Seven Reasons We Love Disney’s Port Orleans — Riverside
Back in the early days of Walt Disney World, the city planners wanted to build a resort close to Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village.
We know the place as Disney Springs now, and the hotel in question no longer exists.
Instead, Disney split it into two parts in 1991, and both standalone resorts are breathtaking.
Here are seven reasons we love Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside.
You’ve visited Walt Disney World enough to know where Disney Springs resides on the Orlando campus.
Since Port Orleans – Riverside is in that area, you know it’s close to several theme parks.
In fact, Google suggests that it’s only six minutes away from EPCOT and seven minutes away from Magic Kingdom.
The other two parks, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, are only eight/ten minutes away.
Ergo, you’re ten minutes or less from all four Walt Disney World theme parks.
That sort of ideal location is rare, even among official Disney resorts.
There’s a second bonus to Riverside’s logistics. You’re also only five minutes away from Disney Springs. Google suggests it’s less than two miles of driving.
However, you don’t need to take a bus to Disney Springs when you stay at this resort.
Instead, you’re boarding the Sassagoula! The resort has named its Friendship Boat the Sassagoula River Cruise.
This twenty-minute ferry boat ride transports guests to and from Disney Springs, stopping along the way at both Port Orleans properties.
So, if you want to visit Disney’s Port Orleans – French Quarter, you can get there without taking a bus, too!
The best part of the boat ride is that it’s a relaxing, scenic journey.
You’ll even catch a peek at the famous Treehouse Villas at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa!
The Hotel Rooms
Everyone knows about the hotel rooms at Port Orleans – Riverside. Imagineers themed them with southern architecture.
However, unlike the rooms at Disney’s Port Orleans – French Quarter, the buildings at Riverside somehow feel understated and tranquil.
You’ll notice enough wood at the building to make you wonder whether you’ve wound up at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge instead.
Once you enter the rooms, the unmistakable southern charm will immediately win you over, though.
If you’re going to choose a Moderate tier Disney hotel room based on room décor alone, Riverside is your best bet.
You can do even better than a standard room, though…
The Royal Rooms
Roughly a quarter of Riverside’s room inventory goes to a unique room type. Disney calls it the Royal Room, signifying that you’re an invited guest of Princess Tiana.
When you check into the hotel room, you’ll even get a note from Tiana welcoming you to your exquisite mini-suite.
During its earliest days on YouTube, Disney proudly posted a video of these Royal Rooms:
While some elements have changed over the years, the light-up paintings on the headboards and illustrations of beloved Disney characters remain.
When you stay in the Royal Rooms, you’ll feel like you’ve upgraded your stay by a LOT. The price difference isn’t much, though.
As such, you should always stay in a Royal Room when possible!
The Dining Food Court
I love eating at Port Orleans – Riverside because it includes quite a bit of variety.
When available, the Riverside Mill Food Court serves all your favorites from the bayou. The Cajun Chicken Sandwich here is particularly tasty.
At River Roost Lounge, you can combine shareable appetizers with your favorite libations.
In fact, as we’ll discuss next, this place features some of the best live entertainment on Disney property!
Still, the optimal place to dine at Riverside is now and always has been Boatwright’s Dining Hall.
This place looks like a shipbuilder’s yard, but its cuisine embodies southern hospitality.
You’ll love every bite here, especially if you order staples of southern cuisine like the shrimp and grits, jambalaya, and BBQ ribs.
Boatwright’s even added Nashville Hot Chicken for those of you who want some kick to your meal.
No matter what you order as an entrée, make sure to save room for the Mississippi Mud! This crème brûlée recipe makes Parisians jealous!
Watching Yehaa Play
He’s baaaaaaaack! During the pandemic, Disney laid off one of its most popular performers, Yehaa Bob Jackson.
For more than 23 years, Jackson had held court at Riverside. He performed a collection of Disney classics and other tunes at the River Roost Lounge.
The pianist played every Wednesday through Saturday evening from 8:30 p.m. until midnight.
Audiences loved the show to the point that guests needed to arrive early to get a good seat. Otherwise, they’d either sit in the back or get entirely shut out.
However, Jackson suffered the same fate as many other cast members when he lost his gig. Due to his age, we presumed the change was permanent.
Well, I’m thankful to report that Jackson will return when Port Orleans — Riverside reopens on October 14th, 2021!
Jackson has indicated that he will be there for opening night but won’t perform on October 16th.
I presume that it’s a scheduling snafu, but it’s possible that he won’t play as many dates when he returns.Still, given the popularity of his pandemic livestreams, I’m confident that demand will be very high for his return engagement at the River Roost Lounge!
PS: When you show up early, feel free to introduce yourself to Yehaa Bob! He’s super-friendly and likes to make his new friends a part of the show!
One of the best reasons to love Port Orleans – Riverside is that it’s like a good friend. It’s always there for you in a pinch.
This resort includes an inventory of more than 2,000 rooms. As such, it’s one of the largest Moderate tier resorts.
However, the amenities are on a par with some of the lower-end Deluxe tier properties.
As such, you receive tremendous value when you stay here. It’ll feel almost like a Deluxe hotel, but you’re only paying Moderate tier pricing.
Plus, with so much inventory, you’re more likely to find a hotel room here than at most official Disney resorts.