Disney’s Riviera Resort at Walt Disney World is the 15th Disney Vacation Club property that opened to the public December 16, 2019. This past January 2020, our family was hosted at Disney’s Riviera Resort, and we sampled the Continental highlife. This deluxe resort hotel is situated on the water across from Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort with easy access to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios via Disney’s Skyliner gondola system. Continue reading below for an inside look at Disney’s Riviera Resort, inspired by the Mediterranean beach retreats of the French Riviera.
When describing Disney’s Riviera Resort, Walt Disney Imagineer Steven Vagnini said, “the story starts on the drive up as you cross the water and enter the casual elegance and lesiure lifestyle of the French Riviera on the Mediterranean.”
Observant guests might even find the first of many familiar “Disney” features approaching the entrance.
After passing the cascading water feature, we entered a marble floored lobby, and were immediately surrounded by the art and architecture of Europe. Castmembers dressed in dapper Mediterranean blue costumes reflecting the French Riviera’s design and style welcomed us to the resort.
Scanning the lobby you’ll find La Boutique, a gift shop inpired by parfumeries of France. Inside guests can order canvas print reproductions of the European-inspired Disney artwork hung throughout the resort as well as exclusive collectibles found only at Disney’s Riviera Resort (including resort specific mouse ears).
Le Petit Café offers pastries and breakfast items in the morning as well as coffee drinks throughout the day, and it transforms into a stylish wine bar by night.
As a Disney Vacation Club property, Disney’s Riviera Resort had everything our family needed to make the villa a “home-away-from-home.” Our 1-bedroom villa was equipped with a full-sized kitchen, a washer and dryer (cut down on packing), and plenty of space for our family to spread out. The villa opened to a small entry, and then to the kitchen and dining nook. We ate many breakfasts at the comfortable table, booth, and chairs. The living room had two fold down Murphy beds – one behind the sofa and the second beneath the flat-screen television.
The master bedroom contained a large, soft, immensely comfortable king-size bed. There was plenty of storage space for clothes and suitcases too with a 9-drawer dresser and walk-in closet with shelves. Pocket doors closed off the en-suite bathroom for privacy.
I also toured a three-bedroom grand villa that offered sweeping views of the water, theme parks, and Walt Disney World Resort. This deluxe villa sleeps up to 12 guests. The chic, modern room opens to reveal a large kitchen with full-sized stove and refrigerator.
The kitchen opens to the living room so those preparing breakfast, snacks, or other meals will never be separated from the rest of the party. The dining room has a large table that accommodates 10 for meals all together.
The master bedroom has a king-sized bed, en suite bathroom, and large balcony overlooking the water.
Each of the two other bedrooms have two queen-sized beds, both with balconies, and two additional bathrooms in the villa as well.
The art and décor throughout all the villas and the entire resort reflect the classic European masters, but with Disney touches. Over 40 original pieces were created, all drawing inspiration from the Mediterranean region’s rich art history. For example, this painting in the bedroom incorporates cats from The Aristocats as well as the “hidden Mickey” detailing found in the scrollwork on the balconies.
The quick-service dining option at Disney’s Riviera Resort is Primo Piatto, and we dined here multiple times during our stay. We enjoyed the convenience of Mobile Order food service on our phone, picking it up at Primo Piatto, and bringing it back to our villa to enjoy together at our breakfast nook. Everything we ate was delicious especially the flatbread breakfast pizzas, but we can also recommend the blueberry-lemon pancakes.
The signature dining experience is Topolino’s Terrace — Flavors of the Riviera, perched on the rooftop of the resort. Designers wanted to surround guests with modern interpretations of Italian and French textures, colors, and carvings mingled with stonework that harkens to what can be found in ancient European villages along the coastline.
Topolino’s Terrace features authentic dishes infused with French and Italian flavors, with an onstage kitchen featuring a wood burning grill showcasing finely prepared meats and seafood. The culinary team handcrafts artisanal pastas tossed with fresh pressed olive oil. A gourmet selection of cheeses from France and Italy is also featured. This restaurant also has an impressive collection of wines sourced throughout the South of France and Coastal Italy. While dining, guests can step out onto the terrace for a grand view of the resort’s stunning vistas, and possibly even enjoy the nighttime spectaculars of nearby Epcot or Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Families looking to start their morning off with a breakfast experience can visit Topolino’s Terrace — Flavors of the Riviera for special Disney character dining, with exclusive character experiences, inspired by the Riviera. Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck are artists looking to Minnie and Daisy for their inspiration. Coloring books and character plushes in the breakfast costumes are available for sale in the gift shop as well as in the restaurant.
Finally, Bar Riva is an open-air pool bar with a seaside décor – including a mural of the Mediterranean coast complete with Disney Cruise Line ship coming to call. This is a great place to grab a drink while the hours slip away by the pool.
Bar Riva offers burgers, salads, and sandwiches in addition to frozen cocktails, Provence rosé or a refreshing spritzer at the open-air pool bar.
Disney’s Riviera Resort’s main feature pool includes a 30-foot-tall tower that houses a corkscrew slide that winds down into the Riviera Pool. The 105,000 gallon Riviera Pool celebrates the sun and sun-kissed lifestyle of the Mediterranean.
For younger guests, the S’il Vous Play splash ground draws inspiration from the grand public fountains throughout Europe, and features several beloved characters from the classic 1940’s Disney film Fantasia.
The Beau Soleil leisure pool offers a quiet pool experience with a natural lush-green wall surrounding the tranquil area, perfect for enjoying the sun or resting beneath the shaded seating area in a grove of tropical palm trees. Other resort recreation options include an outdoor bocce ball court, firepit, a 1.2 mile walking/running trail around the lake, and the Athletique Fitness Center.
Just past the Beau Soleil leisure pool is a tunnel with grand mosaic murals that are sure to be a highlight of Disney’s Riviera Resort.
The tunnel leads to the Disney Skyliner station at Disney’s Riviera Resort, where guests can step aboard and glide across the sky by aerial gondola to destinations across Walt Disney World Resort. Once aboard, guests can take a European-inspired ride through the sky to Epcot International Gateway or Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We loved riding the Disney Skyliner, and found it a very enjoyable and efficient way to get to the parks.
Terri Schultz, senior vice president and general manager, Disney Vacation Club says “this new resort pays tribute to Walt and Lillian Disney’s amazing European travels, connecting Disney artistry and storytelling to this region’s renowned art heritage and inspiration. Our team can’t wait to welcome families to this relaxing destination inspired by the world-famous sun drenched Mediterranean Coastline.”
DISCLOSURE: Dave Parfitt was hosted by Disney’s Riviera Resort and received complimentary accommodations. Any meals, park tickets, or activities were personally paid for by the author, and all opinions expressed are also those of the writer. For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on instagram, twitter and “like” our facebook page too.