The Charming Resort: Disney’s Port Orleans – French Quarter

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When you think of staying on Walt Disney World property it’s hard not to immediately think of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. It’s beautiful, luxurious, the closest resort to Magic Kingdom when boarding a monorail, and has been featured in Walt Disney World commercials. It’s safe to say that “The Grand”, as it’s commonly referred to, is seen as the flagship resort. Whether or not that is still the case when Disney opens its Star Wars-themed hotel is yet to be determined.

This isn’t on those two resorts though, it’s on Disney’s Port Orleans – French Quarter, one of the other 25 plus resorts offered on Walt Disney World property.

Disney’s Port Orleans – French Quarter is not on the Magic Kingdom monorail line, it’s not located on the boardwalk, and it’s not the lowest price option or what Disney refers to as a value resort. No, you’ll find this resort in the Disney Springs area. Like the other moderate category resorts (Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs, The Cabins at Fort Wilderness, Disney’s Port Orleans – Riverside), Port Orleans – French Quarter seems to get lost in translation when being considered as a top choice to stay for those visiting Walt Disney World.

Disney’s Port Orleans Resort, now named Port Orleans – French Quarter, opened on May 17th, 1991 with 1008 rooms. On February 2nd, 1992 Disney’s Dixie Landings Resort, now named Port Orleans – Riverside, opened up right down the Sassagoula River (Native American word for Mississippi) from Port Orleans. This resort more than doubled Port Orleans in size, with 2,048 rooms available.

On April 1st, 2001 (no April Fooling here), Port Orleans and Dixie Landings merged to form Port Orleans – French Quarter and Port Orleans – Riverside. The merger made this resort the largest in Walt Disney World, sitting on 325 acres.

When you are fortunate enough to spend as much time at Disney as I have throughout the years, sometimes you forget just how special of a feeling you get when seeing things at Disney for the first time.

In June of this year, I stayed at Port Orleans – French Quarter for the first time. From the moment I arrived, I knew I was surrounded by Disney ambiance.

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The resort is themed to Vieux Carré, the French Quarter in New Orleans. Spanish, French, Creole and American style architectures are used, creating an elegant and elaborate yet quaint feel of romance. It’s a resort that screams Disney theming, without the need of using Disney animated characters to tell you that. Although, when I walked down the replicated streets of the French Quarter all I could think about was Disney’s Princess and the Frog movie.

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Speaking of romance, there are only three places on Disney World property where you can take a horse carriage ride, Port Orleans – French Quarter being one of them. Port Orleans – Riverside and Fort Wilderness are the other two resorts that offer this experience.

There may only be one pool at Port Orleans – French Quarter but it’s very spacious and very nice, featuring a serpent-themed water slide.

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One of the best parts of this resort is the dining. They no longer offer a sit-down restaurant, but they do have one of the best quick service locations that I’ve seen on Disney property, called Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory. This dining location has a variety of Cajun, Creole and American offerings including Gumbo, Po’Boys, Jambalaya, crispy fried chicken and of course Beignets. This location also offers freestyle coke machines, which aren’t currently offered at every resort on Disney property. It’s a great atmosphere to grab a bite.

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Though both named Port Orleans and able to share amenities, the French Quarter and Riverside have completely different feels about them.

The atmosphere as a whole at Port Orleans – French Quarter is one of kind. Due to the size of this side of Port Orleans, everything is conveniently located just a few steps from your room. Even the bus stop is just a quick stroll away, whereas at Riverside the resort is more spread out with multiple bus stops along the way.

Port Orleans – French Quarter has no issues filling rooms due to its size, so maybe not enough people have been allowed the opportunity to visit there yet. Maybe the limited amount of rooms is what adds to the special charm of staying in The French Quarter.

Disney World is huge, and can sometimes feel really crowded; staying at Port Orleans – French Quarter offers that little extra slice of peacefulness that can really create that sense of immersion from the outside world that makes Disney so famous.

In January of 1996 at the age of four, I first visited Walt Disney World. I was blessed to have the opportunity to go to Disney parks 15 times by the time I was 20 years old, despite living in Wisconsin. Since then I've been fortunate to work as a Walt Disney World Cast member in attractions and food&beverage. I'm very passionate about sharing my past, current and future Disney experiences.


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