Yes, I fell in love with Disney’s Riviera Resort

I have a job that requires me to make predictions.  When something new is announced, I’m often asked about my opinion. Heaven knows when it came to Riviera, I had my opinions (along with everyone else).   It wasn’t so much the announcement of a new resort that engendered my disapproval of Riviera. Rather, it was the terms and conditions of the resale restrictions. Nonetheless, I’ll give you a preview of where this article is going. I was hard on Riviera when it was announced, and I now own a 150 point contract there. If I’m going to criticize something, I have to be willing to say that I’ve changed my mind – kind of.

For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, allow me a moment to explain.  Up until the creation of Riviera, when you purchased points at any DVC resort – either direct from Disney or thru a DVC resale broker, the points were basically the same.  They could be used interchangeably at any of the DVC resorts.  In January of 2019 DVC announced that resale contracts purchased on any new resorts (meaning any resorts opened after January of 2018) would be good ONLY at that resort. By doing this, Disney was attempting to make points purchased directly from them more ‘valuable’ than those purchased on the resale market. They followed this up by restricting the kinds of discounts available to resale members, among other annoying and petty restrictions. The fact is that Disney left loopholes the size of Texas in their business model. Those loopholes allowed for resales and now they’re trying to change the game. But that’s not the point of this article. However, it was a MAJOR factor in my original impression of Riviera. It would be beautiful but tainted. That stigma would prevent me from purchasing a contract there – or so I thought.

One of the things that made Disney Vacation Club such a good purchase is its resale value.  Historically, the price of DVC resorts would appreciate considerably over time.  Someone who purchased a 200-point contract at Beach Club when it first went on sale in 2002 was paying about $84 per point direct with Disney.  That same contract today would sell for $156 per point on the resale market. 

By restricting resale contracts at Riviera, DVC was hoping to start gutting the resale market.  A question that was asked repeatedly (and still is to some degree) is how the restrictions would affect its resale price.  Well, we’re getting a good look at the answer.  Riviera went on sale in 2019 (a year before the resort opened) at $188 per point.  Today, a 200 point contract would go for $155 per point.  Keep in mind, the resort is only open for 2 years.   By contrast, the previous resort (Copper Creek, which has no restrictions), debuted at $176 per point in 2017 and now sells for $158 – $184 depending on the size of the contract).

Early indications seem to suggest that the restrictions have depressed the price of its resale contracts.  But I’m not so sure that’s necessarily a bad thing.

While I DESPISE the resale restrictions on Riviera, I am absolutely in LOVE with the resort.  It has an understated elegance that reminds me of my experiences in Europe without beating me over the head with it.   It’s stylish without being uncomfortable.  It boasts what is arguably the BEST gift shop at any Disney resort, and certainly has one of the best restaurants (Topolinos).  It also serves as a stop on the Skyliner, offering direct access to Epcot. 

But then we get to the rooms.  I’ve been reviewing Disney hotels for nearly 25 years and these have to be among the very best Disney has to offer.  They have both style (a palate of taupe and gold, wood laminate flooring, and marble bathrooms), and function (queen size bed, queen size murphy bed, twin bed trundle) that provide sleeping accommodations for up to 5 people without crowding the room with furniture.  The implementation of the split bathroom design (two separate showers, one with a tub) is a popular addition for families. 

Disney was billing Riviera as “the Grand Floridian of Epcot” given its easy access to the park via the Skyliner.  When I first heard that, my eyes rolled back in my head as it sounded like typical Disney marketing hyperbole.  However, as time has gone on, I’ve come to realize it is – in fact – the Grand of Epcot, but in the best sense (I am NOT a fan of the Grand Floridian hotel – the Villas are another matter). 

For months after the Riviera opened, I was scoping out resale contracts. I came close a few times to purchasing one, then decided I had to have the courage of my convictions and resist. However, after a recent visit to the resort, I broke down and put in an offer on a contract. The fact of the matter is I’m perfectly fine with a resale contract that restricts me to using those points at only one resort because it’s a resort I desperately want to stay at. The rooms, the ambiance, the charm of Riviera won me over. I’m now the proud owner of 150 points at Riviera that I paid a very reasonable $144 per point.

I’ve also added some direct points to my ‘collection’, so I have options with new resorts. However, the fact remains that I’m excited to have 150 points to use exclusively at Riviera. And as a 57-year-old gay man, I can be a bit jaded. However, the emotional reminders of Europe, the quality of the rooms, the artwork in the rooms and on display around the resort, the outstanding staff, one of the best restaurants on property (Topolinos) all combined to overcome even my most jaded instincts. I’m a fan of Riviera and look forward to many years of enjoying all it has to offer.

6 thoughts on “Yes, I fell in love with Disney’s Riviera Resort

  • January 4, 2022 at 10:18 am
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    I totally agree on a lot of your points. When we checked out Riviera the first month it was open and fell in love with it. That got us into looking into DVC and we ended up going from staying at Value and Moderate Resorts and going once or twice a wear for 10-14 days at a time to owning 300 points (150 at Riviera and 150 at Copper Creek). We bought in 2020 right during the Pandemic and it allowed us to get $12,000 off of 300 points from Disney. Talk about the best timing for us ever. Paid in cash and my Wife and I can’t wait to go to Disney World yearly for the next 20-40 years (both in our early 30’s). We love the Rooms at Riviera and the dining options. We love the music they play around the resort. It really adds to the theming. I only wish there was a tiny bit more theming like maybe more shops or some gondola boats in the water or perhaps some more Italian or French Fixtures to really take it over the top.

    • January 4, 2022 at 4:27 pm
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      I have been a DVC member since 1995….home resort is boardwalk….over the years we have stayed at all the WDW resorts….I read your Riviera review…..I agree with most of the things you say about Riviera….if I had one complaint….it would be the Comfort of the family room….especially the couch that the murphy bed comes down on….The murphy bed is a great feature…however the couch is not…it really is uncomfortable for anyone, or 2 or 3 people to sit on and enjoy conversation and or TV….its not a small thing if your staying there 7-10 days…..that is the main room to sit with family…..I’m unsure much can be done about it ..something has to give to have that murphy bed…..and comfort was forgotten about….then again…sleeping on that bed….that was comfortable….i would wish for both!!!!….thank you for your review.

  • January 4, 2022 at 11:29 am
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    All I would say it is easy to have your head turned by a new liaison.

    However if you have to justify in lengthy correspondence surely it is merely an impulsive infactuation?

    At the end of the day you may well realise that it is your original love you loved the most.

    I wish I had bought here or there but at the end of the day.the reasons I bought where I did remain sound today albeit I did flirt with other admirers.

    Love the show. Stay safe.

  • January 4, 2022 at 12:09 pm
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    Although I’d heard of DVC before attending a DVC tour in 2019 I had always ruled it out and thought the only way to buy was direct. I think DVC putting these resale restrictions in place has backfired and shone a massive spotlight on the resale market. While we actually didn’t proceed with the purchase at Riviera although I am slightly gutted as it was at $154 per point with the offers they had on at the time. We did however end up buying into BLT with a 100 point starter contract last year and are looking forward to visiting this summer. As international visitors I’m not sure a resale at Riviera would give us the flexibility we would need but I’m looking forward to taking a look around the resort maybe it will tempt us.

  • January 5, 2022 at 3:58 pm
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    We shared a similar experience. On a whim, we switched from Beach Club to Riviera for an August trip, our first one as a family of six (two adults, two kids and infant twins). We didn’t expect to, but we fell hard for the place- so hard that we will probably abandon our plan to stay at a new resort each trip and instead end up buying a resale contract there. Skyliner access, lush gardens and fountains, Topolinos, the Fantasia inspired kid play area- we found everything about Riviera to be effortlessly lovely. The one bedroom villa was spacious and clean and had everything we could want and more. I would move in there tomorrow if I could. I enjoyed reading your perspective…hope to catch you at Bar Riva sometime!

  • January 5, 2022 at 9:12 pm
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    I agree with most of the things you said about Riviera. I have not stay yet. I have a booking to do a 2-resort split (Grand Floridian/Riviera) in December 2022. I cannot wait to se the 3-room Villas (for both GF and Riviera). there will be 8 people (5 adults, 2 children, and 1 infant), and I cannot wait to see, and get another membership to DVC. Thanks for sharing, Pete.

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