Designed like an old town on the Mississippi Delta, the huge, 2,048-room Riverside is one of Disney's best Moderate-category hotels. Its guest rooms aren't as new as those at Coronado, but its more central location, fun pool complex, large rooms that sleep five, and beautiful (even romantic) setting makes it a great pick for the price.
One of Disney's best hotels for the buck -- good for families; great for budget-minded couples
Port Orleans Riverside paints a lovely picture of old Mississipi -- plantation-style mansions set amid bayous, rustic-looking wooden shacks, and meandering, magnolia-lined paths along the riverside. For its scenic (even romantic) setting, ideal location (near Epcot and the shops, bars, and restaurants of Downtown Disney), huge pool and water park, the Port Orleans Resorts (both the Riverside and the smaller, but nearly identical French Quarter) are some of the best Moderate-category hotels at Disney.
While it might not offer as much tranquility as the Old Key West Resort, relaxation can still be found -- making Port Orleans a popular choice among couples. Smaller, less kid-crowded pools are tucked between buildings. Or, at the fishing hole, for a small fee you get a pole, some worms, and, with any luck, some relaxation.
But as it is one of the more affordable Disney resorts, you will have to make some sacrifices. Its guest rooms, like at most Disney resorts, are a bit older looking than those at the similarly priced Coronado Springs (though the Riverside has a much better location). Service is limited -- guests need to request bell service and room service only covers pizza delivery -- and some of the facilities can feel crowded and chaotic, especially at the food court and at the one on-site dinner restaurant. The French Quarter is about half the size of the Riverside, and it's a bit less bustling, but it also lacks the smaller, quieter pools and a full-service, sit-down restaurant. Between the two, the Riverside is the better deal, especially as some of its standard rooms can sleep a family of five.
On the eastern end of Walt Disney World Resort; a free, five-minute shuttle to Epcot Center
Located in the northeast area of gigantic Walt Disney World, the Port Orleans - Riverside is connected to several Disney properties including Port Orleans French Quarter and Downtown Disney via a free riverboat. The closest theme park is Epcot Center, an eight-minute drive away via a free Disney bus (that runs to all of the various parks and Disney hotels). Any trips outside of Disney World require a car.
Free bus transportation to Epcot (eight minutes), Animal Kingdom (15 minutes), Hollywood Studios (10 minutes), Downtown Disney (five minutes)
Free, 20-minute water taxi to Downtown Disney, a strip with shops, bars, and restaurants
20-minute drive to International Drive, a 14.5-mile road parallel to Interstate 4 that's chock-full of hotels, strip malls, outlet shops, and restaurants.
25-minute drive to SeaWorld and Wet 'n Wild parks
40-minute drive to Downtown Orlando; While there's not too much to downtown, there is some notable dining and nightlife on Orange Avenue, and non-theme-park attractions like the Orlando Science Center and the Harry P. Leu Gardens.
One-and-a-half hour drive to Kennedy Space Center
Free bus to Orlando International Airport, a 30-minute drive away
Basic, but comfortably sized to sleep a couple or a family of five
Of the 2,048 guest rooms at the Port Orleans Riverside, there are only two basic types: Alligator Bayou and Magnolia Bend. Both are roughly 400 square feet; both are the same price. The difference lies in the style and the sleeping arrangements: Rooms in Alligator Bayou have a more rustic, camping-ground look and feel, but they can sleep a family of five on two double beds and an extra trundle bed; Magnolia Bend's rooms are slightly more refined, colonial-inspired digs (some of which have king-size beds).
Larger standard rooms than at most other Disney resorts in this price range, a very comfortable 400 square feet
There's no wall separating the sink and dressing area from the bedroom, though the toilet and shower are closed off.
Amenities are scarce: just a TV (recently upgraded to flat screen), an empty mini-fridge, and free coffee.