The Six Resort Split Stay- Disney’s Riviera Resort

Departing Old Key West, I really had to tell myself to clear my mind and go into our next resort with as much of an open mind as possible. You all likely know what’s been said, and more specifically, what I’ve said in the past regarding Disney’s Riviera Resort. In an article I wrote last year, I threw aside all the real debates about buying this resort and simply stated that I didn’t think the resort or style was for me. Despite these preconceived notions, I promised myself that the first time I walked through Riviera’s porte cochère, I’d do my best to erase these thoughts and give it the fair shot that it deserves. Boy, was I surprised…


Check-In Process

Let’s call this check-in process Deja Vu… As we sat and enjoyed a nice home-cooked breakfast in our one-bedroom villa at Old Key West, we received a text message that our room at Riviera was ready. Having reserved a Tower Studio (because we really wanted to see what staying in a closet felt like), we quickly knew something was off by the room number. As it turned out, we would have to save our review of the tower studios for another day because we had just received another upgrade to a Preferred View One-Bedroom Villa. We gathered our belongings and drove to the resort, where we parked and headed for the front lobby. Despite having already checked in, we were greeted by multiple Cast Members at the front entrance who helped direct us towards our room and welcome us to Disney’s Riviera Resort. The check-in experience here was perfect, and we were already very impressed with the newest addition to the DVC family.

Rating: Very Satisfied



Service and Cast Members

I hinted at this above, but I do not want it to get lost in this review of how wonderful our Cast Member encounters at Riviera were. As Disney Vacation Club’s newest flagship resort, and the first in over eight years built exclusively with members in mind, the bar is admittedly set very high. They want this resort knocking you off your feet so that if you haven’t purchased points by the time you leave, you’ll be asking yourself why you didn’t until you do. With a hand-picked team of Cast Members, despite the difficulties we have faced this year, this resort is still ‘dressed to impress’ and continues to make a name for itself. The service and Cast Member experiences at Riviera are setting the new standard of what should be expected and I congratulate all of them on how well that is being done.

Rating: Very Satisfied


Lobby and Common Areas

Riviera is truly a massive resort, with approximately 300 rooms spread out in what is actually a small footprint. Multiple times during our stay, I found myself questioning whether I made the correct turn as I walked the long hallways throughout its interior. When it comes to the lobby and common areas, these aspects of the resort feel very understated. I hate comparing the resort to a moderate, but the new Coronado Springs Gran Destino Tower does a better job of giving you an amazing space that welcomes you to the resort. This may be done intentionally as part of the resorts theming. Still, I have concerns regarding how busy these common areas will become once the resort operates at full capacity, which I don’t believe has occurred to date.

Rating: Satisfied


Hotel Condition/Cleanliness

At six-months-old and having been closed for half of that period, Disney’s Riviera Resort is still brand new and stunning! I noticed no signs of wear as we walked the resort and everything I could see was extremely clean. It will be interesting to see how everything holds up in the coming months as the resort sees more traffic.

Rating: Very Satisfied


Riviera Resort One-Bedroom Preferred View Villa

Room Cleanliness

It’s one thing for a room to look clean, but it is a whole other realm for it to SMELL clean which was the takeaway for our one-bedroom villa. You can tell at every turn that the rooms here have barely been used and are immaculate. There did appear to be a little damage to the bottom of the dishwasher that we were surprised to see but otherwise noticed no wear and tear in the room. We even spotted mousekeeping dusting and cleaning the balconies of some nearby rooms which shows the level of detail and care they are giving Riviera. An upgrade we also were drawn to after our recent encounter at Old Key West was an automatic cleaning feature built into the whirlpool tub.

Rating: Very Satisfied


Room Decor

The decor and theming of the rooms at Riviera is something you can tell Imagineers spent a large focus on. Each small touch was methodically planned to bring the feeling of the French/Italian Riviera to life. Our personal favorite touch, of course, is the artwork. With so much custom art designed specifically for the resort, you are bound to see something new every visit. Amy and I were particularly drawn to the Remi painting featured in the kitchen of our one-bedroom villa, as well as the Wall-E & Eve painting that can be found in a Grand Villa. These now live on the walls of our home, thanks to the Art On Demand kiosk that can be found exclusively in La Boutique Gift Shop.

I feel like mentioning that I continuously tripped over the bed-frame in the master bedroom. You can see from the picture below that it extends a good distance beyond the end of the mattress. Maybe I need to open my eyes more, but it makes me wonder if anyone else had this problem. By the end of the stay, I had one or two nice bruises as a free souvenir!

Rating: Very Satisfied



Dining Options

If you haven’t had a chance yet to read our review of Topolino’s Terrace, I’d highly recommend you head over and check it out! Disney’s Riviera Resort has some wonderful dining options, all of which are producing some amazing food. Topolino’s sets the standard here and is quickly making a name for itself as one of Walt Disney World’s best deluxe dining locations. We grabbed a quick lunch on our visit as well at Primo Piatto. I made a bad choice with the parfait (don’t believe the picture in mobile ordering), but Amy had a wonderful shrimp salad. That being said, my earlier comment regarding the size of the resort rings in my head again when it comes to dining offerings. The location and size of these dining locations almost feel like an afterthought, except for Topolino’s. I remain concerned about how busy they will get when the resort is filled.

Rating: Very Satisfied



Pools and Recreation

We spent the evening of our stay here walking around the resort, taking in all the sights, sounds, and activities available. With the theme parks closing early, this was one of the first times the resort felt slightly crowded. Both pool areas looked wonderful but were a bustle of activity. However, one of the resort’s best features is the abundance of seating that surrounds Barefoot Bay. Whether on the beach or near the pool, there are plenty of places for you to sit, relax, and escape to the Riviera.

Rating: Satisfied


Transportation

The Disney Skyliner steals the show when it comes to transportation at Disney’s Riviera Resort. While I have heard some horror stories when it comes to long lines and delays, Amy and I have had wonderful experiences riding the Skyliner on a few occasions. It’s an addition to Riviera really makes you feel connected and within a short trip to over half of the offerings at Walt Disney World. We both hope that this system is expanded on in the coming years to connect more resorts and perhaps even Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

Rating: Very Satisfied


Value for the Points

While not planning to give a rating in this category because we spent the points for a Tower Studio and received a One-Bedroom Preferred View upgrade, this is where Riviera does not excel. We spent 21 points for a weekend night during Magic Season for our Tower Studio – which as many of you know are the smallest DVC room on property (220 square feet). To put that into perspective for you, every other Deluxe Studio on property are approximately 100+ square feet larger. In addition, all DVC resorts at Walt Disney World (except Grand Floridian and Polynesian) have Deluxe Studios for the same or fewer points of Riviera’s Tower Studio. For Riviera Deluxe Studios, the points are similar to Grand Floridan and Polynesian, with the latter of the two clocking in at two more points a night (they will both be walking distance to Magic Kingdom soon so I can justify those two extra points). 

Riviera Resort Point Charts

The upgraded One-Bedroom Preferred View Villa we stayed in would have cost us 63 points that night and our “preferred view” was a wall of other balconies and a splash pad where it sounded like children were having an all-day screaming contest lasting well into the 9 pm hour. For 55 points, I could have had a One-Bedroom at Grand Floridan watching the monorail go by, and for 30 points that night, I could have had a quiet and huge One-Bedroom at Old Key West. 

The bottom line is that the point chart is high at Riviera and it really shows itself with the tower studios and the preferred view rooms. This is especially hard to quantify when the standard views could have you looking into Epcot. The preferred view will most likely be what is left for us non-owners at 7 months and for this reason, we will most likely not be Riviera regulars.


Overall Impression

If you came here hoping that I was either going to be all sunshine and rainbows or tear Riviera apart, I hope I didn’t completely disappoint you. Disney’s Riviera Resort is absolutely gorgeous, and I completely understand why so many have fallen in love with it and have chosen to call it their home. While I have expressed concerns about its cost and size, if these factors are not important to you, I can promise you will have an amazing time staying at this resort for many years as a Disney Vacation Club Member. Amy and I can’t wait to head there again and maybe get a real opportunity to try out that Tower Studio!


Missed some of the earlier stops on our six resort split stay? Check them out here!

Five down, one to go! Join us next week as we head to our final stop on this ‘six resort split stay’ – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House!

6 thoughts on “The Six Resort Split Stay- Disney’s Riviera Resort

  • October 18, 2020 at 3:14 pm
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    You only got special treatment because they know who you are and that you write Disney reviews. Anybody else who checks in online doesn’t get greeted by anyone upon arrival nor do they get 2 upgrades during a trip.

    Reply
    • October 18, 2020 at 3:21 pm
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      Hi Karen – I’m sorry you feel that way. If you’ve spent any time recently observing the trends since Walt Disney World has reopened, many many guests are reporting unexpected upgrades. The fact that we had six reservations over the course of nine days probably ups the chances of this happening. We’ve also heard enough to suspect that having a single night stay booked may be a contributing factor.

      Also, I would hope that if you walked into the lobby of any resort you would be greeted kindly by cast members. Its not like they went out of their way to find us. We looked lost, they were friendly and asked if we needed help.

      It’s flattering that you think we are that famous, but I can assure you we are not. Have a great day!

      Reply
  • October 18, 2020 at 4:31 pm
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    While overall I liked the review, the aspect that confused me is that you mentioned several times “the massive size” of the resort. At only 300 rooms, isn’t this in fact one of the smallest resorts on property at Disney? It has far fewer rooms than most deluxe properties, which usually include both hotel & DVC rooms.

    Reply
    • October 18, 2020 at 4:43 pm
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      Thanks, Whitney! Definitely worth clarifying… If we’re talking about size in terms of space I would agree it is on a very small footprint. They have fit a large amount into that small space though and it is one of the larger DVC properties built in recent history. It has a total of 300 villas but a maximum room potential of 489 when you split all the lockoffs. In that regard it is pretty massive and has the potential to hold a larger number of guests.

      It could prove me wrong but I just have concerns that it does not have the support structure to support all those guests without feeling like sardines shoved in a can. The only comparison I can make in my head is imagine Bay Lake Tower without the additional amenities and benefits of the Contemporary.

      Reply
  • October 18, 2020 at 4:51 pm
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    Great review! Riviera is a beautiful resort – we’ll be staying there in April. We’ve eaten at Topolino’s twice and had great experiences both times.

    We had a split stay in Aug./Sept. at Grand Floridian and Boardwalk. We received an upgrade to a one bedroom at Grand Floridian. I believe the upgrade was totally random because our name certainly wouldn’t be recognized by anyone. Grand Floridian cast members were also very welcoming (more than at Boardwalk). It seems that upgrades are just a matter of fortuosity! (If you’re not familiar with that word, check out the live action Disney movie “The Happiest Millionaire” from 1967). 😊

    Reply
  • October 22, 2020 at 7:07 am
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    Thanks for the review, Paul. I’m really enjoying these! We have our own split stay coming up next week – 2 nights each in all three monorail resorts to celebrate my husband’s birthday. Your reviews have been a great way to get ready for the trip.

    Looking forward to your last review, as AKV is one of our favorites. (and, I agree, wouldn’t it be great if they did extend the Skyliner out there!)

    Reply

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