Choosing Your Ideal Room Location
The combined Port Orleans Resort is the largest on Walt Disney World property, with over 3,000 rooms in four very distinct accommodation areas. Of course many people have their own favourite locations, and this page aims to help you decide which room category and area might be best suited for you and provide you with some tips for making more specific room requests.
However, please remember that room location requests (beyond the basic category that you have booked and paid for) are just that, requests, and cannot be guaranteed. Anyway, sometimes spontaneous surprises can sometimes be even more fun than planning your trip to within an inch of its life.
There are currently ten room categories available at the Port Orleans Resorts (five news ones, including Royal Guest Rooms, were added in 2012) priced with varying nightly surcharges. See the Room Rates page for the current pricing structure in detail.
All of the rooms at the Port Orleans resort now feature either two Queen Size beds or one King Size bed, There are no longer any of the older double beds. Also all of the Alligator Bayou rooms contain a new fold-down ‘Murphy’ style bed, located above the banquette bench seat, instead of the old trundle beds.Regular Guest Rooms (excluding Riverside’s Oak Manor and Parterre Place mansion buildings):
- Standard: These rooms mostly tend to face towards parking lots, or have partially obscured views (such as beside stairways, etc). Standard view rooms are located all around the resort, EXCEPT for Preferred Locations.
- Garden View: These rooms offer pleasant views of the gardens, courtyards (including water features and fountains), landscaping or bayou — but NOT of the parking lots. Garden View rooms can be located in any of the buildings EXCEPT for Preferred Locations. $10 per night surcharge.
- Preferred Location (Riverside, Alligator Bayou only): These rooms offer close proximity to the restaurants, transportation and main buildings at Riverside. Preferred rooms are ONLY located in Alligator Bayou lodges 14, 15, 18 and 27 — there are no preferred locations in the mansion buildings or at French Quarter. Views vary and can include parking lot or bayou/stream/garden outlooks — but not pool/river views. $25 per night surcharge.
- King Bed: These rooms feature one King-size bed only, and have a maximum occupancy of two persons (or three in the Alligator Bayou section only). Views and locations vary around the whole of the resort, and some can feature Pool/River Views or are within Preferred Locations (these all still fall under the King Bed booking category though). Limited quantities are available, and there are no King Beds available at all in the Royal Guest Room buildings. $25 per night surcharge.
- Pool View: These rooms offer swimming pool views and are spread out all around the resort, for example French Quarter buildings 2 & 5 (note: not on the ground floor at French Quarter), Riverside 16, 17, 18, 24, 25, 35, 36 and 39, plus the mansion buildings. $25 per night surcharge.
- River View: These rooms offer direct views of the Sassagoula River, including some rooms which overlook the courtyards or lawns in front of the river. They do not guarantee any particular proximity to the main buildings — however at Riverside, all of the directly river-facing rooms do tend to give fairly convenient access to the facilities areas anyway. River View rooms can be located in French Quarter buildings 1, 2, 5, 6 and 7, or at Riverside in Alligator Bayou lodges 14, 27 and 38 plus the mansion buildings. $30 per night surcharge.
- Royal Guest Room: These are the cheapest of the Royal Guest Rooms and generally face towards parking lots, or have partially obscured views (such as beside stairways, etc). Royal Guest Rooms start at approximately $30 more than regular rooms at the resort.
- Royal Guest Room Garden View: These rooms offer pleasant views of the gardens, courtyards (including water features and fountains) or landscaping — but NOT of the parking lots. $40 per night surcharge over a regular resort room.
- Royal Guest Room Pool View: These rooms face towards the nearby quiet swimming pool, and they are all very conveniently located for easy access to the main buildings. $55 per night surcharge over a regular resort room.
- Royal Guest Room River View: These rooms offer direct views of the Sassagoula River, including some rooms which overlook the courtyards or lawns in front of the river. However at these prices some people have commented that you could almost stay at a Deluxe resort. $60 per night surcharge over a regular resort room.
There is no dual-classification between the various booking categories, each room falls into one specific band only. Thus all rooms with a king-size bed are classed as “King Bed” rooms, even if they also happen to be in Preferred Location buildings or may have pool or river views. Similarly, non-King rooms with views overlooking the river — even in the Preferred buildings — count as “River View” rather than Preferred. The same policy applies for the six Pool View rooms in building 18.
For example, if you wanted to try to get a king bed room with a pool or river view, you should book a King Bed category, and then add a request for a Pool/River View if available. The same applies if you want a River View in a preferred buildings; book for River View and then add a request for a close location.
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So, are all these various different room view categories and locations worth the extra money, especially given that there are no proper external balconies at the moderate resorts? It’s very much down to personal preference, but here are a few tips which might be worth considering:
If you want to avoid the slightly ‘motel-like’ aspect which can result from stepping out of your room and being faced with an asphalt parking lot, Garden View is a nice alternative without spending too much money.
Preferred Location rooms are great if you have smaller children or suffer from mobility issues as they are among the closest rooms to the main buildings and the South Depot bus stop.
Pool View at Port Orleans French Quarter does not include the ground floor rooms as there is a fence between the rooms and the pool which partially obstructs the view. Only the upper two floors (located in buildings 2 and 5) are counted as Pool View.
Unless you particularly want to watch over the kids in the swimming pool, I’d suggest the extra $5 between a Pool View and a River View is probably money well spent, as the sections of the Port Orleans which overlook the Sassagoula River are generally among the prettiest in the resort. Although some people have commented that the noise from the boat horns can be a bit annoying in rooms located very close to the ferry docks, most people don’t seem bothered.
Riverside is a very much larger resort than French Quarter and is split into two distinct sections of 1,024 rooms each. Which section you prefer is very much a case of personal choice, and while I happen to like the laid-back secluded tranquillity of the smaller Alligator Bayou lodges, there are many people who adore the romantic sophistication of the Magnolia Bend mansion buildings. Some people also comment that the rustic theming of Alligator Bayou feels somewhat “basic” and they prefer the comparative elegance of the mansion building rooms.
In Spring 2012, the opening of the new themed concept Royal Guest Rooms changed the equation still further, as the Magnolia Bend section has been split in two. You can still enjoy regular resort rooms within the Acadian House and Magnolia Terrace buildings, but Oak Manor and Parterre Place now exclusively feature the 512 new Royal Guest Rooms.
The actual amenities included inside the guest rooms are pretty much the same in all of the sections though — see the Rooms page for full details — only the theming of the decor and the fittings change. The only notable difference is that the Alligator Bayou section features the only Moderate resort rooms on Disney property to officially sleep five people, as they all feature an extra fold-down Murphy bed (approx. 63" x 30") located above the banquette bench seat. The extra fold-down bed is also included in the King Bed rooms in Alligator Bayou incidentally, allowing these rooms to sleep three people.
The Magnolia Bend Mansion Buildings
Magnolia Bend consists of four three-story mansion buildings (with 256 rooms in each) with beautifully manicured gardens and landscaping, constructed around lovely courtyard areas with pleasant seating areas and fountains. In addition to the main swimming pool on Ol’ Man Island (located just across the river from the mansion buildings) there are also two quieter pools within the Magnolia Bend area. This is the only part of Riverside which features elevators, located in the central three-story section of each building.
Rooms located on the river-facing side of the mansion buildings are generally preferable as they give easier access to the facilities, and the views are outstanding. The other sides of the mansion buildings are more convenient for quick access to the parking lots and the East and North Bus Depots, but the parking lot views are rather less enticing.
Acadian House and Magnolia Terrace are located closest to the Ol’ Man Island swimming pool via a wooden bridge, and you can walk straight across the island to get to the main building for the lobby, shop, restaurants, etc. They also have convenient access to the North and East Depots respectively.
Oak Manor and Parterre Place, which contain the new Royal Guest Rooms, are a little further to the south and are closer to a second bridge that takes you straight over to the main building, with an easy walk from there to the South Depot bus stop and the ferry boat dock. Oak Manor is also not too far from the East bus stop and is generally the closest Royal location for access to the main buildings. The Pool View Royal Rooms — almost all of which are in Oak Manor — are very centrally located and all guarantee you relatively short walks to the main areas.
Parterre Place, on the other hand, is the most distant of the four mansion buildings and some of its more remote rooms can be quite a trek to get to anywhere. However the rooms in its northern-most wing are actually the best-located of all the Royal Rooms, with some of them just a few yards away from the bridge to the main building.
The Alligator Bayou Lodges
Alligator Bayou represents the less affluent areas of the antebellum Old south, with sixteen rustically themed two-story Lodges (with 64 rooms in each) nestled amongst a sprawling series of informal streams, pools and lush wooded vegetation. As these buildings are smaller and more spread out they do tend to be somewhat quieter and more relaxed than the Magnolia Bend mansions. The Alligator Bayou section also features three additional quiet pools, which can be handy as it can be quite a walk from some of the furthest buildings over to Ol’ Man Island. Note: there are no elevators in any of the Alligator Bayou lodges.
From the start of 2011, Alligator Bayou lodges 14, 15, 18 and 27 were re-designated as ‘Preferred Locations’ and they are now charged at a premium price. You can guarantee yourself a room in one of those buildings by paying for that room category, but unfortunately this means that anyone with a standard booking now has much less chance of having a general request for these buildings honoured. The closest locations to request that are not now considered as ‘Preferred’ would be buildings 16 or 17.
There is a clear advantage to staying in Lodge 14 in Alligator Bayou as this is right next door to the food court and just a short walk past the adjacent car park to the main South Depot bus stop. It’s an equally short walk to the closest quiet pool, or you can stroll over the main bridge to the swimming pool on Ol’ Man Island. Some people have commented that there is a lot of foot-traffic past this location, but to be honest Port Orleans Riverside is so spread-out, with various meandering pathways to different locations, and the rooms are set back from the main walkways anyway, that it really isn’t a major issue.
Lodges 15, 16, 17, 18 and 27 are the next best as they are all still relatively short walks from all the facilities. I guess in a perfect world, my own choice would be for the row of river-facing rooms closest to the food court (numbered from 1409 to 1416) or perhaps the row above those if you prefer the upper floor. A corner room such as 1412 would be about as good as it gets.
A little further away, in a slightly quieter area of Alligator Bayou, are Lodges 24, 25, 26 and 28, which have their own quiet pool and easy access to the West Depot bus stop. These are great if you’re not too worried about quick access to the main buildings or you’d prefer a more secluded location with a shorter walk to your car and the nearby bus stop.
Finally, there is another cluster of buildings on the other side of Ol’ Man Island. Lodges 34-39 are some of the most remote and are situated between the West and North Bus Depots. A number of these rooms have parking lot views, but others do have pleasant views over another quiet pool. With the exception of lodge 38, which sits alongside the riverbank pathway and also provides easy access to Ol’ Man Island, it’s not particularly easy to recommend many of these buildings as they can be a good walk from everything — and when you’ve just returned from a long day at the theme parks, another ten-minute walk back to your room is probably the last thing you need.
Port Orleans French Quarter is the smallest of the Walt Disney World Moderate resorts and as such there really aren’t any bad Garden View room locations — even the Standard rooms which overlook the parking lot are mostly protected by lovely garden areas and trees rather than directly overlooking the cars.
Notionally, the resort is split into the South Quarter (buildings 1-3) and the North Quarter (buildings 4-7) but there is really very little to differentiate these two charming New Orleans themed sections.
Building 5 is generally considered to be the most convenient for the facilities — it’s the closest to the main building, the Doubloon Lagoon swimming pool and the ferry boat dock, but it still has fairly easy access for the one bus stop and the parking lot. River View rooms here and in building 6 are pretty much perfectly located.
Building 2, to the south of the swimming pool, is also very conveniently located, and possibly a little less busy. River View rooms here are very close to the ferry dock and it’s fun to watch the boats arriving and departing, but some people have found the extra noise of the boat horns a little off-putting.
The Pool View rooms on the upper floors of buildings 2 and 5 overlook the busy swimming pool and can thus be a little noisier at times so you might prefer a Garden View room on the other side of those two buildings.
The best locations for quick access to the car parks without being too far from the centre would be buildings 3 and 4, with building 4 also offering the closest rooms to the single bus stop at the resort. Building 4 is also closest to the food court, and is thus an excellent choice for anyone with mobility issues.
The “Beignet Square” turfed courtyard which is surrounded by buildings 4, 5 and 6 is the venue for the early-evening outdoor movie screenings, which might be a factor worth considering if your room faces in that direction.
For the quietest, most remote rooms, try buildings 1, 6 or 7 — with the river views from building 6 being especially pretty. However as this is such a small resort even the furthest rooms in building 7 are still only a 350 yard walk from the main facilities so you can still get back to the food court within five minutes.
Firstly, it’s very important to remember that any room requests are just that, requests. Disney will not guarantee to fulfil any special requests apart from medical requirements and categories that have been specifically paid for — such as Preferred Locations, King Size beds and Royal Guest Rooms. The other thing to be aware of, especially with Riverside bookings, is that the cast members who handle room allocations may have to allocate several hundred new guest rooms every day, and requests would need to be ‘blocked out’ for the duration of that guest’s stay, so it simply may not be feasible to accommodate all of the special requests that they might receive. All of this notwithstanding, it’s always been my experience that the room allocators and Front Desk staff usually try their best to match requests where possible, and it certainly can’t do any harm to ask.
The first thing to do is decide what features are most important to you and have these added to your reservation in advance, usually when making your original booking. Don’t be tempted to ask for too much at this stage — a request for a second floor corner room with a blue door, next to an elevator, with a view of the river and a fountain, beside the car park is quite likely to be ignored! Equally, requests for specific room numbers can be difficult to fulfil and are best avoided. If you’re celebrating a special event — perhaps a birthday or an anniversary — make sure the relevant details are noted too. There is no need to specify that you require a non-smoking room, or to request a refrigerator or queen-size beds, as these options are all now standard.
If you made your booking directly with Disney, it will be held on their central reservations system and you can call the Disney Reservations Center and ask for your requests to be added to your booking as soon as you have made it. This does not necessarily apply to third-party bookings though, such as package bookings made via high street travel agents, and you may need to contact the third-party agent instead.
Note: To discuss room requests based on medical grounds, or other special needs, please call (407) 939-7807 well in advance of your stay and the cast members will do their best to ensure that your individual needs are met. The TTY number for the hearing impaired is (407) 939-7670.
Some Common Requests to Consider
Apart from the general location of the room (see above) one feature which many people seem to like is to be given a room situated on an outside corner of one of the walkways. These corner rooms include a second window next to the table, which makes the room feel much lighter and more airy. This is especially true of rooms in the Alligator Bayou section where the room decor and fixtures are already somewhat darker than in the other areas. Note: there are some corner rooms where the extra window faces inward, such as beside stairwells, so be careful how you phrase your request.
It’s also worth considering whether you would prefer to be on the ground floor or one of the upper levels. Obviously anyone with mobility issues, or with small children in strollers, might find a ground floor room easier — especially in the Alligator Bayou area where there are no elevators. On the other hand, it’s sometimes possible to hear people moving about in the room above (especially if they have younger children) so that might sway you towards asking for a top-floor room instead.
Another common request with multiple-room bookings is for Connecting or Adjoining rooms. Connecting rooms include an internal (but lockable) doorway between the two rooms, while Adjoining rooms are merely located next door to each other — or quite possibly just somewhere near to each other. If you want to be located directly next door, always ask for Connecting rooms. Again, these requests are normally not able to be guaranteed, with the sole exception of two-room bookings where one or two adults are travelling with any number of dependent children from the same household, and this detail must be noted in the booking in advance.Please could I ask that people do not bombard the resort with requests for specific room numbers though. The room numbering information given in our maps is best used as a general guide rather than as a “checklist for the perfect vacation”. It’s preferable to let the resort know WHAT you want from your room and WHY, rather than requesting one specific room number (which might not even be available during your stay, and then then you could get assigned anywhere in the resort).
Confirming your Requests Directly with the Resort (but not until five days prior to your arrival)
Although recent upgrades to the resort computer systems now allow staff to access exactly the same information as the central reservations team, they will not normally start actively working on a booking until around five days before you arrive. At any point after this it might be worth elaborating on your original request with a quick phone call to the resort, or even better a short fax.
|French Quarter Telephone:||1-407-934-5000|
|French Quarter Fax:||1-407-934-5353|
If you do phone, please be aware that your call will initially be answered by an off-site switchboard handling calls on behalf of all of the Walt Disney World hotels, so please ask to be connected directly to the room allocation team at Port Orleans itself. There is currently no email or other internet-based option for you to contact the resort directly.
Sending a fax is probably the best solution though, and I can confirm that faxes are read, and actioned if possible, by the room allocation staff at Port Orleans. Please be polite and explain your requests, and ideally the reasons why you are making them, to help the cast members understand your wishes. Don’t forget to include your contact details (phone number and/or email address) in case they need to get in touch with you to clarify something about your request — for example if a party of five makes a request for Acadian House, which doesn’t accommodate that many people.
A few tips to remember when considering making room requests:
- First, ALWAYS make sure that any requests are noted in your original reservation as this is the official method to log room requests for WDW hotels. This can be done by calling your travel agent or the Disney Reservation Center on (407) 934-7639.
- Online checkin can be done up to 60 days in advance, but the requests section which you can fill in is very limited. It would be best to do online checkin BEFORE sending any faxed requests, so any more detailed choices are not overridden.
- Send a FAX directly to the resort about 3-5 days before your arrival date using the numbers listed above. If you don’t have access to a fax machine you can send a free fax online via www.gotfreefax.com.
- Provide your full details (name, address, phone number, email address and reservation number/arrival date). They may contact you about your requests, but don’t worry if you don’t get any confirmation back.
- Be polite but personable, and let them know how much you are looking forward to your stay at POR and how getting your requests fulfilled would make your stay extra-magical.
- Generally, try to request the features or details that you are looking for, rather than just quoting a set of building numbers (e.g. ask for "a mansion building room, fairly close to the food court and the main bus stop").
- Very specific requests (e.g. for one particular room number) can be hard to accommodate, although it might help to use room numbers to narrow down an area you are trying to describe.
- Try to explain the reasons for your requests, as that helps the room assignment team find other options in case your first choice may not be available.
- If you have multiple requests, try to prioritise them in order of your preferences.
- Do your homework first so you don’t make requests that cannot be fulfilled (e.g. don’t ask for a room with a fold-down Murphy bed when you have booked a Royal Guest Room, or book a Preferred Location and then request a mansion building room).
- You can ask if an upgraded room category might be available for your stay (e.g. a River View if you were only able to book Water View) but obviously not all such requests can be granted. It certainly can’t hurt to ask though.
A bit of background at this point: the Port Orleans room assignment team run a regular series of reports which are designed to catch multiple-room bookings, linked guests with the same surname, continuing reservations (especially at the start or end of offer periods, where people may make two consecutive bookings to take advantage of time-limited deals) and other special requests. In some cases they will then ‘block out’ rooms as required. Thus larger travelling groups, or more complicated requests, are likely to be blocked out a few days in advance — so if you have three or more rooms booked for your party then it might be worth getting in touch with the resort around 3-4 days before arrival. For one or two rooms, around 2-3 days might be better. Online checkin makes no difference to this allocation process by the way, and they recommend that you take advantage of this facility.
Other than the above, single rooms (even if you have used online checkin) are almost always allocated from the currently available pool of “Ready Rooms” near to your time of arrival. This mean that the system scans for any rooms that are currently flagged as being ready to occupy — i.e. they have already been vacated and cleaned and are available for you to move straight in. This has the advantage that even if you check in well before 3pm the system may be able to find you an available room there and then. Some guests have even reported being allocated their rooms at 6am after overnight flights, but I certainly wouldn’t count on that happening! The downside of the Ready Room system is that at any given moment the system only shows the rooms that are available NOW, rather than ones which are still due to be cleaned and which might otherwise match your requirements better (see section below on Arriving at the Resort).
Anecdotally, success rates can vary using this approach, with some people reporting that their exact requests were met while others don’t even seem to end up in the general vicinity of where they wanted. However, again — what have you got to lose by trying?
Finally, when you first check in at the resort (even if you have already done online check in) ask to be shown where your room is located on a map. If you find yourself looking at a ten minute walk over to the far side of Alligator Bayou Lodge 36 with three young children, you can always ask the front desk cast member whether they might be able search their system to find you something a little closer to your original request. Again, please work with them rather than just moaning — you’re far more likely to get what you want by being polite and enthusiastic than by ranting.
If you don’t mind waiting a little while for a room that still needs to be made ready then you may have more luck in getting closer to the specific location you requested. Again, work with your Front Desk cast member to see what’s possible, and be patient if they need to refer to back-room staff in order to check for any further availability later in the day. You can always store your bags at Bell Services and go for a swim or visit the theme parks in the meantime, and they can even text to you let you know when your room is ready.
If you’ve got any comments about your favourite room locations, or regarding your experiences in getting special requests fulfilled or otherwise, please let us know via our Discussion Forums.