Disney’s Riviera Resort is a deluxe villa resort at Walt Disney World. This review of Disney’s Riviera will preview the room types, dining, recreation, amenities, and transportation options. We’ll also discuss the specifics of our last stay and what to expect when you plan a stay.
As you probably know, most of the resorts at Walt Disney World are themed to various locations. For instance, neighboring Caribbean Beach is themed to the Caribbean Islands, and Saratoga Springs is themed to the horse and spa resort in upper New York state. Disney’s Riviera Resort is inspired by the French and Italian Riviera in Europe. It’s designed to mimic the look and feel of a traditional European hotel.
Walt Disney spent some time in the Riviera region at one point. It is said that the resort was first inspired by his love for the south of France and the Mediterranean coastline. While Disney’s Riviera isn’t the most expensive resort at Disney World, we believe it’s by far the most luxurious. From the bow tie accents on the marble floors to the sunny private lawn behind the pool, this resort is truly designed for those who enjoy the finer things in life.
A Note on Disney Vacation Club Resorts
Disney’s Deluxe Villa Resorts operate differently from regular resorts. When reservations open, Disney’s Vacation Club members have a first choice of rooms. However, Disney also makes these studios and villas available for regular guests to rent. So, you do not have to be a DVC member to reserve one of these units. These units can be reserved through Disney, a travel agent, or an online DVC resale or rental site. Check-in for all villa resorts is at 4:00 p.m., and check-out is at 11:00 a.m.
Most of the Disney Vacation Club Resorts are part of a larger resort. Disney’s Riviera is one of a few dedicated timeshare resorts. Here’s a photo of that green lawn behind the pool.
Disney’s Riviera Location
Location is a primary factor when planning a resort stay at Disney World. While the Riviera isn’t within walking distance of any theme park or major destination, it’s only a short Skyliner ride away from Disney’s Riviera.
If you’re familiar with Disney World’s property, Riviera sits on Buena Vista Drive. It sits between the Epcot Resorts Area and Bonnet Creek Drive. You can see the Bonnet Creek Hotels from the resort.
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort sits within walking distance of the Riviera. The land where the Riviera sits used to be considered part of Caribbean Beach. Both the resorts sit around Barefoot Bay. If you enjoy walking or jogging, you’ll have plenty of room to roam. We often visit this area for an evening walk right around sunset.
Since Caribbean Beach is within walking distance, you can easily enjoy a meal there. However, Caribbean Beach is a moderate resort, so their dining options will not be as upscale as the Riviera’s. We think the Riviera is more of an asset to Caribbean Beach than the other way around. But we don’t have any issues with Caribbean Beach. It’s just a completely different price range.
A porte-cochere sits ahead of the Riviera’s main entrance. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the valet and asked if we needed assistance with our car or bell services. Parking is available on both sides of the entrance. If you use your car during your stay, you might relocate it close to your room assignment. You might prefer to use several private entrances when coming and going.
The resort’s entrance is attractive. It has a water feature that runs the length of the building.
Riviera’s logo is prominent throughout the resort. Unfortunately, the lobby is a bit of a disappointment for some. It is boutique and almost always crowded. I’ve had a difficult time getting a decent photo of it. However, the resort has plenty of other places to lounge if you take the time to find them.
Those who appreciate art will likely fall in love with the Riviera. For many, it’s a major selling factor for guests who purchase a timeshare. When the resort first opened, a guided art tour was available. But on our last visit, we were given instructions for a self-guided option, which turned out to be fun. To participate, ask a cast member at the Disney Vacation Club kiosk for a copy of the art tour.
Throughout the resort, you’ll find paintings, posters, and mosaics. Perhaps the most significant pieces of artwork are the two murals that line the breezeway from the resort to the Skyliner. One features a scene from Tangled, the other from Peter Pan. A pair of fountains sit between them. The entire space is aesthetically pleasing and calming.
Here is an example of one of the paintings at the Riviera Resort. If you find a particular painting you enjoy, check with the gift shop about purchasing it. They have a kiosk that shows prints throughout the resort that are available for purchase.
Off the lobby, you’ll find Voyageur’s Lounge. This library is a much better place to sit and relax than the lobby. It also has a few areas with outlets and USB ports for anyone needing to get a little work done. If you enjoy collectibles, you might take a few minutes to browse the space.
A hallway off the lobby contains a gallery of black and white photos. This collection features some endearing pictures of Walt Disney and his family visiting the south of France.
You’ll find another gallery with Disney movie posters on the resort’s lower level. These remind me of the Cannes Film Festival.
Look closely, and you’ll notice they are written in French. The ones below are for Inside Out (Vice-Versa) and Moana (Vaiana).
Room Types at Disney’s Riviera Resort
We stayed in a deluxe studio villa with a preferred room view for this visit. We also had the opportunity to tour the other room types on a subsequent visit. So, we’ll look at each room type below and discuss a few pros and cons. If you want to see more photos of a room type, we have linked to separate room tours for each one. We had too many photos to share in one review.
First, we’ll start with the Tower Studio. This room type is unique to Disney’s Riviera Resort. It is the smallest room type at Walt Disney World and only sleeps two guests. Here is a photo of the room. A queen-size bed pulls down from the wall. It is a tight space, but on the flip side, you have a decent balcony and a sizable bathroom.
Related: Tower Studio at Disney’s Riviera
When I first toured this space, I wasn’t fond of it. But as a party of one or two, I wouldn’t have any issues staying here and could definitely make it work.
With the sizable closet, you wouldn’t have to worry about having a lot of stuff take up space in the main living area.
We adored our stay in the deluxe studio at Disney’s Riviera Resort. It felt like a luxury suite, and we enjoyed the attention to detail. This unit sleeps up to five guests. It features a queen-size bed, a queen-size Murphy bed, and an individual trundle pull-down bed.
This unit has a split bathroom, similar to the deluxe studios at Polynesian Villas. It’s basically two bathrooms with one toilet. One side of the bathroom has a full vanity with a tub and shower combination.
A pocket door separates the space. The opposite side is home to the water closet and walk-in shower. The entire space is comprised of marble with gold fixtures.
Deluxe studios come with a kitchenette. You won’t find this upgrade in a standard resort room at Disney World. Deluxe studios have a microwave, mini-fridge, coffee maker, toaster, sink, and dinnerware. So you can reheat leftovers or prepare small meals in your room. This works well when traveling with small children who might be picky eaters.
Below is a look at the view from our balcony. This is a preferred room view, which is an upgrade. However, I would not worry too much about the room view upgrade at Disney’s Riviera. While this was a pleasant view, there was nothing spectacular about it. Many of the owners at Riviera recommend going standard. While some of the standard views have a view of the parking lot, they also allow the opportunity to see fireworks in the evening.
For reference, a preferred view will have one of the following views: courtyard, lake, landscaping, pool, or the Disney Skyliner. We’ll look at a lake view below when we preview the grand villas.
If you have a smaller party and would like a little more room to spread out, you might consider a one-bedroom villa at Disney’s Riviera. The one-bedroom accommodates up to five guests and offers a full kitchen with a washer and dryer in the unit. This is also the same living space for a two-bedroom and two-bedroom lock-off.
Or if you’re traveling with a larger party, you might consider a two-bedroom villa. The two-bedroom villa sleeps up to nine guests. It has the same living, dining, and master bedroom as the one-bedroom. Here is the difference between the two bedrooms:
- The two-bedroom unit has a secondary bedroom with only two queen-sized beds.
- The two-bedroom lock-off combines a one-bedroom and a deluxe studio villa.
If you want to go all out, the Riviera has a three-bedroom grand villa. This unit sleeps up to twelve guests and offers all the bells and whistles.
Related: Three-Bedroom Grand Villa at Riviera
Here is a view of the lake from the grand villa. This unit has multiple balconies offering a lake view and a pool view.
Recreation at Disney’s Riviera
Disney’s Riviera is a significant resort with a boutique layout, which makes it simple to get back to your room and access various other resort amenities. The resort offers two pools within a few steps of each other. The Beau Soleil is the resort’s leisure pool.
The Riviera Pool is the resort’s feature pool. It offers a water slide, hot tub spas, and plenty of loungers. A zero-depth entry is available on one side of the pool.
This pool has a curvy water slide inside of a tower.
This pool is also where you’ll find the S’il Vous Play aquatic play area. The water play area features a fun ballet of characters from the animated classic Fantasia. It’s a mixture of a playground with a splash pad and water elements.
While Riviera’s pool area isn’t nearly a pool like Stormalong Bay at the Beach Club, it comes in high on our list of the best pools at Disney World. Guests who enjoy spending time at the resort might also like to check out the nightly Movie Under the Stars. When the weather is pleasant, it’s held on the lawn behind the pool.
In addition to the resort’s stunning pools, several other recreation items are available. Disney’s Riviera has a beautiful walkway that joins Caribbean Beach. This trail is perfect for enjoying a stroll around Barefoot Bay.
A running trail map is posted near the walkway. The trail is approximately 1.25 miles if you jog the entire lap around the lake. We have a few ways you can extend the distance in our guide to jogging trails at Disney World.
If you prefer to lounge away from the pool, you’ll find a few places to sit on the white sand beach. This beach area sits on the side of the resort near the aquatic play area.
Outside the resort’s back entrance, you’ll find plenty of activities on the courtyard lawn. At any given moment, you might encounter a game of chess, cornhole, or other lawn games. The Bocce Ball court is almost always busy.
A couple of pleasant seating areas are positioned around the courtyard.
We like to pick up a meal and find a table and chairs near the lake to take in this view. It’s the perfect place to have breakfast before the sun gets too high overhead.
Lastly, Disney’s Riviera has a gym, the Athletique Fitness Center. Like all of the gyms at Disney, it’s fully stocked with exercise equipment and weights.
Okay, it’s time for the most important aspect of staying at Disney’s Riviera: the food. Riviera has some of the best dining options at Disney World. One of its restaurants even tops our list of the best quick service restaurants at the Disney Resorts.
Le Petit Cafe, the resort’s coffee shop, sits off the lobby. They have a selection of hot and cold coffee drinks throughout the day. Later in the day, a separate cocktail menu is available with the resort’s signature cocktails, beers, and wine options.
If you’re hoping for a quick breakfast, you can grab a croissant or pastry with your coffee. These items get changed out to desserts as lunchtime approaches. It’s an excellent place to pick up a sweet treat!
Related: Le Petit Cafe at Riviera
Primo Piatto, the resort’s quick-service restaurant, is on the resort’s ground level. They have an indoor and outdoor entrance. We eat here about once a month. It’s one of our favorites.
During our stay, I loved the blueberry lemon pancakes offered at breakfast. They come with a choice of sides. I usually order sausage.
Between the reasonable pricing and quality of the menu items, it’s hard to go wrong with a meal at this location. We have a Primo Piatto Review if you want to learn more. We’ve tried almost everything on the menu and have a few go-tos. Below is the grilled chicken sandwich with a side salad.
Bar Riva sits next door to Primo Piatto. It serves as the main bar and lounge for the Riviera.
Bar Riva is an indoor-outdoor restaurant that’s exposed to the elements. The bar is only steps away from both resort pools and doubles as the pool bar. They have a separate walk-up counter on one side of the bar. This is another excellent place to enjoy a meal. On our last visit, I had the grilled salmon with orzo.
Related: Bar Riva Review
Lastly, Disney’s Riviera is home to Topolino’s Terrace, Flavors of the Riviera. This restaurant offers characters for breakfast only and a more formal atmosphere in the evening.
During breakfast, you’ll see Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, and Daisy Duck. They are all wearing outfits that express their creativity. Below, Mickey is wearing his painter’s smock.
Each table receives an all-you-can-eat bucket of pastries with jams and spreads.
Then, you can order an entree item. Here is a Mickey waffle with a side of bacon.
If you are looking for a character breakfast at Disney with classic characters and good food, this one fits the bill. We’ve tried nearly all of the character dining experiences at Disney, and Topolino’s is by far our favorite.
You might also take the time to enjoy their rooftop terrace, especially if you dine here in the evening. Guests can pick up a cocktail inside and enjoy it in the patio area.
You’ll take in exquisite views of the surrounding area.
Related: Disney’s Riviera Resort Restaurants
Disney’s Riviera has a few amenities we’ve yet to discuss. The resort’s gift shop, La Boutique, sits off the lobby. The shop has a good deal of resort-branded merchandise.
You might even find a Riviera Loungefly.
Unfortunately, the more popular resort items, like the backpack, sell out quickly. But they usually get restocked. It can be hit or miss, depending on the time of your visit. The gift shop also has a decent selection of snacks and breakfast items to prepare in your room.
A large recreation room is available on the resort’s ground level near Primo Piatto. They host several activities throughout the day. If you’re interested in this kind of activity, you can pick up a resort recreation schedule. It will also list the nightly movies.
Laundry facilities are available for guests staying in the tower and deluxe studio. All larger other units come with a washer and dryer. The laundry room is on the resort’s fourth floor.
Guests staying at Disney’s Riviera can access the Skyliner and bus transportation. The Skyliner station sits on one side of the resort.
As mentioned, you’ll walk through the breezeway with the murals to access it.
If you’re headed to Epcot, you’ll walk around to the opposite side of the Skyliner. This is a direct route to and from Epcot. Those headed to Disney’s Hollywood Studios will take a gondola to Caribbean Beach. When you reach Caribbean Beach, you’ll exit and join a line for Hollywood Studios. You can also travel to Disney’s Pop Century Resort or Art of Animation Resort from Caribbean Beach.
Disney bus transportation is provided to and from the Riviera and the following locations:
- Magic Kingdom
- Animal Kingdom
- Disney Springs
A transfer bus is available to Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach.
If the Skyliner is not operating, bus transportation from Disney’s Riviera to Hollywood Studios and Epcot will be provided.
Disney’s Riviera Resort Review Final Thoughts
Overall, we enjoyed our stay at Disney’s Riviera Resort. We have returned many times since our first stay and consider this resort among our favorites. This is the perfect option if you like that “hotel” look and feel!
Regarding negatives (every hotel has them), you will likely encounter long lines for the Skyliner first thing in the morning. So, if getting to rope drop is important, we recommend getting in line early. We have especially experienced long lines at the Caribbean Beach station while waiting to go to Hollywood Studios.
We don’t usually travel at park openings, and we stay after closing to avoid excessive lines for transportation. This is also why we prefer the resorts within walking distance of the parks over the Riviera. We love to walk out of Epcot at the end of the night and back to our room at the Beach Club.
The other negative for Riviera is the price and availability. It’s expensive and often booked. So budget is always a factor when staying here. But it wouldn’t be expensive if it wasn’t a sought-after hotel.
For other Disney World Hotel Reviews, you might enjoy some of our other favorites:
- Disney’s Beach Club Review
- Disney’s Boardwalk Inn Review
- Disney’s Yacht Club Review
- Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort Review
- Disney’s Contemporary Garden Wing Review
- Disney’s Gran Destino Tower Review
What Do You Think?
Did you enjoy this review of Disney’s Riviera Resort? Have you had a chance to stay here? If so, we would love to hear your thoughts, comments, and experiences in the comment section below. Feel free to leave any questions or other feedback. We enjoy reading your responses. They add value and help us learn and grow, too!