Moderate - Port Orleans Resort Riverside

Discussion in 'Disney World Resort Hotels' started by Sean&Karen, Apr 20, 2006.

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  1. Sean&Karen

    Sean&Karen Guest

    Address: 1251 Dixie Drive, PO Box 10000
    Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
    Phone: (407) 934-6000
    Fax: (407) 934-5777

    Riverside (was Dixie Landings) is a Resort themed to the Mississippi-bayou area of the Old South. Appropriate to the magic of Disney, numerous thematic elements recreate the feel of actually being in the bayou. The mighty Sassagoula River winds through the Resort, heading downstream to Port Orleans and eventually the Downtown Disney area.

    The Resort commercial center, which houses the registration area, food court, restaurant, and other services, carries a riverboat dock theme, as if you are booking passage with The Sassagoula Steamboat Company. The restaurant, Boatwright's Dining Hall is designed as a boat building operation, the food court features an operating cotton press, and you check in under signs listing the Steamboat destinations.

    Resort Layout:
    There are two styles of rooms: Magnolia Bend rooms are located in plantation-style mansion homes, whereas Alligator Bayou rooms are in rustic lodges. And true to Disney, each area is themed to the hilt. The award-winning southern landscaping throughout the Resort is meticulously maintained, adding to the overall atmosphere.

    Magnolia Bend is themed as four 2 and 3-storey mansion homes, reflection the large plantation residences in Mississippi many decades ago. ; Here you will find well kept lawns, wrought iron railings and trellises, crawling roses and an elegant motif. ; At any time you’d expect to see the Colonel and his wife greet you on the main lawn waiting to invite you in.

    Another important feature to note about the mansions is the fact that you must cross the Sassagoula River bridges to get to the food court, gift shop and other main building features.

    Alligator Bayou lodges are a more rustic, backwoods cottage setting, featuring 16 smaller two-storey Cajun-style buildings with charmingly rustic wooden furniture and settings. In addition, the rooms in Alligator Bayou contain a trundle bed that will sleep a child bringing the room occupancy total to 5. The Trundle Bed is intended to accommodate children under 9; or persons under 5 feet tall. They are narrower than a conventional bed.
    An important difference to note between the two sections is the lack of elevators in Alligator Bayou. If you are unwilling or unable to negotiate stairs but still prefer Alligator Bayou, be sure to inform the front desk at check-in, and they will do their best to accommodate you.
    In Magnolia Bend, Oak Manor is nearest to the Resort center, and is adjacent to one of the "quiet" pools. Magnolia Terrace is mentioned by many to be an ideal location, while others find Oak Manor to be a better choice.

    In Alligator Bayou, buildings 14, 15 and 18 are closest to the resort center and are a short distance from a "quiet" pool. No room is more than a 4 minute walk from a bus stop. The main themed swimming area, Ol' Man Island, is located in the middle of the Resort. The closest buildings are Magnolia Terrace in Magnolia Bend and lodges 27 and 38 in Alligator Bayou. Unless you plan on spending a lot of time on Ol' Man Island, you are probably better off requesting a room closer to the Resort center/food court.

    You'll see that the buildings in the Resort, starting with Parterre Place in Magnolia Bend, begin very luxuriously, and become more rustic and dilapidated looking as you move up river, culminating in the backwoods settings of Alligator Bayou. As the Riverside (was Dixie Landings) "legend" goes, this is due to the fact that, as pioneers traveled up the Sassagoula River (which we are told is the American Indian word for "Mississippi"), they started building residences with the grandest of building materials from the "city" of the French Quarter (was Port Orleans). As they got further upstream, the building supplies started running low, and they were forced to improvise. Similarly, the exterior of the Resort commercial center starts out looking mighty fancy at the Medicine Show Arcade, becoming rustic and weather-beaten by the time it reaches the Cotton Mill building.

    As you walk along the Sassagoula River between Magnolia Bend and Alligator Bayou, look closely and you'll notice a transition area where the rustic pines of the Bayou give way to the grand flowering trees of the Bend. It's a seamless transition that keeps each area separate, yet blends them into one all at the same time.

    When passing through the Resort commercial center lobby rotunda, be sure to notice the accurate compass on the floor.

    Services & Amenities:
     Limited room service
     Concierge desk
     Babysitting and child services
     Pak-n-play crib available
     Room and facilities for guest with disabilities
     Laundry facilities and service
     Self Parking

    Guest Rooms:
    The Riverside Resort has 2,048 rooms, making it the second largest "moderate" resort on the WDW property, after the Caribbean Beach Resort. As mentioned, the rooms are divided into two sections, Magnolia Bend and Alligator Bayou. Most rooms contain two double beds, although some king beds are available, and some rooms have a trundle bed as well. The rooms feature two pedestal sinks, a bathtub/shower with a retractable clothesline, a remote-controlled TV, a dresser, a table with two chairs, and a small luggage rack. There should also be a small refrigerator in your room -- if not, ask for it at the Front Desk. Lighting is ample for reading or working, and a small safe is provided for storage of your valuables. Most rooms sleep four comfortably, and some rooms will sleep five.

    Check-In & Check-Out:
    Check-in is at 3pm. ; Your room may be available prior to that time, but it is not guaranteed. ; If your room is not available, you can leave your luggage with the Bell Services where it will be delivered to your room with it is ready. ; If you are waiting for your room you can use the main pool (lockers, changing areas, and public restrooms at poolside), or head out to a theme park.

    Check-out is at 11am. ; If you pay by credit card, you do not have to go to desk to check out. ; An itemized bill will be hung on your door by 8:30am on the day of your departure. ; The electronic room key which was given will be automatically deactivated at 11am. ; You can use Bell services to take luggage to your car. ; If you are taking a bus or taxi to the airport, Bell services will keep your luggage until your transportation arrives.

    Riverside has two primary dining spots: a sit-down restaurant, Boatwright's, and a food court, Riverside Mill.
    Boatwright's, themed around the days of wooden boat building (including a large hull "under construction" which hangs from the ceiling), offers casual dining for breakfast (7:00-11:30 am) and dinner (5:00-10:00 pm). Priority Seating (a reservation in Disney-speak) is suggested for either meal, especially during busy seasons. A children's menu is available. The Dinner menu features Cajun specials fresh from the bayou. The dining room is smoke-free. Dinner prices range from $12 - $20, but lighter "appetizer" options are available.

    Built to resemble a working cotton press, the Riverside Mill food court houses a fascinating set of massive working gears which are powered by a large water wheel. Open 6 am to midnight, a good variety of fast food, much of it healthy, is available from $4 - $12 per person.

    The River Roast Lounge, adjacent to Boatwright's, is themed to a cotton exchange/trading room and seats about 100 patrons. A full bar is available, as well as light appetizers. Live entertainment is provided five evenings a week although check in advance for the current acts. The lounge is normally open until midnight, and smoking is allowed. During football season, the bartenders at the lounge have been known to don referee's outfits, and many of the games are shown on the lounge's big-screen TV. ; Monday Night Football is celebrated every week with games, trivia, and drink specials.

    The Muddy Rivers Pool Bar is located on Ol’ Man Island, and offers drinks and light snacks from around noon until early evening.

    A praline is a uniquely southern crunchy treat made out of melted brown sugar, butter, and pecans. The Riverside Mill (was Cotton Mill) bakery is the only place at WDW to get these to-die-for creations. Be sure to stop by and pick one up during your stay. In addition, the bakery is always trying out other delights to tempt the sweet tooth. If you see something unusual, give it a try, and be sure to let them know you liked it.

    Sassagoula Pizza Express will whisk fresh, hot pizza, cold soft drinks, and beer to your room from 4 pm to midnight seven days a week. Just touch "Pizza Delivery" on your room phone to order or for more information. A menu will be located in your room. Look for the “Fire and Ice” features: Spicy Buffalo Wings and Ice Cream.

    The best beverage deal is the refillable mugs, available for approximate $12 at any of the food court vendors and through pizza delivery. ; The mugs are 16-oz, sturdy, dishwashable safe containers with lids. ; Mugs are refillable for the length of your stay at a self-service beverage island in the center of the food court. ;

    Beverages include soft drinks, coffee, tea, iced coffee and tea, and hot chocolate (but not milk or fruit juice).


    The main themed swimming area, Ol' Man Island, is centrally located between the bayou section and the mansions. The Island is home to a large pool, a spa (holds around 8-people), a kiddie pool (up to 36" deep), a wading pool and a short but fun water slide. The pools and water slide are open all day (usually 9 am to around 10 pm) and lifeguards are normally on duty during most pool hours. As of spring 2003, the island now has a geyser at the main pool that shoots water through a pile of rocks and debris, adding to the theme. We're told that the "old man" was so upset with the geyser spouting off that he tried to block its eruptions with the debris we can now see. Fortunately for all of us, his efforts failed and a wonderful spray of water has been produced. Handrails and ramps have recently been created to aid wheelchair visitors.
    There are also five "quiet" pools scattered throughout the Resort (3 in Alligator Bayou and 2 in Magnolia Bend); all are open 24 hours. These pools are usually more serene than Ol' Man Island because most kids prefer the Island due to the water slide. Be aware that these pools have no lifeguards.

    All pools have restroom/changing room facilities. In fact, the restroom at Old Man Island next to the Muddy Rivers Bar is remarkably clean and very nice. A valid room key card is required at certain hours, so it's a good idea to have it with you. Be sure to take room towels with you, as none are provided pool-side (except at the main pool). While Housekeeping is good about making sure extra towels are available in the rooms, additional towels will be happily delivered upon request. Before heading for the pool, call Housekeeping, and towels will be waiting in your room when you return.

    An important note: The pools can still be used once you check out, and many people find a relaxing morning or early afternoon spent at the pools while waiting for a later flight to be a fitting end to a Disney vacation.

    The Muddy Rivers Bar located adjacent to the main pool has a large covered porch that is excellent for socializing while the kids are having fun in the pool. ; There is seating for a few dozen guests.

    A children’s play area is located adjacent to Ol’ Man Island.

    Other Children Amenities
    For kids (and kids at heart), catch-and-release fishing on Ol' Man Island is available at the Fishin' Hole. Open 7 am to 3 pm, it is stocked with catfish, bass, and blue gill, and a catch is almost guaranteed. Ol' Man Island is also home to a playground, where the little ones can burn off some energy (if they have any left after a day at the Magic Kingdom!). Craft activities, organized by Cast Members, are held near the pool on some days. If you're visiting during a holiday period, you may even find special activities such as an Easter egg hung.

    Carriage rides
    Take an evening horse and carriage ride through the French Quarter and Riverside regions of Disney's Port Orleans Resort. The 30-minute carriage rides start in front of Boatwright's Dining Hall nightly. The first ride departs at 6 pm, and the last ride departs at 9:30 pm Each carriage can accommodate as many as four adults or two adults and two or three children. Each ride costs $30 including tax. Cash and Walt Disney World resort guest room charges will be accepted. Early reservations are recommended; make them at the Riverside Marina near the main building. Carriage rides may be canceled due to inclement weather.

    Leisurely activities
    Butterfly Garden: relax and enjoy nature in the butterfly garden behind the Acadia House. ; No Charge.

    Adults can enjoy jogging or a leisurely walk around the grounds or along the riverside path to nearby French Quarter.

    In Alligator Bayou, look for gray concrete walkways. These run directly from the parking lot to the Sassagoula. The other colored paths will eventually get you where you are going, if you don't mind taking the scenic route! Also, there are signs at every junction, clearly pointing to way to wherever you need to go.

    Bikes & Boats
    Various forms of recreation are available, including hourly bicycle and boat/paddleboat rentals. Surrey bikes are available for rental for $16 per half hour at the Riverside Levee. On a warm, breezy day, there might not be a better way to pass the time than peddling through the "bayou". For details, check at the Riverside Levee rental window underneath the twin water towers. Bike rental hours are 8 am to 5:30 pm although operating hours are seasonal.

    You can rent a boat for a trip up and down the river, or motor to Downtown Disney for shopping and dining. ; Boats can be rented from 10 am to 5:30 pm.

    For early risers, a two-hour guided fishing trip is available daily, leaving at 6:30 am (weather permitting). The excursion travels down the Sassagoula River, and includes use of all rods, reel, and tackle. Advance reservations are required. Contact Guest Services, or call 934-5409. Pricing is $75.74 per person, $185 for up to 5-people. There are also excursions starting at 9 am and the cost is $80 per person and $160 for up to 5-people according to pricing found on the Riverside map.

    Fulton's General Store is located in the Resort commercial center, adjacent to the River Roost Lounge (was called Cotton Co-op Lounge). Fulton's carries a large assortment of postcards, souvenirs, over the counter pharmacy needs, and convenience items. There's a bulk candy counter, a snack area with a limited selection of liquor, munchies, cold beverages, and toiletries. The clothing section has been enlarged over the last few years and it's surprising how many choices you have here. You can also find a newsstand, Disney character and Resort themed merchandise, and "country"-style clothing and knickknacks. We've found that many of the most popular Disney souvenirs including figurines, photo frames, pens/pencils and watches can be found here. Though you cannot benefit from discounts found at Downtown Disney using Annual passes and American Express cards, the pricing is identical to that found in the parks.

    Posted hours are from 8 am to 11 pm, but these do change from time to time, so you'll want to confirm the current schedule when you check-in. A sign outside the entrance advises contacting the front desk for emergency needs after store hours.

    Other Amenities:
    Billed as one of the largest video arcades in Walt Disney World, the Medicine Show Arcade in the main building offers a fine selection of video games and pinball machines to empty out your pockets. Also Disney Quest, at Downtown Disney, is just a short bus ride away.

    A mailbox is located to the right as you enter the registration lobby.

    A self-service laundry facility is located adjacent to each quiet pool, featuring coin-operated washers, dryers, and supply vending machines. Washing or drying costs $2 per load, and detergent for one load runs $1.00. After midnight, the laundry facility doors require a valid resort ID/room key card for entry.

    Valet laundry service is available Monday through Saturday. Simply fill the laundry bag located in your room and complete the ticket. For same day service, drop the clothes off at Bell Services prior to 8:30 am, and your clothes will be returned to you after 6 pm.
    A painter operates a stand in the lobby between registration and the gift shop between 6-11 PM. ; Pricing starts at $15 for a B/W face painting, up to $28 for a face-body full color painting. Frames start at $15. Tubes are available for $3 and celebrity prints are $25 each.
    Riverside has a large variety of wildlife, including ducks, birds, and an otter that can be seen frolicking in the river from time to time. Rabbits, squirrels, and even a chipmunk or two (but, unfortunately, not Chip or Dale) have also been sighted on the Resort grounds. Cast Members caution against feeding the birds, as they become very aggressive when fed, and as the signs say, they "may bite the hand that feeds them".
    For theme park, water park, and Pleasure Island tickets, you can visit either Guest Services or the Front Desk.
    For tickets to the Polynesian Luau and the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Review, visit Guest Services. Keep in mind that advance reservations are required for all Walt Disney World dinner shows.

    And yes, Guest Services will be happy to provide specific information on area attractions outside of Disney World.
    Guest Services is open from 7 am to 8:30 pm

    At check-in, you will be given a Walt Disney World Transportation Guide/Map, which contains a map of Walt Disney World as well as a route information chart which details how to get anywhere from anywhere. Take a moment to study it if you're a first-time visitor or trying to get somewhere not on a direct route, or stop by Guest Services or the Front Desk and ask for help.

    ...To the theme parks?
    Direct bus service is available to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and the Disney-MGM Studios. The buses drop you a short walk from each park entrance. Service is available to Animal Kingdom with a stop at Blizzard Beach.

    ...To the water parks?
    To get to Typhoon Lagoon, hop aboard the Downtown Disney bus, and you will make a stop at the Lagoon prior to the Marketplace/Pleasure Island/West Side stops. In the afternoon, the Typhoon Lagoon stop will occur after the trip to Downtown Disney. The bus to Blizzard Beach also stops at its "wild" neighbor, Disney's Animal Kingdom.

    ...To Downtown Disney
    (including the Marketplace, Pleasure Island, and the West Side) Simply take the bus marked Downtown Disney. There is also a boat to Downtown Disney (hours are 4 PM to 11 PM). The boat to the French Quarter runs from 9 AM to 9 PM).

    ...To other resorts/resort areas?
    Direct bus service is available to Fort Wilderness after 4 pm on the "Internal" shuttle bus, particularly handy for those heading for the Hoop-Dee-Doo Review.

    Otherwise, there is no direct inter-Resort bus service. You must travel to a transportation hub and make a transfer there. The four theme parks make excellent hubs during park hours, but after that, the Downtown Disney area is basically your only option. Allow PLENTY of time to make the transfer. Note that it is virtually impossible to make an early (before 8 or 8:30 am) Character Breakfast reservation at another resort relying on WDW transportation traveling from Riverside (was Dixie Landings), so keep that in mind when making your vacation plans.

    There are four bus stops at Riverside. The main South depot, with the "Mason-Dixon" platforms, is located at the Resort commercial center. The other three are along the Resort's perimeter road, Sassagoula Circle. There is a stop within a 3-4 minute walk of any room. In the morning, there can be large crowds waiting to board the buses at the South depot after breakfast.

    The buses run very frequently -- averaging every 20 minutes -- and it's been our experience that the wait is rarely more than 15 minutes. During the busiest times of the day, the Riverside buses can be full or standing room only before they reach the last stop (the East Depot). Therefore, especially in the morning, you may want to board at the South Depot.

    For reservations, call (407) WDISNEY or contact a travel agent.

    ‘Ultimate Park Hopper’ passes, which include admission to all Disney theme parks, Water parks, Pleasure Island, Disney Quest and Wide World of Sports can be purchased at check-in.
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