by Kimberly LaPaglia | Sep 4, 2017 | Disney, Port Orleans Riverside, WDW Moderate Resorts, WDW Resorts
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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by Kimberly LaPaglia | Jun 30, 2017 | Disney, Walt Disney World, WDW Resorts
Tips for Relaxing at Walt Disney World
Even if you are a frequent visitor to Walt Disney World, you may find it difficult to unwind when you have nearly 50 square miles with very tempting shopping, dining, rides, food, and recreation to explore. Can you really find relaxation during a theme park vacation?
Just today, I was planning my FastPass+ selections and itinerary for a quick trip that we are taking at the end of August. And guess what? I found myself quickly filling up my Disney days from morning to night. Sigh; I know better.
Some of the most priceless moments that I’ve savored at Disney World are those that were during break times. And so, just as soon as I fill you in on these tips, I’m going to revisit my August plans and make sure I’ve allowed time for relaxation at Walt Disney World.
Leave the Real World Behind
Most of us find it fairly easy to purchase and don Mickey Ears. We’re all pretty good at embracing Mickey-shaped food. And I think WDW newbies and veterans alike have no issue with shrugging off stress while riding our favorite attractions.
Mickey Waffle are always fun and delicious to eat!
But, what about technology? Some of us need it for work (even at Disney!). Some of us love sharing our family moments (and favorite Disney snacks!!) on social media. And now, My Disney Experience and other apps make it actually easier to tour Disney World with the use of our smart gadgets.
Meet Anna and Elsa using the convenience of FastPass+
Still, try to allow some time during your Disney days to unplug. Silence your phone while at the pool with your family. Keep your electronic tools quiet during meals. Try taking an entire morning or evening unplugged. After the initial withdrawal, you’ll find these moments liberating.
Nanea Volcano Pool at Disney’s Polynesian Village.
The Road Less Traveled
While you watch the herd of guests run to their first attraction, linger on your way into the theme park. With your FastPasses pre-selected, go ahead and browse the nooks and crannies on Main Street U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom. Grab a morning pastry and actually sit at a quiet table while the magic wakes up all around you.
Enjoy a pastry with a magical view early in the morning.
Some of my favorite pathways for calm moments at WDW include:
- Along the boardwalk at the Rivers of America in the Magic Kingdom
- In the back of Fantasyland (near the train track) to Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom
- The trails at Epcot’s Canada pavilion
- The Hyde Park area and maze at Epcot’s United Kingdom pavilion
- The quiet nooks and crannies within Epcot’s Morocco pavilion
- The off-the-beaten trail between Animal Kingdom’s Africa and Asia
- The walkway between Disney’s Polynesian Village and Grand Floridian resorts
- The walkway between Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter resorts
- The walkway between Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness
- The walkway from Disney’s Hollywood Studios to the BoardWalk area
A quiet morning in the Magic Kingdom enjoying one of our favorite walkways.
There are always secluded areas at the resorts to settle back and talk about your day.
Chill out at our resort; I love the Beach Club nooks and crannies for quiet respites.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to dine early or late. If you are touring in the busy season, you really want to grab your quick-service lunch meals right at 11AM. This dining strategy not only saves your family from the chaos of long lines but also gives everyone a chance at unwinding in quieter restaurants. Refreshed and refueled, you’ll be back to touring the park while the crowds are at lunch.
We also like the early strategy for table service lunch as well. We were one of the first patrons at Epcot’s Via Napoli in the picture below and while the restaurant filled up quickly, most of our meal was extremely quiet.
Dine early for quiet dining rooms.
At dinner time, dine early or late. Your hotel’s food court will be chaotic after the parks close, especially when closing hours are early in the winter time. Dine before the crowds return to the resort.
Resort dining will be more relaxing before the crowds return after the WDW parks close.
Try late night dining for empty dining rooms — whether you stop by for a full meal, snack, or beverage, quick service dining rooms are usually quiet later at night.
We like to take a breather at Backlot Express in Disney’s Hollywood Studios before this restaurant closes. Watch the park’s Times Guide for official hours as this venue often shuts down before park closing time.
Late night dining in crowd-free restaurants is a great chance to relax while touring.
Be strong. Fill out your itinerary and then check it over for downtime opportunities. If you are repeat guests, would the family benefit more from riding a couple of your not-so-favorite attractions or swimming in the resort’s pool?
Afternoons are awesome at the Dig Site Pool at Coronado Springs Resort.
And doesn’t that apply to newbies too?! If your heart is not set on seeing the afternoon parade, maybe some time playing miniature golf or enjoying another recreational activity would be more memorable for everyone.
Play Twister at Pop Century!
Take Advantage of FastPass+
Picture this: It’s early morning and my family is waiting at the gates prior to the opening of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. When the park opens, my husband “runs” to Toy Story Midway Mania for FastPasses while the rest of our traveling party grabs food at Starring Rolls Cafe (now closed) or meets in front of Tower of Terror. Yep, that’s how we used to tour.
FastPass+ and My Disney Experience (MDE) allow us to pre-plan many of our must do attractions so that we can slow down and enjoy more leisurely family time at WDW. Now, we are more likely to reserve a nice meal at the park, followed by a leisurely stroll over to our FastPass+ attraction.
Early lunch seating at Yak and Yeti in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
This strategy really works well on a day that follows a late night in an Extra Magic Hour park. We can then sleep in a bit, enjoy time at the pool, then head to a park later in the day for a meal and our FastPass+ selections. With a teen, late nights and lazy mornings work very well.
On days that we are at a park for rope drop, we are prepared with FastPass+ for morning attractions before heading back to our hotel or Disney Springs later in the day. By mixing up your itinerary, you’ll definitely discover that relaxation at Wald Disney World is indeed possible.
Plan some time at Disney Springs.
With the Epcot festivals becoming longer each year, more runDisney events being added, and Free Dining offers filling in the gaps, Walt Disney World seems to have three seasons: busy, busier, and busiest.
December 19th crowds at the Magic Kingdom. Watch for holiday season to be super busy.
Okay, there are still a few times per year when crowds are really light. We are still fans of late January, for example.
If you can, avoid holiday school breaks as these usually cause a huge influx of guests. Don’t want crowds? Stay away from actual holidays such as New Year’s Eve.
New Year’s Eve crowds in the Magic Kingdom.
The Rest of the World
“There’s more to see than can ever be seen. More to do than can ever be done. There’s far too much to take in here. More to find than can ever be found.” — The Circle of Life lyrics say it all.
Yes, there is more to do at Walt Disney World than touring the four major parks (Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and Animal Kingdom).
The resort hotels all offer dining and recreational fun for all ages. Take in a campfire night at your hotel or stop by a different resort for a new experience like a Pirate Cruise. The resorts are usually a refuge during the afternoon hours.
Escaping the parks in the middle of the day equals no bus lines and a relaxing, crowd-free resort.
Disney Springs has some of the best shops and dining choices on property. And don’t forget about the water parks and golf courses. Plus, there are out-of-the-park places to watch the high-flying fireworks if you don’t want to return to a park in the evening.
Taking in the Details
Sometimes all you need is a moment of calm in a busy day. Slow down and take in the details all around you; the creativity of the Imagineers is awe-inspiring. Don’t forget to look up, down, and all around.
When you sit and relax, you’ll notice all kinds of beautiful scenery.
Find a place to sit down and just gaze.
The regal architecture of New Fantasyland.
A walk around your resort in the late morning, afternoon, or late evening is a great time to get pictures and unwind.
An evening stroll around Art of Animation.
Vacationing at Walt Disney World can include relaxing recreation.
Play tennis at Disney’s Yacht Club.
From running to horseback riding, you’ll find a plethora of activities to engage in throughout the resort.
Keep up with your fitness routine on a Disney running trail.
Let’s not underestimate the calming effect of a delicious adult beverage.
Adult Beverages at Thirsty River Bar & Trek Snacks in the Animal Kingdom.
Find an out-of-the way location later in the day — we like to sit in the back of Yak & Yeti Local Foods Cafe with a refreshing beverage.
Yak & Yeti Local Foods Cafe is a quiet place in the late afternoon to sip on a beverage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Also, resort lounges are a terrific place to hideaway while sipping on an alcoholic or non-alcoholic refreshment and/or relishing some good bites to eat.
Stop by the Martha’s Vineyard Lounge at Disney’s Beach Club resort.
Of course, if you are on a once in a lifetime trip and your priority is to see and do everything that you possibly can, we completely appreciate that mindset. Even so, try to find small breaks to add some relaxation to your Walt Disney World vacation.
It’s your turn. How do you find relaxation at Walt Disney World? Contact Us, Friend us on Facebook, or comment below to share your Walt Disney World tips.
by Kimberly LaPaglia | Apr 28, 2017 | Disney, Walt Disney World, WDW Resorts
Disney Arrival Day: Things to Do on Your First Day at Walt Disney World
Congratulations, it’s your Disney Arrival Day! After the stresses of traveling to the Happiest Place on Earth, you are finally on Walt Disney World property. And you’ve likely taken a picture of this welcome sign:
Always a welcoming sight!
While Annual Passholders can certainly head straight to the parks, even these guests may need some down time from early morning flights or long road trips.
After you check in to your hotel, it’s time to embrace your first day at Disney.
Have some fun checking into your resort.
And I have some suggestions on how to decompress from the real world. Breathe in, let it out, and start soaking in the magic of a WDW vacation.
Make Your Hotel Home
Settle into your Disney resort room. I like to at least get our luggage or carry-on gear situated, phones charging, etc.
Standard Room at All-Star Music Resort
Get your refillable resort mugs, then take a walk around the resort.
Take a walk around your Disney Resort.
Become familiar with the locations of the food court, shop, pool, and transportation depot(s).
Explore your Disney Resort.
You’ll want to know where the boat/bus/monorail stop is before you head to your first park.
This is also a great time to relax by the pool.
Stormalong Bay at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resort
Let the kids swim away their energy that has bottled up from your flight or drive.
Priceless vacation moment!
Soaking in the hot tub is another way to let your worries whisk away. If you are so inclined, the pool bar will offer libations for over-21 guests as well as kiddie cocktails (for the young and young-at-heart).
Banana Cabana. Cheers!
Swim or take a bike ride, enjoy dinner at your hotel, then have the kids go to bed early or watch the resort’s outdoor movie. Attending the hotel’s campfire offerings is also a carefree pastime for your first evening.
Rent a bike at Wilderness Lodge.
Get a great night’s rest before your first park day!
Dine and Shop at Disney Springs
Shopping and dining at Disney Springs is another fun option. Our teen son likes to head to Earl of Sandwich for one of his favorite counter-service meals.
Bite into a delicious sandwich at Earl of Sandwich.
Walk off your travel jitters and share a counter-service or table-service meal with your loved ones at Disney Springs.
Note that this location will be very crowded if it’s a weekend afternoon and/or evening, so plan accordingly.
Resort Dining and Shopping
Traveling to another resort at Walt Disney World to dine and shop can also be rejuvenating. I find hooting and hollering at Whispering Canyon Cafe at Wilderness Lodge or Hoop-Dee-Doo at Fort Wilderness to be a complete stress-reliever. For comfort food in a quieter atmosphere, make a reservation at Trail’s End Restaurant.
Comfort foods are on the buffet at Trail’s End Restaurant at Fort Wilderness.
Another favorite first night meal is Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary. You’ll get a home-style buffet meal plus meeting Mickey all done in one outing. This place is noisy but you simply can not walk out of here without feeling a little more light-hearted.
Chef Mickey’s is extra fun when traveling with extended family!
Visit Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach
If you arrive early in the day, take advantage of your free time for a water-filled adventure at one of these gorgeous water parks.
Escape to Blizzard Beach Water Park.
Impressively themed, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach offer attractions for all ages. I just love floating down the lazy river!
Attend a Magic Kingdom Holiday Party
If you’ve got energy (especially if arriving from a different time zone that has you wired not tired), purchase tickets for an after-hours party at the Magic Kingdom. We highly recommend both Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
Main Street, U.S.A. is spooktacular!
And hey, if you decide to just crash and take a nap on your Disney Arrival Day, it’s all good. It’s YOUR vacation. We used to plan every second of our Disney vacations and now we have more fun just winging it. I love to get to our resort, check into our hotel, and park myself in a pool lounge chair (preferably in the shade). LOL! 😉
Kim enjoys the shade at The Dig Site pool at Disney’s Coronado Springs.
What’s your family tradition for your first day at Walt Disney World? Or tell us what you’re planning to do on your first trip! We love to hear from our readers.