Just say OUI to Disney's Riviera Resort

by christie grube Aug 05, 2021

I am going to start this review of Disney's Riveria Resort off with a bit of a preamble. "It was a dark and stormy night"....Just kidding...

Last year, during our covid-phased reopening visit we hopped on the Skyliner from Hollywood Studios to have lunch at the Riviera's Quick Service restaurant, Primo Piatto. We were curious about the resort as it had JUST opened right before the world shut down and...we were anxious to ride the Skyliner for the first time ever. After a fun whirl on the Skyliner and a QUICK walk through a breezeway, we arrived. Maybe it was the stunning Tangled mosaic mural you pass under, maybe it was the embossed toilet paper in their pool restroom (seriously, SO extra!), maybe it was the crazy good Croque Monsieur sandwich I devoured...but it was love at first sight. We were all quietly coveting this resort, no one really wanting to say out loud that we were having some serious resort envy and all really wanting to pack up and bring everything over to the Riviera. 

When it came time to book another family trip to Walt Disney World and room discount promotions were announced, this Momma (and Travel Agent) POUNCED. I just HAD to know what this resort FELT like as a guest not just as a voyeur. 

No, this isn't a sad, cautionary tale of "careful what you wish for," not even close...as soon as our Magical Express coach rolled up we did a collective household swoon. For one, Goofy and Pluto were strolling out waving and greeting us (you know like they KNEW we were coming) and then just laying eyes on the grand entrance of the Riviera, knowing we were "home" was pretty amazing. We had dreamt of this moment for nearly a dream, it was a "pinch me" kind of moment for sure. 

Disney World is a feast for ALL our senses and I can't think of another destination that GETS that and executes that as effectively as WDW. Obviously, when you first walk into the Riviera's lobby you are noticing the clean lines, the modern furnishings, the lobby's brightness and beauty-eyes are happy, so check. Then the aromas hit you, the fresh cut flowers in the entrance area, stunning and perfectly fragrant-the nose is at full attention, so check. You hear a tune, it sounds both familiar and yet different, it's "You've Got a Friend in Me," but in French. Awesome, the ears are also along for the party. Then my eyes and nose alert the taste buds that they aren't going to be left out when we spy "Le Petit Café" and all of their gorgeous pastries across the foyer. Cue the uncontrollable urge to drool.

Our room was ready when we arrived (around 2 pm) so we headed straight there to check it out and dump our massive amounts of luggage. (No pair of ears will be left behind!) We had booked a Deluxe Studio-Preferred View Room. We were WOWed the moment we walked through the door. The crisp lines, the brightness, the spaciousness...the TWO SHOWERS!!!! The surprises didn't stop coming, a large closet and actual room to move in the foyer, additional drawers tucked away everywhere and fantastic, surprising under the bed storage. The pulldown wall bed was SUPER comfy (you know we all had to take turns laying on it) as was the pulldown smaller (think twin sized) cabinet bed. 

Pocket doors make the dual shower bathroom incredibly functional, it was a remarkable amount of space and one that a Dad traveling with three girls REALLY appreciated! The marbling is lovely, it's certainly one of those bathrooms that you wish you could just pack up in your suitcase and bring home. 

Our view was amazing! The balcony is large, PLENTY of space for all four of us to hang out and take in the sights! (Only two chairs though.) We had a great view of the resort's quiet pool, a corner of the main pool, Caribbean Beach Resort, the Skyliner, the fun Riviera grounds, and the lagoon area. We are typically GO-GO-GO people, rarely sticking around in the room to hang out. This resort was a game-changer for us. 

We LOVED all of the amenities! We learned how to play bocce ball and had a pretty cutthroat competition. The pools were amazing and the girls made sure to try them both out...and the hot tub. (and hello-poolside gelato, yes please!) There was a massive chessboard, kid's water play area themed after Fantasia, corn hold boards, and a scenic walking path around the property. We even poked our heads into the fitness center. (Don't be silly, the Parks are my workout!) One of our favorite activities was the resort's art scavenger hunt. (Pick up a scavenger hunt sheet and stickers at the front desk and go on a hunt for art for a prize!) This resort has some of the most beautiful pieces of Disney art you will ever see. Additionally, the resort is FULL of some of Walt's private European trip photos. Seeing these photos of Walt with his loved ones in such amazing, scenic surroundings was all the feels. 

The dining is fantastic. "Topolino's Terrace" has already made a name for itself with its Signature dining dinner and its adorable modified character meal for breakfast...but there's MORE! "Primo Piatto" isn't a huge Quick Service restaurant, but it's cozy, it's close to the pools and the menu is great. (Pretty sure we made sure to have just about everything on there.) It's not "food court" food by any stretch. "Le Petit Café" not only has amazing breakfast pastries (don't try to resist the banana bread) but their desserts are a sweet tooth's DREAM! The Café also boasts a delicious, and impressive coffee and tea menu. (I want to have their Almond Cold Brew with honey whipped cream every day of my life.)  "Bar Riva" out by the pool is a laidback, open-air bar area with its own menu (similar to Primo but with some fun surprises like baked brie in puffed pastry) and mouthwatering adult beverages great for relaxing at the pool, or just while enjoying the views and openness of the bar itself. 

Kiddo activities galore! We loved the vibe of this resort, it has an approachable upscale feel without ever being the slightest bit stuffy. The activities room has fun stuff for kids (okay fun for anyone!) like creating your own animation cell, making your own tumbler, or pamper yourself with your own handmade sugar scrub. There is also "Movies Under the Stars" for everyone to enjoy and a fire pit to hang out by and chat about your day and recharge a bit. Resort days are NO BRAINERS at the Riviera...in fact, I'm even contemplating a resort WEEK! 

"La Boutique"...okay...not my favorite resort gift shop at Disney. I get it, you're a "boutique" so you should be quaint. Sure. But...eh, I was really hoping for more merchandise to spoil myself with. (They do have a very cute selection of resort-specific merchandise, adorable tops, hats, bags, and cups.) I was just hoping for...more. But c'mon, if my only criticism is the size of the gift shop (and it REALLY is) then whoa...Disney is REALLY on to something with this resort. 

Transportation was super easy, the buses were running frequently, and were rarely uncomfortably crowded. (Of course, after the parks close things fill up, but even then, easy peasy.) Taking the Skyliner over to Epcot and Hollywood Studios was a wonderful experience, seamless, easy and so much fun. Weather DOES happen, especially in June...in Florida. We had some thunderstorms that did shut the Skyliner down. In those cases, we just hopped on the bus and headed back "home." Simple. 

The little touches at this resort, from the books and artifacts in the "Voyageurs' Lounge" that make you feel like you're taking a load off in Walt's own personal library down to the Hidden Mickey's in the carpeting and larger than life ceiling lighting, are impeccable, and true to the light and sweetness of Disney. Would we stay here again? In a heartbeat. In fact, I don't know that I have ever mourned checking out of a resort as much as I did this one. In an absolute geeky Disnerd moment, I teared up on checkout day as I was getting my last amazing Cold Brew from the Café. Our stay was just THAT perfect, I never wanted it to end. 

If you'd like to know more about this amazing resort or would like help in planning your next Disney vacation, I'd love to help! My planning services are free and my geeky enthusiasm for all things Disney is just icing on the delicious French pastry! GET IN TOUCH WITH ME HERE


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