Port Orleans Riverside - WDW Orlando, Florida

Destination: Orlando, FL (Disney World)
Date: November 2015
Hotel: Port Orleans Riverside
Brand: n/a
Elite Status: n/a
# of travelers: 2
nights: 3

image from hotel website

Hotel: Making the Decision

Right before Justin and I got married, a long time friend announced his engagement to his girlfriend of 7 years. Then it was just a waiting game to see how long it would be before they announced their wedding date; she wanted to graduate college and he wanted a steady job. It only made sense that they wait. Then, in late 2014, the wedding date was announced. Thinking it would be a good excuse to take my honey to Disney World, I got started thinking about planning. ;) (We had just been to Europe and were paying off a car/paying down student loans, so I didn't jump straight into Disney World planning despite my strong desire too.)

Then, it happened! That beautiful January day in 2015 when everything seemed to fall into place. Expedia was having a sale on hotels and I had a date and a location in mind! It was time to book! :)

At first I was drawn to Disney's Art of Animation hotel – the idea of an artist staying there? Sounded good to me! Then I noticed that Ariel would be watching me sleep if I paid for one of the cheaper rooms, in the $200 range. As (un)appealing as that was, I decided that there must be a better hotel for my husband and I. This led to a minimum of a full day's worth of Google searching. Everyone seems to have an opinion on a Disney hotel. If it's a good hotel for families, it's a bad hotel for adults. If it's a cheap hotel, it's probably more for families… Etc… I think you get the idea. Almost unanimously though, the Port Orleans Riverside kept coming up again and again as a decent place to stay for both groups of people AND there were no fairytale princesses watching you sleep. (A big plus in my book!) So I booked, still mostly undecided, but out of time since the Expedia promotion was only good until midnight. I assumed that saving money would inevitably become more important than what type of room we actually got. (Luckily, as you'll see, we enjoyed our room, so I got the best of both worlds – saving money and a decent room!)

Getting There

Initially the plan was to fly in early Thursday morning and make a long weekend of the trip leaving on Sunday. Instead, as the year progressed, I became antsy about work. My car had been acting up and with a trip to Europe coming up in December/January, I didn't want to ask for any extra days off. Thus, about a month before the wedding, I booked a flight to Orlando Thursday at 9PM at night with a return trip on Monday morning, so that I would only be missing Friday. (Reasonable for going to a wedding, I think.)

Once we arrived to the Orlando airport, we used Disney transportation to get us to our hotel. The whole trip took just over an hour, not exactly an enjoyable hour either since it was so late at night and all we wanted to do was sleep. Finally we arrived with our hotel being one of the last stops that the bus made. With it being so late at night at least the check-in line would be short, right?

Checking In

Port Orleans Riverside was actually a very big resort. A river runs through it that makes you think of a scene from Mary Poppins or even the classic children's ride "It's A Small World". Of course, at night it's hard to see too much aside from the vastness of the property and how confusing the signage is. Staff was dressed up in New Orleans river cruise style outfits that looked uncomfortable and cheap. Truly it makes you grateful that it's their job and not yours to wear them. Of course the staff was kind enough. They gave us a map with directions to our room, checked to make sure our MagicBands were working, and told us as much as we needed to know about Disney World park hours, breakfast times for the hotel restaurant, and gave us the Disney public transportation bus schedule. We were all set at 1AM for a 6AM wake up call to get breakfast and head to the parks as early as possible. (And oh how my husband hated me for that!)

image from hotel website

Room, View, Amenities

When we checked in, I asked the lady working at the front desk if we had received a good room to which she enthusiastically exclaimed "yes!" and showed me how it was a corner room on the property. While, yes, corner rooms do typically mean a good view with a few windows, she failed to mention we would be on the bottom floor next to a stairwell. Oops. So we had a view of shrubs on one side of the room and a stairwell on the other. Not necessarily the most grand view I've ever had.

The room itself though was nice. The hotel beds were stiff, but the decorations in the room were quite cute. You almost felt as though you had wandered back in time to an old southern belle mansion, which, I think, is what they were going for. Shampoo, conditioner, and soap lined the tub neatly in a row with tiny little Mickey hats on each of them. And best of all? The room not only had shades but also room darkeners! Woot! Street lights (actually – more like sidewalk lights) would not be keeping this girl up! There was also a blow dryer, iron, and the ability to get your clothes washed or dry cleaned if you so desired. Staying here definitely afforded some perks that cheaper hotels might not have.

Oh - and before I forget to mention it, the room itself is big! We had two double beds in our room and there was easily enough room for a family of 4 to fit. Plus, the room has the luxury of curtaining off the sink area or shutting the door to the toilet/shower area as needed. Easily you could have 2 or 3 people getting ready without waking anyone up or getting in the way of someone else. I imagine this would be particularly great for large families or families with small kids.

image from TripAdvisor

Restaurant/Mingling Areas/Transportation

Like I said, this resort property is absolutely ginormous. The grounds are gorgeous with pathways next to a river, bikes available for rent, and gazebos perfect for sitting and watching the sun go down. Kids will enjoy the pool area where occasionally Disney characters come out to visit. You can also hit up the large cafeteria to pick out Mickey waffles and bad tasting, expensive eggs and bacon if you so desire (or have nothing else available to eat). Then take a bus to the parks or ride the boat to downtown Disney. Be sure to get in line early for transportation, because the line gets long fast! Also, if you are in need of any forgotten items, be sure to check out the gift shop where you can buy souvenirs, bandages, advil, or anything else you might need!

My husband and I ate at the cafeteria on our first day, and immediately regretted it. Rather than dwell on our terrible breakfast, we made sure to enjoy some delicious treats at the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival totally making up for our awful breakfast. I don't recommend the cafeteria at this hotel; eat off property or wait until a snack bar is open at your favorite Disney park. (We even resorted to bringing some delicious croissants back to our hotel from EPCOT to have for breakfast the next day. EPCOT's croissants are that good!)


Honestly I couldn't tell you where we were located within Disney property. Our hotel seemed to have it's own bus system for getting to and from the parks, which was both a blessing (you got immediately to the parks, you got immediately to your hotel from the parks), and a curse (you had to wait forever on a bus). Furthermore, the boat transportation also took forever. If you arrive to Disney World without a vehicle what do you do? Rent one, I suppose. Or wait. You would think during non-peak times of the year, transportation would be better. I can't even imagine what it must be like for summer-goers!

Overall Review
★★★ (average)

While most of my problems with this hotel are problems within the whole of the Disney corporation, as a Disney hotel, I had to take those problems into consideration when rating this hotel. The room itself was lovely and the room darkening shades made our stay there especially enjoyable. The hotel property was also gorgeous with gardens, rivers, and walkways even beyond what my husband and I saw. Transportation and food was a bit lackluster though. Next time I think we may consider a hotel like Disney's Contemporary Resort or the Grand Floridian simply because of their proximity to faster transportation (read: the monorail).

Your Turn

If you've ever stayed at a Disney hotel, what did you like about it? What did you dislike? Did you take advantage of perks – like going into the parks early? Did you explore all that there was to see at your chosen resort? Or did busy park days keep you stationed to your room after nightfall?

If you haven't been to Disney World yet, would you be interested in a more adult hotel like the Port Orleans Riverside?

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