In my opinion, the best hotel for families on Walt Disney World property is Port Orleans Riverside (formerly called Dixie Landings). This hotel truly caters to families in the way Walt Disney originally intended. From the rooms to the restaurants and recreation, everything is made for families. Although the Walt Disney World Resort is equally enjoyable for children and adults, many guests are families try to create the ultimate Disney experience for their children.
The Disney Resort boasts several hotels for visitors to the park including the world famous Disney Port Orleans Riverside. The Port Orleans Riverside Hotel is designed to evoke images of rural Louisiana and is a truly enjoyable place to stay. Here are just a few of the reasons that children will have the time of their lives will staying at the Disney Port Orleans Riverside. Some highlights include:
Port Orleans Riverside is designed to make guests feel like they’re in a beautiful Louisianna town right on the Mississippi River (called the Sassagoula River in Disney). Inspiration comes from the days and stories of Mark Twain and the fabulous decorations and lush landscaping truly bring the deep south ambiance to life.
Guests can choose to stay in rooms in one of two sections of Port Orleans Riverside. First, they can choose to stay in Alligator Bayou which is designed to make guests feel like they just stepped into the Louisiana bayou. Second, Magnolia Bend depicts an old Georgian mansion setting. Rooms in both sections of Port Orleans Riverside are basically identical and can accommodate 2-4 people. Guests can choose two double beds with dual sinks and a separate toilet and shower/tub room or a king-sized bed with one sink and a separate toilet and shower/tub room. A table with two chairs and an armoire with a television and drawers as well as a rod for hanging clothes are included in every room. Decorative touches include hickory wood bedframes and accessories and artwork reminiscent of the Deep South. All rooms include a variety of amenities such as in-room safes, irons, ironing boards, and coffee pots.
Room rates at Port Orleans Riverside change throughout the year, but on the Walt Disney World website, the standard rate is quoted as $160/night for a room with a water view and $145 per night for a room with a standard view ($160 for a king-sized bed). Port Orleans Riverside is considered to be a Disney moderate resort meaning it’s comparable in price to hotels like the Caribbean Beach Resort, Port Orleans French Quarter, and Coronado Springs.
Boatwright’s Dining Hall is a mid-priced waiter service restaurant designed to feel like an old shipbuilder’s warehouse complete with an in-progress ship’s hull hanging from the ceiling and various shipbuilding tools hanging on the walls. The menu includes Southern and American dishes served for breakfast and dinner only.
Riverside Mill Food Court is one of my favorite restaurants for families with small children on Walt Disney World property. This is a counter-service restaurant serving a mixture of Southern and American foods in a wonderful atmosphere for kids. In the center of the dining area is a 32-foot, working water wheel! Windows surround the dining area and allow guests to enjoy the view of the river, boats, bikers, and horse-drawn carriages. The Riverside Mill Food Court also provides pizza delivery during select hours to guest rooms at Port Orleans Riverside.
Eating meals at the Disney Port Orleans Riverside is a wonderful experience for children. The Riverside Mill Food Court has all the family favorites that kids will love like pizza, fish, and fries. The real attraction to the restaurant is the giant water wheel that guests can admire as they eat. Children will also enjoy dining at the Boatwright’s Dining Hall which is also located along the Sassagoula River. Dig into traditional Louisiana fare and classic Southern specialties while the water flows by this ship-themed dining establishment.
With the ideal location right on the Sassagoula River, the Disney Port Orleans Riverside Hotel boasts several fun water attractions. Right on the dock is the Colonel’s Cotton Mill where watercraft can be rented. Choose from pedal boats, kayaks or even canoes. You can also book boat cruises for a chance to see the nightly Disney fireworks display from the water.
Ol’ Man Island is the feature pool at Port Orleans Riverside. It’s centrally located between the two sections of the resort. The setting at Ol’ Man Island is beautiful with trees and plants surrounding the pool and deck area, so guests feel like they’re in the middle of the Louisianna bayou. The pool includes a slide and waterfall, and a hot tub is available for parents to enjoy some much-needed relaxation. Ol’ Man Island also has a snack bar that serves drinks and snacks with chairs and tables for guests using the pool or just passing by on their way to their room or the main hotel.
In addition to the feature pool at Ol’ Man Island, there are five smaller heated pools scattered throughout the two sections of Port Orleans Riverside, so guests never have to walk far to enjoy a quick swim!
It should come as no surprise that the recreation most guests look forward to most is the fun in the Magic Kingdom and Downtown Disney within the Walt Disney World Park. Those staying at the Disney Port Orleans Riverside will also have plenty of fun attractions right onsite at the hotel. Rent bikes as a family from the front desk, go fishing on an attractive wooden bridge, head to the private Ol’ Man Island just for guests or enjoy some fun games at the Medicine Show Arcade located just adjacent to the hotel.
Boat and Watercraft Rentals
Being located on the Sassagoula River is a great benefit for Port Orleans Riverside guests as it gives them the opportunity to spend some time on the water in a rented watercraft. Guests can rent kayaks, canopy boats, pontoon boats, or water sprites and ride them all the way to Downtown Disney and Pleasure Island and back again.
Port Orleans Riverside is one of the few hotels on Walt Disney World property that provides some type of fishing activity. Guests can try their hands at fishing on the Sassagoula River near Ol’ Man Island. This is a great family activity to break up the day from visiting the parks.
A few hotels on Walt Disney World property provide bike rentals, and Port Orleans Riverside is one of them. Guests can rent bicycles or surrey bikes for multiple passengers and enjoy a .7 mile ride around the resort and along the Sassagoula River. Renting a surrey bike is a fun activity that the whole family can enjoy together. Pedaling a surrey bike can be tiring and very hot, so make sure you plan your rental around the hottest part of the day and bring water.
Just behind Ol’ Man Island is a playground that small children will love. It includes wooden structures for climbing and a soft mulch surface for landing after jumps or falls.
The Medicine Show Arcade is located in the main building of Port Orleans Riverside behind Guest Relations. It includes a variety of arcade games, pinball machines, and air hockey tables to enjoy after a long day at the parks.
In order to get to and from the nearby Disney World attractions within the park guests can take several different forms of transport. Children will love not needing to hop in the car thanks to convenient themed buses that depart every few minutes to destinations like the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom or Typhoon Lagoon. It is even possible to take a fun boat ride right from the dock outside the Disney Port Orleans Riverside to the center of Downtown Disney. Children truly enjoy having this fun way of getting around and it is a real convenience for parents to have the amenities of the Disney Resort right at your fingertips.
Unique to Port Orleans Riverside is the horse-drawn carriage rides that guests can take along the Sassagoula River. The horses are beautiful and the carriages are comfortable. While horse-drawn carriage rides are more expensive than other family activities, they can create a great family memory.
Disney buses service Port Orleans Riverside to take guests to the various parks and attractions on Walt Disney World property. Additionally, a riverboat provides a great alternative to visiting Port Orleans French Quarter, Downtown Disney, and Pleasure Island via the Sassagoula River.
Laundry facilities are available in several central locations throughout Port Orleans Riverside. Babysitting services are also available for a fee.
Port Orleans Riverside is my favorite family hotel in Walt Disney World because families can really feel comfortable while staying there. Unlike some other hotels that cater to conference attendees, Port Orleans Riverside is all about families and children. To me, that’s what Walt Disney World is supposed to be all about, and that’s what Walt wanted when he created Disneyland and Walt Disney World – a place where parents and children can go together. Guests can still get that family-friendly feeling at Port Orleans Riverside.