I love booking split stays to experience resorts that are new to my husband and me, so I could hardly contain my excitement when I was able to book our first stays at Jambo House at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Disney’s Riviera Resort this past June. While updating my DVC point tracking spreadsheet, I noticed something interesting: both the Standard View Studio at Jambo House and the Riviera Tower Studio were worth 13 points for a weekday night in June. I’m admittedly a bit of a point miser, so this realization made me wonder which accommodation would be more worthwhile for those precious 13 points.
Space and Room Amenities
The most obvious difference between the studio and tower studio is space. At 316-365 square feet, a studio at Jambo House can accommodate up to 4 people. The studio had a Queen size bed, a full-size sleeper sofa, and the usual kitchenette with a sink, mini-fridge, microwave, toaster, and coffee maker.
The tower studio at 255 square feet can only fit 2 people. It had a Queen size Murphy bed that converted into a couch. While it had a microwave, mini-fridge, and toaster, there was no additional sink other than the one in the bathroom, and the coffee maker was a Keurig with K-cups. Despite the small size of the tower studio, it had a very spacious bathroom with a walk-in shower. It also made up for the lack of space with plenty of storage, including shelves on each side of the bed, the closet in the bathroom, and in the ottomans.
With our Standard View Studio at Jambo House, we had a view of the Uzima pool. Since only the DVC villas were open at the time that we stayed at Jambo House, the pool area was pretty quiet.
All of the tower studios at Riviera are located in the same corner on the west side of the resort. We essentially had a view of the parking lot and porte-cochere, but off in the distance, you could see Spaceship Earth and the building for the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy coaster.
Resort Theming and Amenities
This is where the Jambo House studio really shined. From the moment that you step inside the lobby at Jambo House, it’s hard not to be in awe of the theming and attention to detail. I especially loved the Masai bridge that crosses the lobby and of course all of the savannas and overlooks. Even with a standard view villa, there were plenty of public viewing areas, and it was so amazing to see all of the animals. It makes the resort feel like an extension of Animal Kingdom, and we ended up spending a lot of our time just enjoying all that Jambo House had to offer, including the Uzima pool. We didn’t even bother to go to a park on one of our Jambo House days.
I know some people feel that Riviera doesn’t feel Disney enough or that its lobby lacks the grandeur of resorts like Jambo House, but I have to say that I really liked all of the subtle nods to Disney movies and characters in all of Riviera’s elegant decor. In fact, I had fun doing the Disney’s Riviera Resort Signature Art Collection Search, which is a scavenger hunt that has you search for some of the Disney-inspired art throughout the resort. There were other scavenger hunts and crafts available at the Eventi Room. Although Riviera has two pools, the Beau Soleil quiet pool and the Riviera Pool, both are relatively small and can sometimes feel crowded.
The Mara was the only restaurant open in June at Jambo House, and even then it was only open for breakfast and dinner. I really missed Jiko. Having dined there before the pandemic, I know how delicious the food was there. I still remember the wild boar appetizer I had there. I have also heard so many great things about the buffet at Boma; I know that under normal circumstances, there are plenty of good eats at Jambo House.
To me, Riviera is synonymous with Topolino’s Terrace, which is currently one of my favorite restaurants on property. Everything there has been amazing from the quiche at breakfast to the tomahawk veal chop at dinner. Primo Piatto and Bar Riva also provide some solid quick service offerings.
All in all, both resorts provide great dining options.
For Jambo House, the only form of transportation is the bus. With the Skyliner at Riviera, you can get to and from Epcot and Hollywood Studios within minutes (assuming there are no thunderstorms). We lucked out and did not run into any Skyliner closures during our June trip.
So which room did we prefer more? It’s a tough call since they are so different. If considering the room itself, I liked the tower studio a little better. Though small, the room was very functional and had everything you need for a comfortable stay. The bathroom with the rainfall shower was amazing, and I found the Murphy bed surprisingly comfy. It was a perfect place to stay for our Hollywood Studios day with the quick Skyliner ride. It was also wonderful to walk back to our room after a heavy meal at Topolino’s. While the theming of the Jambo House studio is amazing, the furniture felt large for the space, and the bathroom door that swung into the bathroom made the space feel tight. I also found the room rather dark.
That said, Jambo House wins when it comes to the overall resort. (I mean it has “a friggin’ savanna,” as noted by Pete.) I now fully understand why Animal Kingdom Lodge ranks so high on the resort-only stays. We really didn’t feel the need to visit a park when we were staying at Jambo House. Now that Boma has reopened, and with Jiko and the cultural representatives return soon, making it an even better experience.
I’d love to know which room you would pick for 13 points: a Jambo House Standard View Studio or a Riviera Tower Studio?