Monday, August 11, 2014

Can You Stay on Disney Property to Have Fun While NOT Paying to Play? Part 2: The Moderate Resorts

By Beth Skarp

Editors note: In part one, Beth shared fun and even free things to do at Walt Disney World without even visiting the parks. In that article she looked at the Value Resorts.

In the Moderate resorts, there are different things to do as well. Everyone enjoys the boat ride from the Port Orleans Resorts to Downtown Disney. 

We spend hours just going back and forth on these boats, taking a few moments to walk around Downtown Disney before boarding a boat for return trip to Port Orleans. The Moderate resorts have other hidden gems, if you just take the time to look for them.

Ever been to Caribbean Cay? No, that is not a typo. Many are familiar with Castaway Cay, the private island the Disney Cruise Line visits. Caribbean Cay is located within Caribbean Beach Resort. It is a small little nook, tucked away, which has picnic benches and several hammocks as well as a small playground. We enjoyed many lunches out here just listening to the sounds of nature and getting away from the hustle and bustle. My wheelchair bound daughter enjoyed taking a bit of an afternoon siesta here, sleeping peacefully in one of the hammocks we found. 

Have you ever thought about sending a “unique” postcard to someone back home while on vacation at Disney? One can still purchase a postcard coconut that you could send to a friend. Our girls have sent some. The only problem was finding a cast member who had a black permanent marker in which to write the address of the person to whom we were sending the coconut postcard. Putting a bit of clear packing tape over the address of the person you were sending the coconut to insured that the address stayed attached to the coconut. When you purchase your coconut, the postage is already included for shipment within the United States—the coconut is sent via standard postal shipping.

A must do for several...warm beignets from French Quarter. These go FAST, but oh are they good. For those who are gluten free, Disney now makes a wonderful gluten free variety of these treats as well.

The Moderate resorts sport great sit-down restaurants on property. Chances are, you have noticed the wonderful restaurant called Boatwrights located at Port Orleans Riverside. Boatwrights is one of our favorite places to eat. The food is Southern comfort food, and very plentiful. They make a wonderful Mint Julep as well for those who are looking for a good adult beverage.

My girls were interested in the furniture in this restaurant. We especially enjoyed the copper stenciling in the pie pantry located near the check-in desk for this restaurant.

Have you looked at the boat being built which hangs from the ceiling rafters or the tools used to build this boat while in Boatwrights? 


These are interesting pieces to explore, and lead to our going back to our room to look up some interesting facts not only on boat building, but the Mississippi River as well. There is a small map on the wall near the outside door of Boatwrights that shows some of the shipping routes along the Mississippi River. 

Here is a piece of trivia you may or may not know. Sassagoula has a meaning. Do you know what it is? Depending on whom you ask, it is from an Indian dialect and means either Mississippi River or Old Man River, with Old Man River being the most widely accepted meaning.

You can see musical notes adorning the front desk at Port Orleans French Quarter. Do you suppose these notes hold a meaning, or could they be part of a song? We asked this very question and learned that the musical notes are the beginning stanza of “When The Saints Go Marching In.”

The Moderate resorts have wonderful slides that add to the fun of going swimming. Our favorites are the Port Orlean slides...King Triton's over in French Quarter.

There is also the Old Man River pool at Riverside. 

Caribbean Beach has a wonderful fort with lots of slides and waterfalls. Coronado has a long slide that comes out from a pyramid. All are fun ways to enjoy a lazy day away.

The River's Roost located in Port Orleans Riverside has a wonderful nighttime entertainment on select nights. Bob Jackson, or Yeehaw Bob as he is affectionately known, has been entertaining guests for many years. 

He plays the piano and sings, engaging the guests in his songs and tomfoolery. This is a great family show that is well worth taking the time to see.

Over in Scat Cats, located in the Port Orleans French Quarters Section, there used to be a wonderful Jazz Musician called Elliott Dysan. 

Sadly, Elliott was laid off when Disney did some lobby refurbishment work sometime in 2013. We miss listening to Elliott and his saxophone jazz, but have come to appreciate the music that is offered by Tom Casey, an accomplished jazz pianist. This is just my opinion mind you, but I think Elliott Dysan was more entertaining over at Scat Cats than Tom Casey—but we still take the time to listen to Tom if we happen to be in the area when he is performing.

I remember once that the girls were admiring the lovely flowers in the gardens outside the Mansions of Port Orleans. The gardeners were working, but took the time to explain to the girls what the various flowers were. The girls were even offered a small flower, a magnolia I believe, that could be tucked behind their ears. I was given some of the roses that were pruned from the bushes which I immediately took back to my room and placed in bathroom water glass to adorn the table in our room. Those roses lasted a long time.

Speaking of the Sassagoula River, taking the walk from Riverside to French Quarter is relaxing. 
When the boat passes you, chances are the boat captain as well as the passengers on board will take the time to wave at you. It makes you feel like Royalty.

Both French Quarter and Riverside have several winding paths that are fun to explore. 

At night, especially in the Riverside section, if you head on over to Alligator Bayou and stand on the small foot bridges, chances are you will be serenaded by the various frogs giving a nightly concert. We have spent much time just being still and listening to the sounds of nature here. 

Have you had the opportunity to speak with “Birdie”? He is a wonderful doorman at Port Orleans Riverside. He has many stories to share and can be counted on to hand out several beaded necklaces to guests in the morning hours. 

Almost forgot. My girls learned a very valuable lesson one time. If you want to get Mom to move really quickly, just let her find one of these reptilian creatures while doing laundry. 

That was indeed some FREE entertainment and provided laughs not only to them, but several of the resort guests as well. 

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