This post will cover an “on property” resort, namely Disney’s Port Orleans.
There are a few things to know about Walt Disney World before you go. You can stay “on property” or “off property”. The choice you make is rather important, as both have their pros and cons. We stay “on property”. As a result, we can make restaurant and activity reservations first before other Disney guests. We also get free transportation to all the parks. If you fly (we are split on this, we have both driven and flown), you really don’t need a car if you stay “on property” and don’t wish to see anything other than Disney Parks. Disney picks you and your luggage up at the airport, delivers everything and everyone to their hotel, and then shuttles you around Disney World. Disney also takes you back to the airport. Honestly, it’s extremely convenient.
I don’t have much experience staying “off property”, but wanted to mention a few issues you may have. Besides not being able to make restaurant and activity reservations early, you also have to pay for parking at each park you visit. This is no small amount. Also, you have to take the tram in from the parking lot, which eats away at your park time.
Many people believe you pay for this convenience with higher hotel rates. Yes and no. You can save on the cost of the rental car and parking staying at Disney. Also, Disney has three pricing tiers for their resorts: budget, moderate and deluxe. Prices range from sub-$100 to over $500 a night. I’ve stayed at three of the deluxe hotels on the Walt Disney World property: The Wilderness Lodge, The Animal Kingdom Lodge, and The Polynesian Resort. My most recent visit had me staying at a moderate resort: Port Orleans- French Quarter. As this is my first stay at a moderate resort, I was a little nervous. The first thing I noticed different was the lack of a balcony. The rooms are done in a “motel” style, that is the doors are facing outside.
So, there aren’t really balconies. It’s a small thing overall, but it shrinks the room incredibly. In the deluxe resorts, we had a balcony and could open the door and sit and enjoy the view. I was upgraded to the Riverside rooms and while I had a lovely view from my front door, there was really no place from which I could enjoy the view. If you want to enjoy this view for the moments you enter and leave your room, pay for the upgrade. If you just want to avoid the “parking lot” view rooms, I’d probably pick the garden view upgrade instead.
I’m usually not a fan of “location tips” because some people have different ideas of what is a bonus and what isn’t. Also, you can’t really request a room. You can make a suggestion, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll get it. The Port Orleans- French Quarter resort is fairly small, so there isn’t a huge difference in locations. We stayed in Building 6 and it was pretty ideally located to enjoy short walks to the bus stop, main building, pool and parking lot.
The Main Building has a small cafeteria, the Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory Food Court, Scat Cat’s Club (drinks only), and a convenience/souvenir store. There is no formal restaurant here. The Port Orleans-Riverside has a full service restaurant- Boatright’s Dining Hall, which is a short walk away.
The resort also has a pool, but it was closed for renovations, so I can’t comment too much on the pool. It looked lovely, but lacked the elaborate theming of the deluxe resort pools. Being a smaller resort, however, this was expected.
The room has two queen beds, a small nightstand (incredibly small, really could have been bigger, or added a second one, there’s plenty of room). For the furniture, there’s a small table with 2 chairs, a dresser with 3 drawers and a refrigerator, a bench and a wall mounted shelf with hooks. The room has what I would call a “partially open” bathroom. The sink area is separated from the main area by a curtain. The toilet and bathtub are in a small separate room. So, one person could be brushing his teeth in the sink area and another person taking a shower and both afforded privacy. This set up was very handy with 2 kids and 2 adults sharing a single room. While the sink area is spacious, the bath area is not. It worked well for us, but if you are used to large American style master bathrooms, this resort does not have one of those. It’s very functional, which I liked.
The bedding is a bit odd, but it’s a nod to hygiene. There’s no comforter or bed spreads, per se. There are heavy duty white sheets with a heavy blanket between them. At the bottom of the bed appears to be a runner that might have been made out of the old bedspreads. So, it’s fairly stark. Again, it’s functional and I don’t have to think about every news program that’s done a black light examination of hotel rooms while trying to sleep with a traditional bedspread. Clearly, this bedding gets bleached and cleaner than any bedspread likely would. So, again functional and clean!!
We really, really loved this place. The theming was fun. Who doesn’t love bright colors are wrought iron? A very good homage to a wonderfully eclectic American city. The staff were amazing, so friendly and very helpful. The resort was intimate and small, yet quiet. The busses were timely and we weren’t that far from any of the theme parks. After staying here, it’s hard to justify paying so much more for a deluxe resort.