If The French Quarter represents New Orleans, Riverside represents the homes along the Mississippi that a steamboat might pass en route to the Gulf of Mexico, making them both part of the single entity, Port Orleans. However, a name Disney nixed around 2001 for this section – Dixie Landings – might be a better description for those considering Riverside. Themed originally to the Deep South, some buildings look like mansions reminiscent of Gone With the Wind’s Tara, while others have a wooden, simple Victorian feel. Rooms’ amenities and size are identical, though décor varies some; however, beyond the façade, there’s no advantage in picking a mansion over a wooden home. Once inside a mansion, there’s nothing to make it feel mansion-like, such as a towering staircase or a ballroom filled with Confederate soldiers. (See also: The French Quarter)
In Riverside, each building is far enough apart to feel isolated, unlike in The French Quarter. Most guests see landscaping rather than architecture outside their room. That can give your room a relaxing feel – a welcome attitude after a whole day fighting theme park crowds. The downside, however, is that far-out rooms demand a fair amount of walking to get to the central restaurants, game room, etc.
The central guest area at Riverside mimics a cotton mill, and it has both a food court and a decent sit-down restaurant. Beyond registration, kids can enjoy a game arcade while adults find liquid libation in the bar. Kids can also enjoy the swimming pool, which has a Huck-and-Tom-Sawyer feel in the middle of its own island.
Who should stay here
If sure you want a moderate resort, Riverside might be the quietest choice – the moderate hotel that feels closest to a luxury resort. Without an in-your-face theme like other moderate resorts, more guests tend to be older or childless or, at least, invisible. Without a large lake as its centerpiece, the complex doesn’t feel as vast as the other moderate resorts – and guests don’t feel quite as insignificant.
Who shouldn’t stay here
If you’re from Dixie, avoid Riverside unless you want to feel as though you never left home. If walking is a concern, consider The French Quarter or request a Riverside room close to the central services.
Bus transportation connects Riverside with everything else on Disney property with one exception: Boats connect guests to The French Quarter and, farther down the Sassagoula River, to Downtown Disney. (Not a real river – it’s just a canal.)
Busses stop often, but most theme park busses also serve other depots at Riverside and The French Quarter. Depending on direction and the time it takes more guests to board, it could be another 15 minutes before you leave the resort area.
Questions to ask when booking
If parents, try to secure a room close to the pool; however, no room actually fronts the pool at Riverside. Otherwise, decide if you want to trade of walking for quiet. The ideal room is far enough away from the crowds for tranquility, yet close enough to the central service area to make the trip take five minutes or less. There are not many water-view rooms, so make that request when booking if it’s important. (Note that Disney will put a room request into your file when booking but not make guarantees.)
Disney’s web page: http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts/port-orleans-resort-riverside/