Ahh, the French Riviera! The name evokes images of sun-drenched Mediterranean beaches, the wonder of Monaco, and the glamor of the Cannes Film Festival. Since opening in December 2019, Disney’s Riviera Resort has earned high marks for providing luxury and first-rate Disney magic at the same time. We’re going to run down the Riveria’s features to help you decide if this is the right choice for your next stay at Walt Disney World.
The resort is the newest Disney Vacation Club property at Disney World, and the first all-DVC property to be built here since Saratoga Springs. If you’re not a DVC member, you can still book a room here the regular way, but they may be a little harder to come by. If you’re truly dedicated to a stay at the Riviera and you can’t find one in regular inventory, you may want to consider renting DVC points.
Disney’s Riviera Resort: Overview
The Riviera Resort is themed to evoke the glamorous beach resorts in the South of France. Most of us will never spend an evening gambling in Monte Carlo or watch a Grand Prix race, but we can at least glimpse the ambiance and taste the experience. Palm trees, arches, loggias, and covered walkways are the features used to bring out the resort’s architectural theme.
The Riviera abuts the moderate Caribbean Beach Resort, within easy walking distance. But the Riviera is considered a Deluxe level resort, with a higher tier of atmosphere, amenities, and dining.
Unlike some of the other Deluxes (in the monorail area), The Riviera is not a shopping-focused resort. La Boutique is the only gift shop. It sells the usual resort-themed merchandise, some snacky-type grab-and-go food and drinks, and the regular lineup of toiletries, etc. that you may have forgotten to bring. There is an ATM available as well. Unlike many Disney World resorts, the Riviera does not have an arcade.
The tower design of the Riviera makes the resort feel fairly compact, with pools and restaurants close by no matter where your room is located. Speaking of rooms …
Riviera Resort Rooms
As a Disney Vacation Club resort, your choices include studios, one-, two-, and three-bedroom Deluxe Villas.
There are more than 300 rooms on nine floors, including Tower Studios which are unique to the Riviera. With around 225 square feet, they are the smallest rooms at WDW, accommodating two guests or solo travelers. The Tower Studios maximize space with a Murphy-style bed that folds up when not in use. But people have noted that they feel small, they’re dark during the day, and dismal at night. They sound like a good idea, but we don’t recommend them.
Across all the rooms, the fit and finish at the Riviera is excellent quality, on par with the Grand Floridian and the other top-tier Deluxe resorts. And every room at the Riviera has a balcony. The theming is nicely balanced, letting you know you’re at Disney World without being so gauche as to make it impossible to ignore.
As with other DVC resorts, all non-studio villas have their own in-room washers and dryers. For studio guests, there is a separate shared laundry room.
Pools and Recreation
There are two pools and a play area for the littles at the Riviera.
The main pool is the Riviera Pool which is surrounded by palm trees and beach chairs. This family-friendly pool is adjacent to S’il Vous Play, a children’s splash pad featuring characters from Fantasia. A second pool, the Beau Soleil, is a quiet pool away from all the hustle and bustle of busier areas.
Guests of the Riviera are also allowed to use the Fuentes del Morro pool at the Caribbean Beach resort. It is about a half-mile walk.
Besides the pools, you’ll find a 1.4-mile running trail around Barefoot Bay, the 45-acre lake shared with the Caribbean Beach Resort. For workout enthusiasts, the Athletique Fitness Center offers exercise equipment and weights.
Fancy a game of Bocce? There’s a court for you to use, plus additional lawn games including cornhole. And like other Disney World Resorts, the Riviera holds a regular campfire activity as well as nightly movies under the stars.
Thanks to the Skyliner, the Riviera offers easy and quick access to two parks, with the additional benefit of the terrific birds-eye view of the area.
The Riviera has its own Skyliner station, which connects directly to EPCOT. For Hollywood Studios, guests need to change at the Caribbean Beach hub. It’s within about a half-mile and guests are also able to walk to the hub directly. Getting to the rest of the parks and Disney Springs requires riding a Disney bus.
The Skyliner makes for an easy trip to other Skyliner Resorts, as well as the Yacht/Beach Club and Disney’s Boardwalk Resort. For all other resorts, your best bet is to get to a park and then to the resort you are trying to reach, or else use rideshare.
The Riviera boasts several options for dining, with one Table Service and three Quick Service locations. The food at all these venues is considered to be excellent.
Quick Service Dining
Even with the Italian-sounding name, Primo Piatto serves mostly American-style breakfasts. Lunch and dinner options do include hearth-baked pizzas, lasagna, and Italian sandwiches, as well as burgers.
Le Petit Café is great for specialty coffees, pastries, evening cocktails, mocktails, and small plates. Visitors may choose to take their selections to the adjacent Voyageur’s Lounge to dine. The quiet library setting here is inspired by the collection of books Walt gathered on his European tour.
Bar Riva has bar favorites like burgers, wings, and a wide choice of cocktails, wine, and beers. The menu reflects its location at the Riviera Pool, with a larger-than-usual number of items including some for kids.
Table Service Dining
The star of the show is Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera. The name is derived from what Mickey Mouse is called in Italy: “Topolino,” which means “little mouse”. From the top floor, the restaurant offers diners great views of both EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The terrace is a roomy space that families can enjoy until food arrives at the table.
As you might guess from its name, the menu has both French and Italian influences. But don’t expect to follow your Mediterranean diet here. The food is rich and complex, with choices ranging from handmade pasta and seafood to out-of-the-ordinary desserts. At breakfast, Topolino’s offers “Breakfast à la Art with Mickey & Friends”. This is a prix-fixe character meal where Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Daisy get your day off on the right foot.
Sebastian’s Bistro at Caribbean Beach is within walking distance. Sebastian’s is only open for dinner but is widely considered a sleeper pick for value and quality. And of course the Skyliner gives straightforward and rapid access to dining at the Boardwalk, Yacht/Beach Club, and all of EPCOT.
If you’ve ever considered staying in a Disney Deluxe Villa Resort, you might consider the Riviera. It offers convenient travel, exceptional dining, unique recreational opportunities, and a luxurious stay – all without needing your passport.
Have you stayed at the Riviera? What did you think? Let us know in the comments.