Location: Downtown Disney area. Address: 2201 Orleans Drive, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-1000. Phone: (407) 934-5000 Fax: (407) 934-5353
With just 1008 rooms, Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter is the smallest and most compact of the moderate priced resorts at Disney World. Despite that, it still feels spread out and open. The seven three-story buildings are scattered along one side of the beautiful “Sassagoula River”. The theme here is the New Orleans French Quarter during Mardi Gras. We find it to be charming with its pastel painted buildings, intricate wrought iron porches, floor to ceiling shuttered windows, fountains, brick decorated “streets” and sidewalks, beautiful trees and tidy front gardens. Hand glazed tiles are inset into pavement, and the streets have names like “Rue D’Baga”.
There are separate Spanish-moss covered walls hiding things like a playground, hot tub and even a Laundromat. Magnolia trees and flowers are plentiful and we never get over the exceptionally neat and beautifully sculpted landscaping. The theme pool here is a great fun with its festive atmosphere and secluded Jacuzzi.
The Main building: Most of the services and entertainment can be found in and around the central building called the Port Orleans Mint. It’s designed to resemble a bank from the late nineteenth century. As you enter through the glass atrium, you’ll notice green wrought iron decorations, brick walls and floors, a fountain and a full glass wall that looks out into the courtyard. There are harlequin court jester figures high up looking down upon the guests, and benches to relax on so that you can enjoy the ambiance. Port Orleans Mint houses the check-in area, store, arcade, Guest Relations, a bar and a restaurant. The courtyard leads to the pool area and on to the river and the guest houses. The courtyard ground is textured, and may be a bit bumpy for wheelchairs.
Buildings & rooms: The resort is divided into two “Quarters” (questionable math: perhaps the other two are in a parallel dimension?) separated by the Mint building and the pool area. Buildings One, Two and Three are in the South Quarter and Buildings Four through Seven are in the North Quarter. If you’re in the furthest room in the furthest building from the center (Building Seven) you would have to walk about 0.15 miles to eat and swim; compare that with the Caribbean Beach, where, depending on your location, you might have to walk a half mile to get to dinner.
You can reserve a water view room for an additional fee. This could mean either a view of the swimming pool or river. If you prefer one or the other, specify when you make your reservation. Disney will make an effort, but there’s no guarantee. The standard view rooms face a courtyard, garden area or parking lot.
Tip: With its comparatively small size, almost all of the guest buildings are close to the Mint and Port Orleans Square. Buildings Five and Two are the closest to the pool. Building Four is closest to the bus stop. Buildings Three and Four and the front section of building five are closest to the food court.
Tip: Building Seven, while furthest from the center of the French Quarter, is nearest to Port Orleans Riverside. If mobility is not a problem and you want the fun of both resorts, this might be the perfect spot. Building one is at the other end, farthest from the center of the French Quarter and even farther from Riverside. Building one and seven are likely to be the most quiet. Building six is also likely to be on the quiet side, but its closer to the action.
Tip: If you’re looking for a quieter room, avoid a pool view. Keep in mind that water view rooms can be anywhere, including the far end of the resort. Since the resort is on the smaller side, compared to some of the other resorts the distance won’t be that prohibitive for those who don’t mind a short walk. Regardless, those with mobility issues may wish to request a building close to the main areas.
Tip: Keep in mind that most guests will not be parking right outside their rooms, but will have to walk from the parking lot, around the building and down outdoor corridors to get to their rooms. It can be a significant distance to those with mobility issues. If you need to be close to your car, request a room near the parking lot.
The buildings are three stories with 144 rooms each, and have one elevator per building. There are no internal hallways but each floor has external walkways with railings in front. The railings are designed with different patterns and colors. There are no patios or balconies. The buildings are painted in various pastel colors including pink, purple and yellow. There’s one ice machine in each building.
The buildings are separated by sidewalks. Some of these are themed to look like narrow streets in a charming old city with brick inlay, lampposts, narrow sidewalks and street signs. There are curbs, and periodic ramps that allow wheelchair/ECV access. These are not real roads and they’re not used by cars other than the golf carts driven by cast members.
The rooms are approximately 314 square feet, and have an extra dose of charm. The resort’s theme is carried out well with the Mardi Gras décor such as the Purple and gold bedspreads. Most of the rooms contain two queen beds. There are some kings as well, for an extra fee. The accessible rooms have king beds. Most rooms have one window, but the corner rooms have two, making for a brighter, more open feel.
In addition to the items listed in the Moderate Resorts Overview section, there’s a nightstand, flat screen TV, two-toned dark cherry-wood dresser with inlayed oak wood, gold framed mirrors, a padded bench, and a small table with two chairs. There are two pedestal sinks with vanities separated from the room by a privacy curtain, and a separate bathroom with a shower, bathtub and toilet.
Sometimes housekeeping makes little washcloth-animals for your room here, as in all the properties, but here the animals can sometimes sport Mardi-Gras beads! Connecting rooms are available but not guaranteed unless there are unaccompanied minors in one of the rooms.
Resort Shopping: Jackson Square Gifts is located in the Port Orleans Mint main building, and they offer the standard items that the resort stores carry.
Food & beverage: This resort doesn’t have a full-service restaurant. Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory is the 300 seat food court. See the Walt Disney World Dining chapter of the book for details.
Scat Cat’s Club: This small lounge offers a full bar serving specialty drinks and light hors d’oeuvres along with jazz music. It’s open from 4:00 pm until midnight. Saxophonist player Elliot Dyson is the talent there, playing evenings, Wednesday through Saturday nights from 8:30 PM to Midnight. There are also some vocals, blues guitar and steel drums thrown into the mix. It has small tables with both armed and armless vinyl padded chairs. There’s also booth seating along the wall and a bar with stools. Wheelchairs should have plenty of room to navigate here.
Mardi Grogs: This is the pool bar where you can get alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, and some light snacks. It’s partially open air with some high stools, a dark wood bar and intricate, decorative pale green iron works.
Room service: Available from 4 PM to Midnight, offerings include pizza, salads, soft drinks and beer.
Pools: Doubloon Lagoon is the only pool at the French Quarter, as there are no quiet pools. There’s no zero entry in this pool. As pool sizes go, it’s not the biggest pool of the resorts, but we find that it’s usually sufficient for the number of guests who are using it. If it does seem crowded, guests are welcome to use one of the quiet pools or the main pool at Port Orleans Riverside. To get there, you can catch a boat at the boat dock right near the pool.
The Mardi Gras theme is carried out at Doubloon Lagoon in a major way. An enormous purple and turquoise serpent winds in and out of the pool. It forms bridges to walk over (with stairs) and under. The serpent’s tongue is a gentle 51 foot slide! An oyster shell makes a trickling waterfall to stand under. Bright green alligator jazz musicians stand around on their back legs, in some cases blowing water into the pool.
In 2016 a new colorful aquatic play area was added. It has kid-sized water slides, water cannons and fountains. Those who are 48 inches or below can use the slides.
Those with a strong fear of clowns should take note that there’s a larger-than-life harlequin court jester/clown right at the pool entrance. There’s not a lot of shade to be found, though there are a few spots where you can get some partial shade from the trees.
The Jacuzzi is in its own secluded area, just a short walk down a sidewalk lane towards the main building. It’s not visible from the main pool area, so you won’t be able to see your kids in the pool and they won’t be able to see you. Although it’s in the same general area, we feel that it’s a bit inconvenient to have to walk out of the pool area and to the Jacuzzi. However we do like the seclusion when you’re in it, and we find that we’re often alone in there.
The Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory is just beyond the hot tub and bar. It’s a very short walk from the pool area, and a much shorter walk than that of the Port Orleans Riverside pool to that resorts’ food court. This makes dining during your pool day very convenient.
Other Entertainment: The French Quarter shares activities with its sister, Port Orleans Riverside, so much of what is advertised by Disney as available at the French Quarter is actually only available at Riverside. This includes the boat and bike rentals, the catch-and-release fishing excursions and the Children’s Pirate Cruise. Horse-drawn carriage rides are available in the evenings, weather permitting. Those who are very sensitive to bumpy motion may find the ride somewhat uncomfortable. Make reservations at the marina or call 407-WDW-PLAY.
In the French Quarter, there’s one brightly painted purple, gold and green playground hidden under the oak trees behind the Mint building, near the pool. It sits on a springy rubber surface, safe for falls, but possibly bad for latex allergies. The playground is up a curb. There’s a wheelchair ramp around the side that’s not immediately obvious. South Quarter Games is the accessible arcade inside the Mint building. Hair wrapping and face painting are available inside the main building or outside near the pool.
Other Amenities: There is a Coin Laundromat in the French Quarter near the pool. The washing machines are top loading, and the dryers are side loading and stacked. There’s also valet service cleaning.