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.
Port Orleans French Quarter is the last on-property hotel at Walt Disney World to check off of our list as places we both have stayed. (I stayed here years ago in my BS (“Before Sarah”) days.) Only among Disney fans is this a badge of honor, and it’s one we both proudly wear. The reason it took so long for us to stay here together was that Port Orleans French Quarter is, by far, the hardest place to score a deal.
Note that Port Orleans French Quarter is often excluded from Free Dining, and only has a 0-5% discount while the other Moderates have 20-25% discounts in room-only promotions.
On rare occasion, the price for French Quarter is effectively as much or more than the lower-end Deluxe Resorts like Wilderness or Animal Kingdom Lodges. In those cases, you’re absolutely better off choosing one of the lodges.
July 2018 Update: Since originally publishing this review a few years ago, we’ve stayed at Port Orleans French Quarter many times. It’s actually become our go-to Moderate, particularly as Caribbean Beach and Coronado Springs undergo massive refurbishment projects.
Our most recent stay at Port Orleans French Quarter was in Summer 2018, shortly after the completion of the hotel’s soft goods refurbishment project. You can see how things have changed in our new Refurbished Rooms at Port Orleans French Quarter post. Suffice to say, POFQ now ranks as one of our favorite hotels at Walt Disney World–it has really grown on us!
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 by locals is inaccurate, at least to a 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.
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 horsedrawn 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.
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…
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…
…On the other hand, the rooms are sort of basic, especially as compared to other resorts that have recently refurbished their rooms to make better use of space, adding some added flourishes in the process.
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.
They certainly aren’t the epitome of luxury, and the comfort of the beds leaves something to be desired, but the rooms are sufficiently spacious and get the job done. I guess the best way to describe them would be thematically tasteful but relatively basic. Not necessarily high praise, but you could do a lot worse.
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. I am an oddball in that I typically prefer a more spread out resort to explore, but I had the best of both worlds here as I could explore the combined Port Orleans Resorts and take advantage of the compact (single) French Quarter resort when going to catch a bus. I also enjoyed the theme much more than I expected, and found there to be some really lovely touches.
The rooms didn’t wow me, but with only 2 people, in our room, that wasn’t a big deal to us. The bigger deal ordinarily would be the lack of discounts typically available here. I would only consider French Quarter if it had discounts on par with the other Moderates, as it doesn’t have enough to separate it from the others to justify a higher price point. All things being equal, though, it’s a solid Moderate worthy of consideration if you want a compact resort with a romantic theme for your Walt Disney World vacation.
Have you stayed at Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter? Agree or disagree with my assessment? 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!