Resort Spotlight: Disney's Riviera Resort

Over the years I've come to appreciate how a resort can be a big part of the Disney vacation experience. Factors such as location, transportation options, dining and pricing, are all important considerations in determining which resort to choose. And now, in this post Covid world, where you stay may now have an even greater impact on your overall vacation experience. 

For this reason, I'll be doing posts periodically with a feature on a specific Walt Disney World Resort. I'll break down the good, the bad and the (un)magical. First up will be Disney's newest property, the Riviera Resort!

Opened officially in December of 2019, not only is the Riviera Disney's newest resort, it's also its first standalone Disney Vacation Club (DVC) property. Unlike regular resorts, DVC properties feature Deluxe Studio, 1, 2 and 3 bedroom villas, plus a Grand Villa option.  Notable features include a kitchenette in Deluxe Studios, while 1 bedrooms and larger have full-size stocked kitchens, washer/dryer, bathrooms featuring soaker bathtubs and walk-in showers, plus designated living rooms and bedrooms. Another feature that I enjoyed, and later learned was not in every resort, was the smart T.V.! I was able to stream various shows and movie from apps on my phone, which when you are spending more time in your resort room, is nice to be able to do. 

I was fortunate to be able to stay in a deluxe studio for a few nights in October of this year...


Now lets move on to general resort amenities...

Transportation: Skyliner to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Buses available to Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Disney Springs (and when the water parks reopen, both Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon). A note about both the Skyliner and buses post Covid - Be prepared to get in line early for both. Multiple resorts use the skyliner, and the line can back up quickly. I much preferred using the Skyliner leaving the parks than going to. Currently they have designated zones in all of the buses (6 or 7 zones if I remember correctly. One party = 1 zone, so they "fill up" quickly. If you aren't at the bus stop at least an hour or so before they start running (my experience was 30-40 minutes before park opening), you could be waiting for a while. I was at Riviera's bus stop almost an hour and a half before Magic Kingdom Park opening and was able to get on the first bus. When I transferred over to Yacht Club, I ended up taking a Lyft to the Contemporary Resort, then walking to Magic Kingdom.

Dining: Dining options here are a mixed bag (again Covid adjustments have affected this). Riviera is home to Topolino's Terrace. Featuring a themed character breakfast with Mickey, Minnie, Daisy and Donald, and a signature Italian themed dinner menu, this is a fantastic dining option that fits in beautifully with the resort. While I have not yet had dinner at Topolino's (I hear rave reviews), I have experienced the character breakfast and was duly impressed! Even now, it is one of the few character dining options currently available (although we should see an increase in those over time). The sour cream waffles and Salmon with bagel and accompaniments (ok fine it's a lox bagel), were delicious and the in-keeping-with-the-theme table pastries were a nice touch. The characters made multiple rounds while I was there and the interactions were lovely. From what I've seen and heard, this still seems to be the case, just with a bit more  socially distanced interaction. Bonus: the restaurant sits atop the resort and boasts some spectacular views of the resort and the nearby resorts and parks.

As far as quick service options go, there are two main food locations; Bar Riva and Primo Piatto. Bar Riva is located poolside and offers various adult and kid friendly beverage options, along with a select menu (sandwiches, salads, etc...). Primo Piatto is the main quick service location, and offers a variety of items like cold and hot sandwiches, flatbreads, chicken tenders and the like for lunch and dinner, while the breakfast menu has standard options along with a few nicer options like the fluffy lemon and blueberry pancakes ( I can vouch for their deliciousness). A couple of things I learned since my most recent visit (a.k.a post Covid)...

1.    Currently, Mobile Ordering is required for quick service locations. When you go to place your order via the My Disney Experience app, you will select an available time window (sort of like a fast pass time) to come and pick up your food. If a particular time is important, I would place your order early to secure your desired time preference, especially for breakfast. 

2.    Resort Refillable Mugs - You can still purchase a resort refillable mug, but you will need to do so via the My Disney Experience App 'Mobile Order' option. Also, they will not use the actual mug for your drink and refills, but will give you a regular disney disposable beverage cup (along with lid and straw). You can take a picture of your refillable mug or show       a copy of the receipt when you would like a free refill. 

3.    When you pick up your mobile food order, you do have the option to eat in the quick service location. Tables are spaced out to accommodate social distancing. I usually took my food back to my room - another interesting advantage of staying in a DVC property is the fully stocked kitchens or kitchenettes (for the deluxe studios).I had plates, utensils, napkins and the like at my disposal. When you are having to utilize mobile ordering more, and in my case eating more meals in my room, it was nice to have both a table to eat at and extra items like forks and napkins.

Last, but certainly not least in the Riviera Dining options is the delightful Le Petit Cafe. This is your basic coffee/tea shop with pastries. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of offerings. I found myself stopping on several occasions for hot tea, and indulged in a few of their specialty pastries over the course of my stay. The pastries served are usually classic French desserts (eclairs, profiteroles, et cetera...),  and additionally offer seasonally themed options, which are defiantly Instagram worthy.

One last note before we move on from dining - menu options have recently been pared down, so make sure you like the dining options in your resort, or can easily access other places.

Overall Ambiance: Reminiscent of the Italian and French Riviera's that Walt Disney was so fond of, the resort immolates a subtle elegance with ground-laid marble, soft music streaming in the lobby, tranquil pools, and even a large outdoor croquet court. What I loved the most though, was all of the art work that adorned the halls, lobby, and guest rooms. Painted in a Monet-esque style, each print showcased different Disney characters or scenes from Disney movies. And if you love the art work as much as I did, each
print is available for purchase in the gift shop. 

Perhaps the piece de resistance, though, are the gorgeous tile mosaics leading to the Skyliner entrance. The stunning designs reflect scenes from Disney's Tangled and Peter Pan animated movies, and have become quite the hotspot for Instagramers.  

The exterior of the building isn't as stand-outish as some of the other resorts on property, but I did love the elegant, cozy feel. However, while the amenities and deluxe nature of the resort are great, this one may be geared more towards adults rather than children (or families with young children). 

Final Thoughts: A beautiful, upscale new deluxe level resort with the added perks of DVC amenities. Well situated with multiple transportation and dining options, but does come with a higher price tag and may be better suited for adults or families with older children. 

*For questions, inquiries, or to book your own stay at Disney's Riviera resort, email Meredith at 


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