In February 2019 when I was still researching DVC and not yet a member, I called Disney directly to find out more about possibly purchasing a contract at the Beach Club Villas or BoardWalk Villas.  The DVC guide was very polite and helpful in answering all of my questions and explained that there was a waitlist for both resorts. Knowing that I was interested in two Epcot resorts, he also added that I may want to look into Disney’s Riviera Resort given that it is another Epcot resort, and it would have a much longer contract than those of the Beach Club and BoardWalk.  Admittedly, I had a bit of a “Crescent Lake or bust!” mentality and quickly dismissed the guide’s suggestion.  

In the months leading up to Riviera’s grand opening in December 2019, it got a lot of negative responses due to the resale restrictions, higher points chart and maintenance fees, and concerns over the Skyliner’s reliability.  However, the beautiful model villas and sneak peaks at the artwork throughout Riviera piqued my interest. The foodie side of me was also excited to try out Topolino’s Terrace. During my trips in 2020, I got to visit the new resort, and I ended up becoming a fan of Riviera.  Here’s why:

Subtle Nods to Disney 

The Voyageurs’ Lounge

While some have said that they think that Riviera is bland, I like that the decor is elegant, and there are subtle nods to Disney films like Ratatouille and Aristocats.  I loved the hidden Mickeys in the ironwork and carpets, the characters in the paintings, the Peter Pan and Tangled tile murals, and the glimpse into Walt’s travels at the Voyageurs’ Lounge.  To me, there was no mistaking the fact that I was at a Disney resort.  I have to admit that even at the BoardWalk, there are very few Disney characters incorporated into the decor.  

Ease of the Skyliner

The Skyliner

The Skyliner is a huge pro for Riviera. I took the Skyliner from International Gateway, and within less than 10 minutes, I was whisked away to Riviera.  The ride was quick and comfortable even during 90-something degree weather, and I can see this being a very convenient mode of transportation for Riviera guests.  My only concern is the consistency of the Skyliner service; there were a few times throughout my January trip that the Skyliner was down, and it was sometimes down due to inclement weather during my August trip. Luckily, buses were offered in place of the Skyliner, and neither of these downtimes lasted very long. On a separate note, I am happy to report that the Skyliner has not made the International Gateway tapstiles overly crowded.  Yes, it may not be as empty as it has been in the past, but it never took more than a few minutes to get through the tapstiles during my January and August trips.  

Good Dining Options

The tomahawk veal chop with potato gratin, torpedo onion, lemon-veal jus from Topolino’s Terrace

A big part of my Disney trips is the food, and Riviera did not disappoint.  My fiancé and I tried Topolino’s Terrace for dinner in January.  The tomahawk veal chop was excellent and tender, and I loved the potato gratin that came with it.  The winter squash ravioli and gnocchi were also very tasty appetizers.  While the menu has been modified since the resort’s reopening, Topolino’s is still getting stellar reviews and even edging out California Grill, according to some. Based on what we had and the good things I’ve heard about Primo Piatto from some of my fellow DVC fans, there are some solid dining options at Riviera.  If you don’t care for the offerings at Riviera, you are also a short Skyliner ride away from Epcot’s World Showcase, which has plenty of options between the restaurants and festivals.  

Gorgeous Villas

The master bedroom in a two bedroom lock-off villa

I love the look of the villas with their clean lines.  I know some people found the style to be rather sterile, but I think that shades of blue throughout the villas make for a serene environment.  The Tower Studios would be fun to try for a weekend getaway or a park-heavy trip if I can ever book one at the 7-month mark, and I would love to try a deluxe studio or even splurge on a gorgeous one bedroom villa thanks to Deni and Ryno’s video tour for the DIS.  When I was touring a few of the Riviera villas, the aesthetics were definitely reminiscent of the Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, another favorite of mine.

Ultimately, if I had to choose between the two Epcot resorts, I still prefer to have the BoardWalk as my home resort mainly due to location.  Crescent Lake is a sentimental favorite, and I love having more to see and do just steps away from my home resort.  Nevertheless, Riviera has a lot to offer. I am truly excited to have another beautiful DVC resort to stay at one day and will try to book it in the future.  I also think Topolino’s Terrace is a great addition to the signature dining scene, and I look forward to eating dinner there again very soon. 

For those of you who have had a chance to visit Riviera in person, have your opinions on the resort changed at all?

One thought on “A BoardWalk Owner’s Take on Riviera

  • I just stayed at the Riviera for the first time over the weekend and I enjoyed it. It is very nice and upscale in feel. The way they incorporated the magic of Disney was subtle and not as in your face as other resorts and it felt more relaxed and subdued overall. The rooms are elegant and comfortable and my 2 1/2 year old son absolutely loved the Skyliner and the Murphy bed that had the hidden 101 Dalmatians theme. I definitely recommend.

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