Port Orleans News and Rumours

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Thu 24th Jul 2014: August 2014 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules

The August 2014 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules for Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter are now available. See the main Recreation Activities Schedule page for full-size printable PDF versions, or click on the images below.

The outdoor movies will start at 9pm and the daily campfires commence at 7pm this month.

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Fri 20th Jun 2014: July 2014 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules

The July 2014 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules for Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter are now available. See the main Recreation Activities Schedule page for full-size PDF versions, or click on the images below.

The outdoor movies will start at 9pm and the daily campfires commence at 7pm this month. Special activities are scheduled for American Independence Day (4th of July).

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Thu 5th Jun 2014: Port Orleans to test direct checkins, bypassing Front Desk

Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter will both be taking part in a two-week trial of an innovative new time-saving checkin procedure for guests arriving between Monday 16 June and Saturday 28 June 2014.

To qualify, guests with arrival dates between 16 and 28 June will need to have first created a My Disney Experience account, and already received their Magic Bands at home (meaning that this test will only be available to domestic US residents). The guests will also need to have completed Online Checkin, and paid in full prior to arrival - including setting up a PIN number for their account. Basically, everything you would normally do while standing at the Front Desk needs to have been completed in advance.

Any guests who meet these requirements will automatically receive a notification email a few days prior to arrival to make them aware of the test, and then an hour or so before their stated arrival time they will get a further text message and/or email indicating their assigned room number. They are then free to proceed directly to their room without any need to first call at the Front Desk.

Anyone not wishing to take advantage of this test - or perhaps needing more information, or with questions or concerns about the location of their room - should simply show up at the Front Desk and check-in normally. There is no need to "opt out" if anyone does not wish to participate, this is purely an added convenience.

This is only an initial time-limited test at the moment, not a soft-launch, and it will not currently be extended beyond the trial period. The results will then be evaluated to decide whether this system could work for a more general roll-out at Walt Disney World at some point in the future.

The trial will not be advertised generally, nor promoted to guests who have not already met the above criteria, so if you'd like to participate just get yourself set up in My Disney Experience, do your Online Checkin, and wait for your email.


[Updates added on 6 June]

This trial system is not compulsory, I guess it's mainly for repeat guests who often ask about whether the Front Desk line will be shorter or longer if they do online checkin, or if they arrive at 10am or 11am, etc. Think of it as "FastPass to your Room" if you like, or "Checkin+". If you don't want to use it though, that's entirely up to you.

"Paid in full" happens automatically for packages at 45 days out (and I assume for room-only at 6 days?) so no need to do anything in those cases. If you want to check, or force a payment through so this system will definitely kick in, just call the Reservation Center in advance. The system will not apply to any bookings where an ID needs to be confirmed upon arrival (e.g. cast member bookings, etc).

Welcome Packs will not (for the trial at least) be sent to rooms in advance. If you need one - for example for a map, parking pass or other welcome collateral - you'll need to pop by the Front Desk at your convenience to pick one up.

MagicBands and all their paid features (park tickets, dining plan credits, etc) will go live once the reservation is centrally 'checked-in' on the system, which is also when your text will be sent advising you of your room number - so guests can go directly to a park upon arrival at WDW if they wish.

The room number will normally be confirmed and a text sent about one hour before your stated arrival time, but it could be as close as 15 minutes if a suitable room is not ready early enough. If a room is still not ready by then, a message will be sent advising of the delay but your band will still be activated for all the other features but obviously not for door-key access yet. A followup message will confirm the room number later, and you will be able to use the door-key feature after that.

There will be three other Walt Disney World resort hotels taking part in the trial at the same time.

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Wed 21st May 2014: June 2014 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules

The June 2014 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules for Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter are now available. See the main Recreation Activities Schedule page for full-size PDF versions, or click on the images below.

The outdoor movies will start at 9pm and the daily campfires commence at 7pm this month.

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Fri 9th May 2014: Building Floorplans now include Connecting Room details

Our popular Port Orleans building floorplan layouts have just been updated to add even more detail. Not only can you check the various room types & categories, and the locations of all the Accessible rooms, but you can now see every pair of rooms that includes a Connecting Doorway too. While special room requests can never be guaranteed of course, it is now much easier for you to check to see if a particular room request might be realistic or not.

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See the Room Locations and Requests page and click on any of the buildings in the resort maps to see expanded floorplan views. You can also download combined PDF documents for each section of the resort from the Maps and Directions page.

I hope you enjoy the updated maps, and have fun planning!

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Sat 3rd May 2014: Free Dining Announced for Sep-Dec 2014, but not Port Orleans

Around this time for a number of years, Walt Disney World has launched a free 'Disney Dining Plan' promotion for room with park ticket packages booked for the slower months of the Fall, usually starting in late August and often getting extended until mid-December. Previously, Port Orleans was one of the resorts included within the offer but unfortunately it appears that Riverside and French Quarter have perhaps become victims of their own success and Disney have opted not to include them in the promotion this year.

Forecasted occupancy levels are monitored regularly by Disney, and offer details can be changed with very little notice if they think they need to promote a particular resort which is not selling well - but unfortunately (for us anyway) Port Orleans' average occupancy level is dramatically higher than either of the other two Moderate resorts (Caribbean Beach and Coronado Springs) so there is currently not much likelihood of Disney needing to offer extra incentives for guests to stay there.

If you're interested in switching to another resort in order to take advantage of the offer, please see the various online discussion threads (such as http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3271072) for more details. The dates are 31 Aug - 23 Dec with some lengthy blackout dates covering most of October and parts of November/December, and bookings commence on 2 May for Disney Visa card holders and 7 May for everyone else.

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Wed 23rd Apr 2014: May 2014 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules

The May 2014 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules for Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter are now available. See the main Recreation Activities Schedule page for full-size PDF versions, or click on the images below.

The outdoor movies will start at 9pm and the daily campfires commence at 7pm this month.

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Sun 13th Apr 2014: Oak Manor roof refurbishment construction update

The Oak Manor roof refurbishment work which started back in January is continuing apace. So far, the central three-story section of the building is complete, as is the river-facing wing on the Parterre Place side (i.e. closest to the quiet pool and the footbridge over to the main buildings).

They are currently working on the northern river-facing wing (closest to Magnolia Terrace) and that should be completed on 9th May. Then work will move over to the parking lot side of the building, with a currently scheduled completion date of the 18th of July.

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(Thanks to RiverRooster for the photo)

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Sat 12th Apr 2014: WDW Radio Show LIVE from River Roost Lounge 8:30pm 12 April

Tune in via your web browsers or mobile devices tonight at 8:30pm (EST) to watch the WDW Radio LIVE show, this month coming to you direct from the River Roost Lounge at Port Orleans Riverside with everyone's favourite entertainer, Ye Haa Bob Jackson. Have a great evening folks!

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Tue 1st Apr 2014: April 2014 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules

The April 2014 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules for Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter are now available. See the main Recreation Activities Schedule page for full-size PDF versions, or click on the images below.

The outdoor movies will start at 8:30pm and the daily campfires commence at 6:30pm this month.

There will be extra activities on Easter Sunday (20 April) including Character Meet & Greets, Jelly Bean Guessing Contest, Easter Candy Scramble, Cupcake Decorating and Family Games such as croquet, egg races and tug-of-war.


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Sat 1st Mar 2014: March 2014 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules

The March 2014 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules for Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter are now available. See the main Recreation Activities Schedule page for full-size PDF versions, or click on the images below.

The outdoor movies will start at 8pm and the daily campfires commence at 6pm this month. On Sunday 2 March, the Oscars ceremony will be screened live at the Riverside Lobby Courtyard instead of the regular movie.

On Tuesday 4 March, Port Orleans will feature its annual Mardi Gras celebrations, including a mini-parade around the resort organised by the cast members - starting at French Quarter at around 1:30pm and getting to Riverside by 2pm.

Note: French Quarter's "Doubloon Lagoon" pool will reopen on 4 March after its seven-week refurbishment.

Also, in what appears to be a massively short-sighted and very disappointing move, as from 2 March 2014 Disney has seen fit to permanently close the Port Orleans Riverside Levee boat rental facility. Very Bad Show, Disney - you are meant to be all about "plussing" your parks and resorts, not "minussing" them. If you wish to make your views known, ask for an explanation, or request that this decision be reversed, please contact wdw.guest.communications@disneyworld.com.

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Thu 27th Feb 2014: Riverside boat rental marina to permanently close

Well this one came out of the blue... the Riverside Levee boat rental marina will be permanently closing as from Sunday 2 March.

Very Bad Show, Disney - you are meant to be all about "plussing" your parks and resorts, not "minussing" them.

The Sassagoula river ferry will continue to operate to and from Downtown Disney as normal, as will the children's pirate cruises and the cycle rentals, but no more Sea Raycers, kayaks or other boat rentals. As far as I know at the moment, this will be a permanent closure. Apparently this will happen at the other Moderates too.

And so another bit of magic is chipped away. :(

Please email wdw.guest.communications@disneyworld.com if you want to make your views known, and perhaps ask for a proper explanation.


Update 2 March: I contacted my friend Denise from mousesteps.com and she and her partner Jeff took a trip over to Riverside yesterday and rented out a pontoon boat for an hour-and-a-half and took one last nostalgic trip along the Sassagoula before the service finally closed last night. Her report and photos can be found HERE, and Jeff's video of the trip on YouTube HERE. So sad to see this wonderful facility go away.


Update 4 March: I've heard mutterings that this might be something to do with an external (third-party) contractor who ran the rental service. To be honest, I'd always assumed it was run by Disney directly (certainly the staffing was provided by Disney cast members) but I've never really had the need to look into it.

According to website WDW News Today, the facility was not popular enough at the Moderate resorts and so the company has pulled out, leaving just the Deluxe Resort locations operating. I'm guessing the current closure of the DTD rental dock for the Disney Springs project won't have helped either.

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Wed 19th Feb 2014: Downtown Disney Marketplace ferry dock closing 22 Feb 2014

The Downtown Disney Marketplace ferry dock (located next to the Rainforest Cafe) will be closed from 22 February 2014 until the fall for construction work related to the new Disney Springs project at Downtown Disney. In the meantime, the Port Orleans river ferry boats will still run as normal, but they will use the Pleasure Island dock in the centre of Downtown Disney instead.

The temporary new routes will be as follows:

  • Port Orleans River Cruise – Yellow Route
    Service between Downtown Disney Pleasure Island and Disney’s Port Orleans Resorts
  • Disney Vacation Club Ferry – Blue Route
    Service between Downtown Disney West Side and Disney’s Old Key West Resort, Disney’s Saratoga Resort & Spa and the Treehouse Villas
  • Internal Downtown Disney Water Taxi – Red Route
    Service between Downtown Disney West Side and Pleasure Island only

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Sun 2nd Feb 2014: Resort Airline Check-In Service for International Travellers

Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter will be extending their Resort Airline Check-In Service to include guests travelling on International flights as from 24 February 2014.

As with existing guests travelling on domestic US flights, the Resort Airline Check-In Service allows guests to check in for their flight directly at their hotel on their day of travel, including retrieving boarding passes and dropping off checked luggage. This is part of a gradual roll-out, and all Disney Resorts will be offering the International Airline Check-In facility by 17 March.

The airlines which participate in the scheme are Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, AirTran Airways, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways - which given that these are all internal US carriers does seem a little ironic, but at least many of them do fly overseas too.

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Fri 31st Jan 2014: February 2014 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules

The February 2014 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules for Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter are now available. See the main Recreation Activities Schedule page for full-size PDF versions, or click on the images below.

The outdoor movies will start at 7pm and the daily campfires commence at 5pm this month.

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Reminder: The French Quarter “Doubloon Lagoon” pool area is closed for refurbishment work until approx 28 February 2014, so activities will take place in the courtyard there instead of the pool. The pool bar and hot tub are closed too. For those who want to swim, there is a free shuttle service which takes guests directly over to the Riverside pool on Ol’ Man Island, and all guests can use the five quiet pools too.

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Mon 6th Jan 2014: Key to the World cards to be phased out from 7 January 2014

The traditional plastic 'Key to the World' cards will be phased out at Port Orleans as from Tuesday 7 January 2014 as part of the ongoing rollout of Disney's new MyMagic+ system. When you check in after that date, each guest will automatically receive a Magic Band wrist bracelet only, with no backup plastic card supplied unless specifically requested.

The Magic Bands have been in testing for several months, and allow you to access everything that the old KttW cards did, and more - guest room door access, theme park admission, Disney Dining Plan credits, resort-wide payment facilities (charged back to your room account), FastPass+ pre-bookings for attractions, car park access, etc.

You can manage all of your bookings, customise your Magic Bands and make dining & FastPass+ reservations via a personalised account system called My Disney Experience, which can be accessed from the Disney website or via mobile devices or using terminals in the parks.

Guests who, for whatever reason, are not comfortable with the bracelet system can still request a plastic card which will do all of the same things - but it will simply mimic the tap-to-use operation of the Magic Bands (using its own RFID chip) rather than providing a magnetic stripe for swiping in the old-fashioned way. This means that you will no longer be able to reserve attraction times using the old legacy Fast Pass system - you will only have access to the new interactive FastPass+ variant. That sadly means that from now on, unless you have pre-booked you're probably not going to get a FastPass for the headliner rides such as Soarin' or Toy Story Midway Mania. Another nail in the coffin for spontaneity at Walt Disney World, I'm afraid.

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Thu 26th Dec 2013: January 2014 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules

The January 2014 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules for Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter are now available. See the main Recreation Activities Schedule page for full-size PDF versions, or click on the images below.

The outdoor movies will start at 7pm and the daily campfires commence at 5pm this month.

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Wed 25th Dec 2013: Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

So being a Brit, I always get a bit puzzled by the whole American "Happy Holidays" thing :) ... but with today being the actual 25th of December, I would like to wish everyone a very genuine and sincere:


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And if you happen to be at Port Orleans today (as a guest or Cast Member) have an amazing time:

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Andre

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Sun 15th Dec 2013: Oak Manor roof refurbishment work commences 19 January 2014

Just as a bit of a heads-up, as it might have an impact how people choose to request rooms, refurbishment work on the roof of the Oak Manor building (Port Orleans Riverside's building 90, in the Royal Guest Rooms section) will begin on 19 January 2014 and continue for about 6 months.

Construction staff will only be working on one wing at a time, so the majority of the building will remain open - but of course there may be visual intrusion from other parts of the building with some scaffolding, daytime noise, etc.

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Wed 27th Nov 2013: December 2013 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules

The December 2013 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules for Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter are now available. See the main Recreation Activities Schedule page for full-size PDF versions, or click on the images below.

The outdoor movies will start at 7pm and the daily campfires commence at 5pm this month.

Don't miss the seasonal musical presentations in the run-up to Christmas. Special events including games, activities and Character Greetings will take place on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and more fun is planned at Riverside for New Year's Eve from 9pm until midnight.

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Wed 13th Nov 2013: Riverside fridge replacement should be completed by 20 Nov

I've just had confirmation that the long-awaited shipment of replacement in-room refrigerators for Port Orleans Riverside is now due to arrive at the resort later this week. It will obviously take a little while to get more than 1,200 fridges installed into guest rooms, but they will be starting as soon as the delivery arrives and are hopeful that all rooms should be completed and have working fridges by 20 November, just in time for Thanksgiving vacationers. (As previously posted, French Quarter was completed last month)

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Tue 5th Nov 2013: POFQ Pool Refurbishment, plus revised feature pool hours

The Port Orleans French Quarter swimming pool, Doubloon Lagoon, will be closed for refurbishment from mid-January until the end of February 2014 (which includes the busy President's Day week). The dates are tentatively 13 Jan - 28 Feb, but that may change slightly depending on how long the work eventually takes. Disney will be running a free shuttle service between POFQ and POR during the closure to allow guests to use any of the six Riverside pools in the meantime.

The POFQ hot tub will also be closed for some of the time, but not necessarily for the whole of the refurbishment period. The laundry and kids playground will remain open, but the Mardi Grogs pool bar and the restrooms will be closed.

Update on 28 Jan: Rather than running large shuttle buses from the front of the hotels, they are using the small 'golf-cart'-like pargo vehicles to take guests from the front of the pool area at POFQ directly over to the pool at Riverside in a few minutes. Very little hanging around, just hop in and go. Return trips are just as easy.

Update on 27 Feb: The POFQ pool is due to re-open on Tuesday 4th March.


* * *

As from November 2013, the POR and POFQ feature pools (i.e. Ol' Man Island and Doubloon Lagoon) will both have extended lifeguard operating hours of 9am-11pm. However, outside of those times both pools (including the hot tubs) will be fully CLOSED and guests will not be allowed to use them - so sadly no more midnight soaks in the hot tub after a long day at the parks. :(

Off-season (e.g. 5 January - 15 February 2014, but dates are subject to change based on demand and other factors) the feature pool and hot tub hours will be reduced to 9am-9pm.

The five quiet pools around the Alligator Bayou and Magnolia Bend areas of POR will still remain available for swimming at any time outside of these hours (at your own risk of course), it's only the main feature pools which will have restricted access times.

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Wed 23rd Oct 2013: Touringplans.com room view photos of the entire resort

Touringplans.com, the web presence of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World guidebook, has just unveiled a superb new resource for anyone planning a trip to Port Orleans (and many of the other Disney hotels). They sent photographers round every single floor of every building, capturing a snapshot of the view that you will see from the window of each of the 3,000+ rooms at the resort.

So finally questions such as "how much of the river can I see from a River View room?" and "what are the parking lot views like?" now have definitive answers for everyone to see. Some elements of this new section are still being adjusted, but it is already an excellent place to peruse if you're planning a stay on Disney property. (Quite aside from their existing superlative park touring resources, which can save you a lot more time in line than FastPass+ is ever likely to do)

French Quarter maps and photos can be found at: touringplans.com/hotel_maps/disneys-port-orleans-resort-french-quarter

Riverside maps and photos can be found at: touringplans.com/hotel_maps/disneys-port-orleans-resort-riverside

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Tue 22nd Oct 2013: November 2013 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules

The November 2013 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules for Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter are now available. See the main Recreation Activities Schedule page for full-size PDF versions, or click on the images below.

The outdoor movies will start at 7pm and the daily campfires commence at 5pm this month.

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Sat 19th Oct 2013: In-Room Fridge Replacement Update (POFQ done, POR at 40%)

The on-going issues with the replacement of fridges at most Disney resorts due to safety concerns are sadly not quite behind us yet, at least not for all guests.

First the good news: If you are staying at Port Orleans French Quarter, you should now be OK. All rooms should now have working fridges installed, although staff do still need to do a 100% room audit next week to confirm that their inventory lists are fully correct. But there should no longer be any need to make special requests.

Port Orleans Riverside guests, however, are not going to be so lucky. There has been no improvement at POR over the last month or so, and the number of rooms with working fridges currently stands at around 40%. About half of these are needed to help satisfy guests with medical or other special requirements (including moving fridges around between guest stays) so the 'random chance' of you happening to get a working fridge is currently only about 20%.

Maintenance staff have now physically removed the old affected units (rather than leaving them in situ with a warning letter) but unfortunately the next batch of replacement fridges - which was originally hoped for around the start of November - is now looking to be nearer the end of the month. No confirmed dates are available yet, but as soon as I can let you know anything more specific I will post the information here.

Remember that you can also get Port Orleans news updates automatically via Twitter @PortOrleansOrg, Facebook facebook.com/PortOrleans.org or by subscribing to the good old-fashioned RSS/email feed.

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Fri 18th Oct 2013: Themed comforter bedspeads replaced with plain white sheets

The gorgeously detailed and themed comforter bedspreads which formed so much of the initial impact of that first moment when you walk into a Port Orleans guest room appear to have been removed. According to reports from current guests (in Alligator Bayou and French Quarter so far) there isn't even a "bed scarf" now (that strip of decorative fabric which some hotels place along the foot of their beds) to mitigate an otherwise clean & sterile expanse of 'hospital' white.

Before & After:
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Maybe it's just me, but I just don't think that a deeply themed and story-based environment such as Port Orleans is really the right place for the latest trendy fashionable hotel chain look. It also seems a real waste, given that the 3,000+ comforters were only a year or two old after the last refit.

What a shame, I feel that Disney really can (and did!) do better than this.


[Added 2-Nov] A new plain-look Royal Room bed (see DISboards thread)
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With or without a runner at some future stage, still bland.


[Added 4-Nov] And not looking much better in Magnolia Bend. Probably the least impact so far though, as apart from the bedhead artwork the MB rooms are more lightly themed anyway:
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(thanks for the photo John)

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Mon 7th Oct 2013: Sassagoula River Ferry adjustments for Dragon Boat Festival

Over the next couple of weeks there will be some adjustments to the Sassagoula River Ferry service to and from Downtown Disney due to the upcoming annual Orlando International Dragon Boat Festival (18-19 Oct) and the various planned events on Lake Buena Vista at Downtown Disney.

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Race Hours:
18 October: 6:00pm - 8:00pm
19 October: 8:00am - 5:00pm

The resort ferry services affected are Old Key West, Port Orleans Riverside, Port Orleans French Quarter and Saratoga Springs, and additional buses will be provided during these times.

Most of the the ferry boats will not be running during the following periods:
9 October: 4:35pm - 6:45pm
10-17 October: 10:00am - 11:00am and 3:15pm - 6:45pm
18 October: 10:00am - 11:00am and 3:15pm - closing
19 October: 10:00am - 5:30pm

Update on 9 Oct:

I've just heard that the Port Orleans river ferry services to and from Downtown Disney will only be impacted on the main day of the races, Saturday 19 October. On that day, there will be no river ferry service until 5:30pm. Prior to that, the Port Orleans river ferry service will operate as normal.

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Sun 29th Sep 2013: October 2013 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules

The October 2013 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules for Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter are now available, including special Halloween activities. See the main Recreation Activities Schedule page for full-size PDF versions, or click on the images below.

The evening campfires commence at 6pm this month, and the Movies Under the Stars will be screened at 8pm (except for Halloween which will be 7pm/9pm).

Halloween Activities for 31 October include:

  • Disney Character Meet & Greets
  • Candy Corn Guessing Contests
  • Scavenger Hunts
  • Cake Walks
  • Monster Mash Dance Party
  • Costume Contest (all ages)
  • Pumpkin Decorating & Crafts
  • Trick-or-Treating
  • Haunted Campfires
Reminder: the Riverside campfire site on Ol’ Man Island is still closed at the moment, but the main refurbishment work has now been completed apart from some final safety checks, so it should hopefully be reopened by early October. In the meantime guests can still use the new French Quarter campfire site.


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Sat 28th Sep 2013: Bus Wait-Time Display now operating at POR South Depot

There has been a TV screen sitting quietly and unobtrusively at the Port Orleans Riverside South Depot for some time now, and it has recently been turned on. Now guests waiting at the bus stop can get a real-time estimation of when the next Disney Bus for their destination should arrive:

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The information should get updated immediately as busses are changed or delayed, and if new ones are deployed to a route, and it is all based on the central despatch system linked to the GPS tracking devices fitted to all of the buses in Disney's fleet.

At present this is only at the Riverside South Depot with no immediate plans for the outer stops or French Quarter, but it's still a very nice start!

(Thanks for the photo D!)

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Fri 27th Sep 2013: New Menu Items at Boatwright's from 25 September

With special thanks to our dedicated specialist research team who have swung into action armed with covert photographic equipment and integrated wireless network communications tools (thanks mrsmomo, that means you and your smartphone! :) ) we find that several new menu items have now been added to the Boatwright's Dining Hall menu as from 25 September. A few existing items have gone up by a dollar or two, but mostly the prices have stayed the same.

Pimiento Cheese Fritters Image $8.49 (Appetiser)
with Pepper Jelly

Slow-Cooked Beef Short Rib Image $24.99 (Entrée)
Cheesy Grits and Red Wine Reduction
~ Recommended Pairing: Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County ~

Sweet-Tea Brined Pork Chop Image $21.99 (Entrée)
with Sweet Potato Hash, Citrus-Whiskey Glaze, and Onion Straws
~ Recommended Pairing: Canyon Road Merlot, California ~

The restaurant has removed the existing Salmon Salad from the menu to make room for the new items. The new Slow-Cooked Beef Short Rib is already getting rave reviews, it had only been on the menu for 24 hours and already several people have commented on how good it is.

The food court menus were also updated at the end of August with a few new items, see the Riverside Mill page for full details.

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Fri 13th Sep 2013: MagicBands coming to Port Orleans French Quarter from 30 Sep

BREAKING NEWS: I'm hearing reports that the My Disney Experience system is now allowing Port Orleans French Quarter guests with arrival dates as early as 19 October to customise Magic Bands and make FastPass+ reservations for their stay. The system seems to have updated overnight. More information as soon as I get it.

Update at 6:30am (Eastern): I just had an email, the official French Quarter start date for Magic Band / FastPass+ is for arrivals from 30 September onward.

The current testing period lasts until 31 October, so nothing can be set up beyond then at present. However the general expectation is that the system will mostly likely continue seamlessly after that period, once Disney has loaded the new dates onto the system.

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Sun 25th Aug 2013: September 2013 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules

The September 2013 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules for Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter are now available. See the main Recreation Activities Schedule page for full-size PDF versions, or click on the images below.

The outdoor movies will start at 8:30pm and the daily campfires commence at 6:30pm this month.

Reminder: The Riverside campfire location on Ol' Man Island will be closed for most of September, you will need to use the new French Quarter campfire site instead.

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Sat 24th Aug 2013: Campfire Updates: New POFQ location, plus POR refurbishment

The newly-built campfire firepit at Port Orleans French Quarter which we mentioned a couple of weeks ago has now opened for guests as from Thursday 22 August. Located in Beignet Square - the courtyard between buildings 5 and 6 where the evening movies are screened - the campfire will take place every evening for a couple of hours before the movie starts.

Oddly enough for a custom-designed location, there is currently no bench seating provided (unlike at the previous area) which a few guests have already commented upon. This will be reviewed over the coming weeks as the old location is transformed back to its previous use. Note: children under 12 must be accompanied to the campfire by an adult.

Also, the Riverside campfire on Ol' Man Island is currently closed for about a month for refurbishment work (the exact completion date is somewhat dependent on how cooperative the September weather turns out to be). In the meantime, cast members will be helping to transport interested guests over to French Quarter's campfire by pargo (golf cart).

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Thu 15th Aug 2013: Magic Bands coming to Port Orleans Riverside from 3rd Sept

I was asked to hold back on posting this until today, but Magic Bands will be issued to all Port Orleans Riverside guests for stays commencing 3rd September onward.

Emails and letters will start going out today to inform guests arriving within 18 days that they can pre-book their FastPass+ times (up to 60 days out in fact) and customise their Magic Bands (colour and name) via the My Disney Experience site and/or mobile app. It may not be possible for Disney to contact all guests (e.g. international guests, or those who have booked via some travel agents) but the new system will still apply to everyone regardless.

Continental USA guests should be able to get their Magic Bands mailed out in advance, others will need to pick them up at the Front Desk when they check in. Key cards will still be issued as a backup for the foreseeable future.

While this is still officially classified as a "test", the general expectation is that unless there are major problems this will most likely remain permanent.

French Quarter will follow within the next few months.

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Mon 12th Aug 2013: Footbridge between Magnolia Terrace and Ol Man Island closed

The footbridge between the Magnolia Terrace mansion building and Ol' Man Island is closed for maintenance work (decking replacement) during the day from Monday 12 August for the next five days. Alternative routes are signposted via the other two bridges. The bridge will be re-opened each night.

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Sun 11th Aug 2013: News Updates: Fridges, Magic Bands, Refillable Mugs, etc

Fridges: Both Riverside and French Quarter are now at around 40%-50% working fridges, after about 400 new units were installed at the initially worst-hit French Quarter. Specific medical requests are all being granted, but general requests are still being dealt with on a case-by-case basis (they are moving fridges around to try to help guests, but there are no guarantees at present). 500 more are expected at the end of August, which will make the situation easier again, and the remainder hopefully by early November.

"Rapid Fill" Mugs: The new RFID-chipped mugs started to be issued to new guests from today, but the equipment to enforce their use at the drinks dispensers won't be activated until 19th August. The chips are being activated as you buy them (there is a new device at the tills, which sets each mug up for its period of validity depending on which option you've paid for) so they should work immediately once the dispenser sensors are turned on. Existing guests won't be forced to swap their mugs when the system goes live next week as their mugs will already be active.

Riverside had orange, purple and green mugs today, but French Quarter hasn't got the green ones as yet. The new mugs can officially be refilled at any Disney resort hotel which has a beverage dispenser location, not just at your home resort.

Magic Bands: These should be coming fairly soon now (not quite this month though) and I'll be able to post more information, and hopefully some dates, when I get home from my Port Orleans vacation at the end of this week. I can confirm that Riverside will be first though, with French Quarter a month or two later.

French Quarter Lobby: Two new chandeliers are due to be installed over the next few weeks, and there will be new signage added above the desks soon too. As part of the refurbishment budget, the pianola player-piano at the side of the main atrium (near to Scat Cat's) was repaired and now periodically plays live music in the lobby.

Swimming Pool Life Jackets: Free kids’ life vests are now available at all pools across property, starting about a week ago. They are proving very popular already, as previously you had to request one from the Marina.

French Quarter Campfire Relocation: The firepit is being moved to the end of Beignet Square, the courtyard lawn located between buildings 5 and 6 where the evening movies are shown. Work is almost complete, and the switchover should be taking place in the next week or two. The previous river-view campfire location by building 6 will revert to a seating area, probably as a smoking area. Update: the new campfire location opened on Thursday 22 August.

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Mon 29th Jul 2013: August 2013 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules

The August 2013 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules for Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter are now available. See the main Recreation Activities Schedule page for full-size PDF versions, or click on the images below.

The outdoor movies will start at 9pm and the daily campfires commence at 7pm this month.

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Sun 28th Jul 2013: Disney's Magical Express Downtown Disney pickup trial

As part of a test running from 1-31 August, guests using Disney’s Magical Express service and staying at Port Orleans Riverside or Port Orleans French Quarter will be able to opt to leave for the airport from the Downtown Disney area rather than from their resort.

This presents an additional opportunity for guests to enjoy shopping, dining and entertainment at Downtown Disney to complete their Walt Disney World Resort experience. [OK, that Disney-speak translates to "lets you spend even more money with Disney"]

Eligible guests must have a domestic flight that departs from Orlando International Airport between 3 pm and midnight, or an international flight between 4 pm and 1 am, on the day of check out.

Reservations should be made no later than 48 hours prior to departure by calling the automated reservation line at (407) 566-6900.

Disney’s Magical Express motorcoaches depart from the center of Downtown Disney, near the Pleasure Island bridge closest to Raglan Road Pub and Restaurant. Area signage and Disney’s Magical Express Cast Members will be available from noon-9 pm to provide assistance and directions for guests. There will also be information leaflets at the resort.

Guests must arrive at least 15 minutes prior to their scheduled departure time, which will be approximately three hours prior to domestic flight times, and four hours prior for international flights. Disney’s Magical Express motorcoaches may make multiple stops and will depart promptly.

Participating guest luggage can be handled in the following ways:

  • Resort Airline Check in: It is recommended that guests participate in Resort Airline Check-in if possible (details of this service are provided at Resort check-in)
  • Resort Bell Services Transfer: Alternatively, guests can check luggage, including carry-on luggage, with the Resort Bell Services team to be transferred to the Disney’s Magical Express Bus Stop at Downtown Disney, where Guests will claim their bags prior to boarding the motorcoach. Allow at least two hours prior to your scheduled motorcoach departure time. Luggage will travel with Guests on the motorcoach.
For more information, you can call Disney’s Magical Express on 1-866-599-0951.

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Sat 27th Jul 2013: Rapid Fill Refillable Mug RFID system coming to Port Orleans

Walt Disney World's new refillable mug program — "Rapid Fill" — is being rolled out at all resort hotel locations with self-service beverage stations. The drinks stations at the Port Orleans food courts are in the process of being modified at the moment, so presumably after a short testing phase the system will be going live soon (no confirmed dates as yet though).

The new Rapid Fill mugs feature a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip installed in the mug which allows it to be used for a specific amount of days, all the way through to the guests’ entire length of stay if required (multiple-resort stays are allowed, but the days must be CONSECUTIVE).

The new mugs will allow guests to refill beverages at any resort's self-service beverage station, not just at their home resort (but NOT at the theme parks or water parks). Guests will be able to check their remaining days via the fountain beverage dispenser’s display screen.

The prices for the new mugs will be as follows:
$8.99 for 1 day
$11.99 for 2 days
$14.99 for 3 days
$17.99 for length of stay (4-14 days, but can be specifically extended for longer stays)

Note: It will still be possible to buy a single drink (paper cup) at the food courts, which will contain an RFID chip coded for your current visit only.

Rapid Fill mugs may be purchased and used at any resort self-service beverage island, and Disney Dining Plan guests will receive the new mugs as part of their package.

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Fri 19th Jul 2013: Musician Tom Casey joins Port Orleans French Quarter

Now that the lobby refurbishment at Port Orleans French Quarter is complete, entertainment offerings at Scat Cat’s Lounge will resume on Friday, July 19.

Musician Tom Casey will join Scat Cat’s Lounge, performing a dynamic blend of piano and jazz vocals. Tom has previously performed at a variety of venues across the Walt Disney World Resort, including providing vacation cover for French Quarter's previous resident musician, Elliot Dyson.

Performances will take place Friday through Monday at 8:30pm, 9:30pm and 10:30pm. There are no performances scheduled on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays.

Update on 10 Aug:

I watched the last hour or so of Tom's set last night. His style is very different from Elliot's, it's no longer a jazz theme but more of a piano-accompanied mix of rock/pop standards (he also has stored backing/rhythm tracks on a laptop, and he does requests). He's very good though, just somewhat different to what you might expect if you're used to Elliot's music.

Tom has just set up a Facebook page, www.facebook.com/TomCaseyAtScatCats - which oddly doesn't seem to come up in searches, but that link works - so pop along there and Like him to see his posts.

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Fri 19th Jul 2013: POFQ Lobby Re-Dedication Ceremony on Thursday 18 July 2013

A few days ago we reported on the re-opening of the newly refurbished Port Orleans French Quarter registration lobby, and yesterday (Thursday 18 July) saw the official Re-Dedication Ceremony at 9am, presided over by Port Orleans' General Manager Val Bunting and attended by Walt Disney World Ambassador Rich Tamayo.

Denise from the excellent http://www.MouseSteps.com photowalks site was on-hand to document the rededication, and she has posted a great set of pictures of the event (including the free fresh beignets for guests!) plus some photos of the new details in the lobby in her Resort Update. There's also a short video of the ceremony (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=pl ... aVg796NqXE) from Jeff Lange of JWLMedia.com.

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Fri 12th Jul 2013: Port Orleans French Quarter Lobby opens after refurbishment

As I indicated last week, the Port Orleans French Quarter lobby has now re-opened for guest use after its refurbishment. The plan was to transition services back today (Friday) and be fully open by Monday, but it looks as if the work is pretty much complete now.

It looks very nice, with a fabulous new patterned tiled floor which looks perfectly in keeping with rest of the room. The desks are now dark wood with accented highlight panels along the upper edge in the new two-person 'pod' style so CMs can come out to interact with guests. The effect is more of a subtle change than the recent Riverside update, as the French Quarter desks were already dark wood.

The lovely backdrop behind the main desk area remains, as do the paintings, but on the sad side, the "When the Saints..." music notes are gone. :( There's also new rug/carpeting and sofas in the TV area, and new golden queue stanchions.

Here are a first few camera-phone photos of the new Lobby to be going on with:

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(many thanks to the person who kindly sent them to me this morning)

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Wed 10th Jul 2013: Refrigerators Temporarily Removed from Disney Hotel Rooms

This was just posted on the Disney Travel Agent Blog. I have no more specific information at present and will update this post when I know more:

Due to a possible defect in the refrigerators in some of the Guest rooms at the Walt Disney World® and Disneyland® Resorts, as well as Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, Resort hotels at these locations have removed or temporarily disconnected Guest room refrigerators until the issue can be resolved.

Guests staying at these Resort hotels will be notified of the refrigerator removal via a letter in their room. Currently the schedule for replacing the refrigerators at these Resorts is expected to last several months.

This follow-up comment was just posted by Disney:
This is for all Resorts, except Disney Vacation Club rooms and the cabins at Disney's Fort Wilderness Campground. Currently we do not have an exact timeframe for when the fridges will be replaced, but it is expected to take at least 4 months. At each Resort there will be a limited number of refrigerators available by special request.


Update on 12 July:

The review of all 3,056 rooms at Port Orleans has now been completed, and it doesn't look like it's going to be quite as much of a problem as was first envisaged. Only around 50% of the rooms at Riverside have the type of fridge which will need removing (due to a fortunate piece of luck caused by available inventory during the recent rooms rehab) although the situation is slightly worse over at French Quarter. There will still be issues over the coming weeks of course while replacement fridges are sourced and installed, but it does look like it should be possible for guests to at least request a room with a fridge other than for medical reasons.

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Wed 10th Jul 2013: 2014 Rack and Package Rates released on the WDW USA website

The 2014 room Rack Rates and Packages are now available on the WDW USA website with confirmed pricing.

I've just compared a few sample dates for this year vs. next year at Port Orleans Riverside. While the Standard room types actually don't seem to have changed at all, and Garden View goes up by only a few dollars, some other room types have rocketed. e.g. in 'Summer-rate' July, River View goes up from $254/night this year to $279 next, and Pool View from $248 to $273 - that's $25 more expensive, or about a 10% increase. (prices inc taxes)

Update on 18 July:

Rates for all dates in 2014 are now in http://www.portorleans.org/roomrates.php.

Here's a quick view of how they break down by season - I still think there are some anomalies with King Bed rates though:

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Tue 25th Jun 2013: July 2013 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules

The July 2013 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules for Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter are now available. See the main Recreation Activities Schedule page for full-size PDF versions, or click on the images below.

The outdoor movies will start at 9pm and the daily campfires commence at 7pm this month.

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Wed 29th May 2013: June 2013 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules

The June 2013 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules for Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter are now available. See the main Recreation Activities Schedule page for full-size PDF versions, or click on the images below.

The outdoor movies will start at 9pm and the daily campfires commence at 7pm this month.

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Tue 30th Apr 2013: May 2013 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules

The May 2013 Recreation Activities and Movie Schedules for Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter are now available. See the main Recreation Activities Schedule page for full-size PDF versions, or click on the images below.

The outdoor movies will start at 9pm and the daily campfires commence at 7pm this month.

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Mon 29th Apr 2013: Talented POFQ jazz musician Elliot Dyson laid off by Disney

According to DISboards member and Port Orleans French Quarter regular 'cruisingkat', POFQ's resident multi-talented jazz musician Elliot Dyson has been let go by Disney. Anyone who has spent any time at the resort will be familiar with Elliot's nightly laid-back jazz sessions at Scat Cat's Club which are a signature attraction of the resort, and I know he will be greatly missed by a lot of folks.

cruisngkat wrote:We go to Disney at least 5 times a year and see him each time we visit. We received a text from Elliot telling us he has been let go. We saw him this past Wednesday and Thursday nights (4/24 & 4/25) and he told us May 4 will be his last night performing at Disney as his contract was terminated.

From the above, I'm assuming this is not just a temporary measure while the lobby refurbishment upheaval is going on next month. As I understand it, both Port Orleans resorts have been at pretty-much 100% capacity for several months now - even during normally slower periods - so if this is a cost-cutting exercise, what on earth are they thinking? Bad show Disney. :(

We at PortOrleans.org would like to thank Elliot for his many years of entertaining guests at the resort, and we wish him well for the future.

Update, 30 April:

I've had some feedback from a member of the management team at the resort, saying that this is as a result of the Lobby Refurbishment due to commence in two weeks' time, and it is still possible that Elliot may be asked to return after the work is complete. I'll quote a portion of the message here so I don't misrepresent anything:

As a result of being in that space, we have suspended all entertainment in that area due to the change in Guest flow and noise concerns. Elliot will be on hiatus during the refurbishment and we will have entertainment return after everything is completed. Our entertainment partners are part of the process and with the refurbishment will be looking at the offerings at French Quarter to ensure that our offerings match the quality, spirit and theme of the resort. This means that Elliot could easily return after the re-opening, however this has not been confirmed. The news of him let go is only referring to the time of the refurbishment.

However his return does seem far from certain at present according to what Elliot himself has been saying. If you enjoy his shows at POFQ, why not write to Disney to strongly encourage them to re-hire him after the lobby refurbishment is complete?

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Sat 20th Apr 2013: POFQ Laundry goes cashless - credit cards only

The washing machines and dryers in the Port Orleans French Quarter Laundry Room (located near to the Doubloon Lagoon swimming pool) are now cashless and you will only be able to pay using a credit or debit card. This is initially a six-month trial and there are no immediate plans to extend it to any of the Riverside laundry rooms (as yet, anyway).

Strangely though, there is no facility to pay using your Key-to-the-World card (room charge) which given the current major push towards contactless payment using room keycards everywhere at Walt Disney World, and the upcoming personalised Magic Band system, does seem a little odd. Perhaps the new RFID payment technology isn't yet ready to be left on its own as a stand-alone unit without CM supervision?

I assume this is primarily an effort to cut down on maintenance costs and provide a more consistent service for guests, but it will also help to reduce the risk of vandalism and theft which has been an issue with cash boxes in the past.

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Thu 4th Apr 2013: POFQ Lobby Refurbishment due to start 13 May 2013

As I posted a month ago, this spring will see Port Orleans French Quarter's turn to be given a brand new look for its main registration lobby area, similar to the work completed over at Riverside last summer.

I can now confirm that the work is due to commence on Monday 13 May 2013 and should be completed by mid-July. As always, please remember that work schedules can shift a little, but that's the best information I have at the moment. More details on the estimated completion date should be available in June.

During the period while the current lobby area is closed, all checkin and guest service functions will take place at the old Bonfamille's Café restaurant, just across the central atrium next to Scat Cat's Club - so when you enter the main atrium, you'll need to turn left rather than right.

Update on 20 April: Start date will be Monday 13 May, not 15 May as previously posted.

Update on 9 May: Check-in facilities are now located in the Bonfamille's Café area, in readiness for work commencing on the regular lobby next week.

Update on 2 July: The official re-opening is set for Monday 15th July, but services will probably start transitioning over on Friday 12th July.

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For older news items please see the original News Forum posts, or for general background history please refer to the Resort History page.