Port Orleans Riverside, originally known as Dixie Landings, is located in the Downtown Disney area and is one of the moderate resorts located on Disney property. It is a resort themed to the Mississippi-bayou region of the Old South with the beautiful Sassagoula River winding throughout the resort. Sounds amazing right? Well, it is and it’s also an incredible value. I have stayed at this resort under both names and have very different memories of it from each. I think I’ve figured out why that is and I’ll explain it here today.
|Functioning waterwheel outside the Riverside Mill|
For the purpose of this article I’m going to write about my first experience to the brand new resort in 1993 and my most recent experience in 2009 for comparison. For my first experience at Dixie Landings, I was about 18 years old and we stayed in Magnolia Bend which are rooms located in plantation-style mansion homes. We were very close to the main building and buses and faced the pool. It was an ideal location with easy access to the main building and the grounds are just gorgeous! You really do feel like you’ve been transplanted into South Carolina at this resort so having the parks available to you is just a nice bonus to your peaceful southern vacation.
What I didn’t realize as a young adult, I became all too familiar with as a mother of a 2 year old. Port Orleans Riverside (POR) is a huge, sprawling estate. On my most recent trip, we stayed in the more rustic Alligator Bayou section just to get the trundle bed (that was never used) and it was a mistake. Not that it wasn’t beautiful and not that I wouldn’t recommend staying there, but I personally don’t recommend most of the Alligator Bayou to guests with small children. Our room was quite far from the closest bus stop and very far from the main building and the Riverside Mill food court. Keep in mind, these very far distances that I reference are all relative and when a toddler is cranky, 50 feet can seem like an eternity. This is how I look at it…staying with older children or traveling to Disney for an adults-only trip? All of Riverside is awesome! It is hands down the most scenic resort grounds on the property. Staying with small children who may be exhausted and cranky at the end of a very long day? My advice is to educate yourself first and place a special request on your room to be close to the main building.
|Riverside floor fort! (not included with any package)|
Now to the buses: I have heard conflicting statements concerning the buses at Riverside so I can only guess that it depends on the time of year (the same issue with every resort) and the location of your bus stop. If you are the first stop in Riverside you are probably guaranteed to get a seat but you have 3 more stops to add to your route before you even start heading toward the parks which can make for a very long ride. If you are the last stop in Riverside, you’ll have a shorter bus ride but risk the possibility that you may have to stand. During our stay, the buses picked up in this order (most of the time) South depot (by the main building), West depot, North depot, and lastly the East depot.
It sounds to me like Disney may have made some changes for the better to the bus routes since our last trip there in 2009 and that pleases me very much because it was our main complaint. I can even handle the 10 minute scenic walk to get to the food court but standing on the bus every day, holding a sleeping baby for 15-20 minutes became quite exhausting. In my opinion, if you are traveling with toddlers or anyone that can’t walk distances, get a room close to the main building within the Alligator Bayou (lodges 14, 15 and 18 are closest to the resort center) or Oak Manor within Magnolia Bend. If having a room closest to the 3.5 acre recreation area known as Ol’ Man Island is important to you, request a room in Magnolia Bend (preferably Magnolia Terrace), or lodges 27 and 38 in the Alligator Bayou. For reference, here's a resort map provided by our friends at allears.net. Another option for traveling with the “walking impaired” is to consider staying at the sister resort Port Orleans French Quarter. It is much smaller and easier to navigate and when you choose to take a nice stroll, Riverside is right next door!
Another nice option for transportation to Downtown Disney is the ferry that departs every 20 minutes between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. and every 10 minutes between 4:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. It’s a beautiful and scenic ride down the river. You would never know that you were in Disney while traveling the Sassagoula River!
Now for the super exciting news! All rooms are Port Orleans Riverside are currently being renovated giving the old trundle bed rooms in the Alligator Bayou a Murphy bed upgrade. The Murphy beds are positioned up off the floor and are larger than the trundle beds. And even much more exciting than that is the addition of 512 new **Royal Rooms** located in Magnolia Bend which began their debut in March 2012!! I have not had the privilege of inspecting the new rooms myself but if you have please don't hesitate to comment here and fill us all in. We'd love to hear from you!
|Outside our room. Resort grounds are magnificent!|
I was always very happy with the food and ample seating at Riverside’s food court, Riverside Mill. It is beautiful as well and was built to resemble a working cotton press which houses huge functioning gears powered by a large water wheel outside the building.
Some fun extras offered at Riverside that I have not had a chance to experience myself are an evening horse and carriage ride through the entire resort (Port Orleans and Riverside), a two-hour guided fishing expedition in the Sassagoula River, the butterfly garden located behind the Acadia House, and the Bayou Pirate Adventure Cruise (a 2-hour adventure designed for children ages 4-10).
As you can see, Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort has many of the offerings of a deluxe resort at moderate prices. If you keep the tips I mentioned in mind while booking your stay, you will not be disappointed. You'll soon see why Port Orleans Riverside is a favorite among the Disney resorts. Enjoy your stay!