Disney’s Riviera Resort is a Walt Disney World deluxe DVC hotel near Hollywood Studios and Epcot. Sitting along the Disney Skyliner, the Riviera Resort is themed to the French and Italian Riviera. Opening in late 2019, the Riviera is the newest resort at Walt Disney World. In this post, we’ll review the hotel, sharing photos of the resort and room while offering our thoughts on the hotel’s value.
Walt Disney World’s deluxe resorts have a wide range of themes, generally relating to a certain time or place. Whether that be Saratoga’s upstate New York, the Pacific Northwest and national park vibe of Wilderness Lodge or the tropical and South Pacific theme of the Polynesian Village Resort, there is something for everyone. Naturally, some themes are more inviting than others. Relaxing along the French Riviera sounds pretty inviting, even compared to most other WDW hotel themes. But does Disney’s latest resort bring that theme to life? More importantly, do the rooms and amenities live up to the other deluxe accommodations on property.
The Riviera Resort attempts to blend the real world flair of the Riviera with modern day Disney. There are a number of unique and original art pieces throughout the resort, mostly inside, and overall the decorations look nice. Unfortunately, I don’t find the architecture or design to be especially inspired. Truth be told, Disney’s Riviera looks like a fairly generic hotel with a few nods to European motifs.
Contrasting it to the adjacent and bright Caribbean Beach Resort, the gray and compact building looks drab to me. I don’t find the resort ugly by any means, it’s just lacking in character which is odd considering the inspiration. While I’ve never been to the French Riviera, a quick Google search (and some of the books I’ve read on architecture) show some absolutely beautifully designed buildings. While that might not be a fair way to compare a hotel, Disney usually excels at building idealized environments. The roofing and awnings are nice touches but not enough to be wowed by the actual outside design.
As for the blending of Disney in with the theme, I think this was done pretty well. While the nods can be a little heavy handed at times, that is probably more personal preference than anything else. A clear highlight are the photo prints of Walt and Lillian exploring Europe. The aforementioned original art pieces are also beautiful and add in some originality. At times the Riviera can feel like a Disney themed resort with European touches instead of the opposite but that’s not to say that the Disney portions aren’t well done.
While I have qualms with the design of the building, I enjoy most of the inside. The lobby isn’t as grandiose as some Disney World hotels but it’s pretty enough, blending modern and classic aesthetics. I also enjoy the landscaping and relaxed setting of the courtyard on the ground level. Therein lies the story of the Riviera Resort to me. It’s a wonderful place to relax with some beautiful touches but it doesn’t come close to reaching its full potential.
Moving on to the rooms, the studios had the recent layout of most Disney World hotel rooms with a queen bed, queen sized murphy bed and twin sized murphy bed underneath the TV. In general, I’m a big fan of this layout as I think it utilizes the space well. Like the Polynesian studios, this room also had two showers which is a great addition if you have 4 or 5 staying in your room.
I like just about all of the design choices here from the carpet to the color palette. The headboard and lighting above the bed is very pretty, as is the painting above the couch. While not themed to the extreme, the room is both beautiful and not void of character.
There’s 101 Dalmatians above the larger murphy bed. I liked that the style of the art still fit in with the rest of the resort.
The other side of the room kept with the gray and gold theme of the resort and it looks lovely here. This room definitely wins the award for best light features as I love the hanging light, ones by the headboard and this beautiful chandelier.
If you follow the blog regularly then you probably know how much I like lamps and lanterns so a few extra bonus points goes to the Riviera thanks to these features!
Here’s the smaller murphy bed with some Disney critters artwork above it. This is less subtle than the rest of the room but fun for any kiddos sleeping there.
Here’s one of the bathrooms, this one included the toilet and a wonderful walk-in shower with a sink outside the door. Both bathrooms were very pretty.
Here’s the other bathroom with a shower/tub combo and a sink inside. The aesthetic is elegant with the flooring and spots of gold throughout.
As usual in the DVC rooms, there’s a small kitchenette and closet space near the room’s door. We were on the bottom level of the hotel so our deck didn’t have much of a view but others might be luckier!
The room had enough Disney touches to appease anyone looking for those touches but it also remained beautiful and stylish. Just thinking of studio rooms across Walt Disney World, I’d place this third or fourth being about even with Wilderness Lodge and behind the Polynesian and Animal Kingdom Lodge. It’s a top tier room.
As far as amenities and location go, Riviera Resort ranks pretty well in both. Sitting right along the Disney Skyliner gives guests easy access to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios. We didn’t notice much of a line at the Riviera Station for the Skyliner, which makes sense given how small the hotel is. The hotel’s location makes for an easy bus ride to Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom (under 15 minutes) and is very convenient to Disney Springs. While I prefer the locations where you could walk to the parks, the Riviera has an above average location.
Both the main pool and quiet pool at the Riviera are nice, although not as spectacular as some Disney World hotel pools. We ranked the pool just outside the top five thanks in large part to an average slide and actual pool. It’s carried by the views of the lake and fantastic seating areas and dining. While we didn’t try it (ha!), the hotel seemed to have a very nice exercise room. There’s also a Bocce Ball court in the middle of the hotel’s courtyard, which is a fun touch.
For being a condensed property, I thought the Riviera boasted some nice quiet areas. Along with the beautiful quiet pool, there’s a bunch of beach seating with views of the Caribbean Beach Resort and the Skyliner. There’s also the beautiful Voyageurs’ Lounge just off the lobby with comfortable seating for guests to relax in.
The star of the Riviera’s amenities is the dining scene. Both Topolino’s Terrace and Primo Piatto are in the top ten table-service and counter-service restaurants on property. There’s a little gelato stand at the Riviera Pool that is great, if not overpriced. Bar Riva has an interesting menu and an excellent location, right by the pool and lake. There’s a little café in the lobby (Le Petit Café) that serves coffee, cocktails and a few sweet treats. Even if you’re not staying here, stopping by for some of the dining is an excellent option especially if you’re staying at another location on the Skyliner.
As far as value goes, Disney’s Riviera Resort falls in line with other deluxe resorts. For now, it sits in the upper end of those with prices similar to the Polynesian and Contemporary rather than Animal Kingdom Lodge or Old Key West. Frankly, that’s a little high for now. If you’re able to find a discounted room for under $300 (speaking in terms of the studios) then seriously consider staying here. Finding that, at least for now, will be quite difficult though.
Overall, I think Disney’s Riviera Resort will be a hit among guests. The hotel certainly utilizes its space well with charming grounds and excellent rooms. The only downsides we see are the lackluster outside design and price. Sitting right next to a moderate resort means that the hotel isn’t quite as lavish as other deluxes in the same price point. Still, there’s enough here to make the Riviera one of Disney World’s best hotels. The only problem is that it could have been much more!
Overall Rating – 8.5/10
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Categories: Hotel Reviews