One step above Disney’s bogeylicious budget All-Star Resorts, lie the “moderate” priced hotels. Caribbean Beach Resort, the poor man’s Polynesian, was the first hotel built in the late 80′s in this “moderately-priced” category. Following in 1991 and 1992 respectively, came the neighboring Dixie Landings and Port Orleans Resorts, which shared the theme of the Old South on the shores of the mythical Sassagoula River at the turn of the century.
After operating under these names for the better part of the 90′s, Mickey finally went P.C. (Remember the never-to-be-released-again “Sound of the South” (1946) starring Briar Rabbit, Uncle Remus and a sh*t-load of tar babies? UGH.) merging the two resorts into one mega resort with the rechristened, simple name, Port Orleans – Riverside and French Quarter.
Riverside consists of 2048, 314-square-foot rooms split into two sections — Alligator Bayou and Magnolia Bend. Alligator Bayou buildings are themed as rustic shacks and Magnolia Bend buildings are themed to stately Southern mansions with live oaks, fountains and golf green-like lawns. That’s right, for as little as $149 rack rate, you can stay in your own Southern mansion. As far as amenities, Riverside has the best food court on Disney property, as well as a full-service restaurant and a lively cocktail lounge with live entertainment. The central pool named, “Old Man Island,” should more accurately be named, “Where’s-Your-Ritalin-You-Little-Sh*t Island,” as again, it’s another pool overflowing with children. There are, thankfully, five other quiet pools intergraded around the buildings.
The French Quarter side of the resort consists of 1008, 314-square-feet rooms themed to turn-of-the-century New Orleans. It’s a helluva lot cleaner than the real Big Easy, but also lacks the true NOLA charm. This sanitized version does however have the wrought iron railings, cobblestone streets, and famous “Nawlins” gaslight lamps.
The biggest issue for those staying at this moderate hotel is the lack of quiet pools or a full-service restaurant. Guests staying on this side of Port Orleans are supposed to venture over to Riverside to use these amenities, but come on, let’s be honest – that idea sucks. It’s a solid fifteen minute walk from resort to resort. You can wait to take the scheduled boat running between the hotels, but again, let’s be honest – that idea sucks, too.
Although I prefer the Riverside to the French Quarter, both resorts should be considered by families, couples and individuals because they have a bit more Disney magic, theming and amenities than the bogeylicious hotels and still fall quite a bit below the deluxe rates. Port Orleans offers pricing for all pocketbooks, so as Scat Cat says, “Even the ‘common kitties’ can play.”