Saturday, January 16, 2010

Port Orleans French Quarter... it's the Beignets

Mardi Gras, Sassagoula River and Doubloon Lagoon; what more do you need.

Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter (POFQ) is not a real visit to the “Big Easy”, but the building facades, wrought-iron balconies and colorful New Orleans Mardi Gras style decorations does invoke a southern, warm and visually detailed environment that comes real close Disney style.

[Photo sources for this post include my own, AllEars.Net, PortOrleans.Org, and the Disney Food Blog.]

Port Orleans comprises two parts: Mary Ann and I have stayed at the Riverside portion twice before but this was our first French Quarter visit. I’ve always heard how nice the POFQ is, and my favorite podcaster Lou Mongello raves about it. It’s all true and an absolutely wonderful place to stay. In fact, we split our trip between the moderate resort POFQ and the high-end Wilderness Lodge. Although I’ll talk about the Lodge at a later date, we both agreed the less expensive POFQ was a much better stay for us and we’ll stay here again. [One of my recommended web sites, AllEars.Net has some useful fact sheets, photos and reviews.]

One of the Disney fan web sites I used when planning for this last trip was PortOrleans.Org, which is the Unofficial Visitor’s Guide to Riverside and French Quarter. The web site is not connected to the Walt Disney Company, but if you want to know anything about Port Orleans, this is the place to go. There are plenty of photos and wallpaper plus videos of the site, One is a 35 minute video walking tour of the entire resort . There are maps, news stories, service and recreation information and even the Port Orleans back story, because everything at Disney has an interesting and creative story.

All the facilities you need for a trip are here, including a really appealing Doubloon Lagoon pool that has a decorative slide. There are various watercraft rentals over at Riverside, as well as bikes and even a horse-drawn carriage ride.

The jogging trail spans the entire resort riverbank and there’s live entertainment including WDW pianist, entertainer and comedian Ye Haa Bob. Bob is another one of those free, must-do activities at the World. He's also over at Riverside, which really is the central source for much of the resort amenities; but the walk is easy from one side to the other.

PLANNING TIP: There are a lot of great foods at Walt Disney World which I’ll be talking about it in my future posts; but at POFQ there’s a snack that you MUST stop for even if you don’t stay there. It’s the Beignets.

Keeping with the New Orleans theme you would expect some French flavor and this fried dough specialty, puffed through deep frying and drenched in confectioner’s sugar is to die for. This was our first time at POFQ and I guarantee no matter where we stay, the fresh, hot Beignets will draw us to this resort again and again. The Disney Food Blog has more photos to enjoy.

Running between the two Port Orleans sections is the Sassagoula River. This is a great waterway for personal watercraft but also to connect our resort to the Downtown Disney shopping and restaurant district using the free ferry boats. Not the fastest way to travel 2 ½ miles but that doesn’t really matter on vacation, does it.

The view along the river is pleasant, especially approaching Downtown at night, plus it’s very relaxing. The POFQ rooms are normal for the moderate pricing at Disney, with a standard or water view plus a Garden View area along the beautiful tree-lined streets. But we don’t spend much time in the rooms anyway, so we were in the Standard which was very convenient and had everything we needed.

POFQ holds 1,000 rooms but you’d never know it. The Riverside section has 2,000 rooms, with a giant footprint; getting from one side to another at Riverside is a long walk including over an Island. Don’t get me wrong, I’d stay at both in a heartbeat.

But there is something special about the courtyards, river walk, gas lamp style lighting and tree lined walkways that made our stay at Port Orleans French Quarter one of the best we’ve ever had at WDW; and the most romantic as well. Thank you Lou.