Port Orleans French Quarter Overview: 2021 Guide

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The French Quarter – Where We Celebrate Mardi Gras Every Day!

Just down the Sassagoula River from its sister resort, Port Orleans – Riverside, Port Orleans – French Quarter has all the classic elements that will immediately have you thinking of New Orleans.

From the moment you reach the resort, you’ll feel like you walked back in time to the NOLA of the turn of the century, far from the gaudy tourist attraction it can be now.

Disney has captured New Orleans in its glory day, with a hint of Mardi Gras for a bit of flair. Wrought iron architecture and old-fashioned gas lamps are a key part of the theming, as is the brickwork and nostalgic shape of the buildings. If you didn’t know any better, you wouldn’t realize you weren’t in downtown New Orleans!

Port Orleans – French Quarter also has plenty to keep you busy on your non-park days. Between the incredible pool complex, excellent food, and live entertainment, it’s always a party at the Quarter!


Explore Port Orleans – French Quarter


Port Orleans – French Quarter

The original Port Orleans Resort, Port Orleans – French Quarter brings to life much of Walt Disney himself loved about the Big Easy. A fun and vivacious atmosphere with all the classical elements of the city, you’ll never want to leave.

As soon as you enter the lobby, the wrought iron and glass will make you think you’ve stepped into a Louisiana city square.

Gorgeous red brick covers the buildings, antique lamps and park benches dot the scene, while the green of real plants brings a sense of authenticity.

At the center, an adorable fountain gurgles away, filling the air with the playful sounds of the water. On the far end, a pair of jesters play and joke while balancing atop a balcony.

The downtown feeling continues as you explore the main building, with Jackson Square Gifts & Desires to the right and the Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory off to the left. You’ll think you just walked right off the main square into a shop instead of through a lobby!

On the other side of the main building, the path opens up into the main pool complex. Doubloon Lagoon is one of the most whimsical pool areas at Walt Disney World, and well worth your attention. Bright, colorful, and fun, with a sea serpent thrown in for good measure. Right beyond the pool lays the ferry dock where you can catch a boat upriver to Port Orleans – Riverside, or downriver to Disney Springs.

The rest of the resort spreads out from this hub, each building mimicking the gorgeous iron architecture and brightly colored buildings of New Orleans.  Its own hidden village, Port Orleans – French Quarter has a coziness that the real Quarter could never hope to achieve!


History of Port Orleans – French Quarter

Port Orleans – French Quarter was originally envisioned as a resort to complement the steamboat-themed restaurant, the Empress Lily (now Paddlefish) in what was to become Disney Springs. The concept behind resort area would build on the vintage New Orleans flair of New Orleans Square in Disneyland, romanticizing the Antebellum South.

However, this dream was not to be. A series of financial struggles in the Walt Disney Company caused the project to pushed aside, and the resort idea was tucked away into the Disney vault.

As the company emerged from its dark times in the 1980s, Walt Disney World was once again able to expand. Both the Caribbean Beach and Old Key West resorts opened in the late 80s, paving the way for Port Orleans.

Built by a local company, Fugleberg Koch Architects out of Winter Park, FL, the New Orleans-themed resort made a return on a brand-new waterway. The man-made Sassagoula River was created to link Downtown Disney (now Disney Springs) with the resorts set along it, including Disney’s Port Orleans Resort

The original Port Orleans opened in May 1991 with only three buildings holding 432 rooms. However, expansion was already in the works, with four more buildings following rapidly behind. Almost just as quickly, Disney’s Dixie Landings Resort came into being.

A sister resort built up river, Dixie Landings was meant to show the other side of New Orleans, with the steamboat and bayou cultures complementing the part scene of Mardi Gras on the French Quarter.

In 2001, ten years after Port Orleans was built, the two resorts officially merged.

Dixie Landings became Port Orleans – Riverside, quietly eliminating the controversial references to the painful past of the South, and the original Port Orleans took on the name of French Quarter to distinguish it from its sister.


Port Orleans – French Quarter Amenities

Rooms

Victorian architecture and décor is a key aspect of New Orleans culture, and this comes through in the rooms in the French Quarter.

Dark woods, burnished metal accents, and bright colors make these rooms feel cozy and elegant at the same time. The intricate designs of the furniture and molding match with the New Orleans Victorian theme and add to the overall sense of splendor. Gorgeous wood floors round out the homey space and complement the wood furnishings. Oh! And you can’t forget the classic Disney artwork, featuring scenes from Disneyland’s New Orleans Square, which is a nice nod to the original concept for the resort.

All the rooms at Port Orleans – French Quarter fall under the “standard rooms” category, which simply refers to the amenities offered in the rooms:

  • Hairdryer
  • Free WiFi Service
  • Coffee Maker
  • Telephone with voicemail
  • In-Room Safe
  • Iron & Ironing Board
  • Mini-refrigerator

Much like Port Orleans – Riverside, the rooms are divided by view – garden, river, pool, and standard. Garden and river views look out on varying scenes of the grounds, while the pool view is conveniently located near Doubloon Lagoon. Standard views tend to be closer to the parking area, but that can be a bonus if you have your own transportation!

Since all the rooms are off an exterior walkway, the view isn’t really what matters, it is more about where you are located within the resort. Although, some of the rooms are on the corner of the building, and if you are a fan of a quality view these are what you want. Corner rooms have a second window, which allows for more natural light to come in. You can always make a particular room request by calling (407) 939-5277.

Pools

Doubloon Lagoon

If you are a fan of themed pools, Doubloon Lagoon at Port Orleans – French Quarter is going to be right up your alley. Fitting with the overall theme of the resort, the music touches and alligator big band all were made with kids (and kids at heart!) in mind. We also love the sea serpent waterslide, and we know your kiddos will too!

The sea serpent isn’t just the slide, the twisting coils of this mythical creature serves as walkways and bridges connecting the different pool spaces. While there is one large pool area, there are also multiple smaller pools surrounding the space. A smaller splash play zone is off to the side, perfect for your younger adventurers who aren’t quite ready to be in the pool with the bigger kids.

Throughout the pool, you’ll find the members of the gator band playing their instruments under the shade of giant clamshells. These clamshells also spray water into the pool, adding another fun element to your water play. While the serpent slide isn’t the longest or most intricate on Disney property, it is definitely one of the best themed. Even throughout the stairs, the design of the scales and ridges of the serpent are perfectly preserved. King Neptune (looking suspiciously like King Triton) sits atop the serpent, surveying the whole pool area.

Doubloon Lagoon has plenty of places to sit, both poolside and under umbrellas. There isn’t much natural shade, so if you want to have a shady spot make sure you get there early to get an umbrella. It isn’t that umbrellas are scarce, but Doubloon Lagoon is the only pool for French Quarter, so you will have to account for the number of resort guests trying to use the pool.

Ol’ Man Island

If you want to, head on over to Port Orleans – Riverside and check out Ol’ Man Island! The two Port Orleans resorts are connected by a walking path, so you can always go over to Riverside if you want to spend some time at their pool complex.

On the upside, Ol’ Man Island is a larger pool area, on the downside you have to walk further to get there. However, if you have more than one “down day” during your stay, it could be a nice way to shake up your time!

Parking

If you’re planning to have your own vehicle while at Disney World, you will have to pay an overnight parking fee for each night of your stay. As a moderate level resort, the parking fee here will be a bit cheaper than at other resorts. At Port Orleans – French Quarter, the fee is twenty dollars a night, added to the bill at the end of your stay. This resort does not offer valet parking.

For those planning just to visit French Quarter, whether it’s for dining or shopping, daytime self-parking is complimentary. So don’t worry, if you wanted to stop in for a beignet, it won’t cost you any extra!

Front Desk and Other Services

Port Orleans – French Quarter, like the other Disney resorts, offers the option for Online Check-in through the My Disney Experience app. That means you can skip the front desk and head straight to your room, or even check-in while you’re at the parks and return to your room later in the day. This is a great option if you want to head straight to the pool, Disney Springs, or anywhere else on property!

However, if you need personal assistance, the Cast Members at the front desk are always eager to help answer your questions! You might also want to make a quick stop at the front desk if it is a special occasion, as you don’t want to miss picking up those wonderful buttons we love so much.

You can also visit the front desk if you have items you want to mail, like packages or postcards, which can be a fun treat with the Disney postmark as the mail travels to its destination. You will have to pay for the postage, but it is definitely more convenient than trying to find a local post office.

One of the best services at Disney World, particularly for shopaholics, is merchandise pick-up. You know how it goes – you just found that perfect souvenir or gift item, but it’s too bulky, fragile, or valuable to carry around the parks with you. That’s where merchandise pick-up comes in. When you purchase the souvenir, simply tell the Cast Member that’s assisting you at the register that you would like to send your purchase back to your resort. After arriving back at the resort, head to the pick-up location to grab your goods and be off to your room! At French Quarter, you can find your souvenirs at Jackson Square Gifts & Desires.


Sports and Recreation

Port Orleans – French Quarter was built before Disney began adding fitness centers to their moderate level resorts, so there isn’t a dedicated athletic club, gym, or spa. However, there are plenty of outdoor activities (beyond just the pool) that will meet your fitness needs and occupy your time on your down days.

French Quarter Sports Exclusives

One of the most unique opportunities at Port Orleans – French Quarter is the Beignet Fun Run.

Yup, we said it, Beignet Fun Run!

Most Sundays at 8:00am, you’ll find guests running at their pace for a beautiful 1.5 mile run (or jog, or walk) through the shady woodlands of the French Quarter area.

When you finish, you’ll receive an adorable Mardi Gras-themed medal…and of course a fresh beignet! It does cost $15 to participate, and while you can sign up the morning of at the 7:30am check-in, we recommend you register for this event in advance. Call (407) 939-7529 to register before your trip, especially if you know you’re going to take part.

Port Orleans – French Quarter also offers a Disney-themed paint night in an event called Painting on de’ Bayou. If you have budding artists or art-lovers in your group, this is an experience you’ll want to check out! The art class happens every Wednesday at 2:00pm at Sassagoula Floatworks, with a check-in fifteen minutes before. The cost is $35.00 plus tax, and guests must be twelve and older to take part.

We highly recommend that you make reservations in advance, which you can make by calling (407) 939-7529. However, you can join the class the day of; to inquire about same-day availability, see a Cast Member at the front desk or at the class check-in. If you must cancel, make sure you do so a day in advance avoid forfeiting the entry fee.

Outdoor Activities

For those that enjoy biking and running, there are several well-shaded trails throughout the French Quarter resort area. Some of these paths even connect over to Port Orleans – Riverside if you want to extend your route. Not much of a runner? Take a leisurely stroll along the paths instead. Looking for fun involving the whole family? Try out a surrey bike and explore the resort in style. Be sure to ring the bell throughout your ride to let others know you are approaching!

There are plenty of other ways to get some fresh air and unwind, especially if you aren’t looking for a work out. Along the banks of the Sassagoula River, relax during a horse-drawn carriage ride, with each carriage comfortably fitting four adults.

In the evening, enjoy a campfire with your family, roasting marshmallows and revel in each other’s company. Afterwards, enjoy a movie under the stars between buildings five and six on select nights. Enjoy the time together with your family as you snuggle up together outdoors. The movie is always a family-friendly Disney favorite, so you can always be sure that it will be appropriate for your kids. Check with the front desk to find out the schedule of these events during your stay. As a guest of the Port Orleans resort area, you also have access to all of the recreation options over at Port Orleans – Riverside, including the Ol’ Man Island fishing hole and fishing excursions.


Transportation

At Port Orleans – French Quarter, being right on the Sassagoula River, one of the best ways to travel is by water. Take a fifteen minute boat ride down to Disney Springs, taking in all the scenery and passing the Treehouse Villas at Saratoga Springs along you way. You can also take the boat up the river to Port Orleans – Riverside if you don’t want to walk the path. The downside to this leisurely mode of travel is that it won’t take you to any of the parks, so this is better for a down day.

When you are travelling to the parks, you’re going to need to take a bus, rideshare, or a Minnie Van. You could of course take your own transportation if you have your own vehicle, and since you are paying to park at the resort you won’t have to pay to park at the theme parks. If you don’t have your own car, we suggest is if you have to be somewhere at a certain time, or you’re looking to be at a park well before opening, you call for a rideshare. With this option, you can beat even the busses to the parks, getting ahead of the resort rush. If time isn’t an obstacle for you, the busses are a good option, not the least of which because they are complimentary.

For those coming to and from Orlando International Airport, you will definitely want to consider Disney’s Magical Express. Disney’s Magical Express is a complimentary bus that will bring you from the airport to your resort, and then back to the airport again at the end of your stay. Without a doubt, this is one of our favorite services, as it takes much of the stress out of the airport travel. You do have to reserve this service ahead of time, so they know to expect you, but it is absolutely free!  


Resort Location

For those taking Disney’s Magical Express or a rideshare option from the airport, you just have to sit back and get excited for your vacation.

On the other hand, if you’re taking your own transportation, you want to make sure you know exactly where you’re headed. If you aren’t familiar with Disney property, all the exits and signs can easily become overwhelming.

To avoid pulling into a theme park (or worse, ending up driving out the back end of Disney World!) it is best to know where you’re headed before you go.

Port Orleans – French Quarter is considered to be a Disney Springs resort, although it is a bit of a distance from the shopping area.

When coming to French Quarter, you will want to get off Florida I-4 at the route 535 exit, and then get onto Hotel Plaza Boulevard. From there, you will hop onto East Buena Vista Drive, and from there to Bonnet Creek Parkway. Port Orleans – French Quarter will be on your right.

If you’ve hit Port Orleans – Riverside, you’ve gone too far!

Resort Address:
2201 Orleans Drive
Lake Buena Vista, Florida 32830-8424

If you’re using your GPS, you shouldn’t have any problems. Just make sure you don’t accidentally end up at Port Orleans – Riverside!


Contact Information

To directly call the resort, the number is (407) 934-5000. However, if you have a question about your booking, you should call (407) 939-5277, as that is Disney’s vacation assistance line

Bring together a taste of New Orleans with that incredible Disney flair with a stay at Port Orleans – French Quarter!


Grace Hoyos, Staff Writer

Grace is a life-long lover of all things Disney, particularly the parks at Walt Disney World. She is also an avid Disney Cruise Line enthusiast who regularly dreams of the white sands of Castaway Cay. Grace loves the fact that her Disney trips give her time to spend with her family, enjoy incredible food, and try new experiences.

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