Photo Tour: Port Orleans French Quarter
renovated resort finally worth your visit
Friday, May 28, 2004
Text and photos by Sue Holland, staff writer
Photo by Sue Holland.
Port Orleans French Quarter is the smallest of the
moderate resorts at Walt Disney World, with approximately 1,000 guestrooms. This
makes it about half the size of each of the other three resorts in this class.
During 2003 and early 2004 all of the guestrooms were completely refurbished,
and today the resort looks better than it ever has.
Many years ago, shortly
after Disney entered the moderate resort market, I made my first stay at what
was then called Port Orleans. It did not impress me, unlike its sister resort
Dixie Landings. I made one more attempt several years later, and booked Port Orleans
for a weekend trip. Unfortunately I hated it again. Many more years passed, Port
Orleans and Dixie Landings were combined and changed their names to Port Orleans
French Quarter and Port Orleans Riverside, respectively.
Over the years,
French Quarter closed a couple of times, undergoing renovations to all of the
rooms and exteriors. The food court was shut down and revamped, opening as a much-improved
eatery. Finally, one day this past year I rode the boat from the Marketplace in
Downtown Disney to Port Orleans Riverside. While docked to unload passengers at
French Quarter, I took another look and this time liked what I saw, deciding it
was time to give this resort a third try.
They say three strikes and you're
out, but for Port Orleans French Quarter, the third time was definitely not a
strike. With the many little improvements made since my previous stay, and perhaps
thanks to a little mellowing on my part, French Quarter is now a resort I would
be happy to book for future trips. The compact size was a plus, the rooms are
lovely and comfortable, and the location is excellent. It's also a very romantic
setting, although admittedly romance can be found at any resort!
Mardi Gras props adorn the food court. Photo by Sue Holland.
The theme here
is New Orleans, with much of the décor centering on its annual Mardi Gras
celebration. There is liberal use of the festival's purple, green and gold in
the color scheme throughout the resort, with many festive touches. In the Sassagoula
Floatworks & Food Factory food court for example, oversized Mardi Gras masks and
other props hang from the ceiling. The bedspreads contain similar images, and
the walkway approaching the swimming pool is decorated with whimsical statues.
A view of a newly refurbished guestroom. Photo by Sue Holland.
contains two double beds, but because they are higher off the ground and have
much nicer skirting and bedspreads than normal, they look much more elegant than
the double beds found in the value resorts. They are also incredibly comfortable,
and the pillows hold their shape well. The televisions have been replaced with
a 27-inch model, which is an upgrade from the previous 19-inch sets.
is a small table with two sitting chairs, a very large dresser area with lots
of drawer space, and a cushioned bench. The rooms used to be somewhat dark, but
I found this room to be well-lighted thanks to an additional ceiling light between
the first bed and the table. It was not dark at all.
Another view of a guestroom. Photo by Sue Holland.
Other room amenities
include a small coffee maker complete with four styrofoam cups and a package of
Mickey's Really Swell coffee. The housekeeper replaces the coffee
and cups each day as needed, without additional charge. There is also an ironing
board and iron in the closet area of the bathroom, along with a small wall safe.
A ceiling fan between the two beds helps keep the room downright chilly if desired.
Fancy drapes add to the room's elegance. Photo by Sue Holland.
area was separated from the sleeping area by an actual door, instead of being
open. There is an area to hang clothes, a pair of sinks, and in a separate area
with no door there is the bathtub and toilet. Other people have reported a hanging
privacy curtain rather than a door, which is similar to what is found at Disney's
Caribbean Beach Resort. Noise from other rooms was limited to the occasional flush
of a toilet, which are notoriously fast and loud at some of the Disney resorts.
Double sinks in the bathroom. Photo by Sue Holland.
Walking around the resort
can be especially romantic. The buildings are painted in soft (but not faded)
colors, and the metal railings re-create the style found in the real French Quarter
of New Orleans. The only differencethe Disney version is clean, safe, and
attractive. Mature trees line many of the narrow streets, and fountains can be
found in a number of small park-like areas nestled between the buildings. During
the early morning and evening the resort is quite peaceful, which makes going
for a stroll very pleasant. There is also a paved path running along the river
that connects French Quarter with Port Orleans Riverside to the north.
Beautiful scenery is in abundance. Photo by Sue Holland.
The resort has
several amenities, which add to its charm. Arriving guests enter via French Quarter
Square, which is the name of the main building that houses everything except guestrooms.
The entry point is very attractive, with lots of windows to allow natural light
into what appears to be an indoor park.
The front desk welcomes guests to the reopened resort. Photo by Sue Holland.
the right is the front desk and guest services area, including bell services.
The Disney Cruise Line representative works in this area, as does the Disney Vacation
Club cast member manning that desk. An area is set aside for children to watch
movies while their parents wait in line to get checked in.
Named after one of the main landmarks of New Orleans, Jackson Square Gifts & Desires
provides a place for guests to purchase all sorts of Disney and resort-specific
items. Photo by Sue Holland.
Next to the front desk is a small arcade, and
a fairly large merchandise shop called Jackson Square Gifts & Desires. In addition
to some Disney merchandise found almost everywhere, this shop also features logo
items specific to Port Orleans French Quarter. You can enter the shop from either
the front desk area or outside across from the playground.
The small food court seems adequate for simple meals. Photo by Sue Holland.
other side of the Jackson Square area houses the food and beverage outlets. The
full-service restaurant closed a few years ago, so visitors will need to travel
upriver to Riverside for any meal other than food court fare. Scat Cat's Club
is the small lounge, which can be quite lively in the evening. Sassagoula Floatworks
& Food Factory reopened with the past couple of years following an extensive renovation.
It is smaller than the other resort food courts, but since there are fewer rooms
here that does not seem to be a problem most of the time.
You can find
the usual food court offerings here, along with fresh beignets (fried square fritters
covered in powdered sugar). This New Orleans favorite is a hit with many guests,
and they can be bought by the half-dozen or a smaller order of three. There is
no room service here, other than pizza delivery from 4:00 p.m. until midnight.
These statues lead to the pool. Photo by Sue Holland.
The Mardi Grogs Pool
Bar is located next to the resort's only pool, and serves a variety of frozen
drinks and light snacks. There is a small children's wading pool nearby, along
with laundry facilities. The main attraction is the pool itself, with the large
sea serpent. The pool is quite large, and did not feel too crowded on a recent
warm spring afternoon. There are no quiet pools at French Quarter, but guests
are permitted to use the pools at Riverside.
This statue welcomes resort guests to the pool. Photo by Sue Holland.
especially will enjoy the whimsical water slide, which serves as the tongue in
the mouth of the sea serpent. It's not terribly long, and drops riders into 3.5
feet of water, making it easy for even young children to handle. Complimentary
child-sized life vests are available at the pool.
Sliding out of the serpent's mouth is a popular activity. Photo by Sue Holland.
recreation is available nearby at Port Orleans Riverside. You can rent boats and
bikes (including surrey bikes seating four people) from the Riverside marina at
riverside on a half-hour basis. Horse-drawn carriage rides can be reserved nightly
from 6:00 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. There is also a simple playground for young children,
located between the pool and the gift shop.
Large windows at the back entrance to the main building. Photo by Sue Holland.
wishing to visit Downtown Disney have the option of taking a boat to the Marketplace
instead of the bus. Along the way there are impressive views of the Treehouse
Villas and the new Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa.
Exterior of a typical French Quarter building. Photo by Sue Holland.
Port Orleans French Quarter is a lovely resort, and a generally good value. It
would be possible to spend a vacation here without going to the parks, for a romantic
and relaxing getaway. Whether your priority is rushing through the theme parks
or simply strolling around the resort, French Quarter should appeal to almost
everyone, and I personally will look forward to future stays.
Photo by Sue Holland.
or comments? Contact Sue here.
Sue has been hooked on Walt Disney World since
her first visit in 1972 with her parents and younger brother. She kept returning
more frequently until she moved to Florida in 1986.
After joining the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) in
1997, she now visits almost monthly. She also spends time at
the DVC's non-WDW locations, and is experienced with the Disney cruise ships.
She takes many of these trips on her own, but
she's also toured WDW with large groups of people, including families, the elderly,
and people with disabilities.
She works as the Administrative Services Division Head
for a large residential facility administered by the Florida Department of Children
and Families. She currently resides in Southwest Florida with her teenage son.
Sue is one of our most prolific trip report writers.
Read her trip report archive here.
You can contact Sue here.
Get the latest info about the resort at Park
Update: Walt Disney World.