As a blogger, I may be compensated in some way (either pay, product, or experience) for sharing the post below All opinions are my own. ~Heidi
When I considered posting a review of one of my favorite Moderate Resorts at Disney, it was a no-brainer which resort to pick! After all, Disney’s Port Orleans Resort Riverside has been our family’s “home away from home” for the past several years now.
Up until recently, because we are a family of five, we’ve always stayed in the Alligator Bayou section of this resort. We love this section of the resort, but I had always wanted to see the rooms in the Magnolia Bend section to compare. Fortunately, on a recent visit with a friend, our room was in this section. So, I thought it would be fun to share a bit about these two sections of the resort and post side-by-side comparison pictures. Maybe these pictures will help you decide where you want to stay on your next visit to Walt Disney World.
The buildings in Alligator Bayou resemble cottages or villages found in the rural bayou of Southern Louisiana. These buildings have a rustic, weathered look with tin or tiled roofs. They are surrounded by irises and pine.
This section contains 16 2-story lodges, each containing 64 rooms. 54 rooms features king-sized beds (as opposed to the normal 2-queens) and 17 ground-floor rooms are designed to accommodate guests in wheelchairs. All of the Alligator Bayou rooms (with the exception of the wheelchair-accessible rooms) feature a pull-down Murphy bed (suitable for children and shorter adults), making these rooms perfect for families of 5 (like mine!)
The buildings in the Magnolia Bend section resemble old Southern plantation homes with grand staircases and stately white columns. They are surrounded by magolias and azaleas, making you feel like you’re not really in Florida at all, but in the deep South.
Magnolia Bend contains four 3-story individually-styled mansion buildings which each contain 256 rooms. The rooms in 2 of these buildings (Oak Manor and Parterre Place) have been converted into the Royal Guest Rooms, which the exception of 40 non-royal rooms that feature king-sized beds instead of the normal 2-queen layout and 30 rooms which are specially adapted to accommodate guests with wheelchairs.
Each room tour comparison image below will feature the Alligator Bayou rooms on the left and the Magnolia Bend rooms on the right.
Each room contains 2 queen-sized beds. As you can see, we were greeted in each room by a Mickey-head towel creation as well (I believe this is standard). The bed-heads in the Alligator Bayou rooms were hand-carved from hickory by a North Carolina woodworker hired by Disney specifically for the resort project.
Obviously, the tables in the Alligator Bend section have a much-more rustic look, which the Magnolia Bend table and chairs is more elegant.
In the Magnolia Bend section, there is a larger dresser, one side of which houses the refrigerator. In Alligator Bayou, instead of a dresser, you have a Murphy bed (with one large drawer underneath). The refrigerator is in a smaller “dresser” to the side of the bed.
Both bathrooms feature double sinks (yay!) with a shelf above the sinks and lots of storage space below them. Each also feature a curtain that can separate the bathroom area from the bedroom for added privacy.
The bathtub in the Alligator Bayou section is made to look like wood, making it pretty dark. I preferred the brighter white in the Magnolia Bend bathrooms, but the theming is really amazing!
Dining & Shopping
The Sassagoula Steamboat Company is the main building on property. In addition to housing the lobby (which is themed after a departure hall for a old-style river steamboat), this building also houses all the dining and shopping options on property at the resort.
Fulton’s General Store is the on-site gift shop. My family loves browsing this shop. In addition to lots of Disney merchandise, you can also get those must-have items that you may have forgotten to pack.
The River Roost Lounge is the on-site bar. We aren’t drinkers, but my husband and I did spend some time “lounging” here on a previous visit. I wanted to see YeHaa Bob – and it was totally worth it! This guy is the epitome of entertainment! Her performs routinely in the lounge.
Boatwright’s Dining Hall is the only table service restaurant in the resort. Southern entries are on the menu (which can be seen here).
My family’s favorite on-site eatery is by far the food court – Riverside Mill. This food court is broken into 5 sections, serving baked goods & ice cream, grilled foods, pasta, carved meats, and pizza. My 2 favorites are the make-your-own salad and the apple pies.
Other Fun Stuff
There is an endless supply of fun stuff to do at Port Orleans Riverside. In fact, you could keep totally busy at the resort and never have to go to the parks at all (though I’m not sure why you’d want to miss the parks!) Anyway, here is a list of all the great things you can do (more information can be found here):
- Swimming – the resort has a total of 6 pools. Ol’ Man River is the main pool, and there are five smaller “quiet” pools at variouslocations around the property.
- Children’s Playground – located near Ol’ Man River, this playground will keep the little ones busy on soft rubberized flooring, while the adults sit on benches and rest!
- Live Entertainment – see above under River Roost Lounge.
- Arcade – located just off the main lobby, Port Orleans Riverside boasts one of the largest arcades on Disney property with over 70video games and pinball machines.
- Jogging Trail – the fitness-minded may enjoy jogging this trail, but I think it’s perfect for a leisurely stroll as well. (A great jogging trail map can be downloaded here.)
- Movies Under the Stars – see resort’s activities schedule for a list of times and movies.
- Campfire on de’ Bayou – located behind the Muddy Rivers Pool Bar by Ol’ Man River, you can enjoy stories and family sing-alongs while making s’mores over the fire.
- Horse-drawn Carriage Rides – while these are obviously available as a family activity, I can’t help but this how romantic it would be for a couple to enjoy one of these rides in the evening.
- Cane Pole Fishing – this is a very cheap on-site family activity, located at the Fishin’ Hole. It’s catch & release, but I can’t imagine anyone wanting to clean and fry up a fish on their Disney vacation anyway!
- Guided Bass Fishing Excursion – if fishing is your thing and you’d like to spend more time and money, this might be a good option (it’s a 2-hour fishing tour)!
- Bayou Pirate Adventure – fun pirate adventure for kids (ages 4-12). It’s also a 2-hour tour (approximately $35/child) and includes lunch and fun pirate-related activities.
- Hair Wrap / Braiding – while this is available at various locationsthroughout Disney property, if I wanted it done, I’d choose this location. Located right along the water, it’s peaceful and beautiful!
- Caricature Drawings – a portrait artist is available in the lobby during the evening hours to paint caricatures and portraits in several variations (prices vary from $15-30).
- Pressed Pennies – collectors will be happy to know that there are 5 pressed penny and 1 pressed quarter machines on property.
And, as a little “extra” I thought I’d share this video from Walt Disney World, recently posted on their Facebook page. This video will give you a glimpse of the Princess Rooms, which I have yet to stay in (or see, other than pictures). Maybe someday . . .
- Port Orleans Riverside – Old vs. New
- Virtual Tour of Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside
- A Free Day at Port Orleans Riverside
- Ol’ Man Island
- The Sassagoula River
- Alligator Bayou Beds
- A Kids-Eye View of Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside
Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Orange | WDW Moderate Resort Reviews Loop:
- 1st Stop – Heidi’s Head | Disney’s Port Orleans – Riverside
- 2nd Stop – Superheroes and Tecups | Disney’s Port Orleans – French Quarter
- 3rd Stop – My Dreams of Disney | Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
- 4th Stop – Capturing Magical Memories | Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort