Disney World can be a very overwhelming place. It's huge, the theme parks require a lot of energy and planning to get the best out of them, and it can be a little, (how shall I phrase this?), 'in your face' perhaps. However my wife and I may have discovered the perfect resort to enable you to enjoy a vacation at Disney World and yet feel that you have escaped somewhere else.
Port Orleans Riverside is the larger cousin to the French Quarter resort and at 2000 rooms it's a whopper. However the layout and construction means it never feels overwhelming. The main buildings contain the lobby, (much more elegant than you might expect), a general store, a cocktail bar and lounge and two eating places - a food court and a table-service restaurant, and are arranged around a riverside wharf. The theming takes you back to the Mississippi, here called the 'Sassagoula River' and the whole ambiance is laid back and relaxed. The accommodation is spread across a huge area and divided into two styles of block - Mansions and more rustic lodges. The rooms are of the same specification in each - it's just the decor that varies, both inside and out.
My wife and I had elected to stay in one of the lodges of Alligator Bayou and we loved it. The lodges are spread across a large area, but the landscaping is such that you never really see more than one or two at once and so it feels far more intimate than it is. The general landscaping is lush, green and amazingly beautiful - it's one of the most physically attractive resorts we have ever stayed at, anywhere. One tip would be to pay the modest up-charge to book a 'preferred location' lodge, (one of 4 closest to the main buildings). This meant we had a 2 minute walk to the food court whereas the lodges at the furthest extremes of the site would face a walk of 10 minutes. Great when you are not in a hurry and the weather is good - not so great if it rains....
The rooms were of a decent size and reasonably equipped and were kept clean by 'mouse-keeping' but honestly this resort is not about the rooms - it's all about the landscaping. If you are familiar with the UK the closest I can liken it to is a CentreParcs resort. It has that same traffic-free, wooded, green, quiet feel to it. Just walking around the grounds one morning with the autumn sunlight reflecting in the waters was sensational. It really is an escape from the maelstrom of the parks and it is a genuinely relaxing environment.
Transportation links were good and regular and there were a good number of nice swimming pools amongst the lodges, as well as the big resort pool.
We would happily stay again and thoroughly recommend this place.
Pay for a preferred location room. It will save you a lot of walking.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.