One of the resorts that is consistently ranked high among Disney fans is Port Orleans Riverside. Categorized as a Disney Springs Area Resort, this sister to Port Orleans French Quarter has easy access to Epcot and Magic Kingdom (5-10 min drive by car) with boat access to Disney Springs.
We wanted to try this place out last Fourth of July but we had something even more special in mind: staying in a Royal Room. These select rooms have special Disney touches that set them apart and are a draw for fans.
Riverside and French Quarter, while sharing a name and connected by an internal resort road, are treated as two separate entities. Riverside has two distinct areas: the rustic cottages of Alligator Bayou and the mansions of Magnolia Bend. I could write a whole sociology post on my discomfort with the set up (really Disney? The bayou versus the plantation? Care to explain to the kiddies about the origins of the Civil War while you’re at it?) but I won’t. That’s for another post.
The Royal Rooms are found in Magnolia Bend, specifically Oak Manor and Parterre Place. This is for a reason: these two are the least requested buildings. They’re a fair distance from the bus stop, front desk, theme pool, boat dock, and Magical Express stop. How to get guests to stay here? Fun theme. It’s the same deal with the Pirate Rooms at the Caribbean Beach Resort.
We stayed in Parterre Place. Since we had a rental car it was no big deal that we were far from everything. Our room was on the ground floor, facing the courtyard garden. Some buildings have their own pools but not here. Again, people in the past didn’t really cheer when they were assigned these buildings. The exterior is Antebellum plantation and the grounds have a few less trees than Alligator Bayou. Lucky for us we still had some shade, which makes a difference when it’s 100+ degrees and as humid as a shower.
I had seen pictures of the Rooms before we arrived, but I was still squealing when I opened the door (belated apologies to our neighbors). This is what you think of when you think about staying at a Disney property: themed to the max.
On the table is a letter from Princess Tiana welcoming you to your home away from home.
The beds are beautiful. The headboard is a lovely homage to The Princess and the Frog, with a T for Tiana letting you know who your “host” is. The painting on the back even has Belle Evangeline (RIP Ray).
The pattern on the bedding has a crown motif that symbolizes each princess. Kids and adults will have fun figuring out who’s who.
The wallpaper is even themed, which is an amazing detail to add. Most people don’t care about the walls but once you notice these you’ll be spending quite some time picking out every little detail.
On the walls are portraits of Tiana’s princess friends.
Near the table are banners with silhouettes of the Disney princes.
Your coat rack is a nod to Cinderella.
This lenticular portrait of Tiana is in a mirror frame that looks like it might belong in the home of some industrious miners.
Look down at the floor and you’ll find the Magic Carpet.
Your bench for dressing and luggage is familiar as well.
In the bathroom you can make a wish on your sink’s faucet.
Even the pattern on the shower curtain is themed for a favorite Disney princess.
As always it’s too much fun trying to find the Hidden Mickeys.
This room was everything I wanted and more. Granted it isn’t for everyone, but if you love heavy theming then stay here. The price point when we booked through Disney wasn’t any more than a standard room at the time, so if you time it right it could be a deal. This was definitely worth it.
Good: The room is impressively themed! Buildings are on a less frequented side of the resort so it is peaceful and quiet over here. Great value in terms of price against room. Unlike the French Quarter the park buses stop at multiple bus stops and there is one relatively close (three-minute walk away).
Not So Good: Far away from the common areas of the resort, so plan for a hike or drive if you want to eat at Boatwright’s, take the boat to Disney Springs, or play in the themed pool. The park bus stop near these buildings is the last one, so it can be crowded when you board or even be full in the morning. If you don’t like Disney Princesses this might not be the room you want.
Best Moments: First opening that door and realizing the room was real and it was exactly like the pictures. Getting a souvenir print from Housekeeping. Coming back at night to find geckos and frogs sheltering in the hallway (so cute! Although this might not be everyone’s idea of a fond memory)
Forgettable Moments: Burning our hands on the black leather interior of our rental car after having left it in the morning sun in the parking lot (no shade in the parking lot, which is pretty standard for WDW). Getting in the resort guest line at the gate late at night and finding out the gate was broken just as a ton of other people occupied the other lane (a little help over here!); having arms too short to reach the Magic Band reader at the gate (why do you make them so far away, Disney? I thought I pulled up as close as possible without scratching my car and I still had to take the band off and wave it at the reader to get it to respond.)
Budget Range: Moderate Resort- Both of the Port Orleans resorts are favorites of adults for their balance of theme and price. I have to say that the Royal Room was an incredible bargain, especially when you look at the price for a room at the Art of Animation Resort. A night here will set you back anywhere between $175-275 depending on the time of year and discounts. If you’re traveling when kids are still in school there is a higher chance you could score a Royal Room with a nice discount.
Summed Up As A Song: “The evening star is shining bright, so make a wish and hold on tight. There’s magic in the air tonight, and anything can happen.” Down in New Orleans (Prologue) (This really is a prime example of Disney magic in their hotels. Staying here made me look forward to each morning and what would surprise us next.)