We recently had the opportunity to tour Disney’s Riviera Resort and check out the newest addition to the Disney Vacation Club lineup! In this post, we’ll take you on a photo tour of the lobby area, grounds, and on a room tour. Let’s take a look!
While the hotel is no doubt beautiful and expansive on the drive up, it will likely only get better as some of the trees along the entrance and in the parking lot area mature. One of the features that we loved when entering the lobby from the porte cochere area is the two pools on either side of a small bridge entryway. Water features normally get a thumbs up from us and just like the Polynesian, there is a dynamic feel to the entrance to the hotel thanks to the moving water.
The lobby might be considered underwhelming when comparing with the next most recent hotel opening over at Gran Destino Tower. Of course, the purpose of each of the lobby areas (and hotels as a whole, really), are quite different. Being a Disney Vacation Club hotel, the Riviera lobby is far from the main attraction. It’s simply a place to check-in quickly and move through as you make your way up to your room, which is really a home away from home. For that purpose, the lack of amenities and space in the lobby gets a pass from us.
Here’s the lobby as you enter through the main doors. To the immediate right (and outside of the frame of this photo), would be the desks where Cast Members will check you into your room via iPad. On the left, we can see Le Petit Cafe, and to the left of that (outside of the frame) is the gift shop.
Here’s a reverse view of the above overview photo, where you can see the check-in desks to the left, main doorway in the center, and gift shop to the right.
This little space works well enough for what is intended, but as you’ll soon see, the room and access to the parks is really what you’re paying for.
Here’s a look at the gift shop and Le Petit Cafe in the lobby.
Another possibly underwhelming part of the lobby is the “overlook”, which is simply a staircase down to the grounds. Again, we’re really comparing this with the latest addition to the hotel lineup in Gran Destino Tower, where the overlook really was stunning with the floor to ceiling columns and lounge area.
Just off the lobby and attached to Le Petit Cafe is a library/lounge area where you can get away from the potential hustle and bustle of the lobby while still enjoying passed drinks and more from the cafe. This space is called the Voyagers Lounge and contains some relics from Walt’s travels to the Riviera region on display.
That about wraps it up for the lobby space. It’s a simple, somewhat understated area that will act as a nice welcome home, but make you want to explore the grounds more and head up to your room to start your vacation.
Set on the north end of Barefoot Bay, the shape of the hotel makes it feel quite exclusive, while still being open to neighboring foot traffic from Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and offering the easiest accessibility, in our opinion, to the Disney Skyliner gondola system.
We’ve already covered the entrance, which is simple, but showcases the structure nicely. From a logistics point of view, it might be worth noting that there is an east parking lot and a west parking lot as seen on the digital map below, which should offer quicker access to the wing you’re staying in.
We really like the way that the resort is built to “hug” the outdoor areas. If it’s not surrounded by the building, Barefoot Bay acts as a natural barrier to make this resort feel open, yet exclusive. We were able to take a nighttime stroll and while we weren’t able to get to all of the areas, we’ll hit some of the highlights.
Disney’s Riviera Resort takes the concept of green spaces that we saw briefly explored over at Gran Destino Tower and builds upon them.
Perhaps the best part of the grounds is this Bocce Ball area, where gets can play on an astroturf surface while other guests lounge in a nearby seating area.
If chess is more your speed, there is a chess area too that includes oversized pieces that are fun for the whole family (even if the gameplay of chess is too complicated for little ones).
While our evening stroll was too late in the evening for a look around the two pool areas, there is a quiet pool area surrounded on three sides by shrubs that block out the noise of other guests, and a fourth side that allows a view towards Barefoot Bay. Here’s concept art of the quiet pool.
This quiet pool is seen in the middle left of the image below, while the feature pool that will see most of the kids and families can be found in the lower right of the image below.
Here’s concept art of the feature pool.
Continuing our walk around the grounds, this time at sunset, we can see the view across Barefoot Bay and towards the Caribbean Beach Resort and the Disney Skyliner gondola system.
Perhaps the best feature of this resort, besides the rooms, is the seamless and easy access to the Disney Skyliner gondola system. Of all the resorts on the line, Riviera had the advantage of being built and opened (more or less) with the gondola system. It’s this advantage that allowed the resort to likely cluster the most amount of guest rooms within the shortest walk of a Disney Skyliner gondola station. While it might be a bit of a stretch to say that it is a dedicated station for the resort, it sure feels like it. Just steps past two gorgeously crafted murals is the Disney Skyliner gondola station that is specifically “branded” as the Riviera Resort station.
No matter where your room is located, you can have completely covered access to the Hollywood Studios line of the Disney Skyliner gondola system. If you want to head to Epcot, you will have to walk to the “front” of the station, which is not a completely covered walk. With the popularity of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and the soon-to-be quite popular Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at Epcot, this type of access to both parks via a (mostly) constantly moving transportation system will be quite valuable as long as Disney can continue to offer operating hours that allow some sort of value to the guest.
Finally, let’s take a tour of a 1-Bedroom Villa, sort of the standard offering for the resort. First, here’s a look at the floorplan for the villa.
The room is layd out quite smartly, with a welcoming kitchen area and living space greeting you when you walk in, and bathroom space to the right. We’ll work our way around the room in a clockwise direction, starting with the kitchen and living space.
The full kitchen offers stainless steel appliances and a full bench/chair seating area that can accommodate up to 6.
Making our way to the living space, every inch of this area is convertible and usable in a different manner during the day versus at night.
What is, at first glance, a nice living space can quickly convert into one of the nicest fold-down beds anywhere on property. That might seem like a silly thing to say, but it was actually quite comfortable and had all the power outlets you could possibly want! Oh yeah, and most of the common room power outlets contain both a standard plug and USB Type A spaces too.
Another fold-out bed is hidden under the TV.
Maybe a little bit of an unexpected surprise was just how much artwork there was not only in the room, but also around the resort. Here’s a look at what you can find in the living space.
If you want to do some light reading, the One Day at Disney book is available in the room.
Moving on to the bedroom now. The first thing we noticed was not only the wonderful space in the room and continuing artwork, but that it is carpeted! While it might not seem like a huge deal, it greatly impacts the feel of the room and is a wonderful shift away from the trend we’ve seen in some of the latest room renovations where a premium vinyl with wood-look finish creates, in our opinion, too much echo and a dead feeling in the room.
Here’s a look into the closet, which is just out of sight to the right of the mirror in the photo above.
As you can see in the photo below, a small balcony accompanies the room. This was a standard view, which directed us towards Epcot. There are certainly better and worse views in the hotel, with the best possibly pointed towards the Disney Skyliner station for a look at nighttime spectaculars. That said, we know you’re going to be in the parks to watch those in person anyway, right?
Some fun details include Hidden Mickeys in the headboard and an “RR” logo in the curtains.
Moving onto the bathroom now, we find two areas that can function independently of each other if you’re sharing the space with friends or family.
Here’s the first, which would probably be considered the master bathroom.
Separated by a rolling door from the master bathroom is the toilet/shower combo bathroom.
Finally, here’s a look at some of the other accessories in the room, including stacked washer and dryer.
And to complete the full, clockwise tour around the room, here’s a look at the hallway that houses the above accessories and leads into the restroom straight ahead and the kitchen to the left (with the entry door off frame to the right).
If you’d like to take a virtual tour of the room, Disney has partnered with Matterport to give you a full walk through: https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=4j9KE4k643b
We’ll leave you with a look at the hallways and elevator area, including some of our favorite artwork and hidden Disney characters in the carpet!
Overall, we really enjoyed our stay here. Unbelievably easy access to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot, two parks that have already or are in the process of a reimagining, via the Disney Skyliner gondola system is a huge plus. Of course, the very budget conscious can have a similar level of access to the parks via the Pop Century line of the system. If you have bought in to Disney Vacation Club and consider yourself to be a “park person”, there probably isn’t a better spot to stay that puts you in the middle of the action.
We’ll likely return at some point to try some of the restaurants located at the resort. That said, with such easy access to the theme parks (and especially Epcot), it might be worth the 7-minute ride to World Showcase to grab a bite to eat.