For some, a vacation is all about the destination. For others, it’s the journey. We’d argue that there’s one more crucial element that can make or break your whole trip: where you choose to rest your head. At Walt Disney World, a Disney resort can either envelope you in over-the-top theming (we’re looking at you, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort) or be a welcome reprieve from all the magic. We know, it’s hard to imagine OD-ing on pixie dust, but it’s possible.
Disney Riviera Resort falls in the latter category. Smack dab in the heart of the Epcot and Hollywood Studios resort areas, the Riviera also hosts one of the stops for Disney’s Skyliner. As the newest of the Disney World resorts, we decided to stop by and see what it’s all about. Read on for everything you need to know about Disney’s Riviera Resort, and what we think you can expect from a stay there.
Disney Riviera Resort, as we just mentioned, is located near both Epcot and Hollywood Studios and sits along the route for Disney’s Skyliner. As a Disney Vacation Club property, it is also a deluxe villa resort, meaning bigger rooms that are perfect for longer stays and larger families, with steep room rates to match (more on those in a bit). The vibe is also a bit different from what you might expect at other Disney resorts, namely because this is a DVC hotel. In other words, it can feel a bit like you’re staying in a very nicely decorated Airbnb at times, which can be great if you like having the ability to cook your own meals.
While it’s true that a stay here can be costly, there are plenty of relaxing amenities to enjoy. Plus, when you add in perks like an ideal location, character dining, and a restaurant with a breathtaking view, we’d argue that it can be worth the price.
Disney Riviera Resort is inspired by the European Riviera, a place Walt Disney and his wife Lillian fell in love with during their travels over the years. Unlike some of Disney’s other resorts, the Riviera is subdued elegance with a sprinkle of pixie dust. Think, classic European-inspired architecture with a tasteful whisper of Disney: black and white photos of Walt and Lily on holiday in Italy, Disney and Pixar movie posters in French, a Disney art collection but in the style of Van Gogh and Degas, glittering mosaics of Tangled and Peter Pan, and jazzy renditions of Disney favorites.
If that’s enough to make you want to grab your beret, pack a suitcase full of effortlessly chic (re: French girl) DisneyBounding outfits, and book a villa at the Riviera, we couldn’t agree more. For us, the resort’s design is definitely one of the highlights. With its balance of understated European glamour and Disney magic, it’s the perfect palate cleanser after a long day at the parks. You know, if you’re into that sorta thing.
Disney Riviera Resort During COVID-19
As we’re currently in the midst of a global pandemic, you’re probably wondering how that has affected the Riviera Resort. Disney has taken great pains to make sure everyone can safely enjoy their time at Walt Disney World, including increasing housekeeping measures at resorts across the property. Fortunately, while some normal offerings have been decreased or suspended at other Disney resorts, those at the Riviera appear to largely be unchanged. Even Breakfast à la Art with Mickey & Friends, the hotel’s character dining at Topolino’s restaurant, is still running, albeit with socially distanced characters.
Outside of the resort, there are some guest amenities that are either on hiatus greatly reduced across Walt Disney World. It remains to be seen which of these offerings return – either in a new capacity or at all – once the world returns to normal. These include:
- Disney’s Magical Express
- Extra Magic Hours
- Minnie Vans
- Valet parking
- Bell services (reduced)
- In-room dining
- In-room celebrations
- Package delivery
- Airline check-in service
Despite all the changes, Disney Riviera Resort guests have much to look forward to, what with its pools, fitness center, shop, dining outlets, and even pin trading all being available. Keep in mind, however, that the operating hours could be reduced, so be sure to confirm with a resort cast member when you arrive.
RIVIERA RESORT ROOMS
When it comes to choosing a hotel and a hotel room, everyone wants something different. Some may want luxury, others may be looking for something more family-friendly, and still others are happy as long as it has a bed and somewhere to take a hot shower. Disney’s Riviera Resort is a perfect blend of the first two: an upscale atmosphere filled with enough amenities to keep the kids happy.
With its big windows and art-gallery-white walls, one of the first things you’ll notice when you enter the resort is how airy it feels. And we’re happy to report that that blissful airiness carries over to the villas as well. Dove gray walls and crisp, white linens keep the rooms feeling light while wood furnishings bring in more Mediterranean influences. Thankfully, the resort’s Disney-inspired art collection makes an appearance or two in the rooms too, with artsy takes on favorite characters.
Those who mark the quality of a hotel by how beautiful the bathroom is will also not be disappointed. Shiny white marble and tile, coppery fixtures, wallpaper that looks like it came from a chic dress shop in Paris – these are just about the prettiest bathrooms you’ll find in all of Walt Disney World.
The Riviera Resort is currently in the top 33% of all hotels in Orlando and has a 4.5 on TripAdvisor. In general, you’ll need to consider two things when deciding on a studio or villa: how much space you’ll need and what you’d like to see when you look out the window. Room options at Disney’s Riviera can fit as few as two adults in a Tower Studio up to as many as 12 adults in a three-bedroom Grand Villa. You can also choose between either a standard view room (oh look, a parking lot) or a preferred view looking out at either the courtyard, pool, lake, landscaping, or Disney Skyliner.
- Looks out over parking lots or landscaping
- Sleeps 2 – One queen-size murphy (pull-down) bed
- Comes with what Disney calls “flexible living space” and a private balcony (sounds like an authentic Parisian apartment – cozy)
- Available with either a standard or preferred view
- Sleeps 5 – One queen plus one queen-size pull-down and one single pull-down
- Spacious with a kitchenette (including a small fridge and a microwave) and a balcony or porch
- Available with either a standard or preferred view
- Sleeps 5 – One king plus one queen-size pull-down and one single pull-down
- Includes a full kitchen with a split bathroom and a pair of sink areas, a washer and dryer, and a porch or balcony
- Available with either a standard or preferred view
- Sleeps 9 – One king and two queens plus one queen-size pull-down and one single pull-down
- Comes with a full kitchen, two bathrooms, a washer and dryer, and a balcony or porch
Three-Bedroom Grand Villa
- Looks out over the lake
- Sleeps 12 – One king and four queens plus a queen-size pullout sofa
- Includes a full kitchen with an island, a dining area, three bathrooms, washer and dryer, and a porch or balcony
Aside from what’s listed above, each of the studios and villas at the Riviera Resort also come with a TV, iron, ironing board, coffee maker, and hair dryer.
DISNEY RIVIERA RESORT PRICES
As we previously mentioned, the Riviera is a deluxe villa resort. Given that, these can be some of the more expensive rooms on property. Disney Riviera Resort prices can vary quite a bit depending on a few factors such as your room’s size and view, as well as when you choose to stay. Busy travel periods like holidays and marathon weekends will send rates soaring.
In general, rooms can run as low as $429 in the off season for a tower studio up to $4,677 for the grand villa in between Christmas and New Year’s.
For a tower studio, a room will run from the lower $400s up to the mid $700s. Meanwhile, a deluxe studio with a standard view can cost as little as the mid $600s all the way up to the lower $1,000s, with a preferred view costing about $100 more overall. A standard-view one-bedroom villa runs as low as the low $900s in the off season to the low $1,400s over the holidays, with a preferred view adding on anywhere from $100 to $200 a night on average. A two-bedroom villa with a standard view starts out in the mid $1,400s and climbs to the low $2,200s, while a preferred view can tack on between $100-$300 more a night. Finally, you can expect the grand villa to cost between the upper $2,800s to the mid $4,600s depending on when you travel.
RIVIERA RESORT AMENITIES
Compared to some of Disney’s other deluxe resorts, the Riviera is a bit slim on the amenities. However, what it lacks in quantity, it makes up for with quality, especially when it comes to dining options. So, without any further ado, here’s everything guests can expect when staying at Disney’s Riviera Resort Remember that the below offerings may have reduced operating hours or be running in a reduced capacity due to the pandemic.
Disney Riviera Resort Restaurants
Disney’s Riviera has decent selection of restaurants including both quick-service and signature restaurants, a lounge, and a pool bar. French- and Italian-inspired ingredients and flavors can be found at each of the four dining outlets, but they are especially on display at Topolino’s – Flavors of the Riviera. So, whether you’re eating a tuna niçoise while watching the kids play in the pool, sipping on an Aperol Spritz, or indulging in escargot and an expertly cooked filet mignon at Topolino’s, you’re sure to feel as if you’ve been transported to the coasts of France and Italy.
Bar Riva is the Riviera Resort’s pool bar. This isn’t what we’d consider your typical pool bar, however. That is, unless it was a pool bar somewhere along the Amalfi Coast or in Nice. With its cobalt blue tiles, a colorful mural of a seaside town that spans an entire wall, and (more!) white walls, this open-air pool bar is Instagrammable to say the least.
As with any pool bar, the drinks should be the focus, and that is definitely the case at Bar Riva as guests have an extensive drink menu to choose from. The highlights, however, are a French- and Italian-heavy wine list, red and white sangrias, and a gondola-load (see what we did there?) of Riviera-inspired cocktails. While the drinks are the star here, the food is also nothing to snuff at, with European favorites like baked brie, tuna niçoise salad, and tiramisu on the menu.
Le Petit Café
Nothing says Paris like a little patisserie serving pastries and coffee. So, it’s only natural that Disney’s Riviera would have one too. Le Petit Café, and the attached Voyageur Lounge, is the perfect place to relax and charge your phone while you grab something light to eat. As at Bar Riva, drinks are the focus here, so be sure to snag something from the lengthy drink menu. You can even try out beer from Italy or a French hard cider.
So, stop in for a glass of wine over some olives and charcuterie or perhaps something sweet to go with your Espresso Viennese. Then, pop over to the Voyageur Lounge to enjoy your selection in moody, brooding darkness, just like an artist in old Paris.
While you’re visiting, be sure to check out the location’s design. As you might remember, the café in The Aristocats is also called Le Petit Café. But that isn’t the movie’s only appearance. You can also glimpse a nod to its namesake in a painting reminiscent of Van Gogh’s Café Terrace at Night, with the playful addition of the three geese from the film.
Located next door to Bar Riva, Primo Piatto is the Riviera Resort’s quick-service restaurant. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all served here, making it a convenient choice for any time of day.
In general, menu options here are definitely what you’d consider American, but you can also get some French- and Italian-inspired dishes throughout the day like scrambled eggs over marscarpone polenta, croque madame, croque monsieur, a spicy Italian sandwich, gelato, and, once again, the tuna niçoise salad and tiramisu.
As with the resort’s other dining outlets, Primo Piatto offers a decently sized drink menu. However, don’t expect cocktails inspired by the European Riviera, Italian beer, or French wine here, as most options are no different from what you can expect at restaurants throughout the U.S.. Of course, if you’d prefer something non-alcoholic, there is also an extensive list of to choose from, including a selection of specialty coffees.
Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera
If you ever need to remember where to find Topolino’s, just remember its name, then head to the very top floor of the Riviera. That’s right, folks. Topolino’s Terrace is, quite literally, the crowning glory of Disney’s Riviera Resort. Aside from California Grill, if you’re looking for a Disney restaurant to take in some sweeping views of Walt Disney World, this is the place to be. We stopped by to check it out and wow, let’s just say we were impressed.
French and Italian cuisines are the focus here, and from the moment you walk through the doors, you’re greeted right away by a display of some super-tasty-looking pasta. Which we always think is a good way to start. Bring on the carbs! Quality ingredients are a highlight throughout the menu, with tomahawk veal chop, braised lamb shank, sole meunière, or salmon mi-cuit all on offer.
A topolino is a baby mouse in Italian, so, it makes sense that Topolino’s also hosts a character breakfast starring Mickey Mouse himself along with Minnie, Donald, and Daisy all dressed up in artsy outfits. At Breakfast à la Art with Mickey & Friends, guests can choose from a selection of breakfast entrees, and will also receive a basket of pastries for the table. Due to COVID-19, this character dining experience is currently altered to comply with social distancing guidelines.
Disney Riviera Resort Pools
No vacation to the European Riviera is complete without a trip to the beach, and while Disney’s Riviera Resort doesn’t have any of those, it does have a couple of pools for guests to cool off in.
At the family-friendly Riviera Pool, your kiddos can slide down a wraparound waterslide while you relax under one of the umbrellas dotted around the pool. Your little ones will enjoy the nearby S’il Vous Play water playground, with water features inspired by Europe’s grand fountains. And of course, if you’d rather swim somewhere a bit more serene, the Beau Soleil Pool is just the spot.
Disney’s Riviera Resort has one shop, La Boutique, where you can grab souvenirs or simply something that you forgot to bring from home. La Boutique has a wide array of Disney merchandise (including some inspired by the Riviera) sundries, and snacks. Due to the pandemic, hours of operation may be reduced, so be sure to check with the front desk staff once you’re at the resort.
Aside from a restaurant with a killer view and a chic-yet-effortlessly-relaxed atmosphere, one of the major selling points of the Riviera Resort is its prime location along the Disney Skyliner. For anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of riding yet (and a ride on the Skyliner truly is a delightful way to get around Disney World), the Skyliner is Disney’s newest aerial transportation. Just hop into one of the enclosed gondolas, then sit back and relax as you’re whisked away to Epcot or Hollywood Studios. If you think that sounds considerably more enjoyable than hunting around for where you parked your car in the one of the largest parking lots in the world, we can’t agree with you more.
Depending on when you want to ride, where you’re going, and where you get on the Skyliner, the line to get on can get a little long. Fortunately, thanks to some cute Disney-inspired vintage travel posters and all the gonodolas sweeping by with cute designs, you’ll have plenty to look out for to help pass the time. The character gondolas are especially fun to see – we’re sure you’ll enjoy picking out all the fun details as much as we did while waiting for your turn to ride.
Unlike some of Disney’s other resorts like the Animal Kingdom Lodge or Fort Wilderness, Disney’s Riviera doesn’t have too many recreational offerings aside from the pool. What they do have, however, is sure to help the whole family unwind.
At the Riviera, the focus truly is on whisking guests back to a simpler time along the Mediterranean coastline. So, a centerpiece of the resort’s courtyard is an activity area devoted to European-inspired lawn games. The chess lawn, bocce ball court, and activity lawn are all available for guests to use and are sure to bring some wholesome fun to your vacation. Kids can also enjoy regular Movies Under the Stars, while the adults get in a workout at Athlétique Fitness Center or along the resort’s jogging path.
Although everything above is currently up and running at Disney’s Riviera, hours may be reduced due to the pandemic. Check with a cast member upon your arrival for an update on what’s available.
Any questions about Disney Riviera Resort that we still haven’t answered? Keep reading below for the answers to some commonly asked questions.
Can anyone stay at Disney Riviera Resort?
Yes! Anyone is able to stay at a DVC resort like the Riviera as long as rooms are available.
Can you walk from the Riviera Resort to Epcot?
No, unfortunately there are no walking paths connecting Disney’s Riviera to Epcot. But no worries, there’s no need to walk when you can just hop on the Skyliner.
Can you walk from the Riviera Resort to Hollywood Studios?
Nope, as with Epcot, no walking paths are available between the Riviera or Hollywood Studios. However, it is just a short car, bus, or Skyliner ride away.
Can you see fireworks from Disney Riviera Resort?
Yup! In fact, when it comes to resorts with a views of Disney fireworks, the Riviera has hit the jackpot. You are actually able to see the fireworks at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios all from Toponlino’s Terrace. We imagine the restaurant is a hot ticket when the fireworks are happening, so if you do plan to dine there, be sure to plan ahead. Keep in mind that due to COVID-19, nighttime spectaculars have been suspended at all Walt Disney World parks.
Which popular attractions are close to the resort?
Disney’s Riviera Resort is part of the Epcot and Hollywood Studios resort areas, so these parks are only a short ride away. Other nearby attractions include Disney’s BoardWalk, Disney Springs, Typhoon Lagoon, and Fantasia Gardens Mini Golf.
Well, that wraps up our review of Disney’s Riviera Resort. There are many things that make this a worthwhile stay, from its relaxed-yet-refined atmosphere to a jaw-dropping view (and meal) at Topolino’s. Disney’s newest resort is sure to please those who are looking for just a little bit of elegance to go with their Disney vacation while also looking for the conveniences of home.
If you do decide to stay, make the most of your trip to Epcot and Hollywood Studios with our one-day plans. They’ll help make sure you cross everything off your Disney to-do list and still have time to explore the parks at your leisure. And if you’re looking to save a bit of cash along with all that time, you won’t want to miss our discounted Walt Disney World tickets. Also be sure to take a look at the rest of our Walt Disney World Hotel Reviews in case you’re interested in a different hotel!
Have you stayed at Disney’s Riviera or dined at the character breakfast at Topolino’s? If so, let us know! We’d love to hear about your favorite rooms and any tips or tricks we might have missed.
Amber is a proud former Walt Disney World Cast Member, an unabashed travel addict, and a hospitality and tourism specialist with over 10 years in the industry. She likes getting her wanderlust fix by sharing her favorite park tips and tricks with other Disney fans. When she isn’t working, you can usually catch her in a hot power yoga class or spending way too much money at Disney Springs.