In early July 2018, Port Orleans French Quarter completed its soft goods room refurbishment, and we recently had the chance to stay in one of these refreshed rooms during our trip to Walt Disney World. In this post, we’ll share some quick thoughts on the updated hotel rooms, starting with a brief anecdote on our stay at Port Orleans French Quarter plus an unrelated (but important!) ice cream review.
As is our custom, we arrived to Walt Disney World on an early morning flight at around 9 a.m. Our original room was not ready, but Sarah was feeling under the weather and we said we’d take anything they had. They were able to get us into a room–to our surprise it was a corner room, which is our absolute favorite type of room at Port Orleans.
Forget about all the “best” room categories at Port Orleans French Quarter (River View, Pool View, etc.), I’ll take a Standard or Garden View corner room over those any day. With the corner room, you have two windows instead of one, which lets in more natural light. It gives an inviting and airy feel, and I love sitting by the windows in the early morning while working on my computer.
Upon entering the room for the first time, we noticed a form letter from the hotel manager soliciting guest feedback. This same letter was at our two subsequent Walt Disney World resorts during this trip, so we surmised that it’s new policy. I posted about it on social media, and someone asked whether this was “special treatment.”
We booked these rooms just like anyone else, so I doubt we receive special treatment. (Given past problems we’ve had with WDW hotels, if they are trying to give us special treatment to elicit favorable reviews, they aren’t doing a very good job.)
We also received replies from Cast Members who work at Walt Disney World hotels who confirmed that this is new standard operating procedure. Per them, hotel managers actually read these emails and act on them. Given that one of our main complaints about Walt Disney World hotels has been that the level of service doesn’t hold a candle to real-world counterparts, this is great to hear. Definitely a step in the right direction on the service front.
Aside from that, it was just nice to be back at French Quarter. Our last two trips before this were all off-site or ‘construction zone’ hotels, and it was nice to be back at a Walt Disney World resort with typical, relaxed atmosphere. It was also nice to be back in the Port Orleans area, which we’ve grown to love.
As for the refurbished rooms, these are definitely not as significant as other recent changes around Walt Disney World resorts, which is probably for the best. In fact, if you haven’t stayed at Port Orleans French Quarter recently, you might not instantly recognize the changes.
We’d say 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 probably the carpet being replaced by hard wood flooring with an inlaid design, which looks classier in my estimation, and will also be easier to clean. I think 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. (French Quarter had good mattresses before, but this was even better.)
Elsewhere in the room, the dresser now features a top panel with power and USB sockets, the chairs have been reupholstered, and there are new blinds. It might seem petty to focus on the curtain patterns, but I feel like these were a squandered opportunity to convey theme with a strong design; instead, something relatively generic was chosen.
One change that’s bound to be “controversial” among fans is the removal of the wallpaper border. We’re totally on board with this. Wallpaper borders have been a tired look for a while, and while the look arguably worked at French Quarter, the style is a remnant of the 1990s.
On the plus side, the bed lights have fleur-de-lis designs on the new shades, which is a nice touch. 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).
Another change in the bathroom is that shampoo, conditioner, and soap are now provided via wall-mounted dispensers rather than the small individual bottles. This has been the trend at Value and Moderate Resorts since last year, although it was the first time we’ve seen it in person. (I don’t think any Deluxe Resorts have installed these yet–correct me if I’m wrong on that–and I’m not sure that they will.)
I’m conflicted about these new toiletries. I think this is more eco-friendly and it’s good to see Walt Disney World take steps to reduce its (colossal) environmental footprint, but the cynic in me questions whether this is actually motivated by being eco-friendly or reducing costs (either way, the result is the same). Moreover, I’ll miss taking these toiletries home, but we have such a stockpile that I won’t run out for years at this point, so that’s not really a huge deal.
When posting about my conflicted feelings on the Disney Tourist Blog Facebook page, I was surprised to see the most “Liked” comment pertained to the sanitariness of the dispensers, and how they could be tampered with.
As cynical as I might be, this never would’ve crossed my mind…and still seems really silly to me. If you’re a part of society, you’re putting some degree faith in others to behave with a scintilla of civility. Tampering with a soap dispenser wouldn’t even crack my top 10 ‘gross bathroom things’ list.
Finally, we tried the Beignet Sundae at Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory. Although totally unrelated to the refurbished rooms, this is obviously the most important part of this post. I’m sharing it here because I’m not sure when we’ll get around to updating our Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory Review (both of our meals at that restaurant were fantastic this trip, for what it’s worth). We absolutely loved this sundae and wanted to enthusiastically recommend it.
As noted in my recent Tom’s Top 7: Ice Cream at Walt Disney World post, this is up there in terms of ice cream desserts. A couple of days after we left, the beignets became Mickey-shaped, so that’s an added bonus for anyone who thinks Mickey-shaped foods taste better. (It’s just science.)
Ultimately, the refurbished rooms at Port Orleans French Quarter are not huge changes a la Pop Century or Yacht Club. This was a soft goods refurbishment, so the rooms were not gutted, and most furnishings remained untouched. Our impression of the room was fairly positive, with a number of functional changes made that improve the rooms and provide modern amenities. Not all of the thematic choices are great, but they aren’t awful, either. If you were a fan of Port Orleans French Quarter before, you’ll probably still be a fan. If you weren’t a fan…what are you thinking?! 😉
Do you agree or disagree with our take on the refreshed rooms at Port Orleans French Quarter? Are you a fan of this resort, or do you prefer the more sprawling Moderates (or Values or Deluxes)? Any features of the redesign that you like or dislike? Are bed runners a hill worth dying on? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!