Category Rank: 1
Park: "Rest of the World"
Park Rank: 1
So, before we discuss the top resort in all of WDW, let's review some of the prominent themes that we have seen within our list:
• Progress Towards Tomorrow (Contemporary Resort, Monorail, Spaceship Earth, Golf Ball, Carousel of Progress)
• One Worldwide Community (All the Epcot lands, It's a Small World, the Boardwalk)
• Becoming One with the World (Animal Kingdom Lodge, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Tree of Life, Living with the Land)
• The Great Wilderness (Frontierland, Wilderness Lodge, Whispering Canyons)
• Classic Disney Magic (Fantasyland, Philharmagic, Animation Academy, Art of Animation)
• Adventure (Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, Polynesian Resort)
• Small Town USA (50s Prime Time Cafe, Grand Floridian)
• Southern Charm on the Bayou (Port Orleans)
You will note that the last two seem a bit skimpy at this point. That will change over the last items on this list.
Disney's effort to match a resort with each of its particular themes has worked very well. Individuals flock to Disney for different reasons, and they can find a resort that fits their needs. Our top resort on our list fills the theme of Southern Charm, set in the bayou region of the Sassagoula (Mississippi) River.
We mentioned earlier that Port Orleans holds a special part in our history, being the first place we stayed at. It features a food court that made this list on its own (!) as well as a common mode of transportation that goes directly to the resort. Both of which are but small pieces of the overall experience that is the Port Orleans Riverside resort.
POR is a moderate resort, the only non-deluxe resort on this list. Admittedly, the deluxe resorts are out of our price range (but still fun to visit). Port Orleans Riverside, however, is a perfect place to stay for your first visit.
There are many features within the resort that reinforce the laid-back atmosphere and southern charm of New Orleans. The interior architecture is very beautiful; it is worth it take some extra time in the atrium to soak it in. The meandering river that crawls through the compound gives the whole resort a slow-down feeling, as it is teeming with relaxing paddleboats. In addition, horse-drawn carriage rides or quadricycles for the whole family make for slow relaxing trips on the meandering pathways around POR. Even the bus stops are meandering (all four of them spread out). If you are in a hurry to get on and off the bus, you might not want to stay at this park.
The resort features Alligator Bayou, which includes lodge-style accommodations. It also includes Magnolia Bend Mansions, for a more plantation-style setting. The grounds are complete with many Louisiana-native trees and Spanish moss. And, the most memorable symbol from the resort is the gigantic mill wheel adjacent to the food court.
One of the most underrated parts of the resort is Fulton's General Store. I'll admit there is nothing terribly unique about the store. Like other resort stores, it has a fairly good collection of things from all the parks (we have often bought our kitchen utensils here instead of Downtown Disney). Still, there is something fun about stopping in the store right before midnight having just come back from a long day at the parks, and getting a chance to peruse the shop in peace.
We could go on about the features of the resort (and you will want to watch the video below to see them all in their glory), but cutting to the chase, this is an item that won't appear on many other people's lists. And, that's okay. Everyone can have their favorite resort. I'll take this one.
This was our first stop in WDW after the Magic Express. This was our first exposure to the charm and hospitality of the cast members. This was our first glimpse of the superior theming that was involved. And, being first goes a long way to being nostalgic.
However, there's something about that Southern Charm that this resort brings. Maybe it is the opposite of what you expect from an amusement park, but that's part of the appeal. The piped in banjo music, the sound of frogs and mayflies from the river, all the slow-moving ceiling fans... it is truly a relaxing experience. And, that speaks volumes for me. I love coming to WDW because it is relaxing, as ironic as the busiest place on Earth can be.
We visit the resort every time we visit, that is how special it is (though we often opt for cheaper digs now). Thinking about it now, I could have seen this entry going as high as #2 overall on the list, that's how great it is.
The rest of our items are at Magic Kingdom. Our next item is our top restaurant on the list, a favorite of (most) of our family members, and one that brings the charm as well.