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Disney’s Riviera Resort Review

Disney’s Riviera Resort is one of the newest Disney Vacation Club resorts at Walt Disney World. As its name states, the resort was modeled after the French Riviera. The story is that Disney’s Riviera was inspired by Walt Disney’s love for the south of France and the Mediterranean coastline.

You may or may not be aware, but the French and Italian Riviera meet along the European coastline. Therefore, you can expect to find a mix of French and Italian influence in Disney’s Riviera Resort’s design.

In this review of Disney’s Riviera Resort, we’ll look at the different types of rooms, restaurants, pools, and recreation available. Since the resort opened, we’ve had an opportunity to stay in a deluxe studio room. Not only that, we’ve been back several times for dining, recreation, and more of the Riviera, in general.

Disney’s Riviera Resort Review

The Riviera is considered a Disney deluxe resort. However, it also falls under the category of a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) villa resort. Most of the DVC resorts are part of a larger resort. For instance, Boardwalk Villas are a part of Disney’s Boardwalk Inn Resort, and Beach Club Villas are part of Disney’s Beach Club (review).

No matter how you decide to classify the new resort, it’s definitely considered luxurious. And it commands one of the highest price points on Disney property.

Additionally, you don’t have to be a Disney Vacation Club member to book a stay here. Disney’s Riviera Resort’s rooms are available for anyone to reserve.

The Riviera is located in Lake Buena Vista off Buena Vista Drive. The hotel will be on your right after you pass the turn for the Epcot Resorts Area. The entrance has its own street name, but you’ll run into a guard shack immediately after turning off the main drive.

Here’s a quick photo I took from the entrance on my initial visit to the resort.

Front View of Disney's Riviera Resort

Disney’s Riviera Resort Address: 1080 Esplanade Avenue, Lake Buena Vista, FL

A porte-cochere sits ahead of the main entrance. When you arrive, the valet will be glad to assist with your car or ring for bell services if needed. There are parking lots on the left and right-hand side of the resort if you have a car with you.

Outside the main entrance, a water feature runs the length of the building.

You’ll notice the Riviera logo in several places throughout the resort.

Upon entry, you’ll be greeted by the lobby, which I felt was a miss in the resort’s overall design. Riviera’s lobby is minimal and could easily feel crowded.

Unfortunately, the space is under-whelming. When it comes to first impressions, it might leave you feeling a bit bland. Thankfully, the resort has much more to offer outside of the lobby.

One of the things I love about the new Riviera Resort is the artwork that’s on display. On my first visit, a cast member in the lobby shared that Riviera was offering an art tour on certain days of the week before last year’s closure.

Apparently, the resort has several special pieces on display. When things return to normal, I hope to do a few of these hotel tours and share the details.

If you are interested in art, you might also like to know that Kidani Village at Animal Kingdom Lodge (review) has a nice collection of art on display.

To me, these are the kinds of unexpected things that you fall in love with at Disney. Or maybe the people that share them with you. Oui. Ciao!

Anyway, inside the lobby is the resort’s gift shop, La Boutique.

They have a few resort-inspired art pieces on display for purchase.

And there’s a decent selection of snacks and breakfast items to prepare in your room. It is common for the DVC resorts to have grocery items like these in the picture below. All of the villas have a kitchenette at the bare minimum in each room.

The cooler section has beverages, sandwich meats, milk, and a few frozen items.

There is a nice variety of resort branded merchandise in Riviera’s gift shop.

Right around the corner from the lobby is Voyageur’s Lounge. It’s an agreeable library of sorts where you can lounge or get a little work done if needed.

I really enjoyed browsing this area. The attention to detail and hodgepodge mixture of collectibles makes one want to linger a little longer.

The stark contrast between the lounge and open hallway is quite noticeable, but it all works well together. The gallery of photos has some endearing pictures of Walt Disney and his family when they visited the French Riviera.

And a little further down the hallway, this piece caught my eye. It reminded me of one of my favorite photographer’s earlier pieces in a time period where he put out a number of astonishing photographs.

Before we head outside to enjoy some of the resort’s best attributes, let’s take a look at the rooms.

Deluxe Studio at Disney’s Riviera Resort

When weighing your options between Disney Resorts, you can expect most guest rooms to have similar accommodations. Typically, rooms at Disney offer two queen beds with an attached full guest bath.

However, the villa resorts offer a few in-room nuances that help elevate the look and feel of a regular room. For this visit to the Riviera, we drove over from our condo in Kissimmee.

Kristen at Firefly Travels helped me secure this reservation and sponsored this resort review. If you are looking to reserve a room, make sure to check with her company here. She spends a ton of time at Disney throughout the year, and her team is very efficient at planning vacations.

We stayed in a deluxe studio villa and found our room very similar to the one we had at the Grand Floridian Villas. Like that room, you get two queen size beds and one pull-down trundle bed. The deluxe studio villa at Riviera comfortably sleeps four adults with room for an extra child on the trundle.

The trundle bed folds into the wall when you’re not using it to help conserve space.

There’s artwork inside the trundle featuring Pascal from Tangled. These beds are ideal for guests around the ages of 10 and under. For those traveling with multiple children, it’s nice to have the option to accommodate up to five guests in one room.

Most of the deluxe studios have pull-out sofa beds. At Riviera, the second option is a Murphy bed, which pulls down from the wall.

The sofa actually collapses underneath the bed. This option is by far easier to use and more comfortable than the average sofa bed. One of the things I liked most was that you didn’t have to deal with large sofa cushions taking up extra space in the room while the bed is in use.

The bathroom was my favorite part of the deluxe studio room. The bathroom featured a Carrara marble with dark veins that contrasted well with the brushed brass fixtures.

Similar to the villa room at Grand Floridian, this bath has a split floor plan. By split, I mean one full side of the bath featured a vanity with a tub and shower combination. And on the other, there is a water closet with a large walk-in shower.

This layout makes the bath area extremely efficient because it provides space for multiple people to bathe or get ready in privacy at the same time.

Kitchenettes are another nice upgrade you can expect when electing to go with a DVC villa. You won’t find these in a standard Disney World resort room. It’s nice to have the option to prepare a small meal or reheat leftovers.

Paper towels, dish soap, coffee, and other accompaniments were included in the room.

The sink has a detachable faucet that comes in handy for rinsing water bottles and whatnot.

The coffee maker was a Cuisinart, which kind of surprised me. When I notice a detail like this higher-end coffee maker, I began to picture the interior designer in my head. Subsequently, I begin to wonder how much I’m paying for complimentary coffee?

Here is that built-in microwave for those leftovers or frozen meals you picked up down in the lobby at La Boutique. That’s a toaster oven in the top cabinet.

Below there’s a place to store trash and recycle under the counter. The room fridge is also larger than what you would find in a standard hotel room at Disney.

Toward the front of the room, there’s a decent size foyer. Here you’ll find a double door closet with extra room to store your luggage.

Inside the closet, there were a few other amenities like a vacuum cleaner and full-size ironing board. This is also where you’ll find the in-room safe.

Last but not least, the rooms at Disney’s Riviera Resort offer a nice size balcony. There is plenty of room for two to three guests to sit outside and enjoy the weather.

We had a deluxe preferred resort view. I feel like the balcony was a good bit larger than it looks in the pictures.

The resort view was serene. That’s Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort (review) with the red roof in the distance. I forgot to mention above, but a walkway connects Riviera Resort to Caribbean Beach. So if you are staying at either, you’ll have even more dining options available within walking distance.

Additionally, Disney’s Riviera Resort offers the following room types:

  • Tower Studio
  • Deluxe Studio Standard View
  • 1 bedroom Villa
  • 2 bedroom Villa
  • 3 bedroom Grand Villa

The tower studio is unique in the fact that it sleeps up to 2 adults. This room will have one pull-down bed with a view of landscaping or parking and includes a balcony.

And if you are looking to go all out, you might enjoy the three bedroom Grand Villa. Per Disney’s website, it includes “a full kitchen with an island, formal dining area, and three full bathrooms.”

Transportation

Disney’s Riviera Resort offers two forms of transportation for guests to use when accessing a theme park. I would imagine that the new Disney Skyliner is one of the largest draws for most guests considering a stay here. I know it was for me.

The Skyliner station for Riviera is conveniently located a few steps off the west side of the resort. You’ll walk through the breezeway with the popular Tangled and Peter Pan murals to access it.

The Riviera Skyliner station travels directly to Epcot. For those headed to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you’ll board a gondola to Disney’s Caribbean Beach. When you reach Caribbean Beach, you’ll exit and join a line for Hollywood Studios.

Additionally, guests can travel to Disney’s Pop Century Resort or Art of Animation Resort via the Skyliner.

I have a full review of the Disney Skyliner with travel times here. If you are planning on using the Skyliner, I highly recommend reading more about the system in advance and how you can use it to your advantage.

Disney bus transportation is also available to guests staying at the Riviera Resort. The bus station sits outside the front of the resort and travels to the following destinations:

  • Magic Kingdom
  • Animal Kingdom
  • Disney Springs
  • Blizzard Beach
  • Typhoon Lagoon

If the Skyliner goes down or during inclement weather, bus transportation will be provided at Disney’s Riviera to Hollywood Studios and Epcot.

As for resort airline transportation, at this time, Disney’s Magical Express takes guests to and from Orlando International Airport. However, that service will end in late 2021.

Recreation

This review of Disney’s Riviera Resort will briefly look at the pool areas available to guests. There are two different pools and one children’s water play area.

The first pool is considered the resort’s leisure pool, the Beau Soleil. This pool is located in the back center and is larger than comparable resort’s quiet pools.

The feature pool is called the Riviera pool. This is also where the S’il Vous Play aquatic play area for children is located.

This pool has a curvy water slide inside of a tower.

The water play area or splash pad features a fun ballet of characters from the animated classic Fantasia.

While Riviera’s pool area isn’t as extreme as a pool like Stormalong Bay, I would consider the area to be one of the best Disney World pools.

I have a separate review if you would like additional information about the pools at the Riviera, if you would like more details. It includes tons of photos and a video of the pool area.

Dining

When it comes to dining at a Disney World Resort hotel, you can’t get any better than the Riviera Resort. I’ll have a full restaurant guide coming out in the next few weeks, but I want to share a small sample of what to expect when it comes to dining here.

First, off the lobby, you’ll find Le Petit Cafe. The cafe is a coffee shop with a bakery. Le Petit has a decent selection of beers, wine, and cocktails. Here are a few of the pastries available in the dessert case.

Downstairs, on the ground level, is the resort’s quick-service restaurant, Primo Piatto. You might remember in my review of Primo Piatto; I shared with you the wonderful breakfast and lunch menu items we had tried. These blueberry lemon pancakes are a dish I’ll definitely return for in the future.

Between the reasonable pricing and quality of the menu items, it seems like it’s hard to go wrong with a meal from Riviera’s counter service location.

Bar Riva sits next door to Primo Piatto. This is the main bar and lounge for Riviera.

Bar Riva has an indoor-outdoor feel with the front of the restaurant exposed to the elements. This location is only steps away from both pools and serves as the main pool bar.

Rounding things out, we’ll head up to Riviera’s top floor and check out Topolino’s Terrace. This restaurant offers a Disney World character dining experience and more formal dining in the evening.

We have visited Topolino’s Terrace for the Breakfast a la Art character meal.

If you are looking for a character breakfast at Disney with classic characters and good food, this one fits the bill. I’ve tried several character dining experiences at Disney, and Topolino’s wins out for the best quality of the meal.

When you dine here, make sure to enjoy their rooftop lounge either before or after your meal.

The views from above are really something to behold. You can see how close the Swan and Dolphin Resort is in the distance.

For more information about dining at the resort, I recently added a Disney Riviera Restaurants Guide to the site. This will help you with all of your dining choices when visiting the resort.

In addition to the resort’s stunning pool areas, there are several other amenities and recreation we have yet to discuss in this review. For starters, Disney’s Riviera has a beautiful walkway that joins Caribbean Beach. This trail is perfect for jogging or enjoying a leisurely stroll.

There are several running trail maps posted outside on the property. I haven’t measured the distance exactly. But I can say it’s a fairly long distance if you jog the full circle from Riviera to the Trinidad section of Caribbean Beach and back.

Riviera also has plenty of outdoor seating areas and white sand beaches to enjoy.

However, if you prefer to keep your feet out of the sand, you’ll find an activity lawn, chess lawn, and bocce ball court.

There is a nice sitting area with a fire pit that looks out onto Barefoot Bay.

If you would prefer to get your workout indoors, the Athletique Fitness Center is available.

Like all of the gyms at Disney, it’s fully stocked with exercise equipment and weights.

The Movies Under the Stars program is available in the evenings. You’ll want to pick up a resort recreation calendar upon check-in for a list of movies that will be playing nightly during your stay.

Laundry facilities are available to guests in certain areas of the hotel. Make sure to check the map to locate the one closest to your room.

Disney’s Riviera Resort Review Final Thoughts

Overall, we enjoyed our first stay at Disney’s Riviera Resort. It’s definitely a different resort for Disney, and it’s taken a while to grow on me. On that first visit, I remember leaving and feeling ambivalent toward the resort.

Since then, I’ve returned multiple times, and each time has had a positive impact on my feelings toward the resort. Needless to say, I’ve fallen in love with the place.

The resort is luxurious, the food offerings are a step up from most resorts, and I enjoy spending time in that fancy backyard. My outdoor meals here have become a bit of a new tradition. A tradition I hope will continue for many years to come.

The other thing I love about the resort is how easy it is to get to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. The Skyliner can be a huge time saver. Now don’t get me wrong, if it goes down or the line is backed up, it will eat into your valuable time. But when it’s working, it does work well.

As far as staying at Riviera versus some of the other deluxe resorts, for me, it nearly always comes down to pricing. If the price were more reasonable at Riviera, I would return in a heartbeat.

And if I found a better price at one of the Magic Kingdom or Epcot Resorts, I would probably go that route. But that’s coming from someone who has stayed at nearly every single resort on Disney property.

Whatever you decide, I hope you enjoy your Disney vacation!

For other Disney Resort Reviews not mentioned in this article, you might like the following:

Additionally, you might enjoy some of our more popular planning reviews like the Disney World Character Dining Guide and the Best Restaurants at Disney Springs.

Thanks for reading along today. I hope this review of Disney’s Riviera Resort is beneficial in helping you plan. Please leave your thoughts or any questions you might have about the Riviera in the comments below. I’ll be glad to answer anything based on our experiences.

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