Sunday, June 3, 2012

Cheap & Free Disney World Souvenirs

There is no way that Disney World is a cheap vacation.  I mean after you figure in airfare/driving, resort rooms, park tickets and food you have probably already racked up a couple thousand dollar bill for your vacation.  Luckily there are several things you can pickup from around Disney that make great mementos but won't cost you much at all, if anything.  Now the ultimate FREE/CHEAP souvenir is pictures. Take pictures of your child with that huge stuffed Mickey that they want but you will not buy them.  That way later they will have the memory of it and you won't have to find a place to keep it or pay for it.  But there is many other ideas of things you can get at Disney that will also bring back memories but not cost you much.  I'm pretty frugal so I love getting things on the cheap and I plan to take some of these souvenirs and put them into a shadowbox so we can display and remember our vacation (I'll post a picture whenever I get around to making that).  But even if you just put these things in a shoebox in a closet they will bring back great memories whenever you pull the box out of the closet and crack it open in a few years.

1. Resort Shampoo, Conditioner & Soap:  I love anything with Mickey on it and these were just too cute not to take home with me.  Aren't the Mickey ear tops on them adorable?  (Might want to keep these in a Ziploc bag if you are going to save them for a long time.  Shampoo leaking on all your other souvenirs would not be good.)

2.  Resort Mugs:  Ok, ok these are not free or cheap.  They will cost you about $14.50 each but they do give you unlimited refills of soda/tea/etc. at your resort.  The reason why I put them on this list is because they were included in our dining plan that we had included in our package for "free".  I know I was still paying for it in the price of my package somehow but they are really great mugs and I'm sure we will be using them a lot even after our trip to Disney, so I call bargain!

3.  Maps, Times Guides, etc: Disney is constantly changing, adding and deleting things around the parks so a great souvenir is to pickup any of these items for FREE and keep them so you can remember what the parks had when you went.  Now if you are like me after a long day in the parks you maps look like they are about a hundred years old so if you want a clean copy of them just pick them up at your resort before you leave (the times guides you may want to pickup at the park as you leave because I'm not sure they have them at the resorts). 

4.  Pressed Pennies:  Our family loves to use Pressed Penny machines where ever we go.  For only $.51 you can get a cheap souvenir of your trip that you can rubber cement or sticky dot into any scrapbook, photo album or shadow box for a memory that will last.  The pressed quarters will set you back $1.25 each but I let the kids do a couple of these anyway.  I really wanted to get a lot of pennies from each of the parks so I splurged and bought a pressed penny book ($7) which is a great souvenir by itself there is a lot of great graphics of the characters on the front and it looks great sitting on my shelf.  Now if you want to fill up the who book it will cost you about $32 in change plus the cost of the book but finding the penny machines and choosing which ones you want is a great memory on its own so I think for a little under $40 it was a great deal. (I just wish we would have filled ours up)  But don't feel like you have to buy this many.  Just getting a few with your kids favorite characters would be a great memento.  (TIP:  Buy some mini M&M's, the ones that come in the plastic tubes, they are great for holding change.  You can stack the change Quarter, Quarter, Penny if you really want to be efficient.)

5. Confetti, Streamers, etc:  While confetti and streamers may not seem like a good souvenir it would look great in a photo album along with a picture of the event or show where you got it from.  This confetti came from the "Disney Junior-Live on Stage!" show.  It was the treasure that Jake & the Neverland Pirates found that came pouring down from the ceiling and had the kids scrambling to pick it up.  It is a great memory and now I can remember it better because I kept some of the confetti to put in my kids photo books. (FYI these are probably about 2in wide disks and the gold ones really did look like treasure coming down on us)

6.  Stickers:  They give out stickers at resort entrances, park entrances and probably other places.  Your kids will be given several of these during your stay most likely (I think some have different images on them). But before they have time to peel and stick them on something be sure to save a few for their photo albums. 

7. Autographs:  Autographs of the characters are the ultimate free souvenir that you can get at the parks.  Some lines can get long but there is nothing like seeing your child meet their favorite character.  I plan to get some pictures developed and put a picture of the character & my child in the facing page of their autographs.  (Stay tuned to my blog for more details on how I'm going to do that.)

8.  Unused Fast Passes:  If you find yourself in possession of some fastpasses that you were not able to use, don't throw them out.  Put them in your scrapbook for a free souvenir.  Plus they may bring back memories like... how your husband and son went on the ride but your daughter wouldn't so you had to sit outside in the sun waiting for them (because your husband didn't charge his cell phone) and then when they got out you thought you would ride it with your son but then he didn't want to, so you never did get to ride it.  You know memories like that.  Plus Disney has been testing out a new digital fastpass machines so it could be in the future that these passes are nonexistent so get them for souvenirs while you can.

9.  Coasters:  These coasters were in our room under the glasses.  They are just flat cardboard so they are easy to throw in your luggage and they have a great graphic on them.  So another great memento to put in that scrapbook of yours. 

10. Sorcerers of Magic Kingdom Cards & Maps:  I had to pickup these cards when we went to Magic Kingdom both days.  It is a fairly new activity you can do where you go up to either the fire station or a building farther in MK (look on your map) and give them your park ticket and they will issue you a package of cards along with a key card and a map.  Then you travel to different portholes trying to defeat villains from the movies from doing bad things to Magic Kingdom.  Now even if you don't want to play the game right then, you can pickup a pack of cards per person in your group with a ticket.  They are small and easy to carry around and then pack for  your trip home.  They also have awesome pictures of your favorite characters on them and would look great in your scrapbook.

11. Resort Cards, Photopass Cards, Arcade Cards:  There are many different types of cards that you may find yourself using throughout your stay at Disney.  Don't throw these out you can save them because like everything else at Disney they will probably have something new when you go back next time and you will want to remember what you had before.

12.  Epcot Country Stamps & Craft:  In each country in Epcot there is a "Kidcot Fun Stops" where you can meet someone from that country and make a craft and have them stamp something and sometimes they will write something for you in their own language or write a fact or something.  When we went they gave us a Duffy Bear and each country would stamp it as you went around.  But I was prepared with something else.  I printed each country's name and an image on blank index cards and I had my kids have them stamp and write on the cards.  The cards are much easier to throw in your bag than Duffy if you are tight on space.  I plan to put them in my kids books along with a picture from each country also (Stay tuned to my blog for more information on that also.)  (FYI:  You can buy a passport book in Epcot that you can have stamped and signed but I went cheap and made one myself.  I think it will turn out really good with pictures by each country.)

13.  Straws:  We picked up these straws for our kids.  I think they were about $.50 each so it was not very expensive and they can be cleaned and used again or would look pretty neat in a shadow box along with other things you collected.

14. Buttons:  Whether you are celebrating your 1st visit, wedding, anniversary or any special occasion they have a button for you.  Just pick one up at your resort or at the front area of any park for a free souvenir.

15.  Last but not least, Postcards:  Didn't get that great picture of the castle that you wanted?  Don't worry about it just pick up some postcards.  You can get professional pictures of any landmark in Disney or any character really cheap.  Best of all they are 4x6 so they will fit in your photo albums along with your other pictures.

Hope you enjoyed this list of cheap & free Disney World souvenirs.  If you have other ideas feel free to put them in the comments section to help out others.  Thanks.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Disney World Trip Report Day 1 Arrive/ Day 2 Animal Kingdom

We just got back from Disney's Port Orleans Riverside Resort and I thought I would write a review of our trip.  We had a great time and really enjoyed the resort because there was so many activities to do and it was so quiet and peaceful.  The one and only other time I went to Disney World was in 1997 and we stayed at Disney's All Star Sports Resort.  While it was a perfectly fine place to sleep I remember the rooms being really small, a lot of in-your-face huge Disney decorations and kids running around all over and it being really loud.  In contrast Riverside was very calm, relaxing and I don't think I ever heard any kids running around except for around Ol' Man's Island which was well away from our room. 

Day 1 (Arrival)
Our flight got in about 7:30pm and after we got to the Magical Express area we only had to wait a few minutes until we were loaded on the bus.  We did wait in the bus for a while and more people got on but it was air conditioned so we were fine, then finally we were off to Disney.  I knew the bus was going to make stops at other resort but I wasn't sure of the order.  The bus driver came on and said what the stops would be but he had a really strong accent and we couldn't understand him.  Turns out that Riverside was the last of 4 resort stops and I think we didn't get there until about 9:00pm.  I had used Disney's online check-in and I had called to request a room close to the bridge going over to the main building (We were in a Royal Room and there are only two choices of buildings with these rooms-Oak & Parterre) When we arrived our room cards were already made and our packet of information was all ready.  I was expecting a room in Oak because it was closer but we were put in Parterre.  I decided not to ask for a change and just see how far the room was.  It was farther away from the main building than I would have liked but it wasn't a really long walk.  I don't think we would have liked to be any farther down than where we were (Room 9561) but it really wasn't that bad of a location.  The Royal Room had excellent decorations including the foot stool from Beauty & the Beast and the flying Rug and Lamp from Aladdin.  The headboard was a nice touch and you could press a button on the side that would set off fiber optics in the scene.  I don't think staying in such a small room would have been as nice without these special touches. 

We had not eaten supper so after we found our room and dropped off our backpacks we headed back to the main building to find the food court.  The Riverside Mill (the food court for this resort) is located in the far right of the building above (the blue building in picture at top).  We had a good meal and then headed back to our room and found that our checked bags had already been delivered.  I put away the clothes and got our room setup for us while my husband and son went to go checkout the arcade.  Then after they got back we went down for the night.

Major Regrets of 1st day
* Forgot to buy Disney dollars for souvenirs from Hotel
* Didn't get pictures of main building
* Didn't get pictures of our room before we got our stuff all over the place

Day 2 (Animal Kingdom)

We got up early and tried to make it to the park when it opened for the Extra Magic Hours (EMH) at 8:00am.  (EMH is when one park a day will be open extra hours in the morning or evening for Disney hotel guest only.  You will hear mixed reviews about EMH some people say to avoid the park because there will be a lot more people in the park that day because of the extra hours and other people like them.)  I think we ended up getting there right after it opened but it was pretty fast getting through bag check and into the park.  I think I made my family get a picture by the tree of life and got our photopass card so I wouldn't forget to do that later.

Then we moved back to the Safari ride as fast as we could to get that done with before the lines got too long.  When we got there we were able to walk straight through the line and get onto the ride almost immediately.  The ride is a little bumpy but not terrible (but we were sitting in the front seat, it may have been more bumpy in the back).  Our driver was excellent and really was into the whole safari theme and pointed out all of the animals and talked about the landscaping.  Then we hit one of the trails close to the Safari ride and checkout some of the animals. 
Picture on Safari Ride
Lioness & Lion sleeping by back tree on Safari Ride

Next up was Kali River Rapids, my son's choice.  WARNING:  You will get wet on this ride.  I tried to put a poncho on my daughter (4) and once she saw she was the only one who was going to wear one she took it off.  Once we got in the raft I tried to convince her to just hold it over her, still no go.  I put my hand bag in the middle storage area then covered our backpack with the poncho.  After the first wave came over the boat both my daughter and I got a wave of water that drenched our shorts, that is when she wanted the poncho but it was too late to put it on her so she just had to hold it over her.  After the ride we all were a little wet and we had a cranky 4 year old on our hands, but luckily I had a change of clothes for my daughter to change into so she got happy again pretty fast. 

Then we headed on to DinoLand USA.  We rode Tricera Top Spin one time as a family (it was nice that you could fit 4 people in one dino).  It was a nice ride for younger kids.  One of the seats could move the dino up and down and the other seats had a lever to tilt the dino but for the last round everyone did one high round before being lowered for the end of the ride. 
Tricera Top Spin Ride

After that ride our son wanted to ride Primeval Whirl which was just going to be too much for our daughter.  So my husband and our son left to go on Primeval Whirl while my daughter and I went to find "The Boneyard."  Primeval Whirl turned out to be my son's favorite ride.  He went on it several times with his Dad and I even got to ride on it once with him. Meanwhile we found the Boneyard but all we saw was slides and climbing things and my daughter wanted to dig for the dino bones so we walked out to see if we went to the wrong area.  Finally I had to ask someone, turns out you have to go into the play area at The Boneyard then go up the stairs and over a bridge (look for a dino skeleton bridge) and that will take you to the dig area.  It was a nice shady area that was full of small gravel and they had a lot of buckets and shovels for the kids.  The bones that they try to find are actually cemented down so they can't actually dig them up, they can only uncover them but it was still fun.  They had fans & misters also when it would get a little warm and it had music which had a lot of dino related songs playing. 

I think after that we saw it was about time for the Finding Nemo Musical to start.  The seating here if I remember right was stadium style benches which were not totally comfortable but were ok.  Before the show starts there are large bubbles on the sides of the stage and we had fun trying to guess where the picture of Nemo swimming would turn up next.  Then show time, this show was a live musical where the people carried puppets of the characters and could make them do motions and change their eyes, mouths, etc.  It was actually pretty neat the way the people made the characters come to life and the colors and lighting were great.  The show was just really a short recap of the movie so if your kids love the movie they should love this show.

Next we were going to try to catch the Festival of the Lion King show.  But by the time we got over there (I think we had to stop for some ice cream) the show had already started so we took the time to do the greeting trails and try to meet some characters.  The Mickey line was pretty long and all our daughter was really concerned with was Minnie anyway so we got in the Minnie line which was a little long but it went pretty fast.  It was so great to see her meet Minnie and go up and give her a hug because the only character that she said she wanted to meet was her.  I got some photopass pictures here also and her autograph as well.  Then we hit Goofy's line which was pretty short and got some pictures and autographs with him.

By the time we got done with the characters the Lion King show was over so we headed over there to try to get in line.  We had to stand outside of the building for a while (there was a large open courtyard area where everyone crowds into).  Then finally they opened the doors and there were 3 different stadium bench seating areas (think circus arena seating).  I was wondering how they were going to do the show because all there was, was a opening in the middle of the room that was empty.  But I soon found out after the show opens they bring in floats from one entrance between the seating and fill up the space between the other 2 seating areas with the floats then they bring out a center float section for the middle then finally fill up the space where they brought all the floats out from.  All the while singing songs and dancing.  The floats have different animals on them.  One has Timon and Pumba on it (Timon is a person in a costume and Pumba is a robot), then I think the other float is a giraffe and elephant and the final float has Simba (robot) on it.  There is 4 main actor/singers who get the crowd involved by having them do an animal sound for each group then there is more songs and at one point there is some "monkey" actors that do acrobatics and things on a trampoline, it was great.  Then more songs and dancing.  This was an excellent show and was probably my favorite thing to do at Disney.  It is a must see when you go.

I think by the time we got out of Lion King it was well past lunch time so we headed to the closest eating place which happened to be Pizzafari.  I was surprised that my son liked the pizza (he is pretty picky) and the desserts that came with the adult meals (we were on a meal plan) were basic chocolate mouse or strawberry parfait in a cup but it was decent.  The most memorable part of the meal was the straws for the drinks.  They are unlike any straw you have probably ever used, I guess they are biodegradable or something because of all the animals but they were sure different.  I wish I would have saved one for a souvenir.

After that I think we headed up towards the Tree of Life and got in line for "It's Tough to be a Bug" my kids didn't really want to go in here.  First of all it is a little dark and enclosed when you get inside the tree and they had seen previews of the ride on the Disney Planning DVD and I don't think they liked what they saw.  But I finally got them inside and when my daughter started to freak out a little I took her 3D glasses away and put her on my lap.  Then when the spiders came out that was all she needed and she wanted out of there.  So we grabbed the kids and left.  I saw several other parents leaving with their kids so this might not be a good show for small kids. 

By this time it was getting close to time for the Jungle Parade most of the seating around the parade route was already filled but we got a spot by an area that they were using for a walk through to get people around the parade route.  We were able to grab some more ice cream bars before it started and were able to see most of the parade.  If you want to get a good viewing area get and find a seat early because it is hard to find one close to parade time. 

Mickey Parade Float

After that we hit a souvenir shop where I finally found a penny pressing machine.  I was wanting to get a book filled with pressed pennies from Disney  but unfortunately because I didn't find the machines until right before we were going to leave I only got a couple pennies from Animal Kingdom.  Then we left the park and headed to the bus stop.  The bus stop was pretty full, I think a lot of other people were leaving after the parade also.  I've heard a lot of people who think Animal Kingdom is small and is only a half a day park but we didn't do a lot from the park and I wish we would have spent more time here.

When we got back to the resort we took the ferry from Riverside and went to Downtown Disney.  As I've mentioned in some of my other posts the Ferry ride has a pretty loud motor so just be expecting that.  We only walked down about 1/3 of the Downtown Disney area and got our daughter a Minnie Doll she had been wanting, got the kids pictures taken by several character statues that they have setup all over the place, played at the lego store and got some pennies pressed in some more machines.  Then we got back on the boat and headed back to the resort.
One of the Lego Sculptures at the Lego Store

After we ate supper in the food court we headed to get our swimming stuff.  Because it was getting dark out we thought the main pool wouldn't be very busy but there were quite a few people and the hot tub was pretty full.  After we got in the pool we found that the water was pretty cold so we decided to try our luck with the quiet pool closer to our room (by Oak Manor) and were grateful to find that this pool was warmer.  So we spent a little time here and then went back to the room to get some sleep so we could get up early the next morning for Magic Kingdom.

Major Regrets of Animal Kingdom
* Didn't get more pressed pennies from this park
* Didn't get to try Flame Tree Barbecue (I heard it is really good)
* Didn't get to explore the stores in the different village areas
* Didn't go to Rafiki's Planet Watch area at all
* Didn't get to see Flights of Wonder
* Didn't get more Photopass pictures taken and didn't get any Magic Shots on Photopass

Disney's Port Orleans Riverside Review

I have been wanting to go to Disney World for a long time, but it took several years just to convince my husband to go and then a couple more to save up enough to pay for the trip.  A big question when you go to Disney World is where are you going to stay at because there are sooo many different options.  You can stay on site at Disney or get an off site hotel.  We decided that on site was for us because with Disney you can fly into Orlando and they will pick you up and take you to your resort and from there you can take their transportation anywhere you want on their property so we wouldn't need to rent a car.  After we decided to stay on site we had to decide which resort to stay at.  Disney has over twenty different options for resorts which range from value to deluxe villas.  Now while I would love to stay at a deluxe villa our budget just did not allow for it and I've stayed at one of Disney's values before and the small rooms with double beds and loud kids running around everywhere just did not sound like a fun vacation.  So we settled on Port Orleans Riverside which is one of Disney's Moderate resorts.  The pictures of the amazing landscapes, winding river, quiet pools, queen size beds and boat ride to Downtown Disney had us hooked.  Riverside has two types of hotel buildings; Mansion Buildings or Bayou Buildings.  Port Orleans has recently had several buildings refurbished and is in the middle of refurbishing their main lobby and some of the final hotel room buildings.  We stayed in one of their new Royal Rooms in the Mansion buildings (Oak Manor and Parterre Buildings).  You can find my review of those rooms HERE.  But in this post I wanted to review some of the different things to do and see at Port Orleans Riverside. 

Size of the Resort
I had read a lot of other reviews and had heard how large this resort and how there were multiple bus stops to go through all the time.  I found the resort to be large but not anything that wasn't manageable.  Just make sure to always leave yourself enough time to get to where you need to go, that way you can have a pleasant stroll and enjoy the resort.  The same goes for the bus service because while there are multiple bus stops at the resort, it does not take all that much time to go around to all of them and as long as you give yourself enough time to get to where you are going just sit back and enjoy the ride.  We never did make it over to the Bayou buildings on the resort because all you really need to get to is your room, a quiet pool, the main pool, a bus stop and the main building.  There is really no reason to go to the rest of the resort unless you just want to.  So you can knock off a big chunk of that big resort feel and it is much more manageable when you figure out the most direct pathways to the areas you want to go to.

Main Building
The main building holds the check-in area, gift shop, lounge, a restaurant, arcade and a food court.  The check-in area was in the middle of being refurbished when we checked and half of it was new and half of it was the old by the next morning they had a wall up around the old area and the new area was being used along with some temporary tables in the lounge for check-ins and other services.  I wish I would have gotten a picture of the check-in area when they had both the old and the new sections shown together but we got to the hotel late and we were just wanting to get checked in and find our room.

Bus Stops
There are 4 bus stops at Riverside (North, South, East & West Depot) there is also one additional bus stop at Port Orleans French Quarter that may also be in a bus route going to or coming from the parks (but normally not in busy hours).  We used the South Depot that was at the main building and found it to be busy but we were always able to get on the first bus that came (sometimes my husband did have to stand during really busy hours). 

The Magic Express stop is right in front of the check-in area of the main building and is the same place that you will get picked up at when you go back to the airport.  (Note that we were the last of 4 stops the Magic Express made when going to the resort but coming back they only picked up at Riverside and went right to the airport.  I'm not sure if that is normal)

One of the Bus Stop Buildings at the South Depot

Food Court (Riverside Mill)
This was one of the best food courts I have been to.  They had a lot of choices that you will not find in other food courts.  We really liked having the option to get the turkey meal with mashed potatoes and corn there was also a kids option for this meal.  Then the last day I tried the create-your-own pasta where you got to pick the extras you wanted in the pasta and the type of noodles and sauce and then they put it all in a pan and heated it up.  It was really good.  I wish that I would have tried this before the last day because I would have gotten it several other times.  The line could get a little long for the pasta because it was made on demand but it was worth it.  We were also on the quick service dining plan and got a dessert with our adult meals and there was lot of options to choose from in the Bakery.  The ice cream sundaes were huge.  We also tried the cakes, brownies, hand dipped shakes, Mickey rice crispy treats and several other things.  The only thing that I didn't really care for was the hamburger and while it wasn't terrible it just wasn't my favorite.  The food court also has some small tables with small chairs that has a bucket of crayons and coloring pages.  After your kid colors a picture there is even a Mickey Mail box for them put put it into if they want.  There is also a large TV beside this area which is nice if you are just wanting to waste some time after you have checked out of your room.
We didn't eat at Boatright's which is the sit down restaurant at Riverside, but I was surprised that some of the restaurant is open when you are walking to the food court.  I was expecting it to be in a separate area but the hallway that connects the main lobby to the food court goes right in front of some of the restaurant's seating area.  I don't think we were missing anything by not going here because the food court was great.

Breakfast in the food court

Sundae in the food court

Create-your-own pasta meal in the food court w/sauceless kids spaghetti meal

Ferry Boat
We used the ferry boat on several days to go to Downtown Disney and really enjoyed it.  I think going to the Downtown area by bus is faster but the boat is nice for a slower pace and letting you look around at the wildlife and the surroundings.  What I was not expecting from the boat ride was how loud it was.  You get used to it after a while but still it's pretty loud.  The boat also makes a stop at the French Quarter so if you are wanting to checkout that resort without having to walk down there you can always take the ferry.

Pools and Pool Activities
Port Orleans has one main pool and 5 quiet pools and if you want to change it up a little you can go to the French Quarter and they have another main pool.  We only used the main pool one time after it got dark.  Even though the temperature while we were at Disney was in the low 90's the main pool had pretty cool water.  So we soon got out and went to the quiet pool closer to our building to see how it was.  The quiet pool's water was much warmer.  I'm not sure why but we stuck to going to the quiet pool after that.  The main pool area is nice and has a hot tub, a children's pool area and the main pool has a slide but it can get crowded.  The quiet pool was more of our speed and even if it had several families using it there was more than enough space for everyone to have their own area.

The main pool has act ivies in the afternoon every day.  We were playing at the playgrounds one day and got to see and listen to some of the act ivies.  It seemed like everyone was having a good time and it was fun that we could hear some trivia questions and we could play along even though we were not over by the pool.  They would play music at the pool also which made for a really fun atmosphere.

Campfire on de' Bayou
This was my daughters favorite activity at the resort.  They give you (kids & adults) each a dowel rod and let you roast as many marshmallows as you want for free.  After you are done they break your stick in half so they don't give it out to someone else and they throw it in the fire when they need a little more fuel for the fire.  You can buy smore kits from the gift shop if you want to but I didn't see anyone doing this.  One of the girls who was helping run it said she had people who brought their own hotdogs and have roasted them also.  The campfire lasts for about an hour and it can get a little crowded at times but it quickly thins out after some people do a marshmallow or two and then leave then you may find yourself to the whole area for yourself.  There is several benches to sit at but be careful that you make sure it is dry first.  Because this area is close to the main pool I had some swimmers sit on a bench before I got there and quickly found myself with a wet behind because I did not check the bench. 

Movies Under the Stars
The resort has nightly movies shown on the lawn by the Oak Manor building (shown below).  Check with the schedule of events that they will give you when you check-in to see what movies will be showing.  We did this 3 times during our visit and had a really good time.  They bring a wagon full of pool towels and let you take as many as you want.  We had our own little towel island area with towel pillows and my daughter even had a towel blanket.  We brought snacks and had a little picnic with our movie.  Take time to relax after the parks some night to enjoy a movie here some night if you have time.

Movie Screen at night.  Sorry about the blurry picture.

Horse-drawn Carriage Rides
I was not planning on doing a horse & carriage ride but our daughter wanted to so we did it.  The lady that did the horse ride was really nice and gave us lots of great information about the resort and Disney world.  I would recommend it if you have an extra 25 minutes and $45 to spare.  We took our ride down to the French Quarter but they also do rides to the Bayou section of the Resort.  My husband wishes that we would have gone to the Bayou section because we could see the French Quarter from the ferry ride but maybe we'll do that next time if we ever get to go back to Disney.

There was a pretty large play area at the resort.  The picture below only shows half of the playset.  There are benches around this area also for adults to sit and watch their kids.  The trees around provide a lot of shade but it's not totally shaded so check the slides for hot areas before your kids go down to make sure they are not too hot from the Florida sun.  The ground around the playset was that rubber mulch stuff so it was really good for the kids that were running all around.

Cane Pole Fishing
We did fishing on the last day.  It is only about $5 for 1/2 an hour of fishing with one pole.  Now I wouldn't expect to catch any fish.  We didn't even get a nibble but it may have just been the day or time that we went that the fish didn't like.  But the fishing hole is a nice shady area so if you are looking for a short slow paced activity on a hot day this would probably be a good choice.  There were steps in several areas around the fishing area so kids can have a step up and be able to fish easier.

"Ye Haa" Bob Jackson @ River Roost Lounge
I wanted to checkout "Ye Haa" Bob's show because I had heard great things about it.  My husband was less interested so we didn't go to the lounge area for his show.  I did catch a little bit of his show as we were going to the gift shop one night and I decided my kids probably wouldn't have liked it, not that it didn't look like a lot of fun, but his speakers are kind of loud and my kids have problems with loud noises.  So we skipped it, but it did look like the people watching it were having a good time so you should probably check it out.

My husband spent a lot of time & money at the arcade.  It was a rather large arcade I thought for a resort and it was really nice with lots of things to do.  The games do not give tickets out for prizes or anything like that but it is a nice place to spend some extra time if you get rained out from some outdoor activities or just have a few spare minutes.

Review of Disney's Port Orleans Riverside Royal Rooms

On our recent trip to Disney World we got to stay at one of the new Royal Rooms at Port Orleans Riverside which are in the Oak Manor & Parterre Buildings.  My daughter (4) was loving the pictures I showed her online of what our room was going to look like and she was gaga over the great princess touches.  She was telling everyone that she was going to stay at a princess room. Now my son (8) on the other hand was not loving the whole princess thing and would audibly moan whenever she talked about this "princess" room.  I assured him that it wasn't a princess room just a Royal Room and it wouldn't be too girly.  Luckily for me that turned out to be true.  Aside from a few pictures of the princesses hanging out around Riverside the rest of the room was just, well, Royal. He never once complained about the room and seemed to enjoy everything.  Now you will have to pay more for this type of room, but for us it was worth it because it made staying in a smaller sized room for a week much more enjoyable.  Staying in these rooms you will be close to the "Movies Under the Stars" because it is shown by the Oak Manor building, you will also be close to a quiet pool that is between Oak & Parterre but you will still have to walk down a sidewalk & across a bridge to get to the main building and then the main pool/play set/fire pit is over another bridge.  Here are some pictures that we got during our stay.

Aladdin faucet.  Don't you just love this!!!  What a great detail.
Footstool/Dog from Beauty & Beast.  I was nice & comfy also.
Here are those princess pictures I was talking about.  It's the only really girly touch.
Beds with great headboards.  You press a button on the side and fireflies and fireworks go off in the scene
Seating area
Another princess picture.  This one is kind of 3D. The white line is from my flash.
View from bathroom into room.
Letter from princess Tiana that is actually part of the table.
Fridge in Room.  Who do you think had the bright idea to make the doors swing open different ways???
Wallpaper boarder in room
Wallpaper boarder in bathroom
Coat rack with Cinderella's Carriage on it.
Light over table & chairs.  See the hidden Mickey.
One of the Prince pictures in the room.
Main light in the room.  Sorry, no ceiling fan here.
Our room.  So sad to see it go.
Soap, Shampoo & Conditioner from the Resort

I forgot to mention storage space.  You will read a lot of reviews for these rooms that talks about the lack of storage space but I found the storage space to be more than adequate for our family of 4 for a 6day/6night trip. There is 3 nice size drawers in the dresser the rest of the dresser is for the fridge. There is a small table between the beds that has a open space under it for some stuff. Between the door & the bed is a little nook area that we put all of our empty luggage. Under the TV is enough space to put 2 shoe boxes worth of snacks & a little extra space and still leave most of the top of the dresser free. The bathroom has a fairly large closet rod with a shelf over it that you can use to store more stuff either on the shelf or on the floor below it. In the bathroom there is a shelf area below the mirror but above the sink counter where we put all of our toiletries without cluttering up the sink area. I wish I had pictures of more things in the room but somehow I seem to have missed sooo many things. Maybe I'll remember to get better shots next time I go.

Hope you liked all the pictures if you want to see my whole review of Port Orleans Riverside Resort you can check it out HERE.
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