My family has enjoyed a couple of weeklong stays at Walt Disney World’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort. The question asked above, is it for you, depends on what you are looking for in a Resort, how much time you will actually spend at the Resort, and what types of amenities you prefer. My family stays at the Value and Moderate Resorts, because we do not spend a lot of time in our room or exploring the property. We get our fill of adventure at the Parks and Downtown Disney area and only hit the room to drop off souvenirs or catch a nap. Perhaps when the kids are older and we slow down a bit, we may justify the extra expense of the Deluxe Resorts and their magical appeal.
Let’s look at the Pros and Cons of Port Orleans Riverside (POR):
- The property is absolutely beautiful, quiet, peaceful, and serenely scenic.
- Bus service is excellent, with 4 convenient, covered stops. (POR shares buses with only neighboring Port Orleans French Quarter.)
- The rooms are in excellent condition and are in the process of getting new queen beds in all rooms. (This creates a new CON below.)
- The food court is spacious and picturesque with lovely views of the Riverside Mill water wheel and Ol’ Man Island, and the food is delicious.
- Boatright’s Dining Hall table-service restaurant serves dinner only, but it’s a great place for hearty Cajun cooking.
- Surrey bikes, rowboats, pedal boats, and canopy boats can be rented for leisure time. Also, fisherman, you can cast a rod-n-reel into the pond stocked with catfish, perch, bass, and bluegill (catch and release only).
- The main pool on Ol’ Man Island features a lovely swimming area with slides, kids’ wading area, and hot tub. There’s also a shaded playground nearby. POR features five “quiet” pools throughout the Resort.
- For the romantics out there, POR offers a private carriage ride for $35.
- Friendships pick up Guests at POR and ferry them along the Sassagoula River to Port Orleans French Quarter and to Downtown Disney Marketplace until 11:00 p.m., running every hour until 4:00 p.m. and every 15 minutes after that.
- Fulton’s gift shop is well stocked and the Cast Members are very nice.
- The resort is large, and some of the buildings are difficult to access. We had to walk from the lobby in pouring rain and blustering wind on a 40-degree night to our room on the backside of Building 18, to which there is not direct route.
- Disney is in the process of replacing all full sized beds with queens. While that’s great news for families of four or fewer, as soon as that work is complete, those of us with parties of five will no longer be accommodated. *
- POR is divided into two themed “parishes”: the backwoods-cottage styled buildings of Alligator Bayou and the stately Gone with the Wind styled mansions of Magnolia Bend. In Alligator Bayou, the multi-level buildings are elevator-less. Guests with handicaps should be sure to request ground floor rooms.
Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort is a lovely resort with beautiful grounds and a well-maintained setting. My family has enjoyed staying at POR, because its relaxing atmosphere helps us unwind after busy days in the Parks.
Will we stay there again? We’d love to, but probably not, because as soon as all rooms are converted to queen beds, they will no longer accommodate our family of five. But that’s alright. There are many more Resorts left for us to explore!
*Author’s note: There seems to be some discrepancy in reports concerning the refurbishments. Parties of 5 WILL still be accommodated at POR when renovations are complete. However, that applies to the buildings of Alligator Bayou only, and there may be some time periods where trundles are not available while the work is in progress. Rumors state the trundles are being replaced with Murphy-style twin beds, but we’ve been unable to confirm that information at this time.
- Opening in early spring 2012, the Royal Guest Rooms at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort-Riverside (chipandco.com)
- Planning 101 – Scheduling Time for Free Disney Resort Fun (chipandco.com)
ON TRACK JANUARY 2012! Exotic Driving Experience from Petty Holdings LLC at Walt Disney World Resort
Since 1997 Walt Disney World Guests have had the opportunity to take the wheel of a real NASCAR at the Richard Petty Driving Experience located at Walt Disney World® Speedway. This mile-long, slightly banked tri-oval track has hosted both Indy Racing League and NASCAR Truck series events. It has been operated year-round, exclusively, by Petty Holdings since 2000.
Now your choices are expanding. An exotic auto experience designed by Petty Holdings recently announced its Exotic Driving Experience. Opening in January 2012, the course will complement the speed and agility of some of the world’s fastest luxury supercars, including Ferrari 458 Italia, Ferrari F430, Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera, Lamborghini Gallardo LP 560-4, Porsche 911 GT3 RS 997, and Audi R8.
Exotic Driving Experiences start at 6 laps around the 1-mile course. A professional driving instructor rides shot-gun and provides coaching and feedback. Additional lap packages can also be purchased. View the full lineup of exotic cars.
Are you ready to discover the adrenaline rush you can only get behind the wheel of a world-class supercar? Visit PojectExotic.com or ExoticDriving.com for more information or call 1-800-BE-PETTY (800-237-3889) to book your reservation today.
We’re headed out to Disney Parks after dark, where adventure lurks in magical shadows. It’s a fun place to be any night of the year, but as Halloween approaches, happy haunts and ghastly ghouls seem all the spookier.As if The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror isn’t creepy enough in the daylight, dare to enter these not-so-hallowed halls when the sun goes down, and you’ll find out just why so many ear-bursting shrieks echo down Sunset Boulevard. On Halloween night, 1939, a violent storm struck the once glamorous Hollywood Hotel, whisking 5 unfortunate souls “beyond the fifth dimension.” Guests who brave this ride board the Fright Elevator, which goes up, then down, then maybe up again…or down. Random drops depart the 13th floor and are determined by the Tower itself.
Ah, but of course, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is not the only Park to host such spirited thrills. If ye be seekin’ adventure where undead pirates pillage and plunder, head over to Magic Kingdom’s Pirates of the Caribbean. It’s a treacherous sail through burning villages and fiery battles. Arr, matey, better dodge Barbossa’s Wicked Wench cannon blasts, because, “Dead men tell no tales.”
Speaking of the dead…999 of the dearly departed call the Haunted Mansion home, perhaps including the evening doorman who welcomes Guests to this ominous residence. A Doom Buggy carries visitors through dusty rooms of ethereal mischief and merriment. Hitchhiking ghosts are deadly serious about making your stay permanent. After all, “There’s always room for one more. Mwahahahaha!”
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party highlights Disney nights this time of year. Themed lighting and musical effects transform the Park into eerie hollows from which the Headless Horseman rides to lead Mickey’s Boo-to-You Halloween Parade. Haunted Mansion characters venture forth from their resting places to appear on the floats. Here, Disney Characters and Villains are not the only ones in costume. Guests are too! Kids can trick-or-treat, then enjoy Happy HalloWishes, a fireworks spectacular where the Disney Villains trick-or-treat in the sky. (Additional admission is required for this special event, occurring specific nights from September 13th to November 1st. Check Park times and guides for additional information.)
Will you dare the Disney Parks after dark?
- Create Disney Magic At Home This Halloween With Some Tricks And Treats From Disney Family.com (chipandco.com)
- Things You Might Not Know About Haunted Mansion Holiday at Disneyland Park (chipandco.com)
Famously “NotAZoo,” at its 1998 opening, Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort broke the theme park mold. Imagineers considered many factors when designing this property. They focused first and foremost on the comfort and well-being of the animals and the safety of Guests. However, their primary goal, as with other Disney Parks, was to place the Guests in the action. In this case, that meant providing opportunities for Guests not only to observe but also to interact with creatures in their natural habitats.
Spend a day at Animal Kingdom and you’ll realize an interesting aspect of Disney Parks is that no piece stands alone. A ride is not merely a ride. A restaurant is not simply an eatery. Everything has a story! The stories of Animal Kingdom are based on the relationship of mankind to the world in which we live, with the intention of demonstrating harmony between human, animal and natural elements. Buildings and manmade structures are necessary, of course, but Park architecture is not allowed to overwhelm nature. Nowhere in the Park do feeding troughs, landscape barriers or fences detract from the Show.
The focal point, or wienie, of Animal Kingdom is its Tree of Life. The canopy of the Tree of Life rises 145 feet in the air and spreads 160 feet across. This natural-looking masterpiece is one of the World’s most exquisite architectural and artistic features. The story it tells expresses the mythologies of many cultures, where the tree is both “a source of life and an emblem of symbiosis.” The 325 extinct, contemporary and imaginary creatures, metaphorically, were not etched into its surface but grew out from it. According to legend, the Tree was the first thing on Discovery Island. The village came to the Tree whose water supports life for the Islanders and all of Animal Kingdom.
When Guests tunnel under the Tree’s roots, they virtually shrink to the size of an ant to enter a 430-seat theater for the 3-D Audio-Animatronic show, It’s Tough to be a Bug, hosted by A Bug’s Life’s Flick and Hopper. Parts of the show might startle toddlers, but bigger kids get a kick out of the special effects. While Guests are bug-size, Hopper is larger than life. Standing eight feet tall, Hopper is one of the most complex Audio-Animatronics ever made.
The newest of Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom attractions is Expedition Everest—Legend of the Forbidden Mountain. Adding a second wienie to the Park, this breathtaking piece of Himalayan Mountain Range combines the real world with the mythical. To the people of the mountainous regions of southwestern China, India, Nepal and Tibet, the Yeti is more than folklore. Although the creature is both mythical and real to them, the Yeti is not to be feared. He is the revered protector of the forest. Disney’s Yeti stands 18 feet tall and is the largest Audio-Animatronics figure ever created by Walt Disney Imagineering.
One of the most fascinating attractions at Animal Kingdom is the Kilimanjaro Safari, which takes Guests on a trek across the World’s own Serengeti, the Harambe Wildlife Reserve. Guests, ever vigilant for potential poachers, board open-sided safari vehicles for an exciting expedition across rickety bridges and rocky outcroppings, and often experience up-close encounters with a few of the featured wildlife, including the giraffes, black rhinos, elephants and lions that freely roam the 100-acre savannah.
The “ultimate animal adventure” began back in January with the opening of the Wild Africa Trek. For Park admission plus $129.00 per person, Guests ages 8 and up get up close, into and over animal habitats deep in the Pangani Forest on this privately guided 3-hour expedition. A modified zip line dangles 10 feet above massive hippos. Rope bridges sway over the crocodile-filled Safi River. VIP safaris cross open savanna teeming with creatures native to the African plains. It’s an African excursion within the safe confines of Walt Disney World Resort.
Adapting film to stage, “Festival of the Lion King” is a perennial favorite live performance at Animal Kingdom’s Camp Minnie-Mickey. In keeping with the summer camp theme of this Park area, Guests gather in an assembly hall to sing songs and share stories. The four rolling stages on which fifty costumed performers combine dance, acrobatics, and elaborate staging are actually floats once used in a Disneyland parade.
Dinosaurs are anything but extinct at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom. In DinoLand, USA, evidence of the massive reptilians covers every square inch of space from the dinosaur skeleton greeting Guests at the Land’s entrance to the knick-knacks filling Chester and Hester’s Dino-Rama gift shop. A 40-foot long, 20-foot high Tyrannosaurus rex named Dino Sue, an exact replica of the largest, most complete Tyrannosaurus rex fossil ever unearthed, stands charge by the entrance of Dinosaur! Once you eek past Dino Sue, proceed through the queue and travel back in time. Strap into your Time Rover and hang on!
Write your own story when you spend a day in the life of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
*NOTE: We recommend arriving at Park opening and heading straight to Expedition Everest and Kilimanjaro Safaris to pick up a Fastpass (or go ahead and ride before lines get long).
- Celebrating Thanksgiving at Walt Disney World (chipandco.com)
- Wild Africa Trek Experience (chipandco.com)
AN AWE-INSPIRING ADVENTURE PROFILING TWO INCREDIBLE FAMILIES AS THEY TRY TO SURVIVE IN THE WILDEST PLACE ON EARTH
The latest release from DisneyNature, African Cats, debuted on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, Movie Download & On-Demand on October 4, 2011. This epic film takes viewers deep into the African savanna, chronicling the fierce rivalry between two lion prides and journeying with a cheetah mother and her cubs over a two-and-a-half year span.
Meet Layla, the elder lioness who is hindered by age and injury, and her young daughter Mara, who strives to model her mother’s strength, spirit and wisdom. Find out if Fang, the protector of the pride, will stand his ground against the invading Kali and his four foreboding sons. Follow the fearless cheetah Sita, raising her young alone in the wildest place on earth.
Humor and heartbreak coincide in this deeply touching, visually stunning capture of love and family.
Bonus features include
-Disney & Nature: a deeper look in to The Walt Disney Company’s conservation efforts
-Save the Savanna: a comprehensive look at Disney’s “See African Cats, Save the Savanna” program
Everything on DVD, plus
-Filmmaker annotations: 12 segments of behind-the-scenes footage
-Jordin Sparks “The World I Knew” music video
Everything on DVD, plus
-Introduction to Masai Mara: segment from filmmakers annotations Blu-ray feature
-Filming the Cats: segment from filmmakers annotations Blu-ray feature
-Sophie’s Elephants: segment from filmmakers annotations Blu-ray feature
Proceeds from ticket sales of DisneyNature’s African Cats theatrical release and from purchases of home entertainment sales have helped to protect more than 50,000 acres of land in Kenya’s Aboseli Wildlife Corridor through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund. The program hopes to have a positive long-term and sustainable impact on the animals and people of Africa. You can learn more here.
Visit DisneyNature today for educational resources, photo galleries, downloads, and to learn how YOU can help save the savanna.
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