DVC Resort Reviews: Disney's Riviera Resort



rivera resort dvc
Summary
Inspired by European artistry, this masterwork was purpose built around the new Disney gondola transport system.

Staff marks
Affordability (6/10)
Availability (5/10)
Transportation (8/10)
Food Choice (8/10)
Pools (7/10)
Room Sizes (10/10)
Peace and Quiet (9/10)
review occupancy rules
and bed configurations:

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Built before the pandemic in the height of DVC expansions, the Riviera is unique among DVC resorts with a focus on detail and high-end artistry rather than standard character theming. Clearly, the designers wanted to present the quality that we see only at the Grand Floridian in a non-premium area of property. We can see, by scanning construction techniques and materials, that Disney was going for something special and to that end they were successful.

Nestled beyond the backside of Epcot, above the Caribbean resort, the Riviera resort is both close to the parks and not close to the parks at the same time. This fact may be frustrating, in that you are knocking on the back end of the world showcase pavilions but unlike Boardwalk and Beach Club, you have no walking access to it. Disney solved this issue with the gondola system.

riviera skyliner mapThe Riviera was conceived from the start around the gondola system, giving it access to Epcot and Hollywood studios with a fun ride above property. This fact is definitely a plus; however, we recommend not using it in the summer months due to the heat (in June/July/Aug opt for the bus system). Disney did not elect to install air conditioning in the gondolas and in our staff's opinion it is not a good option in heavy heat. Although the gondola system is efficient, the chance of temporary breakdown in the sun is not something we want families to deal with. Any other period of the year is glorious.

The gondola system (see map) is connected not only to the two mentioned theme parks, but also to the Beach club, Boardwalk, Art of Animation, and Pop Century resorts. This gives you access (albeit indirectly) to the facilities and food at those spots if you want to spend the time in transit. For instance, why not hop over to Beaches and Creme at BC and grab some ice cream at the end of the day?

Borrowing from the Polynesian's model, studios at the Riviera have two showers: a normal bath and a very large dedicated shower. In all of the dvc system, these are our favorite shower designs, using marble colors to make them look extremely rich. We love the fact that the entire family can get ready at the same time. It works well at the Polynesian and works even better here. Like many of the newest DVC resorts and refurbs, Riviera offers murphy and single pull downs to expand space without uncomfortable couch mattresses. Although we do expect all DVC resorts to eventually have these (many have already upgraded) it is nice to know that the Riviera was made for them.

It should be noted that the Riviera also has a few special two person "tower studios" that only have murphy beds in them. Although a cute quirk of the building design, we do not recommend the tower studios (nor their pricing) when you can stay in a full sized studio.

The pools, unlike any other DVC resorts, have harsh corners rather than rounded edges and do not have much theming. Although they are great pools and scream quality, you definitely do not feel like you are at Disney when you are using them. These are areas built with adults in mind. If you are going for the kids, other resorts may be better for splashing. We do appreciate the large number of sitting areas though with welcome add-ons like a giant chess board and other games.

Topolino's Terrace, which is a MUST-DO, is definitely a highlight with one of the nicest character breakfasts at any resort. Located on the 10th floor, it also has grand views of the adjoining properties and sizeable lagoon. Speaking of views, the Riviera is one of the only DVC resorts where we would highly recommend paying extra for the preferred views (where you may get pool/gondola/water). The standard views often face parking lots of both Epcot and Riviera and are not recommended.

Check out our video review of the entire Riviera property (as well as one of its studios) for an in-depth look at some of its amazing features.



Bottom line: Pricing wise, you are definitely paying for the upgrade in building materials and the gondola system. Weighing the pros and cons of the price in relation to other older DVC resorts is personal preference. You are giving up a bit of Disney theming to get the European look.

Distance to parks: Via gondola, Epcot is 10 minutes and Hollywood is 15 minutes. Expect a 20-25 min ride to get to the Magic Kingdom.

Availability: This is a premium resort...thus it is hard to get into during peak periods. Plan your stay here 6 months out or longer. The preferred views (although more money) are easier to get and recommended.

Stay recommendations: Families of 5 fit fine in studios with great murphy bed access. Good for stays of any duration. We suggest avoiding it in the peak summer heat when the gondola system is not the best option. Avoid two person tower studios


DVC Resort Selection


Current deluxe studio and villa resorts available for rental in the Disney Vacation Club system.



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