space is available! This is important on holidays such as New Year’s Eve.
New Year’s Eve crowds in the Magic Kingdom.
Certainly, staying at an offsite hotel will cost less and you’ll likely get a larger room too. If this option suits your family’s budget best, I wouldn’t let it deter you from visiting Walt Disney World. You can have a magical visit while staying off-property.
However, if your budget allows, we recommend staying on-site at a Walt Disney World resort!
What are your favorite Walt Disney World resort perks? Are you staying onsite or offsite on your next trip?