Category Archives: Disney Resorts

Port Orleans Riverside — Scenic and Relaxing

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Just this past Thursday, we returned from our anniversary celebration at Disney. This year, we stayed at Port Orleans Riverside, a moderate Disney resort. We’d not stayed at Port Orleans previously. A friend had stayed at French Quarter some years ago and had nice things to say. Riverside is themed to Princess and the Frog. Tiana could be found in the artwork on the headboards. The family checking in next to us received a special letter from Tiana for their girls. The theming is relatively subtle, but I really liked it.

We had a Standard View room with two queen beds. Our room was on the bottom floor, and it looked out on, well, not a whole lot. But we kept the blinds closed generally anyhow, since we were on the bottom floor, and there were people walking by frequently.

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The room was plenty big. The armoire was a perfect place to stash our suitcases. There was a space for a fridge, but no fridge. We would have used a fridge, because did order a case of water, but it really wasn’t a problem for us that there wasn’t a fridge. I’d heard you could request one if you needed it. I ended up putting our dirty clothes bag in the fridge spot, so it worked out fine. 🙂

The thing that I really loved about Riverside was the absolutely beautiful grounds. There were gazebos, fountains, beautiful flowers, and of course the river. It was a great place to walk around. And it was incredibly quiet. When we were walking around the grounds, we felt like we owned the place. It was very peaceful.

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Transportation was not an issue. There were four bus stops throughout Riverside. We’d requested a room close to transportation, and that worked out very well for us. It was a short walk to the East bus depot. I’ve read some complaints that busses were slow to come at Riverside, but we did not experience any issues. There’s a boat that will take you to Downtown Disney. We didn’t take advantage of that, but it seemed very convenient.

There’s no shortage of pools at Riverside if that’s your thing. The main pool looked amazing. I thought the water slide looked liked lots of fun. And there was another pool right outside our room. We aren’t big pool people, so we didn’t take advantage of any of the pools, but they looked terrific.

If you’re looking for a moderate resort, I think that Riverside is a great choice for couples. It’s a beautiful resort. I thought the gazebos and fountains were particularly romantic. I also appreciated that we couldn’t hear the people in the rooms next to us. That hasn’t been true in other moderate resorts where we’ve stayed.

Have you ever stayed at Riverside before? What’s your favorite moderate resort?

Five Reasons We Always Stay on Disney Property

Five Reasons We Always Stay on Disney Property

We’ve stayed on Disney property for each of our past trips, and we’re staying on property again this trip. I looked a bit at staying off property before we booked our trip this year, but there were five big reasons that kept us on Disney property:

5.) Resort Hotel Delivery — If you are able to go to Disney and not shop, please tell me your secret. I can’t do it. I love to bring little souvenirs home for myself and my friends. But I hate lugging them around! Resort Hotel Delivery to the rescue. If you stay on property, you can have your purchases delivered to the gift shop at your resort and pick them up at your convenience.

4.) Key to the World Card — Your room key is a lot more than a room key when you stay on Disney property. Your room key is also your park tickets and your credit card! All I have to carry with me in the park is my ID and my Key to the World. Oh, and my Photopass card.

3.) Dining Plan — We’ve been lucky enough to always get free dining with our vacation. And I am crazy about the Dining Plan. We have eaten at places we likely wouldn’t have eaten otherwise. I’m quite certain you can eat cheaper than the cost of the Dining Plan, but I definitely think you’ll eat better with the Dining Plan.

2.) Transportation to the Parks — We never rent a car when we go to Orlando. Disney makes it incredibly convenient (surprise, surprise) to get to all things Disney when you stay on property. Depending on where you stay, you’ll be able to take the monorail, ferry, or bus to the parks or Downtown Disney. Getting between the resorts generally requires a stop at a park, but it’s not hard to get around. Busses can be full at night, but I really love not having to rent a car.

1.) Magical Express — Magical Express is the best and the worst ride at Disney. The Magical Express gets you between the airport and your resort in style and comfort. Is it sad that I love the cartoons they show? Because I really do. The only bad part is going back to the airport.

Bonus reason: Extra Magic Hours — This is a perk we actually haven’t used a ton, but not because it isn’t a nice perk. Each day, a park is open an hour early or two hours late for Disney Resort guests. The morning hours are really nice. The parks don’t tend to be super crowded when the parks open early. The later hours can sometimes be busier.

What about you? Do you stay on property? Do you have an off property location you love?

Animal Kingdom Lodge — A great place for couples!

Savanna at Kidani Village

Savanna at Kidani Village

Where you stay can be a big deal. Or not. Depending on how much time you will be spending in your room, you might not be super worried about where you stay. Even though we are go, go, go, I really do care about where we stay. We’ve never stayed at a value resort. I’m sure they’re fine, but I just don’t think it’s for us. Our first visit to Disney, we sprang for a Deluxe resort, Animal Kingdom Lodge. It was lovely. It wasn’t cheap, but it was lovely. And we think you’d like it, too.

Honest to goodness, this is how our morning routine went during our week at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Joshua would go down to The Mara (on site quick service restaurant) and get a muffin, coffee, and tea. We’d sit out on the (small) balcony of our room, eat our breakfast, and watch the giraffes have their breakfast. Or the zebras. Or whoever was being fed on our side of the resort this morning. And we did that every morning. It was amazing.

If that wasn’t enough to get you booking Animal Kingdom Lodge, don’t worry, there’s more. We’re not pool people, but the pool area was really nice. Lots of deck chairs, and there’s a snack bar and a waterslide. Yes, you heard me, a waterslide. And if food is more your thing, there is no shortage of amazing dining at Animal Kingdom Lodge. We’ll be doing an entire post about our favorite Animal Kingdom Lodge restaurant, Sanaa, and Boma and Jiko are located here, too. We also appreciated that the gift shop at Jambo House is huge. If there’s something you need, they probably have it. I think it’s the best gift shop I’ve seen at any Disney resort.

But obviously the big draw to Animal Kingdom Lodge is the animals. Besides watching them from the balcony of your room, there are also larger viewing areas complete with comfy rocking chairs all around the resort. You’ll even see the animals while you walk to your room through the huge windows that look out on the savanna. There are rooms on the property that don’t have a savanna view. They’re slightly cheaper, but I really think it’s worth it to splurge on the savanna view rooms.

Jambo House, where we stayed, is located right next to Kidani Village, a Disney Vacation Club property. Kidani Village has a separate savanna, but you don’t have to be a vacation club member to visit Kidani Village and enjoy the savanna or Sanaa. We’ve only stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge once, but we always eat at Sanaa and spend time watching the animals.

Alright, so why do I think it’s particularly good for couples? Besides the food and the food and the food, oh, and the animals having breakfast right outside your room. There are a couple of reasons. First, the rooms are fairly big with a well equipped bathroom. They’re tastefully decorated and very comfortable. We had a room with two queen beds, and it worked out very well for us. It was great to be able to spread out our maps and plans and papers and things on the spare bed. The rooms can be a little dark, so if you need light for makeup, I’d bring a lighted makeup mirror. I also think that the Animal Kingdom rooms offer great privacy. We never heard noises from the rooms around ours, something I can’t say for other resorts.

Transportation to and from the parks is limited to busses. The ride to the parks other than Animal Kingdom can be a bit longer than they are from other resorts, but it didn’t bother us. What’s an extra five minutes when you’re heading to a Disney park? I’ve read reviews from others that mentioned very long wait times for busses. There were a few times that it felt like we’d seen three Epcot busses and no Hollywood Studios busses, but I don’t think wait times are any different from other resorts. And again, what’s an extra five minutes? I find the time waiting for the bus to be a great opportunity to chat with other families.

Why haven’t we stayed there again, then? Well, the biggest reason is cost. It isn’t super cheap to stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge. And for whatever reason, we got a really great deal that first year. It’s been considerably more expensive since then. But if it’s ever in the budget again, you can bet you’ll find us on the balcony with a muffin watching the giraffes, because you can’t beat it.

AllEars has a great fact sheet on Animal Kingdom Lodge that will give you all the details about this amazing resort!

Have you stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge? Are you considering it for a future visit? Do you have a favorite resort?