What I’m looking forward to at Riviera

There has been plenty for DVC members to complain about with Riviera – namely the resale restrictions. DVC did themselves no favors trying to sell a new resort alongside the announcement that points purchased there would incur a whole slew of resale restrictions. But that topic has been beaten to death and as the grand opening of Riviera fast approaches, I find myself thinking less and less about ‘restrictions’ and more and more about what I’m looking forward to. So, for the purposes of this article, I’m going to focus on what I’m excited about. After all, Disney doesn’t open a new resort every day – in fact, the last stand-alone Disney resort was Art of Animation which opened in 2012.

The Theme

I’m a sucker for Mediterranean themes.  Port of Entry at Islands of Adventure, Portofino Bay at Universal, Mediterranean Harbor at Tokyo Disney Sea – and of course, the actual Mediterranean.  There’s something about that style that has always appealed to me.  Now, I hear people complain that the theme of the resort has ‘nothing to do with Disney’. This one complaint I just can’t understand because neither does the Grand Floridian, Contemporary, Polynesian, Wilderness Lodge, Boardwalk, Yacht Club, Beach Club… you get the idea.  Unless your ideal Disney resort is All-Star Movies, I don’t see what the issue is with a Mediterranean themed hotel.

The Rooms

One-Bedroom Villa at Riviera Resort

When I took the tour of the room layouts for Riviera, I was impressed.  I loved the dark woods (although I’m not a particular fan of the ‘alley’ kitchen design that seems to be all the rage now). The overall feel of the model room was very inviting. While they kept the ‘alley kitchen’ design, they also kept the double shower, which I think is a huge plus (one shower is a walk-in, while the other one has a tub).

Tower Studio at Riviera Resort
Grand Villa at Riviera Resort

Riviera will be the first resort to feature the new ‘tower studios’.  These are smaller than average units that sleep 2, each with a private balcony. People got very excited because you can get a tower studio for as low as 11 points a night. The problem with that is there are a limited number of these studios and they will sell out FAST. It’s an entirely new room format for Disney and depending on how it’s received, we’ll likely see more of them included in future projects.  For the opening day, I have a 1 bedroom villa booked using points, and Grand Villa booked with cash (the Disney Visa discount was too good to pass up).   

Toppolino

The restaurant that will sit atop Riviera is called Topolino (which is how Italians refer to Mickey Mouse).  They have an opportunity here to open a first-rate dining location (an opportunity missed by the Grand Destino Tower’s Toledo restaurant).  I’m always nervous about new Disney restaurants because it could break either way. Let’s be honest, Disney has a very mixed track record when it comes to Italian dining. In fact, it seems the best Italian restaurant currently at Walt Disney World is Il Mulino, and that’s at the Swan, which isn’t owned by Disney. Via Napoli and Tutto Italia are a mixed bag, Mama Melrose is decent, and then there’s Tony’s Town Square which is arguably the most reviled restaurant at WDW. We won’t even talk about the offensive Pizza Rizzo and it’s ‘cardboard with ketchup’ approach to pizza. Il Mulino is the restaurant to beat here, and I’m hoping they can do it. Topolino will offer a character breakfast and a dinner service (no lunch, and no character meal at dinner). Based on the menu, they’re playing it pretty safe. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Proximity to Epcot

Some are calling Riviera “The Grand Floridian of Epcot”.   That’s due in part to the (hopefully) upscale design elements, as well as it’s proximity to Epcot. The location of a Skyliner station at the resort will provide direct access to Epcot, provided of course it’s working, you don’t get stuck and the words ‘defecation bag’ don’t work their way into your vacation. 


Stay tuned on Monday over on The DIS and the DIS Unplugged YouTube Channel for our coverage of Riviera, as well as other thoughts and reactions from the team posted on DVC Fan. Also join us Monday night around 9 pm, EST for a LIVE episode of ‘The DVC Show’ from Riviera, exclusively on the DVC Fan Facebook Group!

7 thoughts on “What I’m looking forward to at Riviera

  • December 15, 2019 at 11:55 am
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    In regards to the total fallacy that the Riviera is the “Grand Floridian of Epcot”, I’ll say only this….The Villas at the Grand Floridian wouldn’t be caught dead with a gallery kitchen that is reminicent of a first year college apartment. The Riviera is nothing more that a moderate resort plastered in lipstick. And like all lipstick, it eventually wears off to reveal the truth.

  • December 15, 2019 at 12:39 pm
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    Referring to the Riviera as “The Grand Floridian of Epcot” is laughable (and sad that we have lowered our standards of a Deluxe resort so dramatically). The Villas at the Grand wouldn’t be caught dead with a “gallery kitchen” reminiscent of a “first year college apartment”. Next, we move to the “foyer” of the Riviera. I put foyer in quotes because it is more reflective of a furniture showroom at your local furniture discount warehouse – an abundance of chairs and sofas strewn about in seemingly no thought or order. Next we move to the pool area where the “stamped concrete” patios and walkways (no stone or brick for the Riviera) meander around pool areas dotted with mid grade sun umbrellas. The tower studios, so small that you would have to go outside to change your mind.

    Fortunately for the Riviera, the playful art on the walls will detract from at least some of these mid grade realities.

    Is the Riviera “pretty”? The colours yes. Is the Riviera a Deluxe quality resort. Hardly. It is a mid level hotel bathed in lipstick. And as we all know, the lipstick always wears off.

  • December 15, 2019 at 2:38 pm
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    We have a dinner reservation at Topolino coming up in early January. I’m looking forward to trying something new and am hoping for a nice fireworks view. We bought resale, so I won’t be staying anytime soon. The restrictions really bothered me at the time, but I did a tour just to see the room and liked the decor much more than I thought I would so who knows. There are rumblings that they may change their stance on restrictions so I’ll keep my fingers crossed, but I’m not holding my breath.

    • December 15, 2019 at 9:06 pm
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      Not sure where the hate (in the comments, not the article) on Riviera is coming from. I know this is ultimately a matter of opinions. I’ve walked the grounds, hallways, restaurants and rooms of the resort already. A bunch of members were able to do this as part of the DVC Condo Association meeting last week. I’m really impressed by the Resort. I think when you visit it yourself (and not limit your assessment to Artist renderings), you’ll enjoy it. If nothing else, check out the “library” room to see a TON of vintage Walt Disney paraphernalia. And the murals leading to the Skyliner entrance are so beautiful. There are so many hidden Mickeys and other character references throughout the Resort – in the carpets, the art, even the signs outside. You could spend a day just looking for them. The preferred view that looks out over the pool (with the Skyliner in the background) is peaceful and serene.

      I’m excited to for this Resort to open officially so I can revisit. I think it’s beautiful. So if you’re on the fence about visiting or booking a stay – just do it. I really think you’ll like it.

  • December 15, 2019 at 5:22 pm
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    I am looking forward to seeing the Riviera when it opens. I love the way the grounds looked when we passed by on the Skyliner. I waitlisted a studio months ago for a week at the end of January and it has not become available. I am really not surprised. I just thought I would give it a shot. We will stop over to check it out!

    • December 16, 2019 at 2:06 pm
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      Try calling member services. They have declared only a small portion of the resort for DVC. I had a waitlist in Jan since the 7th month mark. As soon as I called my waitlist was ‘magically’ available. I think they are just pulling from the cash side if they are having trouble filling the resort. Makes sense with the reservations starting after most have already booked their trips. I called a while back but still worth a shot.

  • December 15, 2019 at 9:23 pm
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    The Riviera looks very nice to me.
    I think some people just like to have something to whine & complain about.

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