Category Archives: Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World’s Port Orleans French Quarter

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.

Port Orleans French Quarter

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

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.

Love the fun street names: Rue D’Baga!

Walt Disney World Deal Tips

I’m a big Disney fan and love going to Walt Disney World.  So, I thought I would do some blog posts to help people make vacation plans.  I’ve been there a lot and have stayed and eaten in a variety of different places “on property”.  Am I there every day?  No.  I live in Maryland, so it’s not really an option.  However, I’ve got smallish kids and an adventurous palate and we see as much as possible every time we go.  In other words, I’d be a great guide if you want to do lots of stuff and see lots of things.  If you are just moseying around to see the theming of the park, I’m not your gal.  We have been there at the opening and closing of parks. On. The. Same. Day.

Also, I constantly compare rates and deals and examine my options ad nauseum. I use my MBA and law degree to the nth degree to come up with the best deal. I’m that mom.

Using my “that mom” powers, let me explain how maddening the rates are for Disney and how you can really end up paying a lot more for the same vacation depending on when you go, where you stay, and what discount you get.  Discounts can sometimes be hidden on their main webpage, but here is a link to them:

Let’s say you are a family of four: two adults, 1 kid over 10 and 1 kid under 10.  You would be paying for 3 adult meals on the meal plan and 1 kid meal.  Let’s also say you want to stay at the Port Orleans French Quarter.  Using a handy chart from the wonderful people at, the 2014 price of a room in the French Quarter with a garden view can vary from the $195 “value” rate to $299 “holiday” rate.  That’s right.  You can pay $100 more a night depending on when you go for the exact same room.  We can go further down the rabbit hole and compare moderate resort prices during value season (weekday) and Holiday Season:

Caribbean Beach: $210 (Water View Value) vs. $318 (Water View Holiday)
Coronado Springs: $232 (Water View) vs. $324 (Water View Holiday)
Port Orleans- Riverside: $196 (Garden View) vs. $299 (Water View Holiday)

To try to appeal to every person, Disney has 3 categories of resort:  budget, moderate and deluxe.  Making the same comparisons in the other resort categories:

For Deluxe:
Animal Kingdom Lodge: $319 (Standard View Value) vs. $555 (Standard View Holiday)
Wilderness Lodge: $325 (Standard View Value) vs. $561 (Standard View Holiday)
Polynesian: $482 (Standard View Value) vs. $760 (Standard View Holiday)

For Value:
Art of Animation: $118 (Standard View Value) vs. $221 (Standard View Holiday)
Pop Century: $106 (Standard View Value) vs. $209 (Standard View Holiday)
All Star Movies: $96 (Standard View Value) vs. $198 (Standard View Holiday)

So, even among resorts in the same tier, the prices can vary wildly!!

Let’s say you are staying for 5 nights/6 days.  You get the 30% off room rates deal.  First of all, that deal may not apply to all resorts, especially popular resorts like the Port Orleans French Quarter.  But, let’s pretend.  So if you get 30% off and go during a value season, let’s round to $60, that’s $300 off.  Not too bad.  If you get Disney Dining free, that’s $194.86 per day savings, if you have 2 adults, a junior and a child! Huge difference, so it pays to look!

The “regular” Disney dining plan is 1 quick service (counter service) meal, 1 sit down meal (table service) and 1 snack a day.  Each meal is an entree and dessert.  If you use your sit down at the buffet, it’s the whole meal.  Doesn’t include tip or alcoholic or speciality beverages (read:  blinky toy containing beverages your kid will want– hide that menu!).

So, it pays to plan your vacation early and see what deals are available when, as the differences are substantial. There are quite a few websites that do the heavy lifting: and are fantastic.  But it takes some jockeying between sites to really get a sense of all the savings you can get.

Also, you have to decide what’s important. Rates vary by season.  Holidays and the Summer are high dollar seasons.  To me, it’s important to ride the rides, which means I have to go when the crowds are the least. For 2014, Disney had determined their “value” seasons (read: time no one goes) to be:

January 9th-February 12th (Excepting MLK weekend)
August 3rd-September 12th

The next lowest crowd time is listed as “Fall” (aka prime hurricane season):

September 13th-November 21st (except Columbus Day weekend)
November 29th- December 11th

There are likely deals offered at this time, from 30% of rooms to free dining. If you can go during these times, you’ll enjoy lower crowds and lower room prices. While the weather can be a bit variable during these times, especially in January, I have found the cost and crowd and cost differential have more than made up for a few chilly days. We’ve encountered 80 degree weather and 40 degree weather.  Also, I hate walking around dying from the heat. I went once in June. Never again. 90-98 degrees, unbearable humidity and crowds and lines everywhere. Not really “fun”. Now, the water resorts during this time were a blast! But, I’m not paying low 4 figures to go down a water slide, am I? Like I said, I’m “that mom”.  We’ve been on Test Track with 5-15 minute waits.  They can go over 2 hours in prime crowd times.

The point of this post is not to tell you every deal or every bit of savings. It’s to tell you, you need to look and compare, as the differences are startling.

post written 2/14/2014, please check with Disney for updated information.