Nine Reasons We Love Disney’s Riviera Resort
Let’s face facts. Sometimes, newer is better, and the latest resort at Walt Disney World proves the point.
Here are nine reasons we love Disney’s Riviera Resort, the hotel that celebrates Walt Disney as a world traveler.
For generations now, the European Riviera has embodied the pinnacle of exotic vacations among the elite.
Walt and Lillian Disney frequently visited these destinations during his search for architectural inspiration for his movies and Disneyland.
During the 1930s, Walt and his older brother, Roy, traveled across Europe, and their wives joined them on the excursions.
The theming at Disney’s Riviera Resort celebrates these visits, which ultimately led to the creation of places like Sleeping Beauty Castle.
This resort doubles as an homage to the life and times of Walt Disney, as demonstrated by the artwork on display throughout the hotel.
Disney has expanded actual photographs from these working vacations into paintings that adorn the walls.
Also, the design of the buildings reflects the classic style of the Spanish Riviera and its artistic heritage.
A visit to this resort will transport you thousands of miles in distance and nearly a century in time.
I just touched on the artwork, but it deserves more discussion. Disney officials have outdone themselves in building a library of family photos disguised as a hotel.
You’ll know that the place is different as you approach the hotel lobby. Two mosaic murals reside around and above you in the entrance tunnel.
The illustrations of Peter Pan and Tangled will set the tone that you’re at a Disney resort…and a breathtaking one at that.
Disney sprinkles these touches throughout the property, even decorating the space above your hotel room bed with giant paintings!
As you roam the halls of the Riviera, you’ll notice a fascinating combination of images.
Some come from your favorite Disney movies, while others show various Disney family vacation photos.
As a Disney fan, you’ll feel so connected to this resort due to its artwork.
For the longest time, this parcel of land counted as an extension of Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort.
We’ve previously discussed how much we love the location of that hotel. It’s an EPCOT property in theory, but it’s the closest place to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Now, that statement will change once Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser debuts, but it drives home the point that you’re only minutes away from two hotels!
Rather than add another island to Caribbean Beach, Imagineers constructed an entirely new property here…and it’s majestic!
You’re getting the same location-based amenities as Caribbean Beach, only at an upscale resort!
The Disney Skyliner
Of course, I cannot comment on the location of the Riviera without mentioning its best amenity.
Disney plotted this hotel at the same time as the Disney Skyliner, settling on Caribbean Beach as the central hub.
Since that hotel is only a short distance from the Riviera, Disney built this property as a Disney Skyliner station. It’s not the hub, but it’s close.
When you board the Skyliner at the Riviera, you’re mere minutes away from Hollywood Studios and EPCOT.
The gondolas will transport you directly to either one. You’ll exit near the front gate at Hollywood Studios or the International Gateway at EPCOT.
A trip to Hollywood Studios will take roughly 10 minutes, while EPCOT is a bit longer at 15 minutes.
Still, you’re guaranteed to arrive at a park in 15 minutes or less. That’s historically unprecedented at Walt Disney World!
The Lobby Area
The design of this resort may confuse you for a minute, as you may enter at a place that’s not the lobby.
The Riviera features a lower floor entry and the main floor entry, depending on whether you arrive via Disney Skyliner or bus.
You’ll find the lobby on the second floor. However, a bit of exploring will reveal that it’s all lobby-like, akin to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
The “main floor” is the second floor, where cast members will happily solve all your problems or leave you alone.
These workers know how many people like to visit the Riviera just to sit on one of the lobby couches and hang out. It’s an idyllic setting.
You’ll feel like European royalty the whole time you hang out in the lobby.
On the ground floor, you can explore the hotel campus, but you’ll find plenty to do inside the building.
A restaurant resides on the bottom floor, while a lounge rests just past the lobby.
What we like to do is grab a drink and a meal/light snack. Then, we sit in the serene lobby and people-watch for a while.
The Rooftop Restaurant
You’ll eat well when you stay at Disney’s Riviera Resort. Le Petit Café and Primo Piatto will satisfy your Parisian café desires and provide a coffee fix.
However, one restaurant towers above the rest, literally and figuratively.
Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera resides on the roof of the restaurant. Disney has modeled it after California Grill.
Longtime Disney fans know this means the restaurant includes floor-to-ceiling windows.
Imagineers constructed it to provide views of EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. When Disney offers fireworks, you can watch them from here.
Even when there aren’t nighttime presentations, the restaurant remains a must-visit locale.
The French and Italian cuisine here will please your palate while you admire the view.
Also, in the mornings, the restaurant hosts a character meal.
Breakfast à la Art with Mickey & Friends has quickly become one of the best character meals at Walt Disney World.
Seriously, even when you’re not staying at the Riviera, you should plan to eat here some.
Disney wants you to feel like you’re vacationing at the Spanish Riviera. So, it has themed the pools to enhance that perception.
The main pool mirrors the Mediterranean coast with its architectural style, but kids will love it for a different reason.
Imagineers have built S’il Vous Play, a phenomenal water play area that includes a water fountain themed to Fantasia.
The main pool features a 30-foot-tall tower that comes with a thrilling corkscrew water slide, too!
The hotel hosts two other quiet pools that aren’t as grand in stature, but they’re usually less crowded. Sometimes, I prefer that on vacation.
Okay, here’s one I rarely mention about Disney resorts, but it’s significant here.
A few years ago, Disney recognized that its tech has become a bit outdated, especially in hotel rooms. I mean, many of them still have DVD players!
You use your phone to watch videos, right? Disney has finally accounted for this with a new television system.
When you turn on your hotel room TV, you’ll notice new options at the bottom of the screen.
You can check your hotel folio, watch Disney programming on-demand, or cast something from your phone to the television!
Yes, Disney has adapted to the Netflix generation and its voracious appetite for streaming.
Thus far, only a couple of other Disney hotels have added this service. Hopefully, it’ll become status quo soon.
Until then, the Riviera features the best tech at Walt Disney World!
The Tributes to Walt Disney
Walt, Lillian, and Roy Disney visited the European Riviera nearly 90 years ago.
This resort functions as a lasting monument to those family vacations.
There are classic pictures of them walking off planes or eating lunch outdoors against a mountain range backdrop.
At the Riviera, you’re a fly on the wall during meaningful moments in Disney history.
The whole property feels like a time capsule from nearly a century ago. For Disney fans, the Riviera Resort is like the mothership calling us all home.