Every year around November and December the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida transforms from a magical world where dreams really do come true into a magically festival winter wonderland. Each of the 4 theme parks has their own larger than life Christmas tree, special holiday entertainment, and treats themed to the season. However, the Christmas spirit isn’t contained to the theme parks. Each one of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels has their own touch of Christmas inspired by the theming of the hotel. The decorations at each of the resort hotels is so unique that it actually warrants a day of resort hopping just to see them all. For the purpose of this article, though, I’m going to focus on 2 resorts in particular – the sister resorts of Port Orleans French Quarter and Port Orleans Riverside.
Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter resort is probably the boldest of the 2 resorts when it comes to combining the resort’s theme with the Christmas décor. As the name of the resort suggests, French Quarter is themed around New Orleans, LA, and specifically the French Quarter. As soon as you approach the main entrance to the resort (pictured above), you are immediately greeted with hanging wreaths above you and lush poinsettias on the ground. The wreaths are extremely colorful, possibly representative of the nightlife and colorful personalities New Orleans is known for, with lots of red, blue, green, and orange. The music playing at the entrance is Christmas music, but it is done in the style of New Orleans jazz! This was such a nice touch and one of my favorite parts of the Christmas setting at this resort.
As you enter the doors of the resort, you are hit with more Christmas than a “Christmas Story” marathon on Christmas Day! There are 4 Christmas trees (one on either side of the 2 sets of entrance and exit doors). Each one of these trees boasts the same bold and bright colors as the wreaths outside, but now you have the New Orleans signature royal purple added to the mix along with other lighter shades of purple, pink, silver, and light shades of blue. The real magic hits whenever you look closer at the Christmas ornaments on the trees and see, very subtly mixed in, various masquerade masks and the French Fleur-de-lis.
In addition to the 4 lavishly decorated Christmas trees in the lobby of the resort, you will also see more wreaths, garland made out of wreath wrapped around the supporting beams, and more gorgeous scarlet poinsettias around a quaint but luring 3-tiered water fountain.
The lobby gift shop display windows are filled with Disney merchandise. What makes this display more than just another tourist trap is the New Orleans-themed props, and as you might expect from a gift shop in New Orleans’ French Quarter at Christmas time, it is also done up with Christmas décor adding a festive and uniquely themed flair to what would otherwise be just another gift shop window with overpriced Disney T-shirts.
Just next door to Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter resort sits Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside resort. Both of these resorts sit on the Sassagoula River, which connects the 2 resorts with Disney Springs via a quick boat trip. Port Orleans Riverside is set in Louisiana as well, but it is themed more in the rural backwoods areas of Louisiana. This resort features more of the places you would find rustic bayou residences and plantation home style mansions.
Just like the rest of the resorts on Disney property, the lobby of Port Orleans Riverside is all decked out for Christmas. However, the tone and the theme of the decorations seems to be much more subtle and subdued more to a classic Christmas style. Instead of seeing bold and colorful decorations of orange, purple, blue, red, and green, you get a much more disciplined mix of blue, gold, and green with a hint of pink dispersed throughout.
Instead of 4 Christmas trees like the French Quarter resort has, you have one big main centerpiece Christmas tree in the lobby with wreath garland wrapped around the faux second story balcony (pictured above).
Just like with Port Orleans French Quarter, the real magic hits you when you take the time to look a little closer at the decorations on the tree. The ornaments and decorations make subtle references to rural and suburban Louisiana environments with pink and white floral blossoms along with iconic Magnolia blossoms. If you continue to look closely, you will still be able to spot the signature French Fleur-de-lis.
The 2 Port Orleans resorts are 2 of of my favorite resorts on Disney property. I constantly go back and forth between which of the 2 I enjoy the best between the gorgeous plantation home style mansions of Riverside and the beautiful walkways of the French Quarter that recreate some of the old-time New Orleans streets and parks. When you combine the way Disney decorates their resorts for Christmas with the unique styles of these two resorts, you have a magically festive place to rest your head, stroll around, and even savor a beignet or 2….or 3 or 4. Whether you prefer the lifestyle of The Big Easy or the more rural plantation bayou, you definitely can’t go wrong during the holidays with either of these resorts.