Port Orleans French Quarter - A Review

What in the World?
A weekly peek at Walt Disney World

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The one resort I often find myself going back to constantly is Port orleans French Quarter.  Nestled next to the Sassagoula River, Port Orleans French Quarter is one of the smallest Disney resort, with 1,000 guest rooms spread across the entire resort.  While it is located close to Downtown Disney, it is conveniently situated close to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot and the Studios.  

During my first stay at POFQ, I was immediately impressed by the resort's theming.  According to mouseplanet.com, “Disney's story here is that Riverside (French Quarter’s sister-resort right next door) is a riverboat landing up the mighty Sassagoula river. The French Quarter is the down river destination of the paddle wheel river boats that ply the waters of the river.”  The rooms are contained in buildings with streets (appropriately named “Pontchartrain”, “Bourbon”, etc.) running in a grid pattern between them. The buildings are decorated to look like they contain several rows of houses with mismatching, but coordinating, iron work.  The resort definitely has a New Orleans/Mardi Gras feel, complete with larger then life carnival masks hanging in the quick-service restaurant and trombone playing alligators by the pool.

I particularly enjoyed the small size of the resort.  While most Disney resorts are behemoths, with thousands of guest rooms and buildings that require an internal network of buses to get from one place to another, French Quarter was surprisingly intimate and manageable.  The layout of the buildings makes it seem more like a community, instead of a resort.  The grounds are kept nicely manicured, fountains and sitting areas are liberally placed around buildings and walkways, and everything is in a reasonable distance no matter what building are staying in.  These extra touches really are what make this resort something special.

Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory

Unfortunately, there is only one place to eat at the French Quarter. S assagoula Floatworks and Food Factory is a food court where you can dine around Mardi Gras Parade props in a warehouse setting.  It is usually open from 6:00am - midnight.   Here is a selection from their lunch and dinner menu:

Chicken Caesar Salad (I highly recommend this…them’s mighty good eatin’).
Taco Salad - Chicken or Beef
Ham or Turkey Sub (hot or cold)
Chicken Quesadilla
Chicken Club Wrap
Muffaletta 
Pizza
Meatball Sub
Veggie Sandwich
Chicken Parmesan 
Cheeseburger with Fries
Veggie Burger 
Chicken Strips 
Cheese Steak Sandwich 
Double Cheeseburger
Grilled Chicken Sandwich 
Hot Dog with Fries 

Perhaps the biggest disadvantage to staying at the Port Orleans French Quarter is its lack of sit down, or table service, restaurant.  However, if you are in the mood for table service, but not in the mood to go to Downtown Disney or one of the parks, try heading over to Port Orleans Riverside and try Boatwright's, the full service restaurant.  Depending on what building you are located, the walk is an easy 10-15 stroll to Riverside.  And I will confidently say that Boatwright's serve some of the best cornbread I have ever tasted.  Definitely a must do if you have the opportunity to stay at French Quarter. 

The Accommodations

There are approximately 1,000 guest rooms; 946 rooms have 2 double beds and 62 rooms have a king-size bed (with a higher room rate). There are also 12 disabled-accessible rooms.  The typical room is 314 sq. feet.  According to All Ears Net, there are 3 different room views.  The Standard View Rooms offer a view of the parking lot. Garden View Rooms have a view of the 'inner streets' of the hotel.  The Water View Rooms offer a choice between a view of the pool or the Sassagoula River.

During my first stay, I was situated at a first floor Water View room in Building Six.  While I did not want to stay on the first floor after I checked in, I realized how completely lazy I was after a long day at the parks, so I learned to appreciate, and even prefer, not having to climb one or two flights of stairs in the evening.  While my room “faced” the Sassagoula River, I did not have a great view of it, being on ground level and all.  But it was still a great location that offered something else besides pavement and rental cars to look at.  The room itself was nice and welcoming after hours and hours in the hot and humid Florida weather.  

Transportation

For those of you that don’t rent a car while going to Disney, we are forced to rely on Disney Transportation.  There are buses that stop at one bus stop at the French Quarter and boats that take guests to Downtown Disney.

Bus service runs on a regular schedule running every 10-15 minutes during busy seasons, and every 15-20 minutes during non-busy seasons. The bus stop is right out front the main lobby building. There is bus service to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Blizzard Beach (sometimes the Animal Kingdom and Blizzard Beach buses are one in the same), and one bus runs to Typhoon Lagoon and Downtown Disney. 

Boats depart daily from French Quarter from the back of the resort property and go to Downtown Disney every 20 minutes from 11:00am to 4:00pm. and every 10 minutes from 4:00pm to 11:00pm. 

Transportation was also one of the more disappointing aspects about staying French Quarter.  While bus services is adequate, the French Quarter buses also serve all four bus stops of the Riverside, which causes some crowding, and unpleasantness during the busy seasons.  In addition, there does not seem to be any rhyme or reason as to which resort is serviced first.  It seemed as if going to the Magic Kingdom resulted in us going directly there or stopping at one or all four bus stops at Riverside.  Moreover, coming back from Downtown Disney, the bus goes through ALL of Riverside’s stops before it even gets to French Quarter.  This means that it might take an additional 15-20 minutes to get back to the French Quarter.  If you are going to either Downtown Disney and have some time on your hands, use the boat service. It is a relaxing, and a pleasant ride (and you even get to see the newly constructed Tree House Villas).

Conclusion

I definitely recommend Port Orleans French Quarter.  Despite its shortcomings, the resort is a nice compromise of price, theming, luxury, and amenities.  And of course, I would be remiss if I did not mention that ask for Building Five a few days out from your check-in date.  It is centrally-located, and will make your stay even better (of course all the Building Five rooms were taken when I went!).