Your visit begins at the Sassagoula Steamboat Company, better known as the lobby. The detailing in the architecture here is fantastic, with the building and grounds designed to replicate an old port along the Mississippi River. Check-in is to the right side, while Fulton's General Store sits on the left side of the lobby, where you can, of course, pick up souvenirs, room necessities, and just about anything else. Past the store is Boatwright's, the table service restaurant at Riverside. We didn't eat here, but a look at the Cajun menu makes me wish we did. (And Butterscotch Creme Brulee? You kiddin' me?) And just beyond Boatwright's is Riverside Mill, the quick service dining hall decked out as an old cotton factory with its identifiable wooden crates.
We stayed in the lodges in Alligator Bayou, nestled in among the walking paths beneath the trees that seclude this half of the resort from the outside world. It was a little bit of a walk, even for the closer rooms, but I thought it added to the adventure. The rustic interiors, with faux log beds even, were cozy and the ability to get connecting rooms helped us out with our five count party. We were equally distanced from the North and West "Depots," two of the four bus stops around the resort. We checked out one of the five "quiet pools" one evening, and it was a nice, relaxing cooldown after a long day at the park.
And speaking of boats, you can rent boats, as well. We didn't do that, but we did catch the "ferry" on a couple of occasions. The river flows out of Riverside down to its sister resort, Port Orleans-French Quarter, so we took the opportunity to detour there and go swimming at the big "Dragon" pool, nicknamed as such by our kids because of the water slide. The river doesn't stop at the French Quarter, though - it continues all the way to Downtown Disney! So we took the ferry all the way down, past the golf course and the Treehouse Villas, enjoying the sights along the way. On the way back from DTD, we actually unloaded at French Quarter and walked the trail back to Riverside, taking in the perfect sunset to cap the day.
Since we returned from this vacation, every conversation about planning our next Disney getaway has included a plea - of differing intensities - from me to return to Riverside. I work in Dallas, I commute in awful traffic on a daily basis, and getting away from the hustle and bustle is a necessity for any vacation of mine. I know what you're thinking: "getting away from the hustle and bustle" and Walt Disney World are mutually exclusive. But this found the ideal compromise between crazy Disney pace and slowdown Southern culture, even if it's just an illusion. We are an adventurous family and like to see new things, but for me, a Southern boy with his daddy's down home genes, Port Orleans-Riverside was absolutely perfect. I'd stay there every time.