by: Beci Mahnken, CTC -- MouseFanTravel.com
Let’s virtually check in to the newest Walt Disney World resort and discuss some of the top reasons you should consider this European-inspired resort that reflects a sense of modern elegance.
Disney’s Riviera Resort is a Deluxe Villa resort, also known as a Disney Vacation Club resort. However, you don’t have to be a member of the club to book a room. Guests can certainly use DVC points for their stay, but you can also take advantage of the frequent room offers and pay with your credit card, giving you all of the access and none of the maintenance fees!
Here are some of the best reasons to consider a stay at Disney’s Riviera Resort.
The Overall Design & Artistic Flair
This resort occupies a small footprint when compared to other resorts that feel much more spread out making it easy to get from lobby to your room, to quick service, to the pool, etc., without feeling like you have to go on a 45-minute expedition just to get your espresso and chocolate croissant in the morning.
The lobby design has been knocked by some as being too small and uninteresting, however I don’t agree. I like the intimate layout with plenty of seating and a welcoming front desk. The color palate is clean and refreshingly modern with splashes of color to reflect the artistic flavor of the resort.
The resort showcases beautiful mosaics and more than 40 original art pieces around the resort inspired by the art history of the Mediterranean and Disney storytelling. And if you fall in love with a piece, no worries! You can purchase a take home version at the Art on Demand kiosk in the La Boutique store in the resort lobby.
Take a stroll and you will also discover fanciful posters of Disney movies in French as well as personal family photos and souvenirs on display on and around the Voyageurs Lounge just off the lobby.
Variety of Accommodations
Guests can select from an array of different room types that sleep two to twelve guests making it a great option for singles, couples, and families.
Tower Studio Room
This is a unique room specifically designed for up to two guests. At approximately 250 square feet, it is small by standard deluxe room standards. However, it is a perfect fit for those who don’t plan to spend much time in the room and are looking for a more cost-effective option at a deluxe resort. This room does away with a standard bed in the room in favor of a queen-size Murphy bed that is tucked away in the wall. During the day that space is used for a more open floor plan and opens to a comfy bed at night that also reveals handy phone pockets and wall outlets. You will also find a microwave, coffee maker, small refrigerator, and storage drawers nicely tucked away in the wall to maximize space. The marble bathroom is quite a luxury as it seems to be fairly close to the size of the living area. These rooms feature a glass-enclosed walk-in shower with a rain shower head and removable standard shower head option. The Tower Studio rooms also feature a balcony with chairs and a table to relax and enjoy the view.
At approximately 423 square feet, this room more easily compares to the size and layout of a deluxe resort with some added benefits. This room will sleep up to five guests. It has one queen bed, but unlike other villa resorts that utilize a pull out couch, Disney’s Riviera Resort has made the wall pull-down Murphy bed their second queen bed and added a small kid-sized Murphy bed that folds down from a console under the TV. With a microwave, coffee maker, toaster, and small refrigerator, the small kitchenette is great for quick meals on the go. The marble split bathroom has both the walk-in shower and a standalone tub. The balcony has two chairs and a small table.
This room also sleeps up to five guests, but at approximately 813 square feet, it offers much more elbow room. The added privacy of a room with a door and more flexibility of a full kitchen and dining area makes this option really shine for a family. The bedding takes a step up to a king-size bed and the queen- and twin-size Murphy beds are once again a space saver when you need the room during the day. The split bath has the walk-in shower, but what’s a relaxing vacation without a bubble jet tub? That alone is a good reason to select this room category….. but wait… there’s more! The one-bedroom villas also have a washer/dryer combo which helps you limit your packing needs and may save you some extra bag fees.
With a king-size bed, two queen-size beds, a queen Murphy bed and a twin Murphy bed, this room sleeps up to nine guests and is a comfortable 1,246 square feet. It has all the beautiful style and amazing amenities of the one-bedroom but with the extra space and added privacy of two rooms with doors that can be closed off from the living area as well as the extra guest bathroom.
This villa is perfect for a large family, friends traveling together or a multi-generational family who want to have enough room to spread out for a gathering. It has a full kitchen, three full baths, a washer/dryer, a dining room, and three separate balconies to take in the view. With two guest rooms with two queen beds each, a king bed in the master bedroom and the murphy beds, this 2,530-square-foot suite is the size of many suburban houses.
You can save some money by booking the standard view that looks over the parking area towards Disney Springs.
This is one of those no-brainer benefits and was one of the reasons I was first drawn to the resort. You can still board a bus or hail an uber to get around, but just steps from your resort you can hop into a Skyliner gondola and be at Epcot’s International Gateway in about eight minutes, or at Hollywood Studios in about 11 minutes plus the transfer time.
The Skyliner gondolas are a peaceful escape from the usual transportation in the area and could be considered an attraction all their own. Don’t have a park ticket on your departure day with some time to kill? Hop on the Skyliner!
Many of the gondolas are wrapped in a film with fun characters that can help shield the car a little from the heat of the sun. However, for the best views you can ask to wait for a clear gondola. This may or may not be honored depending on the wait time.
Best Character Meal in Walt Disney World?
I only include the question mark because I’m sure there will be some who disagree… However, I’m convinced the Breakfast a la Art with Mickey and Friends at Topolino’s Terrace is one of, if not the best character breakfast in Disney World. The restaurant itself is stunning (more on that later) but the art theme is present from the décor to the table accessories to the colorful costumes on the characters. Here you will Painter Mickey, Poet Minnie, Sculptor Donald, and Ballet Dancer Daisy who will charm you with their talent and wit as you ask for yet another round of their scrumptious palate of breakfast pastries. Approximately once per hour or so they spring into action with a fun dance celebration to connect everyone to the experience. It is a prix fixe meal with your choice of entrée including Sour Crème Waffle, Smoked Salmon, and my personal favorite, Quiche Gruyere.
This is a popular option so be sure to book your reservations when your booking window opens.
Family Friendly Activities
The resort grounds are beautifully manicured and have fun surprises for guests to find like a giant chess set, bocce ball, cornhole, and even Connect 4. The main Riviera pool has a slide that winds around a column tower and the S’il Vous Play water area is perfect for younger guests to make a splash. If you prefer a more relaxing experience, the Beau Soleil Pool is a bit quieter and is adjacent to the hot tub — just what the vacation ordered! The Athletique Fitness Center is also available if you want to head off the impact of all those fabulous dining options that Disney has to offer.
Spend some time to wander around the resort and discover the hidden gems around the grounds. You can also ask guest services for a resort calendar of activities and they even have a scavenger hunt, too!
Of course we couldn’t end without addressing food and beverage options and Disney’s Rivera Resort has a lot to offer from fine dining at Topolino’s Terrace to the Vivili il Gelato cart near the pool.
Le Petit Café just off the lobby is your stop for freshly brewed coffee and pastries in the morning. After 4 p.m., it transforms into a lounge with charcuterie, cheese, and other small plate options. You can also find specialty cocktails, beer, wine, and spirits.
Bar Riva is the open-air poolside eatery where you can grab a hot or cold sandwich, bar favorites like grilled chicken wings, or a variety of salads including the very popular Tuna Niçoise option. The kids’ menu has all the favorites like cheeseburgers, cheese pizza, and fried chicken strips. And refreshing cocktails, beer, wine, and sangria are available just steps from the pool.
Primo Piatto is your go-to for a casual quick service breakfast lunch and dinner. There is indoor and outdoor seating and the décor features photos of Walt and Lillian Disney enjoying their European adventures. A classic French ham, swiss and fried egg breakfast sandwich, blueberry-lemon pancakes, and scrambled egg platter are among the morning options. Lunch and dinner have all the usual standards like bacon cheddar burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, and soup and salad options.
Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera offers French and Italian culinary creations with a spectacular view from the rooftop terrace. I haven’t had a dish here that wasn’t a delight, but the two shining stars are the Rigatoni with Braised Chicken Sugo (Ask Lou for his personal thoughts on that one, but be sure you have a lot of time and have eaten already, otherwise you may be very hungry afterwards!) and dare I say the Filet Mignon with Truffled Mashed Potatoes is in the running for the best steak in Disney World.
Take a moment during your dining experience at Topolino’s to step out on the rooftop terrace and take in the beautiful sweeping views.
Beci Mahnken, CTC is the Founder and Chief Magic Maker at MEI-Travel & Mouse Fan Travel, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner featuring over 80 Disney Travel agents nationwide. With 20 years in the travel biz, she was recognized by Travel + Leisure magazine as the A-List Agent for Disney travel and serves on the Earmarked Advisory Board. Beci has long worked with the Disney fan community to help support fan efforts and create high profile events and has a passion for supporting deserving charities with a special emphasis on animal welfare efforts and making magic for kids. She has a love for exploring history, ocean cruising, river cruising and served on advisory boards for the prestigious GTM event and TravelAge West Magazine. Beci’s dedicated to her craft of sharing the magic of travel with anyone who will listen.