The Mediterranean comes to Walt Disney World@ at Disney’s Riviera Resort
The charm of the Mediterranean at Walt Disney World® Resort. We have long enjoyed the concept of visiting European countries at Epcot® in World Showcase, but Disney’s Riviera Resort brings the splendor of France and the Mediterranean even more alive to visiting guests.
I arrived on the opening day amid the crush of press and travel agency owners, all excited to see Disney’s newest Deluxe Villa Resort. A Disney resort is always a thrill, but this resort is particularly unique in that it is located right on Disney Skyline, the new gondola system that makes getting to and from Disney’s Hollywood Studios® and Epcot a breeze.
Much in the fashion of Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, the lobby is small and understated with limited seating—lovely but perhaps a bit too cozy. And the strange check-in system of roaming cast members with electronic tablets is chaotic. No one knows who is next in line, and the result is the feeling of being overlooked and invisible to the arriving guest—all the more reason to utilize Disney’s Online Check-in system found on your My Disney Experience account.
Off the lobby is Le Petit Café, a coffee shop by day and cocktail bar by night. Behind it and accessible from the Café is Voyageurs’ Lounge, impressive in that it contains nostalgic memorabilia from Walt’s travels to the Riviera.
Accommodations range from super cozy Tower Studios sleeping two in a Murphy bed with 229 square feet to more spacious Deluxe Studios as well a 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom villas. My stay was in a 1-bedroom Preferred View Villa, and I couldn’t have been happier with the elegant ambiance and comfort.
Sleeping 5 with 813 square feet, you’ll find a king in the master, a queen Murphy bed that pulls out and rests on the sofa in the living room (above which is a surprise Peter Pan mural), and a single pull-down bed in the bureau below the oversized TV.
The villa’s kitchen comes with stainless steel appliances that mix well with the cream/gray color scheme and bench-style dining area. A full-size refrigerator has an icemaker, and other appliances include stove, dishwasher, and microwave.
In the living area are two melon-colored occasional chairs and a steel blue chenille sofa atop wood flooring and a print area rug. A balcony or patio is accessed from either the living area or the bedroom.
The bedroom, carpeted in a soft beige, has a king bed adorned with a lovely blue tufted headboard; however, the bed linens are a bit itchy and not up to deluxe standards. Also found are an easy chair, desk, bureau, closet, and full-length mirror.
The villa’s spacious bath is a winner with two areas: one area with a single-sink vanity (with lighted makeup mirror) and a gorgeous bubble jet, freestanding tub; the other holds a single sink vanity and oversized shower. All are encased in beautiful white/gray marble and with perfect lighting (my pet peeve).
In the entry hall, you’ll find one closet with a stacked washer/dryer, and another is holding an iron/ironing board, pack ‘n’ play, electronic safe, and high chair.
Out back lakeside is European-inspired gardens perfect for strolling with bubbling fountains and shimmering mosaic murals. Two pools and a delightful splash area make for plenty of aquatic delights. The family-friendly Riviera Pool is a zero-entry option with a fun slide wrapping around a stone turret.
The splash area, S’il Vous Play, inspired by the grand public fountains of Europe, has two slides, spraying toadstools, and a la Fantasia cavorting characters.
For a more laid-back vibe, choose Beau Soleil Pool in the central courtyard.
Of course, you can’t help but notice the double-R monogram logo found everywhere throughout the resort. Don’t miss the tunnel leading to Disney’s Skyliner transportation hub where more than 1 million hand-cut, hand-laid tiles make up two sparkling mosaic murals, one of Peter Pan’s nighttime London, the other Rapunzel’s floating lantern scene from “Tangled.”
Topolino’s Terrace high atop the resort offers fantastic views (time it right and you’ll have a view of both the Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios nighttime shows) where a restaurant, a bar, and an outside terrace bar await. The popular French-style character breakfast with Mickey and his Friends is the morning treat while Riviera dining in the evening features Mediterranean cuisine.
There’s also Primo Piatto, a quick-service restaurant with an Italian flare near the waterfront, and the adjoining Bar Riva with indoor and outdoor seating.
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Cara Goldsbury is the author of The Luxury Guide to Disney Vacations. She is Chief Executive Concierge at Glass Slipper Concierge®, a travel agency specializing in selling luxury Disney vacations. She has appeared as a leading Disney expert on two Travel Channel specials, Disney Splurge! and Disney Royalty, and has been cited numerous times in national news articles, in such notable publications as The New York Times, New York Post, Travel Weekly, and Forbes Traveler, as an expert on the Walt Disney World® Resort. Visit her Luxury Travel & Life blog at Cara Goldsbury.com.
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