A Guide To Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside

Choosing which Disney hotel to stay at can be a challenge there are so many fabulous options. I’m here with everything you need to know about the Port Orleans Resort – Riverside resort to help with your decision. 

Theme 

One of Disney’s moderate category resorts Port Orleans Resort – Riverside is a garden style hotel complex themed to the Louisiana countryside. There are two themed sections of the resort. On one side you have Alligator Bayou themed to the more rural Louisiana bayou. On the other side you have Magnolia Bend themed to more elegant southern mansions. Throughout the property is the Sasagoula River and the main building is themed to a river port and mill. 

Port Orleans Resort – Riverside is one half of the Port Orleans Resort complex. Riverside’s sister resort Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter is located right next door. French Quarter the themed to New Orleans. You can walk over to French Quarter for a visit easily, or take a boat ride there. If you do make sure to check out the beignets.

Riverside is located in the Disney Springs area of property, the closest park is EPCOT.

The resort is made up of a main building, Sassagoula Steamboat Co., and clusters of three story garden-style room buildings. These buildings and the rooms inside them are themed based on which section of the resort they are in as discussed above, Alligator Bayou or Magnolia Bend.

Parking lots and bus stops are throughout the entire resort. A hallmark of Disney World’s moderate resorts is their large size. This does mean that it can be a longer walk to the main building or the main pool etc., which some dislike. However, Port Orleans Riverside is smaller than its is fellow moderate resorts Caribbean Beach and Coronado Springs. However the size of the moderate resorts does also allow for you to more easily get lost in the theming and the world the resort is creating.

Unless you are considering a Royal Room, see below, the theming at Riverside is not ideal for small children. Something I find true at all the moderate resorts. There are some touches from Princess and the Frog throughout but they are just touches. If you are traveling with young children and plan to spend a lot of time at the resort, I suggest considering a Royal Room or looking elsewhere, perhaps at a value resort. However, there are a lot of activities around the resort at Riverside that may sway a family looking to spend a lot of time at their hotel so make sure to put that into consideration. If your child is a huge Princess and the Frog fan I would also consider this resort.


For those with pre-teens and teens they may appreciate the less “DISNEY!” theming and enjoy being immersed into an architectural style different from their own back home. With the size of the resort there is also plenty of room to give them space to explore on their own while still staying safe and on the property. With even the option for them to hop over to Disney Springs by boat.

This is also a good option for families of 5 or 6 (with one under 3-years-old) as there is an option for a room with a pull down “5th sleeper” bed. 

For adult only trips this location is a great option. The theming, especially with the river, the views during a walk around the grounds can be very relaxing and serene. I like this resort for a couples trip, with easy access to Disney Springs for dinners and night time entertainment. You can even take a romantic carriage rides around the resort. Plus it has good proximity to EPCOT. Also a great options for a girls trip, or a group of adults looking to have some time to relax. 

If you are just looking for a hotel room to shower, sleep and then hit the parks I would skip Port Orleans – Riverside as transportation to the parks is only by bus. If that is the case I would suggest saving and staying at a value resort, or consider Caribbean Beach with it’s Skyliner access or even upgrading to a deluxe on the monorail loop or on the Boardwalk with quick access to the parks. 

Port Orleans Resort – Riverside is also one of the four pet friendly resorts at Disney World. So you really can bring the whole family. 

Transportation

Check out my post all about Disney Transportation for more details on getting around the greater resort. 

https://4ears4eyesforthemagic.travel.blog/2020/03/04/getting-around-disney-world/

You have a few options for how to arrive. The Magical Express services this resort from Orlando International (MCO) Airport. The cost of magical express is included in your stay. If you are driving yourself you can park in the main buildings check-in lot, you can later move your car to the lot closer to your room building. 

(Starting in 2022 Magical Express is being discontinued)

*** There is a nightly charge to park at the resort of $20. ***

Once you have arrived you can go to the front desk at Sassagoula Steamboat Co. and get checked in and receive your room assignment. If your room is not yet ready you can leave your bags with bell services who have a service window on the outside the building by the main entrance. If you wish to skip check-in all together you can utilize online check-in prior to you trip. You will get a text message with your room number as soon as it is ready. If you arrive before your room is ready you can drop your bags at bell services and head right to the parks. 

Park transportation from Riverside is just busses.

Buses pick up from a bus stop in the parking lot in front of Sassagoula Steamboat Co. and at several internal stops throughout the resort. So be sure to check for which stop is closest to your room. The buses will take you to all 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, and Disney Springs. They run frequently and their upcoming schedule is posted on screens at the main bus stop. You can also use the My Disney Experience App to check their times. In the morning the buses start to run from the hotel about 45 minutes prior to park opening and will run until 1 hour prior to park closing. In the evening return service ends 2 hours after park closing. A perk of Port Orleans Riverside is that the buses typically are not shared with another resort. A downside if that as there are internal bus stops there could be several stops before you get to yours. Rides typically take about 15 – 20 minutes to get anywhere on property. 

Port Orleans also offers a shuttle boat from the resort, with stops at both Riverside and French Quarter to Disney Springs. The ride is both convent and fun, and a nice break from busses, the ride takes about 20 minutes. You can even use the boat network to get to Old Key West and Saratoga Springs resorts. This is one of the reasons I like this resort for adult travel parties who may want to spend a lot of time at Disney Springs for their evening activities. 

In addition you can also always use the Minnie Van service or traditional Uber and Lyft. 

When returning home Magical Express can be used to return to Orlando International Airport. You will receive a notice on your door with your return Magical Express details. Typically you will be assigned a bus that departs about 3 hours before you scheduled flight departure time.

Make sure you have provided all of your flight details on My Disney Experience before your trip. If your flight is later in the day you can check your bags with bell services or resort airline check-in for some airlines and spend your morning enjoying the resort or parks. Your Magical Express will pick you up in front of the hotel. 

Rooms

With the exception of Royal Rooms, the interior decor of all of the rooms at Riverside have the same basic set-up. With some differences in theming between the Alligator Bouyu and the Magnolia Bend sections. You will find Princess and the Frog touches as well. 

There are three basic layouts available at Port Orleans – Riverside

  • 2 Queen Beds 
    • Views Offered:
      • Standard View – aka parking lot view
      • River View
      • Woods View
      • Pool View
    • These are also available as preferred rooms, located in buildings closest to the Sassagoula Steamboat Company main building.
  • 1 King Bed
    • These all have wood or river views but you can’t specify which you will get. 
  • 5th Sleeper 
    • These rooms offer 2 queen beds and an additional pull down chid-size bed. 
    • Views Offered:
      • Wood View 
      • Standard View – aka parking lot view
      • Only locked in Alligator Bouyou

In addition to the basic layouts this resort also offers the only Royal Rooms at Disney World. 

Royal Rooms:

  • Views Available – Woods, Riverside, Pool
  • Located in Magnolia Bend
  • Two Queen Size Beds
  • These rooms offer a perfect Princess experience for the young and the young at heart. Tiana has designed these rooms fit for royalty to stay in with touches from all of her Princess friends. The decor in these rooms is taken up a notch from the rest of the resort. The headboards even light up for your own personal firework show to end the night. 
  • Beware these rooms are located on the far end of the resort, further from the main building. 
  • I recommend this for a special occasion upgrade for any Disney Princess fan. Or for those with little ones who are all about Princesses and want to have the most Princess themed trip possible who don’t mind the price increase. 

Though you can request which section you would like to be in the only way to guarantee a spot in Alligator Bouyu is to get a 5th Sleeper Room. Similarly the only way to guarantee a spot in Magnolia Bend is by getting a Royal Room.

The hotel offers free Wi-Fi and your in room TV not only has all your normal channels but lots of extra Disney content channels as well. Your TV will also provide you with park hours for the day and a channel with a guide to Disney World. 

All of the rooms but the Royal Rooms offer under the bed storage which is a great way to get suitcases out of the way. The 5th sleeper rooms do lose a bit of storage as they take the place of a dresser in the other layouts. I enjoy the the laminate floors in most rooms here they feel much cleaner than a carpeted alternative. The USB plugs thought out are also helpful.

The split bath featured in many Disney resorts is fantastic as it allows for multiple people to get ready in the morning at once. The bathrooms here also have tub showers which is great for those traveling with little ones. 

The rooms all include a hairdryer, coffee maker, mini-refrigerator, telephone (where you can request a wake up call from Mickey and friends), an iron & ironing board, and a safe. For the youngest guests Pack ’n Play cribs are available upon request. I suggest making this request before you arrive to get the best availability. All rooms are smoke-free and there are designated smoking areas at the hotel. Laundry facilities are available 24/7 and located near each of the 5 quiet pools at the resort. There is also an ATM and currency exchange services on site. 

Royal Rooms

Pools

There are lots of pools at Riverside. Each have complementary towels pool side. Hours and lifeguard service vary by pool daily but are posted at the resort. 

Ol’Man Island Pool

  • This is the largest and the main pool located in the middle of the river on Ol’ Man Island.
  • The pool is a winding shape themed to a “swimmin hole” 
  • There is a waterslide here as well as some water spouts that will spray or drop water on you. 
  • Lots of shade for those lounging pool side.  

Leisure Pools 

  • There are 5 of these pools, 3 in alligator bayou and 2 in magnolia bend. 
  • These are considered quiet pools and are a great place to relax. 

Extra Fun! 

Port Orleans Riverside offers lots of activities to keep you busy during your stay. The amount of activities here is one of the highlights of this resort. 

  • Arcade – The Medicine Show Arcade is located in the main Sassagoula Steamboat Co. building.
  • Movies Under The Stars – Watch complementary screenings of Disney films under the stars  located on the Magnolia South Pool deck, between buildings 90 and 95. Available on select nights.
  • Playground – Enjoy a traditional playground located on Ol’ Man Island.
  • Jogging Trails  – There is one mile worth of trails around the entire Port Orleans resort. 
  • Beignet Dash Fun Run – For a small fee this 1.5 mile fun run around both sides of the resort is available on select mornings. This is a relaxed, not timed, fun run and is family friendly. You can register ahead of time by calling +1 407-WDW-PLAY or register at the check in desk on race day. You will get a bib to wear during the race and a plastic necklace with a Beignet Dash charm as your “medal”. You will also get beignets after you finish of course.
  • Bike Rentals – At the Riverside Levee Marina you can rent bikes and enjoy a ride around the resort. 
  • Surrey Bike Rentals  – A real adventure, you can rent a surrey bike at Riverside Levee Marina. Both 2 person and 4 person are available. This is a great activity for a resort rest day. 
  • Fishing:
    • Bass Fishing – Experience a guided catch-and-release excursion that departs from the Riverside Levee Marina.
    • Cane Pole Fishing – Try out old-fashioned cane pole fishing available on Ol’ Man Island. Also catch-and-release. 
  • Campfire on de’ Bayou – Held on select nights you can enjoy the campfire and roast a complementary marshmallow. You also have the option to purchase a s’mores kit with all the ingredients you need to complete your s’more. 
  • Caricature Artists – You will often find a caricature artist in the lobby with a menu of caricature options you can purchase. 
  • Horse- Drawn Carriage –  You can take a 25 minute carriage ride down the banks of the Sassagoula River. The carriage holds 4 adults or 2 adults and 3 small children. Advanced reservations are recommended. This is a great option is you are celebrating something special. 

** Be sure to check your resort’s activity calendar when you arrive for additional events that may be going on. ** 

If you are celebrating a special occasion you can even have your room decorated or a special gift sent through Disney Floral and Gifts in-room celebrations.

If you are celebrating a special occasion you can even have your room decorated or a special gift sent through Disney Floral and Gifts in-room celebrations.

Shopping

In Sassagoula Steamboat Co. you will find the gift shop, Fulton’s General Store. Here you will find lots of Disney merchandise, including Port Orleans – Riverside themed resort exclusive items plus lots of Princess and the Frog merchandise. You will also find some last minute toiletry needs, and some pre-packaged snacks.

Guests at all Disney Resorts have the option of merchandise delivery when shopping in the parks. That stuffed Mickey you bought at Animal Kingdom that you had delivered to your resort will be waiting for you here. 

They can also assist you with mailing home purchases. 

Food

For menu’s to all of these locations check out: 

https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts/port-orleans-resort-riverside/dining/

Read my dining at Disney World posts to learn all about the dining plan and eating at Disney with allergies. 

https://4ears4eyesforthemagic.travel.blog/2020/02/17/the-basics-of-dinning-at-disney-world/

https://4ears4eyesforthemagic.travel.blog/2020/05/05/allergies-and-special-dietary-needs-at-disney-parks/

The Riverside Mill food court is located in the Sassagoula Steamboat Co. building. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner and open long hours that vary the food court has tons of options. The food here is pretty straight forward burgers, salads, sandwiches and pasta dishes. There are a few options with a little cajun flare and some southern style desserts. The food court holds serval counters each serving a different selection. There is also a grab and go area, including beer and wine options. You pick up all your food and then pay at one counter. 

The food court also offers a re-usable plastic mug. You purchase the mug for one set price and then can use it for unlimited coffee and soda at your hotel throughout your stay. This is included in the dining plan. 

This resort has a sit-down table service restaurant as well, Boatwright’s Dining Hall. Themed to a shipyard and boat building check out the decor hanging from the ceiling. There are more Louisiana themed menu items here including shrimp and grits, jambalaya and crawfish bisque. Reservations are available here. While walk-up availability here is possible I recommend getting reservation is you know you want to eat there.

River Roost is an indoor bar located in the main building. Sip on some souther-style libations and have some light snacks.

Muddy Rivers Bar located by the pool on Ol’ Man Island offers a menu of various alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks. 

From 5:00pm to Midnight you can also order Disney Pizza Delivery to your room. The menu includes not only pizza but salad, chicken strips and beer and wine. Use your in-room phone to place the order. 

As you can see Port Orleans – Riverside has a lot to offer. I really enjoyed the ambience of this resort and think it is a nice calm in the storm that can be Disney World. I recommend this location the most to travel parties who think they will spend a lot of time at the resort. For those with younger children I recommend the Royal Rooms. While the 5th sleeper option is great for those with more than 4 in their party, with at least one child. The highlights of this resort for me are all the extra activities that are available and the option of the Royal Rooms. 

If you are interested in staying at Port Orleans – Riverside or any other Disney resort contact me today for a free quote at katiev@themagicsyours.com.

Follow me! https://linktr.ee/katiethemagicsyours

Published by katiethemagicsyours

I am in independent travel agent with The Magic's Yours Travel. Here to plan all your Disney adventures, at no cost to you! I am a wife, cat mom, Aunt, Marylander, traveler, runner, and Disney fanatic. I have personal experience with Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line and Disney's Aulani, and I am here to share it with you. Contact me today for a FREE quote at katiev@themagicsyourstravel.com www.themagicsyours.com

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