Home » This is the Hidden Gem of Walt Disney World’s Resorts. Here’s Why You Need to Stay There.

This is the Hidden Gem of Walt Disney World’s Resorts. Here’s Why You Need to Stay There.

Selecting the perfect hotel for your Walt Disney World vacation is tricky. You have countless options onsite and at competing vendors in the surrounding area. Plus, vacation rental homes are a valid choice. If you want to stay at a Disney resort, thereby enjoying all the accompanying advantages such as the Disney Dining Plan and Extra Magic Hours, your budget could drive your decision.

Disney’s various All-Star Resorts all offer solid accommodations at the lowest prices the company offers. The monorail resorts and other properties close to theme parks provide amazing access to each gate, albeit at a hefty cost. Savvy consumers seeking something in Disney’s Moderate Resort class can split the difference, enjoying close proximity to the parks at a decent room rate. Out of the potential hotels, the most unheralded is Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter, presumably due to its modest 1,008 rooms, less than half of what Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside offers. If you want to stay at one of the hidden gems of Walt Disney World resorts, here are six indispensable facts about Port Orleans – French Quarter.

1. General resort appearance

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The answer’s in the name here. Disney wanted to offer a tribute to the Louisiana charm of New Orleans. Founded in 1991, the resort originally offered three buildings and 432 rooms before eventually expanding to seven three-story facilities. The hotel combines antebellum style with southern charm. The tie-in with the French Quarter was tenuous prior to 2001. At that point, Disney rebranded the prior Dixie Landings Resort into Riverside, cementing French Quarter’s theme as a side component of the repurposing of both properties.

You’ll know that you’re at a New Orleans-themed facility the instant you spot the building. If the architecture and landscaping don’t drive home the point, the hilarious outfit worn by the greeter will. When you walk the grounds of the hotel, you’ll appreciate the courtyards and romantic vibe, something of a rarity at a Disney resort. Conversely, you’ll also have a hard time ignoring the fact that the building design choices at French Quarter make it the most motel-ish of anything at Walt Disney World. As a fan of New Orleans, this didn’t bother me, but I heard a few guests complain about the issue during our most recent stay.

2. Dining options

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One of the most important aspects of the New Orleans lifestyle is good food. At the hotel, you can enjoy many staples of the Big Easy and the south such as jambalaya, fried chicken, and beignets. Their Chicken Parmesan Po’ Boy is particularly decadent.

Fans of potent potables will not suffer disappointment while visiting imitation New Orleans. Scat Cat’s Club is a jazz lounge with a few appetizers to munch on and some fizzy adult beverages to take the edge off. The pool area offers Mardi Grogs, a Fat Tuesday-celebrating drinking establishment with several cocktails. It also has a couple of televisions if you want to watch the game while your kids swim. Note that this bar is land-locked rather than swim-up.

3. Recreation

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The primary source of hotel recreation is Doubloon Lagoon, a 225,000 gallon swimming pool. It’s got a King Neptune statue that had my wife quoting Anchorman all week. A band of musical gators is also a part of the theming. Finally, there’s a symmetrical sea serpent waterslide circling several parts of the pool. Any adult thinking they’ll enjoy it is in for disappointment, though. We watched several try, and I doubt that any of them were going as fast as three miles an hour by the end. A couple had to push themselves off the edge into the water. Conversely, kids absolutely LOVE that slide. We were worried fights were going to break out as children jockeyed for position at the front of the line.

In terms of other things to do, movie night is always huge at Disney resorts. French Quarter is particularly great due to the sitting options. It’s an open space with impeccable landscaping. Virtually every guest we watched approach the movie display stopped for a few moments to admire the surroundings. The overall aesthetic of this hotel is one that will linger in your memory for weeks after you leave.

4. Inside the hotel room

Five different guests rooms are available as booking options at Port Orleans – French Quarter, all of which are 314 square feet. Think of the entire room as a single master bedroom suite, albeit with a tiny master bath. There’s a sitting area that doubles as a great place to throw down all your stuff after a busy day at the park. A luggage seat provides more storage if you’re a pack rat/master shopper like me.

As mentioned, the bathroom is tiny to the point of claustrophobic. The shower and commode are almost touching, and there’s no sink in this “room”. Instead, twin sinks are positioned in the main area, only a couple of feet away from one of the queen beds. Relative to All-Star Resorts, the rooms are a step up in size and quality. For guests who have stayed at some of Disney’s nicer resorts, it definitely feels like a step down.

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Room categories include the usual Disney staples. The primary ones are Parking Lot View, Garden View, Pool View, River View, and King Bed.  There’s not a lot of mystery to any of these options, as they’re all exactly as they sound. The quirk here is that Garden View is more desirable than normal. That’s because the landscaping at French Quarter is as good as anything you’ll ever see at a Disney resort. We took dozens of pictures of the New Orleans themed landscaping sculptures. 

Pool View is also a worthy choice. That’s because the pool at the hotel is aesthetically gorgeous and also right near the hotel lobby. So, you’ll kill two birds with one stone by selecting this option. You get pool view from the room and a quick walk to the hotel lobby amenities.Notable among them is a Coca-Cola Freestyle machine, a wonderful option for guests who use the Disney Refillable Mug during their stay.

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I’d also add a word of warning about Parking Lot View. It’s probably worth a few dollars a day to avoid this option. The view isn’t the only issue here. A lot of dumpsters are in plain sight, and construction workers tend to gravitate to these areas, too. It’s oddly hectic and loud in addition to being, you know, a view of a parking lot.

As for River View, that’s what we had last time. We absolutely loved it. The accompanying picture demonstrates what you can expect. The lone caveat is that boat noise can be an issue. As I’ll discuss below, Disney transportation passes by several times an hour and the boats do honk.

5. Logistics

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Your evaluation of the logistics at the hotel will depend on your favorite activities at Walt Disney World. The hotel offers convenient access to Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney Springs. However, if you want to go to the Magic Kingdom or Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you’ll suffer through a prolonged bus trip.

With regards to Epcot, we got to the park in as little as 10 minutes during a couple of rides. On others, the ride took quite a bit longer, which brings us to the potential downside of French Quarter travel. Depending on traffic patterns and the number of travelers joining you on the bus, you might stop at Disney’s Port Orleans – Riverside before heading to the park. When that happens – and it seems to be fairly random – you’ll suffer through several additional bus stops, which can legitimately triple the time of your journey.

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The good news about French Quarter is that they recently added television monitors at their twin bus stops. You can look at them and get a fairly good estimate about the arrival of the next bus to a theme park. Sometimes, traffic and other delays will cause a bus to arrive several minutes later than estimated; however, they’re rarely early. Use the estimates to identify whether you have time to shop at the lobby, go back to your room, or grab a quick bite to eat. Alternately, consider grabbing an Uber. We’ve found it’s the best way to handle most Disney theme park trips these days.

The one cool part about staying at Port Orleans is that boats constantly carry travelers to Disney Springs. A ride comes along multiple times an hour, and Disney’s thoughtfully provided a shaded area where guests can sit while they wait. The boat trip is relaxing while also providing great views of Lake Buena Vista Golf Course and the treehouse villas at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. I highly recommend that you try this at least once during your stay. Plus, it’s handy to drop off your shopping bags at the hotel prior to a return trip to the parks!

6. Pricing

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One of the most frequent complaints about Port Orleans – French Quarter is that its prices are fairly static. Frequent Disney travelers lament their inability to find a great deal here, even when they plan months in advance. Your best bet is to pay attention to Disney emails offering up to 30 percent off of regular room rates. By acting quickly to such deals, you can save a bit of money. 

Otherwise, you’ll pay close to rack rate a lot of the time. That means somewhere around $200 per night during the offseason. During peak travel times such as major holidays and Spring Break, the price increases to $275 and sometimes as much as $300 per night. At that point, you’re not saving a lot by staying at French Quarter. You should explore your options at the pricier resorts as the difference in cost might be offset by amenities.

Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter is a wonderful choice for savvy theme park tourists seeking a step above All-Star Resorts. For only a few dollars more a night, you’ll enjoy better location relative to the Disney theme parks, especially Epcot. And you’ll also spend your time at the hotel admiring the authentic New Orleans vibe. If you’re a fan of the Big Easy, staying at this resort combines all the charm of a Mardi Gras vacation with a trip to Walt Disney World. Beads not included, of course. 

One final note: even by Disney standards, the staff at French Quarter is amazingly friendly and courteous.