By the co-author of the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook ever -- The easy Guide to Your First Walt Disney World Visit.—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor

Review: Port Orleans Riverside Alligator Bayou Rooms

By Dave Shute


There are two Port Orleans resorts at Walt Disney World: Port Orleans French Quarter and Port Orleans Riverside.

On the map, French Quarter is the purple area on the right, and Riverside the green area on the left.

Port Orleans Riverside has two areas and three distinct room types.

Its Magnolia Bend area (the four blocks of rooms at the top of the Riverside part of the map) has two room types, Royal Rooms and Standard Rooms, each sleeping four in two queen beds.

Its Alligator Bayou area comprises the groups of buildings on the lower left corner of the map.  These rooms sleep five in two queen beds and one short (~66 inches long) Murphy bed.  Rooms in the Alligator Bayou section of Port Orleans Riverside are the only traditional moderate resort spaces that sleep 5 (some refurbed rooms at Caribbean Beach sleep 5, but are not yet available to be booked for 5; the Cabins at Fort Wilderness Resort sleep 6) and these rooms are as a result very important to families a little larger than average.

For families that don’t need the extra bed, these rooms have so-so theming, are kind of ugly in spots, and are thin on storage. Such families have better options.


Both Port Orleans resorts were renovated in 2011-2012, with the most important part of the renovation being the replacement of the old full-size beds with queen beds.

Even before the renovation with queens, Alligator Bayou rooms slept five–back then, the fifth spot was a trundle bed that rolled out from underneath one of the full beds, and occupied the space between that bed and the connecting door area.
Disney's Port Orleans Riverside Alligator Bayou Standard 5 Person Room Floor Plan from (1280x919)
After the renovation, the spot for the fifth person is now a drop-down Murphy bed that lowers in front of the TV.

See the floor plan–the bed is the dashed area directly opposite from the center of the two queen beds.

There’s more detail and images of the Murphy bed here.

The Murphy bed is comfortable and fine for sleeping a kid five feet tall or shorter. And the sleepy gator is drop-dead cute. But the design and placement of this bed means both that the room has very few drawers (just three) and also that these drawers are inaccessible when the bed is lowered.

Bed Side Port Orleans Riverside Alligator Bayou from
When you enter the room, you’ll see two queens and the connecting door (if the room has one) on one side.

TV Side Port Orleans Riverside Alligator Bayou from (1024x683)Here’s the same beds from the other side. These rooms have always been large, and they fit the queens quite easily.

Table Port Orleans Riverside Alligator Bayou from (1024x683)On the other side of the room you’ll find a table and chairs, an object that contains the TV, Murphy bed, and drawers, and a mini-fridge and set of shelves. This image shows the table and chairs–note that less than half of rooms have two windows like this one shows.  Most rooms have just one.

These rooms are lightly themed–and not that much too their benefit–to a rustic southern/bayou-side look. For example, the AC unit has been clad to make it look like something–perhaps a traveler’s chest.

The table is a little too large for its area, and heavy. Its design suggests construction from branches. You can also see in the image the rug, meant to be reminiscent of a planked floor.  The depiction of wood grain does not quite work.

Entry from Bath Port Orleans Riverside Alligator Bayou from (1024x683)Further down this side of the room is the object with the Murphy bed, TV above and drawers below.

As noted, there’s only three drawers.

This entire object is themed to be something, perhaps a packing case. Note the “stenciling” on the center drawer–a reference to the groundbreaking Mickey Mouse cartoon Steamboat Willie, released in 1928.

At the bath end of this side of the room you’ll find a mini-fridge, a small set of shelves, and the coffee maker.

The mini-fridge is similar to other ones installed recently–no freezer compartment, but plenty of room and movable shelves.  For some reason I didn’t take a shot with my usual scaling objects, but this fridge holds plenty.

Above the coffee supplies there’s what in other rooms would be a coat rack, but what here can only serve as a hat rack.

Bath Port Orleans Riverside Alligator Bayou from (1024x683)Typical of the moderates, the bath is split into two spaces and the sink space can be closed off with a privacy curtain.  Note the clothes hanging area on one side–there’s also an ironing board and wall safe in this area.

The sink is themed subtly with a washboard surface, and has an overall grace to it rare in the rest of the room’s theming.  Note that the areas under the sinks can be used to stash clothes (as can the shelves by the fridge) making up a bit for the lack of drawers in the room.

Tub Port Orleans Riverside Alligator Bayou from (683x1024)The bath/toilet area is enclosed in its own space.

This space functions fine, but the theming of the room is at its worst here. The shower surround is meant to mimic wood construction. While the wood grain is modeled better here than in the rug, the upshot is a tub with mud-brown walls.  This is not something that most of us would regard as either fun or lovely!

These rooms are a godsend for five-person families.

Otherwise, I can’t really recommend them.  For families that don’t need the Murphy bed, the small number of drawers, theming both too subtle and too ugly, and the extreme distance of many of these rooms from the central services of Port Orleans Riverside makes them not the best choice. Families who don’t need the Murphy bed, but are committed to Port Orleans Riverside, would be better off in one of the rooms in its Magnolia Bend section.




1 Robyn { 03.18.13 at 10:01 pm }

The only way my family of 5 can come to disney the end of august, and my parents would like to come too(would be their first time) is if the free dining plan is available! Any idea if this will be available? This time last year we already booked. i’m worried if they do have free dining it will be released too late and will not be able to get dining anywhere for a group of 8!!

2 Dave { 03.19.13 at 4:50 pm }

Hey Robyn, you can book your dining now and convert your reservations to the plan later–your hotel concierge can help with this. I do think we’ll see free dining then, but it may be more restricted than in the past….

Hope this helps! And if so…

…Follow on Facebook!

3 Laurie { 07.21.13 at 11:51 pm }

Your site has saved me from a massive headache later! My family is coming to Disney for Christmas. There are five of us: myself, my husband, my 23 year old daughter, my 17 year old son and my one year old granddaughter! We tried in vain to get this room but to no avail. Now that I’ve read this review of the rooms, I am thanking my lucky stars! I wanted this room for the extra bed for my son. Thankfully I read this and will now be able to save myself the trouble of calling every day to see if it’s available because there is no way my 6′ 1′ tall son would fit on it! I just thank God that I hadn’t already booked it because I would be very upset as NOT ONE cast member ever thought to tell me about the dimensions of the bed! Thank you for all the details you put into this review!

4 Dave { 07.22.13 at 7:05 am }

You are welcome, Laurie!

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5 Kate C { 08.10.13 at 4:16 pm }

I love this site! You have provided me with some valuable first-hand information. Thanks.

6 Dave { 08.11.13 at 7:57 am }

Thanks, Kate :)

7 Ian { 12.28.13 at 6:00 am }

I’ve be making reservations soon for a trip in July. I’m thinking to book a preferred room, but I read some reviews somewhere else where they say transportation near the main lobby is the worst. Do you known if this is true. My sister who will be traveling with me is small person and tends to get tired quickly. I’m afraid that by the time we get picked up there won’t be any seats available.

8 Dave { 12.28.13 at 10:42 am }

Well, Ian, the buses circle the resort, going to each stop in turn. Which stop is first varies–it can be the lobby stop or the next one–the West Depot. If it’s the West Depot, the lobby stop is last, and some of the buses can be full by the time they get there.

But I don’t think I’d pick a different room because of this…long walks are a fact, and can be avoided by preferred rooms; differences among bus depots are more subtle and less predictable…

9 Carrie { 03.18.14 at 10:27 am }

We are staying at Alligator Bayou at the end of July. It isn’t our first choice, but we have three kids so we need the murphy bed and it was the cheapest option. We have a standard room. Can you offer guidance on any locations or options we should request for best location or nicer room? I have heard there are nicer locations within the standard rooms. Thank you!

10 Dave { 03.19.14 at 7:07 am }

Carrie, most people want to be near a bus stop, near the main building, or near the main pool. Buildings 14 and 15 fit this perfectly.

11 Sonya { 07.21.14 at 8:42 am }

Very helpful information! Thank you.

12 Dave { 07.21.14 at 8:57 am }

Thanks, Sonya!!

13 Roy { 08.30.14 at 9:29 am }

Hi Dave. Great site. Thank you. Our family of five are from the UK and will be returning to WDW in July 2015 and will be staying at Riverside. Have you any idea what the supplement is for the so called “preferred” blocks that are closer to the lobby, transportation etc? Are they worth the extra? Our two previous visits were to Wilderness Lodge so we were spoilt. A lot!!

14 Dave { 08.30.14 at 6:42 pm }

Roy, after tax the preferred rooms are ~$53 more per night. Did you know that there are now 5 person studios in the Villas at the Wilderness Lodge? If relevant, see this:

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