Disney’s Riviera Resort is inspired by Walt Disney’s globetrotting travels. It features architecture, art and food influenced by Europe and the Mediterranean region. The newest Disney Vacation Club location is now open at Walt Disney World.

by Brady MacDonald

brady mcdonaldThe Riviera Resort opened to Disney Vacation Club members on 16 December 2019, after an extensive test-and-adjust period with cast members playing the role of overnight guests. The Riviera Resort joins Disney’s Old Key West Resort, Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resorts and other DVC locations at Walt Disney World.

The Disney Vacation Club debuted in 1991 as a flexible points-based membership system rather than a traditional fixed-week time-share model. The Disney Vacation Club has 220,000 members with access to DVC resorts around the globe.

Riviera Resort

The new Riviera Resort is inspired by the grand hotels along the Mediterranean Sea. The resort’s design features archways, porticos, towers, terraces and cascading water fountains.

The 300 Disney Vacation Club rooms include deluxe studios with kitchenettes, one- and two-bedroom villas and sprawling 12-person grand villas. The Riviera also boasts the new two-person DVC studios ideal for travelling couples. The 255-square-foot tower studios have a queen-sized bed housed in a wall unit, full-size bathroom, sofa, desk and balcony.

The entry with the RR monogram for Riviera Resort leads to the airy Riviera lobby.

RR monogram at Disney's Riviera Resort entryway

“The beautiful Double R monogram sets up the idea of a grand European coastal resort,” Walt Disney Imagineering show producer Steven Vagnini said during a tour of the resort.

“These grand hotels, if you’ve ever been to the Riviera or read anything about it, they line the coastline stretching from France through Monico over through Italy. There is so much history and tradition but also a sense of fun of a contemporary nature of leisure. That’s really the theme that guides our resort and the stories that we tell here.”

The Riviera offers views of Barefoot Bay and the new Skyliner gondola system. The entry includes a gift shop and a cafe.

Disney characters exclusive to Riviera resort.

La Boutique gift shop takes design cues from French art nouveau perfumeries. The shop sells plush dolls featuring four Disney characters exclusive to the resort. They include painter Mickey Mouse, poet Minnie Mouse, sculptor Donald Duck and ballerina Daisy Duck.

Food and drink at the Riviera

Le Petite Cafe offers a nod to the cafe by the same name in Disney’s “The Aristocats.” The cafe transforms from a coffee shop by day to a wine bar at night.

Next door, the Voyager’s Lounge pays tribute to Walt Disney’s global travels. Black and white photos in the hall capture moments from Disney’s international trips. Book titles gathered by Walt Disney during his travels line the lounge. The dark wood room is designed to be the perfect spot to drink coffee by day and sip wine in the evening.

Down the hall, the Primo Piatto restaurant offers grab-and-go quick-service snacks along with casual dining indoors and outside along the Riviera promenade.

Topolino's Terrace at Disney's Riviera Resort, the newest Disney Vacation Club

Topolino’s Terrace

Topolino’s Terrace Restaurant dominates the Riviera Resort’s top floor. The stylish rooftop eatery features family dining with Disney characters during the day. The restaurant transitions to more traditional dining in the evening.

Culinary arts

“The culinary arts is so integral to our Riviera storyline,” Vagnini said. “That’s really the case at our signature restaurant, Topolino’s Terrace: Flavors of the Riviera. Topolino, of course, being the Italian name for Mickey Mouse, a very popular character all around the world. Certainly in Italy, certainly in the Riviera.”

place setting at Topolino's Terrace, Disney Riviera Resort

The display kitchen in Topolino’s Terrace features a wood-burning grill. The French and Italian menu includes artisanal pasta, gourmet cheeses, prepared meats and seafood. In addition to this, the kitchen sources wine from the South of France and the Italian coast.

The restaurant’s rooftop terrace is the ideal spot to watch the nighttime fireworks spectaculars at the nearby Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme parks.

Classic Disney

Impressionist art inspired by classic Disney and Pixar films lines the halls of the Riviera Resort. “It’s those touches of Disney that take that essence of European inspiration and add that layering of magic to it,” Vagnini said.

Luxurious Grand Villa suites are available, sleeping up to 12. These 2,500-square-foot villas include three bedrooms, three bathrooms, living room, dining room and kitchen. The Riviera’s 12 grand villas dot the top 6 floors of the Disney Vacation Club resort.

Master Bedroom at Riviera Resort's Grand Villa

“Every Grand Villa offers a very similar view of the Walt Disney World landscape,” Vagnini said. “Inside are all the amenities of home. It’s that casual elegance and that sense of grandeur. But also a sense that you feel relaxed and at home in this place.”

A stunning view

The new Disney Vacation Club resort looks across the sparkling Barefoot Bay at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. The Riviera’s waterfront area also offers sunrise yoga, outdoor movies in the evening and late-night s’mores around the fire.

View over Barefoot bay from Disney's Riviera Resort

“When we think about the Riviera, something that is so essential to that experience is gazing out at that waterfront,” Vagnini said. “Looking at the beautiful sea and everything there is to absorb in a place for joy and leisure. It’s a place to escape. And we think that’s the essence of the experience that our guests have.”

Aerial transport links

The new DVC resort is right on the route of the new Disney Skyliner gondola system. The Skyliner also connects the Riviera to the Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot theme parks.

“On the Riviera coastline over in Italy, near Genoa, there is a similar aerial transport system that offers magnificent views of the Mediterranean Sea,”  Vagnini said. “So there is a connection from the use of these aerial gondolas systems to the Riviera.”

Peter Pan tile mural at Riviera Resort

A portico passageway leading to the Skyliner station features sweeping tile murals with Peter Pan and Tangled themes.

“There are more than 1 million pieces of hand-laid glass tile in both of these, so it’s about 500,000 for each,” Vagnini said.

Children at Riviera Resort

Meanwhile, the kids will enjoy the S’il Vous Play water play area with slides and a water dump bucket. The “Dance of the Hours” in Disney’s “Fantasia” animated film is the inspiration behind the water play area. The kids’ pool features elephants, ostriches and hippos inspired by the film.

View of the pool from the roof of Disney's Riviera Resort

“We see an elephant right on top of this public fountain,” Vagnini said. “We were inspired by the grand public fountains found throughout Europe where you might go to throw a penny for good luck or maybe make a wish. You would often find bronze or stone animals emerging from the bubbling waters of those fountains. We thought, ‘Why not add a Disney spin on that?’”

Relax at the new Disney Vacation Club

The semi-private Beau Soleil pool offers a more tranquil respite ideal for sunbathing or relaxing under tropical palm trees.

Promenade at Disney's Riviera Resort Disney Vacation Club

“Beau Soleil translates to ‘beautiful sun.’” Vagnini said. “When we think about the Riviera and the magic of that region so much of that is the sun-kissed lifestyle. Being there along the beach, enjoying the sun.”

Cocktail servers will also bring drinks to poolside patrons from the adjacent Bar Riva.

The nearby gym features “Cars 2” posters promoting the fictional World Grand Prix races that take place in Porto Corsa on the Italian Riviera.