Walt Disney World hasn't opened a dedicated Disney Vacation Club resort since the ribbon cutting at Saratoga Springs Resort in 2004. A long time coming, Riviera Resort, located in the Epcot Resort Area of Walt Disney World Resort, is now open to guests.
I had the opportunity to attend the grand opening celebration of the resort and was very impressed by the attention to detail as well as the amenities and innovations made by the Disney Imagineers in the recreation areas, the common spaces, the art and decor and the guestrooms. Guests at this resort will likely be struck by the hotel's beauty and elegance and delighted by the thoughtful touches that make staying here as fun and immersive as at any other Disney property.
The 300-room hotel is themed after the Italian and French Rivieras -- hence the hotel's name -- and guests will find nods to the southern European coastline. For example, the damask fabric motif used as inspiration for the guestroom drapes, some of the merchandise and carpet recalls Provencal patterns in shades of blue, yellow and coral. On the exterior of the hotel, eagle-eyed guests might notice the gables on the roof are fashioned after the ones on French-style buildings.
The guestrooms (which start at 11 DVC points per night) feature a new room category for the Disney Vacation Club, the Tower Suites, which sleep two people. The suites feature a full living room with TV, microwave and minirefrigerator as well as a stunning marble bathroom complete with rain shower. The Disney Imagineers developed a Murphy bed connected to the sofa, so guests can simply pull down on the handles and the bed appears; no furniture moving required. The Murphy beds can also be found in the larger room categories, allowing for a living space that does double duty as sleeping quarters.
The "S'il Vous Play" kids splash area at the Riviera Resort at Walt Disney World Resort. Photo Credit: Holly V Kapherr
To me, the most striking feature of the hotel was the original art throughout the hotel. The walls of the Riviera Resort feature 40 original pieces by Disney and Pixar artists. Each piece of art is inspired by the artists who lived on the French and Italian Rivieras during the 1920s and 1930s, including cubists, surrealists, impressionists and more. They are absolutely stunning. I asked Missy Renard, art director at Walt Disney World Imagineering, whether these original pieces were for sale; certainly, I thought, guests will want to take one or more home for their own fine art collection. I fully expected her to say no, but to my surprise, she let me know that the pieces can be custom ordered from the kiosk in the hotel gift shop, either on canvas or on a print, framed or not.
The Riviera Resort makes a sophisticated, European-style addition to the Disney resort portfolio. The resort is also a stop on the new Disney Skyliner gondola system, so access to Hollywood Studios and Epcot is faster and more convenient than ever. The Caribbean Beach Resort is connected to the Riviera by a lagoonside boardwalk, and I highly recommend a walk between the two, especially with a drink in hand at sunset, headed to the loungers in the sand along the promenade.