It brings the bucolic landscape of the antebellum South to life, from plantation-style mansions to quaint dwellings by the banks of the river. The mansions of Magnolia Bend feature wide, manicured lawns and hedges, while the cottages in Alligator Bayou, with their wooden shutters and railings, are cozy and inviting.
Riverside is one of two moderately priced resorts at Port Orleans. Along with its sister resort, the Port Orleans – French Quarter, Riverside brings out the distinctive character of Louisiana. Riverside is the larger resort, with over 2,000 rooms along its extensive waterfront. Because the two resorts are so close and connected by a river walkway, many guests take advantage of the amenities at both locations.
This resort is located in the Disney Springs Resort Area, and connects to the dining and shopping district by roads and waterways. Disney guests can drive or take a complimentary bus to and from the theme parks or other areas of the Disney World resort.
Hotel Layout and Amenities
The Sassagoula River runs alongside the Colonel’s Cotton Mill main building and into the center of the resort, where it forms a large pond with and island in the middle. The lobby in the main building resembles the ticket office of an old fashioned steamboat company, and checking into the resort feels like you are booking a lazy cruise through the Louisiana countryside.
The Mill, complete with a 35 foot water wheel, is also home to a restaurant, food court, and lounge, as well as Fulton’s General Store, and the Medicine Show Arcade. The concierge desk at the mill can help guests with dinner reservations or theme park passes.
The varied design of the Port Orleans Riverside hotel buildings
makes the resort an interesting place for a lesiurely walk.
There is no room service menu at the Riverside Resort, but in-room pizza delivery is available. Guests can take advantage of valet dry cleaning as well as self-service laundry during more extended stays.
The rooms at Alligator Bayou have a pull-out trundle bed for small children to provide them with a cozy sleeping experience that allows them to easily get in and out of bed on their own.
Pools and Recreation
The Riverside resort has a total of six pools on its extensive property, including the main pool complex on Ol’ Man Island. There are five smaller and quieter pools scattered throughout the Magnolia Bend and Alligator Bayou areas.
The large Ol’ Man Island pool has an enormous slide and more waterfalls than any other pool at Disney World. The complex also features a hot tub and the Muddy Rivers poolside bar.
In addition to the pool, there are other ways for guests to entertain themselves on the 3.5 acres island. There is a secluded fishing hole surrounded by trees where you can try your hand at cane pole fishing. Fishing in this location has a strict catch and release policy. The island also features a large and forested playground for kids to explore.
One of the best places to relax and enjoy the beautiful grounds at Port Orleans is the back of a horse-drawn carriage. Climb aboard for a half hour ride that will take you all along the peaceful banks of the Sassagoula River through both resorts at Port Orleans. The resort may already having you feeling like you have stepped back in time, and this carriage ride will only make that feeling grow stronger!
Places to Eat
Port Orleans – Riverside has several places to eat as well as a comfortable lounge where adults can enjoy specialty drinks or see live entertainment on certain nights of the week.
Boatwright’s Dining Hall
A boatwright is an archaic term for a boat and ship builder, and the Boatwright’s Dining Hall is a casual dining establishment in what appears to be a boat builder’s workshop. The frame of a large boat hull spans the ceiling of the restaurant, suspended on scaffolding, while old-fashioned implements of construction decorate the walls.
The restaurant serves American-style food, with an emphasis on Southern cuisine. Blackened fish or spicy shrimp dishes are the perfect compliment to the atmosphere of the restaurant and resort, while guests with less adventurous palettes can stick to hearty favorites such as steak or ribs.
Riverside Mill Food Court
The food court at the Mill is a great option for a quick meal. It is decorated with towering mill machinery, making this an entertaining as well as a convenient stop. Full hot breakfasts are available here, as well as standard American food choices for lunch or dinner.
The giant red mill marks the the Riverside Mill Food Court.
The River Roost is open every day of the week for drinks, but it is worth it to brave the crowds Wednesday through Saturday in order to enjoy a live performance by Bob Jackson. A regular at the resort since the 1990s, Jackson performs a sing-a-long piano routine that both children and adults will enjoy.
Pros and Cons
Port Orleans – Riverside has beautiful grounds, but they are quite large and guests checking in late will find themselves on a long walk with their luggage. This moderate resort with its spread out, motel-style buildings does not provide bellhop services, so guests with lots of luggage or small children should keep that in mind.
In general, this resort does not provide as many recreation opportunities for children as some other resorts, or fun and colorful theming that will appeal to younger Disney guests. Although the landscaping is lovely and the buildings elegant, kids may prefer the pirate imagery, bright colors, and imagery of a resort like Caribbean Beach or Pop Century.
Why Choose the Riverside?
The Port Orleans – Riverside Resort is a great option for guests seeking a peaceful retreat from the hectic Walt Disney World theme park experience. Adults in particular may enjoy the elegant surroundings and the entertainment available here and at the neighboring French Quarter. Disney World can bring out the inner child in anyone, but Port Orleans – Riverside will help you to find your adult side again.
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