We tried one of Disney World’s least-known hotels and found it’s one of the best

Apr 11, 2022

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You have tons of options when it comes to choosing your hotel for a Disney World vacation.

There are more than two dozen true Disney World resort hotels, plus numerous other on-property hotels and ones close by but not affiliated with Disney (known as “Good Neighbor Hotels”).

Not to mention, each property targets different travelers based on its price point and amenities.

Some are amazing but can cost up to four figures per night. Others are more budget-friendly but may not meet your desires for nice-to-have conveniences and that overall magical feeling. Then there are the more middle-of-the-road Disney resort options that are so huge, it can take up to 30 minutes just to get off the property by foot and bus.

But there is one property that seems to offer the perfect mix of everything: Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter.

This under-the-radar property, which falls within Disney’s moderate category, excels in several ways. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that this hotel is Disney World’s sleeper hit, as it provides just the right balance of price, location, theming, size and amenities.

Still on the fence about considering this moderate option? Here’s why you should stay at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter, my new favorite for enjoying a sprinkle of Disney magic without breaking the bank.

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The relaxing theme will instantly put your mind at ease

Disney is no stranger to themed concepts at its hotels. From a property with a real-life safari right outside room balconies to an outpost with animated character decor in the living rooms to a location with pirate-themed beds, the company offers a hotel style for everyone.

But some themes are admittedly more in your face than others.

As its name would suggest, at Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter, you’ll immediately feel transported to New Orleans‘ charming French Quarter. Note that this is a different property than the Port Orleans Resort – Riverside, though we will talk about that one some, too.

Mossy trees and colorful buildings clad with New Orleans-inspired wrought-iron railings greet you the moment you step foot on the property. And as you make your way inside the lobby, your worries quickly float away as the soothing sound of the bubbling fountain fills your ears.

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

But despite the peaceful setting, the property features a few tasteful character touches, too, to make it feel just as ideal for kids as it is for adults. In short: The hotel has something to grab the attention of every member of your group, regardless of age and interests.

It’s one of the smaller budget-friendly resorts available at Disney

It sounds weird to call a 1,008-room resort small, so I won’t do that.

Still, there’s no denying that the French Quarter section of Port Orleans Resort is on the smaller side when compared to other value and moderate resorts at Disney World. Even by Port Orleans Resort standards the property is small, offering just half as many rooms as you’ll find in the Riverside area.

During a recent visit, I got lucky in that I was assigned to Building 4, which is mere steps away from the food court and lobby.

Even if you find yourself in one of the slightly farther afield buildings, you’ll never be more than a three-to-five-minute walk from the heart of the resort.

Finding parking was never a problem during that same visit, either. Although it was a popular spring break week in March, I had no trouble getting a spot right in front of the lobby every time I returned from a day at the parks.

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Related: How to experience Disney World on a budget 

Accommodations are comfortable and outfitted with the essentials

Measuring a little more than 300 square feet, the rooms here are not the largest standard options you’ll find on Disney property, but they offer everything a family of three or four could need while on vacation.

There are two queen beds in most of the rooms, plus typical amenities like flat-screen TVs and basic coffee makers.

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

While the rooms are not the newest or flashiest, they were more than suitable for a middle-of-the-road Disney hotel.

You’ll have access to special themed treats only found here

It may be a stretch to say you should stay at a hotel solely for specialty dishes and drinks, but Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter’s New Orleans-inspired fare is certainly an added bonus worth calling out.

Scat Cat’s Club

At the lobby’s quick-service spot, Scat Cat’s Club, you’ll find a powdery staple of New Orleans with a fun Disney twist: beignets shaped like Mickey. The only place at Disney World that serves the sweet treat, Scat Cat’s Club offers multiple iterations of Mickey beignets every day from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Some versions come infused with booze or drizzled with chocolate or a raspberry sauce, but my go-to is always the classic Scat Cats Beignets, three fluffy Mickey beignets topped with powdered sugar. An order will set you back $6.99, so savor them with a friend or save one for later.

Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory

Next to Scat Cat’s Club is the Sassagoula dining area. This Mardi Gras-themed food court features a collection of stations that serve everything from typical American fare (think: chicken fingers and fries for $10.49 and chili in a bread bowl for $9.99) to Creole classics like jambalaya ($10.99) and gumbo ($8.99).

While the standard American dishes were a hit with my family, the New Orleans-influenced additions are worth trying, especially if you like your food to have a spicy kick.

Mardi Grogs

Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter doesn’t only offer New Orleans-inspired food. You can order up some regional drinks (and ones with fun Big Easy names), too, at the poolside Mardi Grogs.

While we tried out the Bull Frog Brew ($11.49), a nonalcoholic concoction of lemonade, green apple and kiwi served in a light-up Mason jar, and a strawberry smoothie ($5.99), you can also sip classics like Hurricanes plus refreshing variations of traditional drinks like margaritas and mai tais.

Related: The best restaurants at Disney World 

Prices are reasonable, especially by Disney standards

Nothing at Disney is cheap, given a standard room at a deluxe property can easily cost $500 to $800 per night, but the rates at Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter are almost refreshing.

During off-peak times, starting prices often dip below $300 per night. Even during more popular travel times, rates are feasible at about $350 per night.

Our busy spring break stay cost a little more than $700 for two nights. While that’s certainly more than you’ll spend at a Disney value resort, by only shelling out a couple hundred bucks more, you’ll enjoy a noticeable improvement in both quality and amenities.

You can enjoy all kinds of fun amenities

At Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter, you’ll find plenty of ways to enjoy your downtime.

First, there’s the Doubloon Lagoon, which boasts a 51-foot sea serpent waterslide, as well as a water play area with its own little slide for those 48 inches and under.

Additionally, there are an arcade and a playground, should you and your kids need a break from the water.

If you’re only staying a couple of nights (like we did), the above are probably enough options to keep you busy when you’re not spending time in the theme parks.

But if you’re planning a longer visit, consider heading to the more expansive Riverside section of the property, which is a free boat ride or 10-minute walk away.

At the larger Riverside property, you can rent surrey bikes and fishing gear or arrange an evening carriage ride for a fee.

You can also use the pools at Riverside if you want a change of scenery. The main pool complex in this section is accessible via three wooden bridges and features a larger waterslide that measures 95 feet long.

The location is solid, with a caveat

Last but not least, let’s talk about location.

This hotel isn’t walkable from any Disney theme park and doesn’t have cool transportation options to the parks like a monorail or Skyliner. However, if you plan on visiting multiple parks and having your own set of wheels, then these potential issues are not deal breakers.

On our trip, we went to both Epcot (the park closest to the hotel) and Animal Kingdom (one of the farthest parks) and relied on our rental car to get around. There isn’t an extra fee to park at the theme parks when you stay at a Disney resort (though you do pay a nightly parking charge at the hotel), so while we weren’t right next to any one park, it didn’t take us long to get to them.

If you don’t bring a car, you will have access to buses to get to the parks, but know that their schedules are more limited than other modes of on-resort transportation, so plan accordingly.

Fortunately, to get to Disney Springs, you’ll have the option to take the property’s free boat. This was actually a really fun and convenient way to pop over there to eat, shop and more on a non-park day.

 

Bottom line

I’m admittedly a bit of a sucker for a fancy Disney World hotel room, but not every trip needs your credit card to go home limping in shambles.

If you want to balance price, amenities, theme and ease when you visit Disney, the French Quarter portion of Port Orleans Resort hits the right notes.

Because it lacks the level of attention other Disney World hotels tend to get, it often provides more bang for your buck without cutting out the Disney magic you’re undoubtedly seeking when you visit. Plus, it’s convenient enough for a vacation full of time at the parks, though you’ll want to rent a car to cut down on time getting around off-site.

Just be sure to save some room in your busy schedule for a beignet (or three).

Featured photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy. 

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