A stay at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside’s Alligator Bayou

2013 will go down in Mouse Holiday history as the last year our family fit into nearly all of the moderate-level resort hotel rooms (the exception being the Fort Wilderness cabins, if you choose to lump them in the same category). This is incredibly bittersweet for us. On the one hand, our family has now outgrown the majority of hotel rooms in the Walt Disney World Resort. On the other hand…we no longer have to wedge a Pack ‘n Play into the room, and all family members can be expected to sleep through the night. So, yes, bittersweet.

That sentiment aside, we were psyched to fit in a stay at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside last fall before time ran out. We were assigned to a room in the Alligator Bayou section of the resort. The 16 two-story “lodges” of Alligator Bayou are themed to resemble old rural communities of Southern Louisiana and fan out from the banks of the Sassagoula River.

MH disney's port orleans riversideAlligator Bayou guest rooms will sleep a family of 6 (including one under 3 in a crib), but it’s a snug fit in a 314 sq. ft. room. Beds include 2 queens and a bonus pull-down Murphy bed that is suitable for a shorter person. Also taking up space is a table with two chairs, a small fridge, and the bath area, divided from the sleeping space by a curtain. We were charmed by the subtle Princess and the Frog theming — Louis the gator featured prominently on the Murphy bed — as well as other touches of the bayou such as log bedsteads, a sugar sack-print privacy curtain, lantern light fixtures and carpeting made to mimic a wood plank floor. Our lodge’s location was a long hike from the “Sassagoula Steamboat Company” Main Building (and dining options), but we were conveniently close to one of the resort’s four bus depots. Proximity to the depot was important, as we utilize the Walt Disney World Resort transportation system in lieu of renting a van.

We’re not ones to spend a whole lot of time at our resort during Disney trips, but we made sure to leave a bit of time at the end of the day to unwind at Port Orleans Resort – Riverside. The feature pool on “Ol’ Man Island” called to the kids with its sawmill water slide and waterfalls. We often grabbed a late bite (or six) to eat at the Riverside Mill Food Court and, depending on the baby’s mood, ate inside, by the pool, or back in the room.

There are quite a few reasons to bug out of the parks early and head back to Port Orleans. I wish I could say we had time to take advantage of all the recreational opportunities at the resort:

  • Five quiet pools in addition to the “Ol’ Man Island” feature pool
  • Horse-drawn carriage rides along the banks of the Sassagoula River
  • “Ye Haa” Bob Jackson’s piano comedy show at the River Roost Lounge
  • Cajun “Campfires on de Bayou” complete with smores!
  • Bike and surrey bike rentals
  • Medicine Show Arcade – one of Disney’s largest
  • Catch-and-release with a cane pole at the Fishin’ Hole
  • A Bayou Pirate Adventure for young swashbucklers

Plus! – You can take a free Sassagoula River Cruise to Downtown Disney directly from the Riverside Marina. The ferries depart about every 20 minutes throughout the day and the leisurely trip to Downtown Disney takes about as long, winding past Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter, the treehouse villas of Saratoga Springs Resort, and on into the shopping and dining district.

Our family will miss the laid-back charm — and certainly the price point — of this moderate level Walt Disney World Resort hotel. It was great fun while it lasted!

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