Hey everybody, there’s a new itinerary out for arrivals 8/31 through 10/26/2019. You can find it here.

By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2019, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

Available on Amazon here.

Review: Port Orleans Riverside Alligator Bayou Rooms

By Dave Shute

For the first page of this review of Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort, see this.


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

Its Magnolia Bend area has two room types, Royal Rooms and Standard Rooms, each sleeping four in two queen beds.

Alligator Bayou Disney's Port Orleans Riverside Resort from yourfirstvisit.net (3)

Its Alligator Bayou area rooms sleep five in two queen beds and one short (~66 inches long) Murphy bed.

These Alligator Bayou rooms are one of only two traditional moderate resort spaces that sleep 5 (non-Pirate rooms at Caribbean Beach are the other), 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–although your taste may vary–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 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. Some 800 page guidebooks still show these trundle beds.  My guidebook knows better.

A new room renovation project that began in 2018 has little material impact on these rooms.
Floor Plan Alligator Bayou 5 Person Room Disney's Port Orleans Riverside Resort from yourfirstvisit.netSince 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 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 of the room 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.

When you enter the room, you’ll see two queens and the connecting door (if the room has one) on one side.

Here’s the same beds from the back of the room. Moderate rooms have always been large, and they fit the queens quite easily.

A closer view of one of the beds. Note the backwoodsy styling of the headboard. I’ll come back to this.

Between the beds is a bedside table (themed as river cargo) with storage below…

…and a drawer with plenty of room for important books.

Art Alligator Bayou Port Orleans Riverside from yourfirstvisit.net

There’s some art on the wall between the beds and bath.

On the other side of the room you’ll find a table and chairs, an object that contains the Murphy bed and drawers, a TV above, and a mini-fridge and set of shelves.

The TV side from the back of the room. Less than half of the rooms have the two windows you see here. The rest just have the one to the right of the table. If you want both windows, request a corner room.

These rooms are lightly themed–and not that much to their benefit–to a rustic woodsy/bayou-side look. The table is a little too large for its area, and heavy. Its design suggests construction from branches.

Further down this side of the room is the object with the Murphy bed, TV above and a bench and drawers below. The bench is not comfortable to sit on–the seat area is not long enough front to back, and the 90 degree seating angle is awkward.

The TV is small. Expect a much larger one after the next refurb of Port Orleans Riverside, which may kick off as early as the second half of 2018.

Details Alligator Bayou Port Orleans Riverside from yourfirstvisit.net

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.

The drawers have an OK size…

Murphy Bed Alligator Bayou Port Orleans Riverside from yourfirstvisit.net

…but as you can tell from this shot with the Murphy bed down, they are impossible to access when the bed is in use.

Murphy Bed Alligator Bayou Port Orleans Riverside from yourfirstvisit.net (2)

I measured the Murphy bed as 66 inches long by 30 inches wide.  The framing does not much impede the mattress.

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, with a hat rack above.  The shelves offer a little additional storage.

The mini-fridge with my usual scaling objects.

Typical of the moderates, the bath is split into two spaces.

The sink space can be closed off from the living area with a privacy curtain. The curtain continues the river cargo theming, because kids love river cargo.

Note the clothes hanging area on one side–there’s also an ironing board and wall safe in this area.

The safe is small–that book is just 6 by 9 inches, and it would not fit when rotated.  Expect a bigger safe after the next refurb.

As is true of all Disney World rooms, there’s a hair dryer here.

Sink Detail Alligator Bayou Port Orleans Riverside from yourfirstvisit.net

The sink is themed with a washboard surface, and has an overall grace to it rare in the rest of the room’s theming.

Note that the area under the sinks (including behind the washboard) can be used to stash clothes, making up a bit for the lack of drawers in the room.

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. The upshot is a tub with mud-brown walls.  This is not something that most of us would regard as either fun or lovely!

The shower curtain.

In 2017 wall-mounted bath supplies were instituted. I found these to work fine, but some much prefer individual supplies that were not shared with previous guests.

The theming of these rooms is meant to recollect backwoods rustic cabins. Some of the furniture is meant to resemble “found” objects–e.g. the packing crate theme in the bedside table and the murphy bed object. Others appear handmade. Others are meant to recollect a mismatched set of hand-me downs or thrift store finds.

I think the concept of the theming is cool, but the execution doesn’t really work for me at all. To give you an additional set of images to judge for yourself, here’s a few more details:

The table–note the “branch” construction.

The rustic lamps over the sinks.

Rustic paneling in the closet area.

Coat rack hooks made of branches.

The bedframe and bed lighting.

The floor, meant to resemble wood planking–it’s even less convincing in real life.

Despite the theming issues, these Port Orleans Riverside Alligator Bayou rooms are a godsend for five-person families–or families that need three beds.

New for 2019, the these roms are a separately bookable class–so you can guarantee getting one even if you don’t have five in your family.

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.


This review continues here.




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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…

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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: https://yourfirstvisit.net/2014/08/12/report-from-a-refurbed-studio-at-the-villas-at-the-wilderness-lodge/

15 Melanie { 04.30.15 at 9:11 am }

Hi Dave,
We’ll be staying her in early Sept. and I have to agree with you on the theming of these rooms, not very appealing. I know lots of people like these, but man, the wooded shower? So, I’m wanting to know if there is some way to request a way to be in the mansions section? We only have 4 in our family, and I really don’t want an Alligator Bayou room.

16 Dave { 04.30.15 at 4:12 pm }

Melanie, see this. Half of the POR rooms are in the mansions, but of those half are the more-expensive Royal Rooms. So you are aiming at just 25% of rooms. However, you won’t be competing with anyone who has paid for a royal room, or anyone with 5 people, so your odds are probably pretty good!!!

For the record, I’d be happy with pretty, charming, or interesting wooded shower. But not this one!!!

17 Jen { 04.30.15 at 10:40 pm }

Are the only standard view rooms in the Magnolia Bend section? My husband would prefer the Alligator Bayou section, but we have a standard room. Thanks so much for all your information. Your site and book are excellent!

18 Dave { 05.01.15 at 8:10 am }

Hi Jen and thanks! Standard views are in both sections…

19 Melanie { 05.01.15 at 2:52 pm }

Thanks Dave!

20 Karen Dickson { 01.07.16 at 8:51 pm }

Thinking of staying port Orleans riverside. Have six people no small kids. Do we need to get two rooms? Kid friendly resort? Age 21 and 11

21 Dave { 01.08.16 at 7:36 am }

Karen, yes, two rooms at Riverside (or any other standard room), or you could aim for a Value Family suite or the Cabins at Fort Wilderness, each of which holds six. Links to reviews of all these are here.

22 Kendra { 10.16.16 at 12:46 pm }

You must not have watched the princess and the frog or have ever visited the southern gulf states… The decorations and set up is exactly what cajun families like and goes with princess tatiana

23 Dave { 10.16.16 at 4:17 pm }

Kendra, the Princess and the Frog rooms are not in Alligator Bayou, which is the topic of this page. They are in Magnolia Bend, and are covered here.

24 sue { 06.18.17 at 1:14 am }

My family of 5, two adults and 3 kids (6)(11)(17) have a reserve for riverside garden view. I have requested a murphy bed for my 6 year old. Can you please give me a recommendation for a room request. Also, can you clear up a misunderstanding about the riverboats for me? Do they take you too any of the parks or just Disney Springs ?

25 Dave { 06.18.17 at 8:24 am }

Hi Sue! As noted here, “If you do need the fifth person bed in Alligator Bayou, shoot for a ground floor room (no elevators) in buildings 38 or 39—better views, closest to the main pool—or 27 for a balance among views, pool access and closeness to the central services area.”

The boats do not go to any park. Transport to the parks is via bus.

26 Robyn { 02.15.18 at 10:15 pm }

We stayed here years ago and loved the magnolia bend; now that our family has expanded we are not thrilled about the alligator bayou option, but really appreciate your detailed review. In weighing which building to request, would you recommend 14-15 , 27, or 38/39? Wondering if there is much difference in walking distance or if they’re comparable, any feature that really sets one apart from the others ( views, etc)….

27 Dave { 02.17.18 at 9:29 am }

Hi Robyn, 14, 15, and 27 are all “Preferred” and need to be booked that way (so is 18). Each is more convenient than most other AB rooms, especially 14 and 15, which are particularly close to the bus stop as well as the central services and pool. Of these 27, is the least convenient. 38 and 39 are more distant from dining and the gift shop, but a good location for the pool and buses among the AB buildings. If paying for preferred, it’s hard to beat 14 or 15.

Views are all over the place. You can pay for river views, but, curiously, you can’t pay for a “preferred river view,” even tho such roms exist in 14 and 27–it’s not a separate booking category.

28 cas { 03.31.18 at 9:11 am }

We stayed in these cabins when they first opened back in the early 1990’s when it was called “Dixie Landings” At the time, this was just the cutest little cabin I ever saw – because it was cutting edge design with the twig-branch furniture. We loved how secluded it was and so comfy and homey. I understand that tastes and fashion changes: just like hip-huggers are “out” now; high-waisted jeans -derogatively named “mom jeans” b/c they were deemed so ugly in the 2000s- are back “in”. Someday, this imaginative woodsy design will look “new” again to a future generation and they will love it all over again and ask “Why did Disney ever get rid of this?” Time marches on…

29 Dave { 04.01.18 at 9:45 am }

I (mostly) love the woodsy rooms at WDW, Cas–Wilderness Lodge, the Treehouses, the Cabins at Fort Wilderness, and these rooms. Where the Alligator Bayou rooms don’t work for me is the steam boat cargo theming–not the concept, but the execution.

30 Jane { 09.28.18 at 8:02 pm }

I am conflicted. I managed to get a good military discount for 3 of these rooms for my family and friend for a high crowd week, but it isn’t what I wanted: I wanted the magnolia section decor. Is there a room type that I could get in this resort where I would be guaranteed not to be in the alligator section? I like both the standard rooms in magnolia and the royal rooms, but am uncertain of paying for the royal rooms. Thank you for any advice. This was my 4th choice resort so I wasn’t ready when I called; I had hoped for one of 3 values I hadn’t stayed at before. But I love New Orleans so it seemed like a good choice.

31 Dave { 09.29.18 at 9:19 am }

Hi Jane, first–just to be clear–Riverside is not the New Orleans themed resort. That’s Port Orleans French Quarter.

Second, the only way to be guaranteed to not be in the Alligator Bayou section is to book Royal Rooms. A couple of thoughts, though–AB rooms, because they have three beds and can hold five, are a separately bookable class, new in 2019. This means that they will be filled first with 5 person families, then second by smaller families who paid the extra amount to gain access to the third bed. So the regular Magnolia House rooms might be the most likely spot for people who have fewer than 5 and paid no upcharges to land. You can’t count on that, but it might be some solace.

32 Jen { 10.15.18 at 6:55 am }

Staying at POR in a riverview room with Murphy bed, which should building should I request? thanks!

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