Disney’s brand-new Riviera Resort was on my radar for many months. I was delighted to stay there during opening week and am excited to share my thoughts about this property.
In a word, this Resort is simply IMPRESSIVE.
The Riviera Resort is a beautiful sight to behold upon arrival. It adds to the appeal of the skyline with a strong, sleek, stark profile, welcoming archways and lots of stonework. Appealing, colorful canopy window dressings dot the facade in a friendly beckon to guests.
Being a Disney Vacation Club property, it felt good to be welcomed home by the stately architecture, and of course, the wonderful staff.
The lobby is satisfying and reasonably sized for a resort of less than 500 guest rooms. There are flairs of Italian and French design with pillars, marble, and modern light fixtures.
The entrance area feels almost piazza-like; an opulent place of gathering with access to shopping, a café, and a lounge. It feels warm and inviting, luxurious but understated with no one breathtaking feature that would drop your jaw upon sight, but the gestalt of the lobby is rewarding.
Quality and luxury would be the words best used to describe the first impressions.
The journey to our room was an adventure in art exploration with so many unique and thoughtful pieces adorning the walls.
The Guest Rooms:
The Deluxe Studio Preferred View room is immaculate. It feels more spacious than the majority of Deluxe Studios I have experienced, and the trims and finishing are truly upscale. The colour palette is a welcoming, cool but comfortable combination of muted pastels. The overall ambiance is soothing and rich.
Disney smartly replaced pullout sofa beds with in-wall Murphy beds; the full mattress is a welcomed comfort as I have lamented the lumps and bumps of worn sofa beds for years.
The couch itself is of a low-profile design that serves the purpose of providing a sitting area but that also takes up less living space as it sits tightly against the wall.
The bathroom, with its two showers, shines with marble. In fact, all surface tops are high-quality stone of one sort or another. The herringbone angling of the wood flooring at the entry area and hallway also conveys a feeling of comfort.
Warm, lavish colors mixed with impressive headboards, high-end light fixtures, luxurious fabrics and modern European furnishings embrace us with character.
Meanwhile, conveniences such as deep drawers built into the bed’s foot board, a suitcase den built smartly under the bed, and conveniently located plug and USB ports throughout the room ensure that our comfort needs while on vacation are aptly met.
The room is simply gorgeous.
The view from our balcony was very nice but I would probably not spend the additional Disney Vacation Club points for a Preferred view in the future. We stayed in a non-preferred room as well and found the balcony experience satisfactory. Our non-preferred view still enabled us to easily enjoy Epcot’s fireworks show.
The Riviera offers a dedicated quick service restaurant called Primo Piatto, as well as a Signature dining experience at Topolino’s Terrace, and a poolside food and drink venue called Bar Riva.
In addition, there is a specialty coffee and goodies spot located off of Primo Piatto, as well as Le Petit Café located in the lobby.
The quick service experience for me was perhaps the best resort-based quick service experience at Walt Disney World. Dishes were fresh and elevated.
The Riviera Burger, for example, was perfectly cooked (not overcooked) with satisfying combinations of texture and flavor from the portobello mushroom, garlic and aged cheddar, neatly packaged in a toasted brioche bun.
The Harissa-Spiced Chicken Salad on Pita was a perfect lunchtime sandwich.
The dinner offerings were such that I vowed to do the Disney Dining Plan on my next visit because I would be totally happy with eating quick service breakfast, lunch and dinner at the Riviera.
With meals like Shrimp Pasta and Grilled Hanger Steak, you could enjoy dinners at the Riviera’s quick service restaurant without longing for something better elsewhere.
Even the sides were authentically seasoned and prepared such as a simple but delectable Tomato Basil soup with olive oil drenched croutons, or the Romano & Herb Fries. The Riviera is a foodie’s delight.
Breakfast at Primo Piatto was also a pleasant surprise.
The Primo Piatto Breakfast Platter was a stalwart first choice with a plentiful serving of Scrambled Eggs over a Mascarpone Polenta, crisp Bacon, and wonderful Italian Sausage pieces. The flavors were rich and unique to the lands from which the offerings were hailed to have originated.
My son fell in love with the Blueberry Lemon Pancakes.
We were also fans of the salty, hearty French Ham and Swiss offering known as a Croque Madame.
Further, Primo Piatto did NOT feel like a fast food joint. It replicated the atmosphere of a European eatery that was roomy, comfortable and clean.
Watching the open kitchen prepare and hand-finish dishes prior to having them rushed off to tables was a pleasing part of the overall experience.
Primo Piatto, unlike our experience at other resorts, served all food with nice dishware and pleasingly weighted silverware versus plastics and papers. While we loved Primo Piatto, this article would be remiss if I did not gloat over the ambiance and quality of our experiences at the Signature dining location, Topolino’s Terrace.
With its fresh pastas hanging behind glass doors while cheeses and peppers peered through viewing bunkers, the feeling was one of high-class, fresh authenticity.
The dining room itself was quite large when compared to other Signature dining rooms on property, and again, the classy choices of color, linens, the upscale light fixtures and the open-concept room with comfortable seating options were much appreciated.
The servers were amazing, creating a very personal and enjoyable experience.
A walk out onto the Terrace where you can lounge, have drinks, and relax, was incredible.
The food was delicious, fresh, and flavorful. While there were several mouth-watering options of interest, my Rigatoni with Braised Chicken Sugo, Dandelion Greens, and rich Parmigiano-Reggiano was as authentic and reminiscent of an Italian kitchen as I could get.
I literally used my spoon to breach etiquette and scoop up every ounce of my cream and chicken-drippings sugo.
My wife had a Seafood Pesto Linguine dish, and she was so impressed with the bold flavors and textures, opining that the mussels and squid were perfectly balanced by the sauce and greens.
Even our salads were pleasing to all senses.
The Romaine lettuce was crisp. The Watercress added a mild bitterness to the earthy flavor of the Acciuga, both offset by the sweet Ricotta Cheese and bursts of lemon.
The kids’ meal was also elevated with an expertly grilled chicken breast (and it tasted as though it had been wood-fire grilled), macaroni & cheese (white, aged cheddar) with toasted breadcrumb topping, and a nice mixture of fresh berries.
Of course, when you have a wonderful dinner, it is always nice to top it off with a shared dessert. We chose the Apple Tarte which was done as a Tatin. It was delicious!
The Apples and Caramelized Sugar, mixed with the Vanilla Gelato, Chocolate ribbon, and Chantilly was a perfect ending to an upscale dining experience.
I cannot comment on how the Blackberries may have balanced this dish because my son ate all of them!
Guests can also enjoy perhaps Disney’s best Character Dining experience for Breakfast at Topolino’s Terrace. It was completely un-rushed and elevated. The characters included Mickey, of course, and Donald, adorned in playful artist’s wardrobes with paint splatters and tools of their respective trades. Meanwhile, the girls, Daisy and Minnie, were sporting the latest European styles.
The breakfast show included music, singing, dancing, and multiple interactions with each character as they made their way playfully around the dining room.
The fixed price meal began with a mixed offering of shared baked goods.
The presentation was in keeping with the artist theme of the show complete with paint palette of dips, and paint spilling over the basket of goodies.
After your starters, you were asked to select an a la carte meal that had a variety of options from Spiced Sausage Hash to elevated Waffles to my choice, Wood-Fired Butcher’s Steak.
My wife’s Sour Cream Waffles with roasted Apples, Chantilly, and Orange Maple Syrup were a flavor delight with picture-perfect plating.
Meanwhile, my Wood-Fired Butcher’s Steak was a Signature breakfast dish expertly concocted, prepared and served.
This breakfast meal is my recommendation for anyone who enjoys steak that is perfectly seasoned and balanced with accompaniments such as Polenta, Tomato, Roasted Onions, Wild Mushrooms, and Watercress. The mushroom conserva was truly a pleasurable experience in my mouth, softened and slightly tart with vinegar but spruced up with a gentle perfume of spices and herbs; it wonderfully elevated the steak, which was already impressive on its own.
Want to grab a specialty coffee during the day or perhaps an adult nightcap?
Le Petit Café operates as a dual function Specialty Coffee bar by day and adult-friendly drinks bar by night, with an assortment of delectable treats.
The Café was quaint and warm with appealing hardwoods, taupe colour schemes, and a Parisian ambiance. We loved having the speciality coffees during the day, and of course, the Chocolate Banana Bread loafs were scrumptious!
It was a comfortable and inviting space to enjoy a moment of relaxation.
It also offered some awesome desserts and baked goods to complement your beverage.
Bar Riva, the poolside food and drink spot, has a full offering of alcoholic beverages and a small menu of food.
If you are looking for sundries or merchandise, La Boutique will satisfy your cravings.
On the other hand, if you are looking to kick back and enjoy an adventure-themed lounge, the Voyager’s Lounge will meet your needs. Sit back with a drink, read a book, or enjoy one of many available board games.
The lounge was relaxing and cozy, embracing you in dark, rich woods while surrounding you with a collection of books and travel paraphernalia. Sitting in the lounge was like being in a world traveler’s private den, representing a lifetime of travels, experiences, and knowledge.
Facilities and Activities:
The feature pool was picturesque and relaxing with its shimmering waters, clean, 90-degree angled cuts, infinity edges, and a wonderful view of the lake while being overlooked by the strong, stone facade of the resort itself.
A stone tower slide that could be a depiction of Rapunzel’s tower was fast, fun and twisty.
This is a view of the feature pool from atop Topolino’s Terrace.
Within the gated pool space there was also a small games area with a large Connect-Four and a beanbag toss field.
A nice feature was the convenient and fun Gelato Cart that sat at the ready alongside the pool. Gelato on a hot day without barely having to leave your lounge-chair? Yes, please!
For the kids, S’il Vous Play is a fun, interactive water play area based on scenes and characters from the film, Fantasia. The water cannons were powerful and responsive, while the kids’ slides and bubblers gave lots of options for getting wet and having fun.
My son loved the large, toppling bucket of water filled by a playful elephant. The characters and play area were whimsical and elegant.
Beau Soleil would be my pool of choice if without kids. Smaller, but elegant and almost fully surrounded by a privacy wall of greenery; you could easily melt away the hours in comfortable seclusion.
Families will enjoy the various games on the activity lawn, from life-sized soccer billiards to chess or bowling, as well as a dedicated Bocce court.
Kids (and even older ‘kids at heart’) may open the pool each morning with remote control speedboat racing. The Regatta Racing was so fun!
The Eventi room is also home to storytelling as well as various art and craft type of activities throughout the week.
The Eventi room also becomes home to some fun Monte Carlo Racing each afternoon. My son loved building Lego cars and racing them against other kids!
Theming & Grounds:
In keeping with Disney’s focus on creating an impression, the Riviera meets the mark for creating a relaxing, luxurious ambiance with a European air about the clean stone facades, the muted but welcoming colour palettes, a coffee shop turned wine lounge by evening to seemingly infinite pieces of interesting art. The resort leaves you feeling satisfied in more ways than one.
The Riviera stands impressively amidst a backdrop of greenery, stone archways, and water features. The property is spectacular with its manicured grounds, it’s dominating rooftop views, and the nicely incorporated waterfront promenade. Set against the skyline, Riviera is truly marvelous.
Find yourself in need of directions?
I loved these beautiful lamp / signage poles.
There were so many spots for sitting, relaxing, and enjoying the ambiance of the grounds in relative privacy.
I felt that while the resort may have catered more towards an adult crowd who would relish in the architecture and satiate on Mediterranean sun, water, drink and food, the resort did offer plenty of kid-friendly attractions and activities.
The staple Movie Lawn and Fire Pit were also present at the Riviera.
While the resort appears to have a relatively small footprint, it was comfortable and open with the majority of amenities conveniently located and easily accessed. It felt like a perfect spot to be connected to all of the action but from a distance.
We felt comfortably remote but intimately connected to all of the things the Disney World property in Orlando, Florida, has to offer.
While you may use the bus system to travel about Disney World from the Riviera Resort, I would highly recommend taking full advantage of the conveniently accessible Skyliner.
Riviera guests may take a direct route to Epcot which got us there in about 7-minutes, or an indirect route to Hollywood Studios, Art of Animation, or Pop Century via the Caribbean Beach Resort Transfer station.
Skyliner was a highlight of the Riviera stay. It allowed us to be quickly in the middle of all the action while remaining secluded in our Mediterranean-themed haven.
Two HUGE thumbs up!
I am so happy to be an owner at this wonderful resort. I would highly recommend considering it for your next home. I cannot wait to get back to this European Home Away from Home!