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April 8, 2013

Port Orleans French Quarter Room Refurbishment

jack-spence%27s-masthead4.jpg

Back in July, 2010, I wrote an extensive article about Port Orleans French Quarter. Although a few items may have been tweaked over the last three years, nothing of significance has changed with the basic resort. However, the rooms were recently redecorated so I spent the night here a few weeks ago to find out what has changed. Here's what I found.

Overall, little has been altered. The basic layout of the room remains the same - two queen beds, a table and chairs, a chest of drawers, and a nightstand.

Here are the differences: Before and after.


The headboards are the same and have not changed. However, a new bedspread design is now used.


Headboard

Headboard

Bedspread

Bedspread


The nightstand has changed, but only slightly. The new drawer is deeper than the previous.


Nightstand

Nightstand


The artist concept drawing of Pirates of the Caribbean remains the same.


Artist concept drawing of Pirates of the Caribbean


The table and chairs are the same; however they have been reupholstered in a new fabric. The picture above the table has been replaced with a mirror.


Table and Chairs

Table and Chairs


The air conditioning unit received a major makeover. In the past, it was an ugly, modern air conditioner - thematically out of place in the room. Today it looks like a nice piece of furniture complete with a window seat. They also put a thermostat on the wall rather than controls on the unit. Also notice that the carpet and draperies have changed from a blue pattern to a golden design.


Air Conditioning

Air Conditioning


The biggest change in the room is the chest of drawers. This may present a storage problem for some of you. The old chest featured four large and two small drawers. The new chest only has three large drawers.


Chest of Drawers

Chest of Drawers


This extra space was taken up by housing the refrigerator into the chest rather than have it stored in a free standing cabinet.


Refrigerator

Refrigerator


The old tube TV was replaced by a flat screen unit.


Tube TV

Flat Screen TV


Like the table and chairs, the only change to the bench is the upholstery.


Bench

Bench


The old vanity area featured two pedestal sinks. This was thematically attractive, but offered too little counter space. The new vanity has one large counter with two sinks. The small hexagon floor tiles were replaced by large, brown tiles.


Vanity

Vanity


Over the shower we find a new curtain. And the dingy wall tiles have been replaced with a clean, white replacement. The shower head is also new and more stylish.


Shower Curtain

Shower Curtain

Shower Tile and Head

Shower Tile and Head


Disney is always in the process of updating their rooms. They know the importance of keeping things fresh. Most people will never notice these changes from one visit to the next. In fact, it took looking at my old pictures for me to be reminded of the differences.

To see a video of the new room design, check out the clip below.



I like Port Orleans French Quarter. In fact, I prefer it over the Mansion and Bayou rooms found in the Riverside section of the resort. Much of this has to do with the resort layout. It's far more compact and thus, easier to navigate. Also, there is only one bus stop. This makes transportation to and from the parks easier as you don't have to make multiple stops to pick up and drop off others.

If you're looking for a moderate resort at Walt Disney World, I highly recommend Port Orleans French Quarter. You will not be disappointed.

RELATED LINKS:
** Readers Rate and Review the French Quarter
** French Quarter FAQ
** Updated Resort Photo Gallery 1
** Updated Resort Photo Gallery 2
** New Resort Video Slide Show


July 7, 2010

Port Orleans French Quarter - Part Two

Thanks for checking back for Part Two of my French Quarter blog.

Leading from The Courtyard to Doubloon Lagoon (the swimming pool area), is a rather unique walkway. Here you'll find a number of jazz-playing gators to liven things up. This is also an irresistible picture spot. Here's a shot of a much-younger me on my first stay at the French Quarter followed by a similar shot taken recently. Notice how the length of my shorts has changed.


Gator Alley

Jack and a Gator

Jack and a Gator


Flanking this walkway is a children's playground (ages 2 -12) and hot tub (open 7am to midnight).


Children's Playground

Hot Tub


Further along the walkway is Mardi Grogs Pool Bar (I just love this pun). Open 11:30am until dusk, this spot serves alcoholic concoctions, soft drinks, and snacks.


Mardi Grogs Pool Bar

Mardi Grogs Pool Bar


The harlequin character that guards the swimming pool is based on a similar figure found next to Canal Street and the Algiers Ferry Terminal in New Orleans.


Harlequin Character


The pool area at the French Quarter is called Doubloon Lagoon. The centerpiece for this oasis is "Scales" a huge sea serpent that snakes its way in and around the deck. Legend has it that when the French Quarter was in its infancy, folks created a makeshift serpent to frighten children away from the dangerous bayou. Eventually, this creature became a part of the Mardi Gras celebration and ultimately, a permanent fixture of the French Quarter. Today, kids enter Scales and slide down his tongue for a splash landing. Atop Scales is King Neptune, keeping a watchful eye on those below. And more jazz-loving gators can be found nearby.


Scales

Scales

Doubloon Lagoon


Gator Band

Gator with Horn


Adjacent to the main pool is a children's wading pool, but there are no secondary, "quiet" pools at the French Quarter. However, guests may also use any of the pools at Disney's Riverside Resort located a short walk up the Sassagoula River. Towels are available at Doubloon Lagoon; however, you'll need to take your room towels with you when using other pools. You can call Housekeeping to replenish the towel supply in your room.


Children's Pool

Gator with Sax


Also near the pool is the one and only self-service laundry facility. "Laundry on the Levee" features a large number of washers and dryers in air conditioned comfort. Vending machines offer soap, bleach, beverages, and change. If you must wash clothes while on vacation, this is a good spot as you can easily enjoy the pool while taking care of this otherwise boring task. Dry cleaning and laundry service is also available for pickup from your room.


Laundry on the Levee

Laundry on the Levee


The French Quarter opened on May 17, 1991 with 432 rooms in three guest buildings. In the months to come, the resort was expanded to seven buildings and a total of 1,008 rooms. Of these, 946 rooms have 2 double beds and 62 rooms have a king-size bed (with a higher room rate). There are also 12 disabled-accessible rooms. The typical room is 314 square feet. Each building contains 144 rooms and is clearly identified with a number and a musical instrument associated with jazz music.


Building Numbers

Building Numbers


Although the seven buildings are quite large, the clever use of color, different styles of wrought iron, brickwork, rooflines, and angles create the look of row houses in New Orleans rather than large, institutional structures. Lush landscaping and cobblestone "streets" add to the effect and make guests believe they're wandering in a bygone neighborhood rather than a modern resort.


French Quarter Exterior Buildings

French Quarter Exterior Buildings

French Quarter Exterior Buildings

French Quarter Street

French Quarter Street


To help you find your way around, the streets have been given some imaginative names that are sure to make you smile.


Sign Posts

Sign Posts

Sign Posts


Between many of the buildings are manicured courtyards complete with fountains. Note, most of these areas are designated smoking sections so those of you with an aversion, plan accordingly.


Fountain and Courtyard

Fountain and Courtyard

Fountain and Courtyard

Courtyard


Basic rooms contain the following:

Two double beds or one king
Chest of drawers
A table and two chairs
Vanity area with two sinks - curtain divide from bedroom
Private shower/tub & toilet area
Clock-radio-alarm
Cable TV with Disney programming
High-speed Internet Access (for an additional fee)
Hairdryer
Safe
Iron and Ironing Board
Coffee Maker
Refrigerator

For guests with disabilities, wheelchair-accessible bathrooms and rooms designed for the hearing impaired are available (not shown). Elevators and snack and beverage machines can also be found in each building.


Table and Chairs

Chest of Drawers and TV

Beds

Vanity

Toilet and Shower


Finding the right spot to park your car is a breeze. Large, easy-to-read signs mark each lot and none are too far away from your room. Note, staying at a Disney Resort entitles you to complimentary parking at the theme parks.


Parking Indicator Signs


For me, one of the most delightful activities at Walt Disney World is a boat ride on the Sassagoula River. Flat-bottom craft make their way between the French Quarter, Riverside, and Downtown Disney. Service begins each day at 10am with pickups every 20 minutes. Starting at 4:30pm, the interval is 10 minutes until the end of service at 11pm. Bus service to the resort is available from 11pm to 2am.


Sassagoula River Boat


I like the French Quarter. I feel it is more compact than the Riverside, thus, easier to navigate. However, it might not be perfect for everyone. A number of facilities and amenities are only available at the Riverside Resort next door. Although Disney touts this as an easy journey, it isn't necessarily so. Depending on your room location, the walk can be anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes (in the heat or rain). And waiting for the boat can be just as long if not longer. Here are a few of the services found only at the Riverside:

Boatwright's - a full service restaurant
Fishing hole and fishing excursions
Boat rentals
Bicycle rentals
Horse-drawn carriage rides
Quiet pools

Now if you don't plan on using any of these services, then I think you should definitely consider a stay at the French Quarter. As I said at the beginning of this article, Disney has done a wonderful job of combining festivity with relaxation. Charm oozes from every nook and cranny and your senses are in for a treat. It's hard to believe the French Quarter is a moderate resort. It has an allure worthy of a deluxe facility.

I have created a 10 minute video that highlights most of the resort. For those of you who are curious, the songs played are:

Down in New Orleans (from the Princess and the Frog)
Swanee River (Disneyland's Royal Street Bachelors)
Happy Rag (Disneyland's Royal Street Bachelors)
My Grandfather's Clock

Enjoy.




July 6, 2010

Port Orleans French Quarter - Part One

French Quarter Sign.jpg


I recently wrote an article about Port Orleans - Riverside. Today I'm going to discuss its sister resort, Port Orleans - French Quarter.

In the beginning, the French Quarter was known only as Port Orleans. It did not become Port Orleans - French Quarter until it merged with nearby Dixie Landings in the spring of 2001. From this point on, I will refer to this resort only as French Quarter.

The theme of Disney's French Quarter is Laissez les bons temps rouler! or Let the good times roll. This resort takes its inspiration from the Jackson Square warehouse district of New Orleans in which Spanish and French colonialism played a part in its culture and design. This six-by-thirteen block area of New Orleans is famous for its balconies, wrought-iron railings, cobblestone streets, and courtyards. In this Florida recreation, it feels like Mardi Gras everyday yet tranquility can be found around each corner. Celebration and romance go hand-in-hand at the French Quarter.

Your stay begins under an elaborate, wrought-iron portico. Here, a lively greeter may welcome you to the resort with festive beads and commemorative coins. Nearby is the resort's one and only bus stop. Transportation to the theme parks and water parks leave from this location approximately every 15-20 minutes.


Portica

Bus Stop


Inside the lobby of The Mint Building is a lovely fountain. A number of the resort's facilities radiate from this location. Our first stop is the Registration Desk. This area was themed after the inside of a commercial bank of the 1800s. The mural along the back wall displays the festivities of Mardi Gras. And the railing that lines the desk is a musical staff, complete with notes that represent the first verse of a tune synonymous with New Orleans, "When the Saints Go Marching In."

Lobby and Fountain

Registration Desk

Musical Staff


Check-in time is 3pm, however, if you arrive early, Bell Services can store your luggage until your room is ready. In addition, if you give the reservation clerk a cell phone number, you will be called when you're room is ready. Check-out time is 11am.

The backstory for The Mint Building goes something like this. Port Orleans was originally under the rule of the French, but was later transferred to Spanish ownership as war debt. When this happened, the French franc became worthless in this far off territory as the Spanish peseta was now the legal tender of the land. This brought commerce to a screeching halt. Realizing that something needed to be done, the new Spanish governor built a mint and granted an equal exchange of currency to all residents. In no time at all, trade began again and Port Orleans continued to prosper. When the Spanish territory was transferred back to the French in later years, the city was able to easily cope as The Mint was able to change its engraving plates and switched to the franc.

When Port Orleans began to celebrate Mardi Gras, The Mint began producing commemorative coins, which became an immediate hit. Both the local residents and visitors to the area valued these coins as keepsakes and a remembrance of the festive event.

Eventually the Louisiana Territory was sold to the United States in 1803. When this happened, The Mint became obsolete as a producer of currency. However, the Bank of Port Orleans remained successful and a necessary part of the city's growth. Samuel and Mary Chatelaine, the great grandchildren of The Mint's founder, bought the bank in 1886. They renamed it the Port Orleans Mint and continued the production of commemorative coins which are still given out to guests this very day. .


Commemorative Coins


Across the way from the Registration Desk is the Concierge Desk. Here, helpful cast members can sell you tickets to the theme parks and water parks, make dining reservations, and secure Cirque du Soleil La Nouba tickets. In addition, they can answer just about any Disney question you may have.


Concierge Desk


Also in this area is a great place for the kids to wait while mom and dad check in. Disney cartoons are played on the television and crayons and coloring sheets are available for the budding artist.


Children's Area


Adjoining the "bank" building is Jackson Square Gifts. This shop has two entrances, one off of the lobby and one onto The Courtyard. Open daily from 8am to 11pm, this emporium sells Disney souvenirs, snacks, newspapers, magazines, sundries, infant needs, and postage stamps. In addition there are a few items specifically themed to the French Quarter.


Jackson Square Gifts

Jackson Square Gifts

Jackson Square Gifts


Next to Jackson Square Gifts is South Quarter Games. This electronic paradise features a wide variety of games for those of you with good eye-to-hand coordination. Don't worry, a change machine is on hand to convert those pesky paper bills into coin.


South Quarter Games

South Quarter Games

South Quarter Games


On the other side of the lobby is Scat Cat's Club. This cozy lounge is full of memorabilia of some of jazz's greatest musicians. Open daily from 4pm until midnight, this is the perfect spot to unwind with a cocktail or specialty drink after a long day in the parks. Live entertainment is featured Wednesday through Saturday.


Scat Cat's Club

Scat Cat's Club


Hungry? Then head for Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory. This building is themed to look like a warehouse where props are stored and floats are constructed for Mardi Gras. Some of this paraphernalia was created by Blain Kern Artists, Inc. and others were actually purchased from warehouses in New Orleans. Just in case you're not sure, Mardi Gras ("Fat Tuesday") is the celebration that signals the beginning of the Lenten season. In New Orleans, the holiday is marked with parades, floats, masks, beads and the resort's motto Laissez les bons temps rouler! or Let the good times roll.

This counter-service restaurant is large and can seat 300 people. Breakfast can be particularly busy. If you want to avoid this daily crush of people, try and arrive before 8am. You might also want to grab some prepackaged goodies and drinks the night before and store them in your in-room refrigerator. To see the complete menu, click here (breakfast - lunch/dinner). Baked to order pizza for room delivery is available from 4pm to midnight.

Here are the restaurant's hours:

Bakery: 6am - Midnight
Breakfast: 6:00am - 11:30am
Lunch: 11:30am - 5:00pm
Dinner: 5:00pm - 10:00pm


Then head for Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory

Then head for Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory

Then head for Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory

Then head for Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory


I have eaten at the Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory a number of times. I've always been pleased with my meal, but I find some of the overhead masks and props a little creepy. So for me, if the weather is nice, I much prefer to eat at one of the outside tables in and around The Courtyard.


Outdoor Seating

Outdoor Seating

The Courtyard


That's it for Part One. Check back tomorrow for Part Two.



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About Port Orleans French Quarter

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to The “World” According to Jack in the Port Orleans French Quarter category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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