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.
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.
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).
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).
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!