Just a few days after our stay at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, we headed over to Disney’s Port Orleans Resort — French Quarter, another moderate resort at Walt Disney World. Read on to learn everything you need to know about Port Orleans French Quarter, including how it compares to other moderate options!
Basics of Disney’s Port Orleans — French Quarter
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort — French Quarter (“Port Orleans French Quarter”) is a moderate Disney hotel at Walt Disney World. The other three moderate resorts are Coronado Springs, Caribbean Beach, and Port Orleans — Riverside. Rates for 2019 start at $232 per night (that includes tax). Guests at Port Orleans get all the perks of staying at a Disney hotel.
French Quarter vs. Riverside
We want to quickly clarify the difference between two similarly named resorts, Disney’s Port Orleans Resort — French Quarter and Disney’s Port Orleans Resort — Riverside.
Originally, French Quarter and Riverside were unrelated resorts. French Quarter was originally “Disney’s Port Orleans Resort” and Riverside was originally “Disney’s Dixie Landings Resort.”
In 2001, Dixie Landings was transformed, and the resorts were renamed “Disney’s Port Orleans Resort — French Quarter” and “Disney’s Port Orleans Resort — Riverside.” Despite sharing part of their name, the resorts still operate largely independently. Each has their own restaurants, transportation (except a shared boat route), shops, merchandise, pools, and theme.
Nevertheless, you’ll still see them considered together as a single “Disney’s Port Orleans Resort” for seemingly arbitrary purposes, such as this list of the largest hotels in the word by room count (#23!). You can walk easily between French Quarter and Riverside. It’s about a twelve-minute walk lobby to lobby.
Throughout this review, whenever we use the term “hotel” or “resort,” we’re referring specifically to French Quarter.
Booking Port Orleans French Quarter
We booked our French Quarter room the same day of our stay with the help of our stellar travel agent Lauren Quirk of Enchanted Escapes Travel.
We were actually looking to book a room at Pop Century, but since we were booking the same day, they were unfortunately sold out. Lauren told us there was an annual passholder rate of $237.61 for a River View room at French Quarter, so we grabbed that room.
For booking purposes, French Quarter and Riverside are treated as entirely separate resorts. It’s common that one will be included in a promotion and the other excluded.
French Quarter — Grounds and Theming
We arrived at French Quarter via Uber, as we were coming from a local Airbnb. Both French Quarter and Riverside have an anteroom style lobby. In the case of French Quarter, you enter into a sort of outdoor-themed area with cobblestone-style flooring, a fountain, and French Quarter style light posts.
The actual lobby is less intimate, featuring columns and a large, arched roof.
French Quarter is one of the better themed non-Deluxe resorts. It helps that the architecture of the actual French Quarter is so distinctive, to be sure. We complained that Caribbean Beach couldn’t really distinguish itself from other Florida hotels, and obviously French Quarter doesn’t suffer that problem.
Theming to a place really helps the resort. The pathways (streets) and building facades are pulled straight from the real French Quarter. Street signs are added to give even more realism.
In a way, it’s hard as an adult not to enjoy the colorful whimsy of Port Orleans French Quarter. It shares that whimsy with the value resorts, but in a more adult, far less kitschy manner.
The lack of abrasive kitsch might make this resort less appealing to children, but the bright theming should keep them somewhat entertained.
Finally, French Quarter is pretty small, with the farthest rooms being about a five-minute walk from the main building.
Our Room at Port Orleans — French Quarter
My first reaction to our room at French Quarter was “great, something a little different!” Then I thought for a second and asked myself—was I too hard on Caribbean Beach, which I criticized for being more of the same minimalist aesthetic?
Really, what I think happened was that I was already so taken in by the resort that the room was just sort of the cherry on top of the sundae.
On close inspection, French Quarter actually helped me narrow down that the majority of Disney rooms seem to confine their theming to very specific areas. Window curtains, shower curtains, and room dividers are the first area.
And then there’s headboards, bed lighting, and a bedside painting.
I enjoyed the room at French Quarter more than the comparable room at Caribbean Beach, but I’m willing to say this is entirely because I was taken in by the theming of French Quarter.
French Quarter Restaurants
French Quarter does not have a table service option. Its only restaurant is the food hall—Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory. Sassagoula is a fine food court, but nowhere near as good as Caribbean Beach’s Centertown Market.
Besides the standard fare (burgers, pizza, pasta), Sassagoula offers a few New Orleans specialties, such as po’ boy sandwiches, beignets, and jambalaya. Unfortunately the online menu is out of date as of this review.
The food court uses a traditional “order, receive food, go to checkout station” model.
As the same suggests, the food court is themed to a float storage/manufacture building. This sounds weird, but it’s actually really cool to be surrounded by oversized Mardi Gras items. Unfortunately, we’ve only stayed here during the holidays (twice now), when many of the items are replaced with holiday decorations.
The resort has two bars—Scat Cat’s Club indoors and Mardi Grogs outdoors. Mardi Grogs is a straightforward pool bar.
Scat Cat’s is nicer, but maintains an inoffensive plain, dark wood feel.
Port Orleans French Quarter Pool
The feature pool at French Quarter (actually its the only pool at French Quarter) is Mardis Gras themed, and primarily features a giant serpent, with Neptune atop, encircling the area. The serpent’s tongue serves as a water slide.
There’s also a play area nearby for smaller children.
Overall, this pool is closer to the quality of the value resorts than the more impressively themed Caribbean Beach pool. The difference isn’t so great that it would factor into our decision-making, though.
Shopping at Port Orleans French Quarter
Like every Disney resort, French Quarter has a store—Jackson Square—stocked with vacation essentials, the latest in Disney fashion, and a few unique, resort-specific items.
Transportation at Port Orleans French Quarter
French Quarter is accessible from most of Walt Disney World only by bus and car. It is accessible from Disney Springs by boat, and from Port Orleans — Riverside by boat or walking.
Unlike Riverside and Caribbean Beach, French Quarter utilizes a single bus stop. This means you’ll have to walk to the main building when you want to go anywhere (small bummer) but the bus won’t be making a ton of other stops (big HOORAY)!
The resort isn’t huge, though, so we consider this to be a good arrangement. Relying on bus transportation is always a downside of many Disney hotels (and why we often recommend Uber at Walt Disney World), but at least you’re not suffering through multiple stops.
As for the boat to Disney Springs, this is hardly a “perk” as some people make it out to be. The boat runs roughly every 20 minutes and takes 15 minutes to get to Disney Springs. The last boat departs Disney Springs at 11:30. I suppose that beats the bus, but it’s not a huge benefit in our mind.
Seeing Disney Springs from the water is pretty cool, though, so travel time being equal I guess the boat has that going for it.
Activities at Port Orleans French Quarter
Like every Disney hotel, French Quarter maintains a decent roster of activities. These vary day-by-day and month-by-month, but some highlights include:
Daily pool party
Weekly trivia night
Campfires (multiple times each week)
Movies under the stars (multiple times each week)
Here’s the December 2018 schedule.
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort — French Quarter Conclusions
Having come fresh off our stay at Caribbean Beach, another moderate resort, we’re ready to say we prefer French Quarter. In terms of theming and design, the resorts are pretty close in quality. Caribbean Beach is newer in design, but French Quarter is a little more fun.
Our favorite quality of French Quarter, besides its theming, is its small campus and single bus stop. Transportation is a big challenge at Walt Disney World these days, but being able to quickly access a single bus stop definitely helps things.
But we still stand by our general assessment of the moderate resorts are more “value+.” In pratical terms, what this means is we don’t consider the moderate resorts to be a way to “treat yourself.” If French Quarter fits nicely into your budget, it’s a great choice.
But if you’re looking for a way to spend a few hundred dollars on top of your standard value vacation, or if you’re planning to save and “treat yourself,” we don’t think this is a good option. For example, we think you’d be better off staying at Pop Century or Art of Animation and using the savings for Keys to the Kingdom, if you want a treat.