Port Orleans French Quarter Resort Review
Port Orleans French Quarter is a Moderate Resort at Walt Disney World with a romanticized New Orleans theme. This hotel review features room photos, pros & cons, info on amenities, and our take on whether staying here offers good value for money. (Updated October 29, 2021.)
As Walt Disney World’s phased reopening continues, Port Orleans French Quarter is now open! This belated return comes a couple weeks after its “sister resort” and one of our favorite Moderates, Port Orleans Resort – Riverside. All in all, almost every hotel has now reopened—see Walt Disney World 2021 Resort Reopening Dates for more info.
Given that Disney’s Port Orleans Resort — Riverside returns after Walt Disney World has relaxed most health safety protocol, there aren’t many noteworthy “asterisks” about its return. The Sassagoula River Cruise, pools, buses, and more are now operating as normal. Additionally, most shopping, dining, and recreation are available.
Let’s start with a list of what’s open or available at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort — French Quarter as of its reopening day…
- Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory
- Scat Cat’s Club
- Mardi Grogs
- Fulton’s General Store
- Poolside Activities
Although it’s located on the other side of Port Orleans, Boatwright’s Dining Hall—the only table service restaurant between the two sister resorts—has not yet reopened. In checking website dates, it doesn’t appear to be returning anytime in the next month.
Our expectation is that Boatwright’s Dining Hall will return closer to Christmas, once bookings pick up, and more staffing shortage issues are smoothed out. While we view Boatwright’s as something of a hidden gem, it’s also one of the less popular table service restaurants. Otherwise, it’s pretty much business as usual at Port Orleans. Accordingly, let’s turn to the normal resort review!
Although Port Orleans French Quarter hasn’t always ranked highly on our list of the Best & Worst Moderate Resort Hotels at Walt Disney World, it’s undeniably charming and has a ton of appeal for many guests. In fact, the two of us don’t agree entirely on POFQ. Sarah loves it, whereas I far prefer Port Orleans Riverside.
French Quarter is popular among a lot of Disney fans because of its relatively compact size, which is–save for theme–its biggest distinction from the other Moderates. Whereas Moderate Resorts are typically the largest in terms of number of rooms and sprawling size, French Quarter has fewer rooms and a small footprint. Sarah and many other Walt Disney World fans appreciate this about POFQ–its size can save you some steps at the end of a long day!
I should preface this review by saying I’m not a huge fan of New Orleans. This probably will not endear me to some readers, particularly those residing in Louisiana.
I’ve been to New Orleans a few times–beyond the raucous, touristy areas like Bourbon Street–and I’ve always found that the praise about the charm and culture heaped upon the place is overblown, at least to some degree.
This isn’t to say New Orleans is without its redeeming qualities. To be sure, the city has a vibrant and rich culture, plus great culinary and music scenes. I just don’t think it ranks as one of the greatest cities in the world, as many contend.
It’s as if they are viewing the city through extremely rose-colored glasses, and envisioning a romanticized version of New Orleans that does not exist in reality. Or, at least, does not exist in Louisiana.
What does all of this talk about New Orleans have to do with Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter? Well, I think it is the New Orleans that exists in the hearts and minds of many people.
While Disney’s versions of New Orleans Square in Disneyland and at French Quarter are romanticized (almost to a fault), I’ll readily admit that I prefer them to the actual New Orleans.
Sure, they are incomplete depictions that lack that lived-in feeling and true culture, but both New Orleans Square and French Quarter evoke the romantic feeling of New Orleans.
While French Quarter doesn’t hit the same thematic high notes as New Orleans Square, there is a lot to like about it. From the quaint promenades lined with gas street lamps to the fountains that serenade passers-by, French Quarter is a pretty romantic resort, isolated from the hustle and bustle of Walt Disney World.
Unfortunately, the Port Orleans Resorts accomplish that sense of isolation and serenity by not having the same degree of development or proximity to the parks. There’s no Skyliner, monorail, or non-bus transportation to the parks here. There’s also no flagship restaurant, character dining, or anything else that makes Port Orleans French Quarter a big draw for non-resort guests.
Personally, we don’t view any of this as a big loss. If you want to do character dining, that’s typically one-and-done, and not a good basis for choosing a resort. All of those restaurants are easily accessible from other hotels or the parks, anyway. The only real downside is the lack of non-bus transportation, but even that isn’t make or break. There’s no internal bus loop at French Quarter, so transportation is still incredibly efficient.
There are some places where French Quarter does look like a boxy, dressed up motel, but in most regards, the theme works, and in greater depth than is found at other Moderates.
I really like the theme at Caribbean Beach Resort, for example, but what I really like about this theme does not extend to the buildings of the hotel themselves. They look like hotel room boxes plunked down in the midst of the Caribbean environs.
This is not nearly as pronounced at Port Orleans French Quarter, where the buildings are dressed up to look like what you’d see in New Orleans, with the same style of wrought iron lattice common there.
They are still basic in style, but the buildings do a much better job of conveying theme than any other Moderate (except some of the buildings in Port Orleans Riverside), making the whole place more immersive. Suffice to say, there’s really a lot to like about the theme at Port Orleans French Quarter.
…And that’s before we even start talking about the house band of alligators that performs around the Doubloon Lagoon pool. Well, performs is a strong word since they are inanimate objects, but I still rather enjoy these gators (they’re much better than the animate kind that also inhabit Walt Disney World!).
They give the resort a sense of whimsy without overtly cartoonifying the theme, which I consider a big plus; I’m sure families appreciate these gators, too.
In addition to this swinging band, there’s also a giant snake-like creature that makes up the pool slide. This is a solid pool, and that 51-foot water slide is a big reason why. The location is convenient, the size is large, and it has a fun vibe. I’d say the only Moderate with a better pool is Caribbean Beach, and that’s only because I’m a sucker for forts with cannons.
Now, you might be asking, “why is King Triton riding a water dragon at a New Orleans-themed resort?” Well, actually, that ‘water dragon’ is actually a sea serpent, and ‘King Triton’ is actually King Neptune, God of the Sea. King Neptune is a popular figure in New Orleans, with a Krewe that honors him. I don’t know what ties the all-gator band has to New Orleans, but they are just awesome, so do you really need any ties there?
In terms of other amenities, French Quarter has a good slate.
The horse drawn carriages are perhaps the highlight in terms of uniqueness (and in further enhancing that romantic theme), but most guests probably aren’t going to pay for a carriage ride.
Other plusses include the high quality Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory, the Sassagoula boat transportation to Riverside, and the efficient bus transportation (no internal stops!). There are also some downsides to these amenities.
Sassagoula Food & Floatworks is good…but there’s no table service restaurant. The efficient bus service can become very inefficient during off-season times if it becomes shared with Riverside (which does have internal stops).
Given the close proximity of Port Orleans Riverside, either by walking path or boat service, you also effectively gain the amenities of that sister resort (which is why French Quarter no longer has a table service restaurant). This is nice in that it provides greater variety in terms of counter service meals, lounge, and shopping.
Now let’s take a look at the rooms…
In the last few years, Port Orleans French Quarter has received room refurbishments that change a number of elements and features. You can see how things have changed in our new Refurbished Rooms at Port Orleans French Quarter post.
I go back and forth on the rooms at Port Orleans French Quarter. On the one hand, I think they are classier than the norm, with a nice wood headboard, simple yet elegant carpet, and a bit of lattice.
The new design follows the trend of being more understated in design, but doesn’t go as far as other resorts. The plain white bedding without a runner or any accentuation looks just as sterile as everywhere else (I really wish Disney would rethink this), but at least the room has other New Orleans flourishes.
The biggest change is the carpet being replaced by hardwood flooring with an inlaid design, which looks classier in my estimation, and will also be easier to clean. The old carpet was really showing its age–and not just in terms of wear and tear. We had no issues with the floor being noisier, but your mileage may vary on that.
The beds are also now elevated and on wood frames, with space for luggage storage underneath. In the cramped Moderate and Value Resorts, this is a huge gain. I’m also pretty confident that the mattresses in these rooms are new—and they’re spectacular. Port Orleans French Quarter had good mattresses before, but this was even better.
The dresser now features a top panel with power and USB sockets, the chairs have been reupholstered, and there are new blinds. The classic Disney concept artwork—mostly New Orleans Square at Disneyland—also remains, and is lovely. The wall-mounted television is huge, and the backlit mirror illumination is another nice touch (as is the repositionable make-up mirror).
Like all other Moderates, the rooms feature a split bath, with double sinks outside and the toilet and shower/tub in a separate room. This separated setup is nice, save for the size of the bathroom. Ever heard the term water closet? Totally apt here, as this is roughly the size of a closet. Par for the course with Walt Disney World hotels below the Deluxe level, though.
The rooms at Port Orleans French Quarter certainly aren’t the epitome of luxury, but they are sufficiently spacious and comfortable. Moreover, the style is thematically tasteful and feels fairly sophisticated as compared to all other Moderate Resort rooms, save for Coronado Springs.
Overall, there is a lot to like about Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter, especially if you have sentimentality for New Orleans or prefer hotels with compact footprints. The latter is probably going to be a big deal for families, and is a huge selling point of Port Orleans French Quarter. Conversely, the biggest downside is likely going to be that there’s no novel transportation to the parks–it’s all buses.
I typically prefer a more spread out resort to explore, but can concede that Port Orleans French Quarter offers the best of both worlds. You’re able to explore the combined Port Orleans Resorts and take advantage of the compact (single) French Quarter resort when going to catch a bus. I also enjoy the theme quite a bit, and found there to be some really lovely touches. All things being equal, though, Port Orleans French Quarter is a solid Moderate worthy of consideration if you want a compact resort with a romantic theme for your Walt Disney World vacation.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? If you’re interested in learning more about hotels, our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page is a good place to start. For where to eat, try out our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews page. If you want to save money on tickets or determine which type you should get, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at unconventional things you should take on your trip. Once you arrive at the parks, our Walt Disney World “Ride Guides” are great for determining what to do and when to do it. For overviews of all of these topics and so much more, the best place to start is our comprehensive Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide to make the most of your experience!
Have you stayed at Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter? Does its lack of unique transportation to the parks, character dining, or other ‘big’ draws make it less appealing to you? Or, do you find Disney’s Port Orleans — French Quarter to be among the best of the Moderate Resorts thanks to its tranquility and atmosphere? Do you dislike French Quarter?! Disagree with my take on NOLA? Any additional tips to add regarding French Quarter? Planning on staying here? We love hearing from you, so please share your thoughts or any questions about the hotel in the comments below!
Very nice resort but customer service was terrible. Could not get anyone to clean our room. Employees just stood around talking to each other. Food not great either. Probably wi t use this resort again.
Okay, I don’t mean this disrespectfully, but I came here to read a review about a Disney World resort, not see a city that is near and dear to many people’s hearts, my own included, completely trashed. I lived in New Orleans for many years both pre- and post-Katrina, my husband is from there, and we still live in south Louisiana, and frankly, the aside about New Orleans is a bit offensive; I couldn’t even get through the entire review because of it. I enjoy your Disney advice and frequently find it insightful, but I’d strongly consider editing this review to take the New Orleans hating out of it.
Thank you for all the information. I’ll be there in February for the first time. Is the water-taxi to Disney Springs still available?
My favourite resort. My daughter loves the smaller size and the pool area and some of the things you rightly say could be seen as a disadvantage we think are advantages! No table service restaurant means it’s not busy with lots of families or groups who aren’t staying at the resort coming to try the food like say the poly or Coronado. Yes there’s the beignet traffic but it’s a much quieter lobby and food court than others. The pool bar is great – best frozen margaritas on property I’d argue 😉 we love the boat to Disney springs as an alternative transport and the fact you can walk to riverside and use pools/Qs/boat Wright’s so it’s like having the best of both. But the best bit is the one bus stop and smaller footprint – just two minutes to refill drinks and hit up the bakery from your room I’d so valuable after busy days at the park!!!
Hmm, Tom, your opinion of the real NOLA is questionable. As a native, there are many things to both love and hate about the city, but the quintessential fact is that while you may not think it’s a gem, it’s definitely THE most unique city in the US. There is nothing else like it, since everywhere else is just the same pattern of chain restaurants and strip malls. POFQ is not well-liked among native New Orleanians due to its fake depiction of the real thing, and its tacky focus on Mardi Gras. We are so much more than that. Walk the streets of the Bywater along the Mississippi River, stroll down Prytania Street in the Garden District, venture to City Park, which, by the way, is both older and larger than Central Park. And meet the people – that’s where the true spirit lies. If some of those elements were included in POFQ, the resort would be so much better.
No truer words were spoken than those of Mark Twain, “America is New York, New Orleans, and San Francisco. Everywhere else is Cleveland.”
“There is nothing else like it, since everywhere else is just the same pattern of chain restaurants and strip malls.”
There are a lot of cities this does not describe–from Pasadena to Philadelphia to Boston to New York to Portland (both of them) to Austin to Albuquerque to Palm Springs. And that’s far from an exhaustive list.
New Orleans belongs on any such list, to be sure. My point is simply that NOLA locals act like it’s a total outlier, far superior to and more unique than the rest of the United States–and is absolutely above reproach. It’s unique, no doubt, but it’s not the only city in America with personality.
Where do I begin? We first stayed at POFQ back in 2013 and have stayed there twice since then. We like the updated rooms and the quietness there and although we usually have lunch and dinner in one of the parks or other resort hotel buffets, the breakfast menu is something else. One of our grandkids actually went back for seconds on the French toast, we looked all day for a hidden doggie bag but couldn’t find one. We are presently planning on a January 2023 vacation and POFQ is the only place we will stay. As with one of your other commenters alluded to, we try and reserve rooms 6103 through 6108 for our stay. Hopefully by the time we return in 2023 they will be fully opened with the old version of the park ticket and meal plan back in place.