Just got back to my home in California after my 2nd visit to WDW. Our only other trip was in Feb. 2011, and this time it was just DD19 and myself for a mother/daughter celebration combining my birthday (54th!) and my DD’s completion of her sophomore year at Univ. of Alabama.
In this report, I’ll discuss our stay at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside (POR) from Mar 4-10, 2019.
I am long winded but I hope the details help others who are interested in POR.
Since staying at the Beach Club Villas in 2011, we were very interested in seeing what the difference would be between a deluxe and moderate WDW resort. I am happy to report that we loved POR and would not hesitate to recommend it to others.
ARRIVAL: I forgot what a mad house MCO is no matter what time of day or night. It’s like a giant shopping mall full of crying kids in strollers and stressed out adults! Since we landed at MCO late in the day (7:20pm), we took our own bags to ME because we didn’t want to wait until after midnight for our bags to be delivered to our WDW room. The pain was SouthWest baggage claim is on the opposite side of the airport from ME check in so a lot of time was spent figuring out how to get to ME and avoid running over people with our blind spot luggage carts. We had a map but a TSA agent in line at Starbucks finally told us the best route. Checking into ME was a breeze…love these MBs! After the porters placed our 5 bags under the bus (I know what you’re thinking…5 bags for a week trip?!–My DD had 3 bags of clothing and personal items after checking out of her college apt.) We waited for others to board so we could be on our way. We soon discovered we would be the last of 4 resorts to be dropped off at so it was a long night. Once at the lovely POR, it took quite a long time to get a luggage cart so we could transport our own luggage across the vast POR grounds. Bell service was swamped with disgruntled guests who had not received their bags through ME. I am glad we avoided the hassle of waiting but it was a pain to lug one’s own bags…This was the first notable difference between a deluxe and moderate resort.
Given that we did not get to our room until after 10pm, we had to change our dinner reservations at The Boathouse to 11pm! That was fine since I was still on West Coast time.
BTW, as soon as we landed at MCO, I was delighted to discover that we had been assigned the EXACT room I requested. Thank you TP room request service!
We had Royal Court room #9247, a corner room on the 2nd (top) floor of the Oak Manor building in the Magnolia Bend section of POR.
Our Royal Court room was a princess’s dream but not too girly…think royal blue not pink…It was in excellent shape, clean, and well maintained. I had read some reviews that the royal court rooms were showing some wear but I saw only minimal–a small scratch on the furniture and I had to look for it. The room was a good size for the two of us with 2 “queen” beds with crisp white bedding. The queen beds seemed a bit small for queens but I am used to my king at home. No matter, the beds and pillows were very comfortable. If there were four people in the room, especially adults, it would have felt like a tight squeeze but the room wasn’t any smaller at a standard hotel.
We had to get used to the heavy curtain separating the sleeping area from the bathroom area (It was just awkward at first not having a door) but it worked well especially in blocking the light for my DD who slept later than I. I didn’t like the simple bar that served as a closet near the sink counter. I had a lot of clothes hanging and had to daily move the large recycling bin to near the front door after the mousekeeping staff kept moving it back to under my dresses in the closet area. That kinda grossed me out. The waste bin was constantly placed under our clothes too and I had to constantly move that bin to the right of the sink counter. The bathroom sink counter was very pretty with a nice contrast between the sparkling royal blue granite and the shiny brass Aladdin Lamp shaped faucet. Nice touch Disney designers! The water pressure in the shower was excellent amazing given the amount of rooms at POR. Loved the large sunflower shower head too. My only complaints about the shower area was the close proximity of the toilet to the shower/bath combo and the door that separated the bath from the sink dressing area, and the loud flushing toilet which felt like the commodes on a cruise ship.
The lighting was plentiful, and we especially loved the hanging lamp with hidden MMs over the corner table and chairs. The light show built into the bed headboards was a nice touch, and kids would get a delight from it. We only watched the flat screen TV while getting ready in the morning (basically waiting for my late rising DD to put on her face paint!). Since it was satellite, there was interruptions in TV service that corresponded with Florida’s unpredictable weather, but the interruptions didn’t last long. I had never seen so many Disney related channels but there was also CNN, HLN, TNT, etc…The TV was above the large dresser that provided 3 deep drawers for clothes and a small enclosed refrigerator with no freezer.
The overall room insulation was very good because we never heard our neighbors through the connecting door. Furthermore, every morning and afternoon there was a crew of maintenance and landscaping workers who we NEVER heard once we closed our door.I have never had that experience during my stay at any hotel usually I can hear what is happening outside but our POR room inside was very quiet!
We loved our view on the Oak Manor gardens and fountain that unfortunately was only bubbling the day we checked out. Landscaping crews were replacing the grass sod and sprucing up the flower beds. I had read complaints about Disney being lack in maintenance and landscaping recently, but every day there were crews out power washing sidewalks, trimming trees and bushes, planting, painting, and cleaning out gutters. Again I could hear it as I walked to the Lobby and back to my room but never inside my room.
Our room 9247 was a quick 5 min walk to the lobby and food court. by the second day, we knew which staircase to take to the bottom floor, and then we could either go left to the bridge that took us close to the valet/ride share or to the right to the bridge that lead us through the pool area on Ole Man Island that lead directly to the food court, general store, and lobby. Although the pools looked inviting, we never used any of them because we were just too tired after long afternoons and evenings in the parks. We were surprised at the number of young families using the main pool after 10pm. When do these young kids ever sleep???!!!
Now on to the food court…I only used the food court for a late morning breakfast. We were out and about the rest of the time. I forgot to tell you that we are late sleepers so RDs were never in the plans. I usually got up about 10:15am…7:15am West Coast time, and I’d stroll over to the Riverside Mill after making my first attempt in waking my slumbering DD. It was nice that they served full breakfast until 11am and continued partial breakfast selections (eggs, meats, waffles) until 11:30!!! Each morning, I got my usual iced coffee (Couldn’t handle hot coffee after discovering the morning heat and humidity of the first day) and a side of scrambled eggs that were very creamy, buttery, and tasty. I got a side of bacon and a croissant to go for my DD. The cashiers were nice enough to charge me for a croissant sandwich which was cheaper than buying each food item separately. There were free disposable trays and bags available so you could easily transport your food back to your room. The Magic Bands were so handy to make purchases. I liked that I never had to carry a wallet just my iPhone. On the first morning my DD got up a little earlier and she came down to breakfast and complained rightly that the waffles were cold before we even got to the cashier. We got another “warm” waffle but after hunting for real butter that was never found, it was cold too! Skipped the waffles for the rest of the trip. What up with Disney and its offering of fake butter???..Only margarine and some “heart healthy” substitute. A cashier went in the kitchen and gave us what he thought was real butter but it turned out to be fake too! If you are gonna indulge in a waffle, you have to have real butter!!! I can let the non Maple syrup slide but not the margarine. Disappointed! However, the friendliness of the staff made up for it! They definitely want you to be satisfied.
The Fulton’s General Store was quite large and had a good variety of clothings, souvenirs, snacks, milk, juice, sodas, alcohol (spirits, beer, and wine), small toiletries, and first aid items. The staff was very friendly.
Disney Bus transportation:
To be honest we were not big on the buses during our 2011 visit so I knew we would be using other forms of transport that were more convenient. In 2011, it was the expensive taxis but now it Uber, Lyft, and Minnie Vans. This time we only used the Disney buses after leaving the parks and only the last 3 nights. We weren’t in a hurry to get anywhere so we took the bus at the end of the evening. Since we were in a usual rush every late morning to make sure we made our first FP window, we just found Uber and Lyft to be more convenient, and pretty cheap. We paid between $8-11/trip and the shared rides arrived about 5-8 min after requesting them. For some reason, Lyft drivers came to the back of the resort even when we ordered the ride when we were in the lobby so we wasted time when the Lyft driver couldn’t find us but it was never more than 8 min. Uber drivers never made that mistake?? Our Uber driver to HS had a tough time finding the ride share drop off because her Uber map kept directing her to HS Disney bus drop off which was where ride share dropped off in the past. A rude Disney security guy demanded we turn around and then gave us inaccurate directions to where we should be dropped off at HS. We wasted a good 25 min but luckily still made our RnR FP time. We used a Lyft ride on our 2nd visit to MK and had no problems being dropped off at the Contemporary Resort telling security that we were there for lunch. BTW, it is still quite a walk from the Contemporary to the MK entrance but it’s worth it so you don’t have to hassle with the bustle of TTC. We used the delightful but quite expensive Minnie Van on our first day to MK (to take advantage of the close drop off) and once from MK to Epcot. The Minnie Van drivers are CMs so I thoroughly enjoyed picking their brains of all things Disney. Our first driver was also a training teacher of new Disney hires so he knew so much! I loved comparing and contrasting DL and MK. I didn’t like the pick up for ride shares at DS. If you are in the middle of DS, the pick up locations are so far, and after midnight it was he only place I felt a bit unsafe waiting. Overall, all shared rides were really clean and the drivers were very pleasant. When budgeting, I would definitely work Uber, Lyft, or splurge on Minnie Vans to take you to the parks and between resorts. It’s worth the time and money. We did take the boat to Ds after we checked out. It was truly relaxing and fun to see other resorts along the way. I thought the newer treehouses along the river looked very out of place because they weren’t rustic enough unless you consider the 1970s look rustic!
Be careful timing your return by boat to POR. On May 10th, we had 45 min to get back to the resort before our ME airport pick up. We waited forever for the boat to leave the dock…waiting for more passengers and a captain change…and then the boat made an unscheduled pick up at FQ. This 20 min boat ride turned into a 45 min one. I called bell services along the way and they said ME would wait 10 min but the driver didn’t. We showed up at 3:26 for our 3:20 pick up and the bus was gone. The valets said ME drivers don’t wait…that’s poor communication with bell service. So we had a choice of waiting for the next ME at 3:50 with no guarantee of seating or to take Uber or Lyft to MCO. We opted for Uber at a reasonable price of $26 and were dropped off directly in front of United. It was worth the price for peace of mind. In addition, between 5am and noon on day of departure, Disney has a great service where you can check in your luggage with TSA agents at the resort and your bags will go directly on your flight. We kept one bag (with morning toiletries) with us that we choose to check in yourselves at MCO. It was so nice not having to lug by ourselves all the bags on Uber and into MCO.
Overall, we would definitely recommend POR and especially the Royal Court rooms. Our garden view Royal Court room wasn’t much more than a regular Magnolia Bend room so it’s worth it. The POR grounds are amazing. We explored much of the property and thought the Alligator Bayou section was cute, but we preferred the graciousness of the large antebellum like mansions of Magnolia Bend. The Old South theme is very endearing without being overdone. We loved the majestic river that ran through the property but I wish there were more bridges to cross it. We loved to walk around the property especially when it was cooler at night with the sight of the Victorian style street lamps alit and the sound of the chopping hoofs of the horse-drawn carriages. We saw POFQ from our boat transport and loved the colorful buildings with “wrought iron” trim but felt they were too close together compared to the rambling picturesque POR.