Disney’s Port Orleans Resort — Should You Stay at Riverside or French Quarter?

Brit Tuttle

Updated on:

Disney’s Port Orleans Resort — Should You Stay at Riverside or French Quarter?

When it comes to a Walt Disney World vacation, one of the most pressing questions comes early on in the planning — where do you stay? The team at WDWNT recently discussed the pros and cons of staying at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter and Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside, and we’ve got a breakdown of everything to help you decide where to book your stay.

Disney’s Port Orleans Resort History

Disney’s Port Orleans Resort is a moderate-level resort at Walt Disney World, and is split into two halves. Riverside is inspired by the Antebellum South and originally opened in 1992 as Disney’s Dixie Landings Resort. It was combined with Port Orleans Resort in 2001, and the two sides became French Quarter and Riverside, with the former, of course, inspired by the French Quarter of New Orleans.

Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter

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Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter celebrates the romance and pageantry of New Orleans French Quarter, with theming and décor that emulate the feeling of walking the cobblestone streets of the Big Easy during Mardi Gras.

Rooms

Port Orleans French Quarter Room Stock

At French Quarter, guests can choose between five different standard room options: Standard View, Garden View, River View, Pool View, and King Bed.

As far as the theming of the rooms at French Quarter goes, they’re in between what we’d consider to be plain versus well-themed.

Unlike Riverside, there are no Royal Guest Rooms at French Quarter.

Pricing

When checking for a 7-day trip in October 2023, the standard room rate ranges between $335.50 and $383.83 per night, excluding tax.

Pools

Port Orleans Doubloon Lagoon Stock

French Quarter has one pool, the Doubloon Lagoon, which features Mardi Gras décor and a 51-foot-long snaking sea serpent slide dubbed “Scales.” There is also a water play area, a whirlpool spa, and the Mardi Grogs pool bar.

While some of our team prefers the French Quarter pool to the pools at Riverside, we have found it to be the more crowded pool option out of what’s available at both resorts.

Keep in mind that from January 2024 through April 2024, the Doubloon Lagoon pool is set to be closed for routine maintenance, and guests may see or hear construction work during daytime hours. Instead, guests are encouraged to swim in the Ol’ Man Island pool at Riverside.

Dining

There is only one restaurant and one lounge at French Quarter, alongside the Mardi Grogs pool bar.

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Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory is a food court dining location that offers American and Cajun-style fare. Guests can stop here for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with some dining plans accepted.

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Mickey beignets

Scat Cat’s Club has both a lounge and café; the former is the spot to visit for live entertainment in the evenings, and the latter is the home of Mickey-shaped beignets — though the lounge offers them as well. The lounge menu also includes various appetizers and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

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Mardi Grogs is located by the Doubloon Lagoon pool, and offers quick bites and both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages for your poolside days.

However, dining can be a non-issue for guests who don’t mind making the 5- to 10-minute walk over to Riverside, so the option to enjoy all of the restaurants at both resorts during your stay is possible.

Recreation

As far as recreation goes, you have your average resort options like pools, campfire activities, movies under the stars, bike and surrey bike rentals, catch and release fishing, playgrounds, and arcades.

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For us, the highlight is the live entertainment at the Scat Cat Club, which can vary from night to night. Live music is always a plus, and with it just a short walk from your room, it’s an easy way to fill out an evening with no plans.

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During Mardi Gras season, French Quarter also hosts an annual Mardi Gras Pargo Parade, where Cast Members decorate golf carts, and guests can vote on their favorites. Each year, the parade has a new theme; for 2023, the theme was “The Legacy of Walt Disney World Resorts.”

However, carriage rides are only offered at Riverside, so you’ll have to make the walk over if that’s something on your to-do list.

Atmosphere

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Our team was pretty divided on which of the two resorts offers the better atmosphere, though a few consider French Quarter to have more to do and as the more quaint of the two. We also consider it easier to navigate in comparison to Riverside.

With the single pool area that is often crowded, it can be a bit noisy at French Quarter, which can impact your visit if you prefer a quieter resort.

Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside

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Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside evokes the quiet romance of rural Louisiana, from the white-column mansions of Magnolia Bend to the backwoods cottages of Alligator Bayou. There is also a walkable path along the Sassagoula River that leads to Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter.

Rooms

At Riverside, guests have a number of options to choose from for Standard Rooms, as well as the Royal Guest Rooms.

The Standard Room options include:

  • Standard View – 5th Sleeper
  • Woods View
  • Woods View – 5th Sleeper
  • Pool View
  • King Bed
  • Preferred Room
  • River View
  • Standard View

For Royal Guest Rooms, there are three options:

  • Royal Guest Room – Standard View
  • Royal Guest Rom – Woods View
  • Royal Guest Room – River View
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At Riverside, the resort accommodations are divided into two sides: Alligator Bayou and Magnolia Bend. Alligator Bayou rooms come in six category options, according to PortOrleans.org:

  • Standard View
  • Woods View
  • Preferred Room
  • Pool View
  • River View
  • King Bed

Our team enjoys the rooms at Alligator Bayou, as they actually feel themed. You can check out our tour of a Standard Room with a 5th Sleeper here.

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Magnolia Bend resembles the manor homes of southern plantations and consists of four three-story buildings. The Royal Guest Rooms are also located here.

Of the non-royal rooms, Magnolia Bend includes the following accommodation types:

  • Standard View
  • Woods View
  • Pool View
  • River View
  • King Bed

Magnolia Bend’s rooms feel a little plain but still nice for a moderate-level accommodation. You can see our tour of a Woods View room here.

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The Royal Guest Rooms are very expensive. These themed rooms feature ornate touches inspired by Disney animated films like “Aladdin,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Little Mermaid,” and more. Our team specifically enjoys staying in these rooms, but the price can be a barrier for some. You can check out our Royal Guest Room tour from 2021 here.

It is also worth mentioning that Riverside is dog-friendly, while French Quarter is not, so your furry best friend can join in on your vacation if you wish to bring them.

Pricing

When checking for a 7-day trip in October 2023, the standard room rate ranges between $329.17 and $390.17 per night, excluding tax. For the same date set, Royal Guest Rooms range in price from $391.50 to $407 per night, excluding tax.

Pools

Riverside Ol Man Island Pool Stock

Riverside offers six pools for guests to enjoy: Ol’ Man Island Pool, three pools at Alligator Bayou, and two pools at Magnolia Bend.

Ol’ Man Island is a 3.5-acre pool accessible by three wooden bridges and includes a 95-foot-long rustic waterslide built into the millworks. There is also a whirlpool tub, the Muddy Rivers pool bar, and a kiddie pool for younger swimmers.

The pools at Alligator Bayou and Magnolia Bend are leisure pools and are a more relaxing and what we’d consider more manageable option for those who want an easygoing pool experience.

Dining

Riverside has more dining options than its sister resort, with two restaurants, one lounge, and a pool bar.

Riverside Mill Food Court

Riverside Mill Food Court covers breakfast, lunch, and dinner and offers American fare in a family-friendly food court, with grab ‘n’ go items and Mobile Order available.

Boatwright's Dining Hall

Boatwright’s Dining Hall is the table service dinner-only option for the resort and offers American food inspired by Southern Louisiana cooking in a casual setting overlooking the Sassagoula River. You can read our review from 2021 here.

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The River Roost is Riverside’s lounge, offering southern-style libations and a full bar alongside light snacks while the kitchen is open. The River Roost is also where guests can catch the musical and comedy stylings of Yehaa Bob.

Muddy Rivers

Muddy Rivers is the pool bar at Riverside, located at Ol’ Man Island. Here, guests can enjoy specialty drinks, draft beer, wine, sangria, and non-alcoholic beverages.

Part of our team considers Riverside to have the better dining and bar options, but with French Quarter being a short walk away, this doesn’t have to be an issue during your stay if you’d like to sample everything both resorts have to offer.

Recreation

Both Riverside and French Quarter share much of the same recreation options, be it pools, campfire activities, movies under the stars, and more. But if you’re after a carriage ride or want to sit in on multiple sets performed by Yehaa Bob, Riverside is the place to go.

Riverside Carriage Rides Stock

Carriage rides are offered for $55 at Riverside and take guests on a 25-minute ride through the scenic resort pathways. Carriages can fit up to four adults or two adults and three small children, so the whole family can participate in the activity. However, this offering can be canceled due to inclement weather, but it will still take place in the rain and cold.

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It’s not a stay at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort without a night watching Yehaa Bob perform at the River Roost, and our team considers this a not-to-be-missed offering. Guests can sit in the lounge all night and catch every set, and each one could be different. Keep in mind that Bob has a loyal following, and seating can be sparse if you don’t arrive early.

You can check out our report from his post-COVID-19 return performance here.

Atmosphere

Our team was quite divided on which of the two resorts offered the better atmosphere, but many agreed that Riverside was superior in that regard. It is also the larger of the two resorts, which offers more room to explore and take in the sights if that’s what you’re after.

However, it should be pointed out that Riverside has more of an Antebellum feel, which can make some guests feel uncomfortable.

We also find Riverside to be the quieter of the two since so much of it is spread out. This could be a positive or a negative, as some of the team find the resort more difficult to navigate because of its size.

Overall Thoughts

It is difficult to say whether you should choose Riverside over French Quarter, or vice versa. In our opinion, both are great and have their own unique amenities that make a stay worth it, but what it really comes down to when making the decision is the rooms.

Whether you want a heavily themed accommodation like the Royal Guest Rooms, or you’re more inclined toward a plainer option like the rooms of Magnolia Bend, or even somewhere in the middle like those at French Quarter, your preference of room style will likely be the determining factor in which resort you choose.

Have you ever stayed at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside or French Quarter? Which resort do you prefer? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments.

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