For my thoughts on the re-opening of Walt Disney World, see this.


By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

Available on Amazon here.

(As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)





Category — d. Where to Stay at Walt Disney World

Extended Evening Hours at Walt Disney World

DISNEY WORLD’S NEW EXTENDED EVENING HOURS PROGRAM FOR GUESTS AT DELUXE, DVC, AND A FEW OTHER HOTELS

Disney World has separated its former Extra Magic Hours (EMH) program into two new programs.

One is Disney World’s new Early Theme Park Entry program, in which every park is open early every morning for guests at some 45 different hotels with ~37,000 rooms. Disney World’s Early Entry program is covered here.

The second new program is known as Disney World’s Extended Evening Theme Park hours, and is much more limited than Early Entry—at least so far:

  • In parks offered—just Magic Kingdom and Epcot, not all four;
  • In frequency—each of the two parks just one evening per week, not daily;
  • In total hours offered per week–four hours, compared to fourteen for Early Entry; and
  • In eligible guests—permitted to use this perk will be ONLY guests at Disney World deluxe resorts, at Disney Vacation Club/deluxe villa resorts, and at four other on-property resorts—the Swan, Swan Reserve, Dolphin, and Shades of Green. These total about 13,000 rooms—about a third of the rooms eligible for Early Entry.

To participate in Extended Evening Theme Park hours, guests must have

–Proof that they are staying at an eligible resort hotel,

–A valid park ticket for the day, and

–Either

  • A park reservation for the Extended Evening Hours park, or
  • A park hopper ticket, a reservation for a different park, and entry earlier that day into that other park

The way Extended Evening Hours is likely to work, based on how EMH worked in the past, is that at a certain point (typically 10p at Epcot and 9p at Magic Kingdom in October (when they begin) and November, with times subject to change), for the rides that remain open, only guests who can prove they are staying at an eligible resort will be able to enter lines.

The first guests to take advantage Extended Evening Hours thus will be entering a line that already has people in it (i.e., those who entered lines before the Extended Evening Hours kicked off).

This is one of two reasons why the former evening EMH in the FastPass+ era was less valuable—access to rides that are popular enough to have already have long standby lines is not that time efficient.

The way to handle this is to save the most popular rides for late in the Extended Evening Hours time window. So at Magic Kingdom you’d delay Space Mountain and especially Seven Dwarfs Mine Train; see a couple of rides in the middle of the Extended Evening Hours window that are popular, but not with lines as long, like Big Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Haunted Mansion (these three in particular because they are not offered during Early Entry); and see a minor ride or two at the beginning of the in the middle of the Extended Evening Hours window.

The second reason the former evening EMH was less valuable in the FastPass+ era was that it was more popular than morning EMH. Except for families with small children, it is easier to stay in the parks later than to arrive early—a point particularly true during the FastPass+ era at Magic Kingdom, as the more efficient use of time that FastPass+ permitted led Disney World to be able to close the parks earlier than it had in prior eras. An earlier close makes a special evening offering more accessible.

However, in the FastPass+ era almost three times as many hotel rooms were eligible for evening EMH than are now eligible for Extended Evening Hours (2.8x to be precise.) This suggests just on the simple room math that Extended Evening Hours will be only about a third as crowded as the former evening EMH.

However, I expect that the drop in attendance at Extended Evening Hours will not be as severe as that, I’d expect, for two reasons.

First is that most rooms eligible for Extended Evening Hours have more capacity than the rooms that are eligible for Early Entry, but not for Extended Evening Hours. So I expect these rooms ot have a higher occupancy than excluded rooms, thus leading to greater than room-proportionate attendance.

Second is that a big part of the eligible guest pool for Extended Evening Hours will be DVC owner families, who know better than average how to work the parks and know how much time the last hour of Extended Evening Hours could potentially save them.

THE VALUE OF DISNEY WORLD’S EXTENDED EVENING HOURS

Even so, it is reasonable to predict that folks with a good plan will be able to see during Disney World’s Extended Evening Hours with little wait three to five high priority rides at Magic Kingdom, and two to three at Epcot (fewer at Epcot because there are far fewer rides to spread the crowds around, and not many high priority ones…)

The list of attractions planned to operate during Extended Evening Hours is here.  It includes pretty much everything most would want, with the exceptions of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at Epcot and Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom (both of which are not included in Early Entry, either).

It’s unclear how all this will interact with the paid components of Disney World’s new line access systems.  But a couple of Early Entry mornings and one Extended Evening Hours could obviate the value of paying for anything at Magic Kingdom, saving a family of four potentially a couple of hundred dollars in Genie+ and individual attraction purchases. On the other hand, combining Early Entry, Extended Evening Hours, and paid access could yield remarkably efficient touring. You pays your money and you takes you choice.

Access to Extended Evening Hours improves the value of staying at a deluxe resort, DVC resort, or one of the other four hotels in the program, and diminishes the value of staying anywhere else, especially offsite but also at the values, moderates, Disney Springs Resort Area  hotels, and other hotels eligible for Early Entry but not for Extended Evening Hours.

All the Disney World-owned hotels are overpriced, and the deluxes are especially so. Adding Extended Evening Hours could improve guest satisfaction at eligible hotels, and go a bit towards building occupancy at the deluxes in particular, which will otherwise suffer from the loss of their convention business (five of the eight deluxes are convention hotels) which is greatly diminished, some likely permanently.

THE FUTURE OF DISNEY WORLD’S EXTENDED EVENING HOURS

Both the Extended Evening Hours program and the Early Entry program are opening about as thin as they can be. Early Entry was introduced as being “at least thirty minute long” but since has been described only as 30 minutes. And Extended Evening Hours, with only two parks one evening a week each, can clearly be expanded. Both Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios had at times evening hours under the former EMH program during the era of FastPass+–Animal Kingdom less frequently than the Studios.

I would predict expansion of either or both during high-attendance holiday periods—particularly over Christmas break and the week before Easter. A broader expansion at other times is also possible, depending on how Disney World’s new line access systems  work, and on emerging numbers coming from resort occupancy.

 

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September 5, 2021   No Comments

Dining at Disney’s Riviera Resort

(For the first page of this review of Disney’s Riviera Resort, click here.)

DINING AT DISNEY’S RIVIERA RESORT

Most of the Disney Vacation Resorts largely share the dining offered by their paired deluxe resort. Disney’s Riviera Resort, as a standalone DVC offering not paired with a deluxe resort, offers its own complete set of dining venues, with a substantial table service and a major quick service offering, and also several bars, each of which has a food menu of some sort.

When you factor in how convenient all of these offerings are—Disney’s Riviera Resort is the most compact of the stand-alone DVC offerings–on balance dining at Disney’s Riviera Resort is better than that at the other standalone DVC resorts, and on a par with or better than dining at all the paired resorts except for the monorail resort DVC offerings.

PRIMO PIATTO AT DISNEY’S RIVIERA RESORT

Primo Piatto (Italian for “first plate) is the principal quick-service venue at Disney’s Riviera Resort. On the first floor of the East Wing, it is also convenient to the two pools at Riviera.

It begins with a snacks/cold drinks/pre-packaged foods/bakery area.

After that is an electronic menu area and a couple of cash registers. The current Primo Piatto menu is here. Toggle it to see the various meal periods.

You order here, and bring one of the increasingly common electronic pucks to your table, which a cast member will use to find you and deliver your order.

Behind the registers is an area with condiments and such, and also some beverages–coffee and three Coke Freestyle machines in particular.

The seating area is bright and nice…

…includes a view of the kitchen…

…and is lined with photographs, particularly from Walt’s summer 1935 visit to Europe.

I’ve had a number of meals here, and with one exception–more about me than the food–found them all just fine.

The Riviera Burger…

…the Croque Monsieur, which was fine as a representative of its kind, but I have never quite gotten the point of this sandwich…

…some delightful blueberry-lemon pancakes…

…and the “Primo Piatto Breakfast,” where the eggs were nicely done (they were not dry, although they look dry in my lousy image), and the sausage–also featured with the pancakes–delightful.

TOPOLINO’S TERRACE AT DISNEY’S RIVIERA RESORT

Topolino’s Terrace is the distinctive table-service dining venue at Disney’s Riviera Resort. (“Topolino” is how Mickey Mouse is referred to in Italy.)

It offers a character breakfast in the morning, with Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Daisy, and a non-character dinner in the evenings. It also has a bar, and an outdoor terrace with distant views of the higher parts of the evening shows at Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The menu for Toplino’s Terrace is here–toggle it to see the breakfast and dinner offerings.

Somewhat ridiculously, I did not eat in Topolino’s Terrace in either of my 2020 stays at Disney’s Riviera Resort. But co-author Josh has published a review of the character breakfast here, and of the bar and outdoor terrace here.

THE LOBBY BAR LE PETIT CAFE AT DISNEY’S RIVIERA RESORT

The lobby bar at Riviera, Le Petit Cafe, functions as a coffee shop in the morning and as a bar with a light dessert and appetizer menu in the afternoon and evening.

The menu of Le Petit Cafe is here.

The desserts are quite appealing…

Le Petite Cafe does not have seating in the ordering area, but you can sit in the lobby, just outside, or in this next-door library-ish area.

THE POOL BAR AND POOLSIDE DINING AT DISNEY’S RIVIERA RESORT

The pool bar at Disney’s Riviera Resort, Bar Riva, serves both drinks and a set of hot and cold food offerings. The menu of Bar Riva is here.

Poolside service is available as well–the menu from my last trip is above.

The bar is just outside the main Riviera Pool–and Primo Piatto is just steps away from it, if you are looking for a broader menu.

USING YOUR OWN KITCHEN AT DISNEY’S RIVIERA RESORT

Villas at Riviera have a full kitchen, and studios have a coffeemaker, toaster, and microwave.

There’s a reasonable selection of food and dining supplies in the gift shop, and you can also use the various delivery sources to stock up as well.

THE POOLS AT DISNEY’S RIVIERA RESORT

This review continues here.

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May 10, 2020   No Comments

Amenities at Disney’s Riviera Resort

(For the first page of this review of Disney’s Riviera Resort, click here.)

AMENITIES AT DISNEY’S RIVIERA RESORT

Disney’s Riviera Resort is a standalone Disney Vacation Club resort, so largely has its own amenities.  Guests share a Disney Skyliner station with next-door Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, and are also welcome in the shops, dining, playgrounds, jogging trail etc., of Caribbean Beach.

AMENITIES AT DISNEY’S RIVIERA RESORT

Arrival at Disney’s Riviera Resort is at this port cochere.

This is also where Magical Express buses load and unload.

A water feature separates this area from the entry doors to Disney’s Riviera Resort, somewhat reminiscent of that at the Polynesian Village.

Inside the lobby you are greeted by lovely flowers and some intriguing design.

To one side is the bell stand…

…and next to it the check in and concierge services area (at Disney, concierge means help with tickets, dining reservations and such).

There’s also a kids waiting area with an electronic play table.

The seating area of the lobby–which also serves as a seating area for the coffee shop/bar that is here, which I’ll cover in my material on dining at Disney’s Riviera Resort–is small, not particularly themed, but lovely and comfortable. The light at the right comes from windows in a two-story staircase down to the pool area.

A slightly different angle on this space.  Directly at the back–between the two floral art works–is the entry to the resort’s gift shop.

The gift shop includes the usual toys and clothes…

…but also offers art inspired by Disney’s Riviera Resort.

As is true in all Disney Vacation Club resorts, there’s also lots of food available in the gift shop you can use in your kitchen or kitchenette…

…including cold and frozen items.

Downstairs from the lobby is the airline check in desk (note that this is a tip-based service).

Just outside and to the right is a nice-sized workout area.

More from the workout area.

Bus transportation is outside the lobby’s port cochere entrance, to the right.

Buses here go to all parks and Disney Springs.  While the Disney Skyliner is operating, service to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios is hourly.  When it is not operating, bus service to these two parks is the same as to the other parks–on average, every 20 minutes.

The Disney Skyliner is the other transportation option, providing gondola service to Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and, should you wish to go for a visit, Disney’s Art of Animation and Pop Century Resort.

The Skyliner station that Disney’s Riviera Resort shares with Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is outside at the pool level, to the right–pass through a breezeway with fun murals.

The Skyliner station has two boarding areas. The first one will take you to the Caribbean Beach hub. Change here for Hollywood Studios (or Pop Century/Art of Animation.)

The second boarding area will take you right to Epcot.

In this same area of Disney’s Riviera Resort near the Skyliner station, you can also see the portion of the Epcot evening show that goes well above World Showcase Lagoon.

You can also see these fireworks from the top-floor viewing area and lounge outside of the principal dining venue at Disney’s Riviera Resort, Topolino’s Terrace.  See the link below for dining at  Disney’s Riviera Resort shortly.

DINING AT DISNEY’S RIVIERA RESORT

This review continues here.

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May 4, 2020   2 Comments

The Pools at Disney’s Riviera Resort

(For the first page of this review of Disney’s Riviera Resort, click here.)

REVIEW: THE POOLS AT DISNEY’S RIVIERA RESORT

Disney’s Riviera Resort has two pools, the Beau Soleil Pool aimed at adults, and the Riviera Pool that families will like best.

Separating them is an activity lawn with games, and both are close to the quick service Primo Piatto and a poolside bar, Bar Riva. Other amenities are just outside the Rivera Pool, including a movie lawn that adds games during daylight, a fire pit, and a beach.

Among them you’ll find pretty much any pool-related amenity you are looking for, but you won’t find much theming, which is my only complaint. This set of pools and amenities could have been at any high-end hotel.  Surely with a Riviera theme something more beachy could have been designed at the family Riviera Pool?

THE RIVIERA POOL AT DISNEY’S RIVIERA RESORT

The Riviera Pool is the larger and more fun of the two pools at Rivera.

Join me on a walking around the Riviera Pool. It includes a zero entry area. (There’s much more pool to the left of this image than the angles suggest.)

A lift chair–the tower in the background incorporates the pool slide, which we will get to.

The zero entry area from the other side of the pool.

The long side of the pool.

The pool slide.

A closer view of the slide.

The long side of the pool from the slide side.

The area between the tower and the zero-entry part of the pool, looking towards the Skyliner and Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort.

There’s also a hot tub here (another one is at the Beau Soleil pool).

Back behind the tower is a separate space with a great kid’s water play area. Themed to Hannibal’s Crossing of the Alps, it includes a spilling water bucket at the top, and in the center right of the image, a water cannon.

Here from the other side you can see the two slides in this area, plus play fountains.

Other play opportunities are both inside and near the Riviera Pool. This cornhole set up is inside the pool fences. I’ll get to some other play opportunities down the page.

A Gelato cart was available during both of my stays at Riviera, but was not always open.

There’s a lot of varied seating options at the Riviera Pool. Note the couches and shaded tables.

Plenty of standard pool chairs are available too.

Here’s the Riviera Pool at night.

THE BEAU SOLEIL POOL AT DISNEY’S RIVIERA RESORT

The Beau Soleil pool at Disney’s Riviera Resort is much less interesting than the Riviera Pool. This is intentional, as it makes it operate a bit more like a quieter adult pool.

On the other hand, its typically longer hours–during my stays, the Beau Soleil pool was open from 7a to 11p, while the Riviera Pool was open from 10a-8p–mean that it may be filled with kids in the evening.

The Beau Soleil pool is essentially a featureless near-rectangle surrounded by seating.

It does have a hot tub…

…and some nice seating options besides lounge chairs.

THE ACTIVITY LAWN AND OTHER NEARBY AMENITIES AT DISNEY’S RIVIERA RESORT

Between the two pools are an “Activity Lawn” and a bocce ball court. These are in the red oval above.

The Activity Lawn is sometimes set up for games…

…and has a permanent outdoor chessboard.

The bocce ball court saw much action during my stay.

Between the Riviera Pool and the water are a fire pit for s’mores and a Movie Lawn–both circled in gold above.

Movies are shown in the evening at the Movie Lawn–check your activity guide for shows and times.

During the daytime, various play events happen here, also on a schedule.  Above is “Foot Snooker.”

Both pools are very close to the counter service offering, Primo Piatto, and the pool bar, Bar Riva (above).  A refillable mug station is outside and to the right of Bar Riva.

Poolside service is also available.  The poolside menu from my visit is above. The Primo Piatto menu is here, and the Bar Riva menu is here.

Finally, although it is not on the resort map, it is worth noting that there is a beach along Barefoot Bay.  Walk past Riviera Pool on the kid’s water play area side to find it. You cannot swim in or even enter the water, but you can play in the sand or lounge on the beach chairs.

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April 21, 2020   No Comments

Theming and Accommodations at Disney’s Riviera Resort

(For the first page of this review of Disney’s Riviera Resort, click here.)

THEMING AND ACCOMMODATIONS AT DISNEY’S RIVIERA RESORT

Disney’s Riviera Resort is one of many Disney Vacation Club options at Walt Disney World. These resorts are available not only to DVC members, but also to everyone else, just like any other Disney World offering, through the regular Walt Disney World website or resort reservations phone number at 407-939-7675.

Kelly, the long-time travel agent partner of this site, can also book them for you. See the form near the bottom of this page for how to contact her.

They also are sometimes available to the general public at a discount through renting points from a Disney Vacation Club member or point broker.

Because the two sets of options at the Wilderness Lodge, Animal Kingdom Lodge and Saratoga Springs are so different, for review purposes I count thirteen options among the Disney Vacation Club resorts at Walt Disney World.

The overall ranking among them for first time family visitors is as follows:

  1. Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows (studios only)
  2. Copper Creek Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  3. Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  4. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas–Jambo House
  5. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas–Kidani Village
  6. Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  7. The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  8. Disney’s Riviera Resort
  9. Disney’s Beach Club Villas
  10. Disney’s Boardwalk Villas
  11. Disney’s Old Key West Resort
  12. Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa, main resort
  13. Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort, Treehouse Villas

The next DVC offering to open will be Reflections, located on grounds that were formerly part of Fort Wilderness.

THE THEMING OF DISNEY’S RIVIERA RESORT

Disney’s Riviera Resort has what to me is frankly confused theming. The language on Disney’s website emphasizes its European theming…

Disney’s Riviera Resort is designed to capture the magic of Europe that Walt Disney fell in love with once upon a time…Disney’s Riviera Resort is a modern masterpiece of imagination, with each detail drawing upon the influences of Europe and the Mediterranean…You’ll also discover a unique art collection celebrating beloved Disney Characters and icons…

…but the name itself centers attention on the Riviera, which most people will think of as part of France and Italy on the Mediterranean. (There are other places that call themselves “Rivieras” as well, and not just in the obvious spots–you’ll find such in Russia and England.)

So your reaction to the actual theming you find may vary based on what you expect.  On the “Riviera” front, there’s next to nothing except a beach at the side (above) that is not even on the main resort map (below)…

…although this beach is on the physical map of the resort shown in its courtyard area, in the left center of the map:

Beyond that, in basic architecture there’s nothing distinctive about the exterior that much suggests the Riviera or Europe, either, except some gestures to mansard roofs.

Perhaps the pastels in next-door Caribbean Beach prevented a color other than grey. But grey adds no festivity, no charm, no reference to the Riviera, and little reference to Europe.

(c) Loews

To see what was possible on the Riviera theme, contrast this with the Italian-Riviera inspired Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando, above…

Or a more distinctively “European” looking design good have been chosen, even within the rough massing of the current building.

Disney could have mimicked, for example, the rich architecture details of famous old world hotels such as the Savoy.

Instead we get little detail.

The pools represent another un-taken theming opportunity. A beach theme could have tied the pools and waterside portion of Disney’s Riviera Resort to the Riviera concept.  But instead we get a basically un-themed and generic set of pools.  There is nothing substantively wrong with the Riviera pools–they have all the amenities you’d hope for. They just have next to no theming.

At Disney’s Riviera Resort, we get a lot of gray, little Europe, and even less Riviera. There’s nothing wrong with the exterior architecture and detailing; it’s just un-interesting and charmless

Inside, things are different.  The generally lovely public spaces have no particular architectural theming to them, but Disney’s Riviera Resort is infused with delightful art that references Disney characters from European settings, and multiple, stylistically varied imaginings of castles.

A few more examples, including from the outdoor mosaics in the breezeway to the Skyliner:

I could publish dozens more; the public art at Riviera is as well done, extensive, and fun as the two standard-setters at Disney World, the Wilderness Lodge and Jambo House.

Room art does not live up to this high standard, but is still more “Disney” than you’ll find in many other settings. Some examples:

 

In total, the conceptual and architectural theming and exterior coloring and detailing of Disney’s Riviera Resort are dull and confused, but the interior includes delightful art.

ACCOMMODATIONS AT DISNEY’S RIVIERA RESORT

All Disney Vacation Club resorts except the Polynesian Villas and Bungalows have studio rooms, One-Bedroom Villas, and Two-Bedroom Villas. Most have Grand Villas as well.

Disney’s Riviera Resort has all four of these room types, as well as a distinctive and perhaps not all that successful two person studio offering, Tower Studios. All, and their principal variants, are discussed below.

STANDARD STUDIOS AT DISNEY’S RIVIERA RESORT

Disney’s Riviera Resort has two very different types of Studios:

  • What I’ll call Standard Studios, which are comparable to those in the other DVC offerings, and
  • Tower Studios, unique to Riviera.

Standard Studios at Disney’s Riviera Resort, which I’ll discuss first, are larger than those at any DVC resort other than Old Key West and the Polynesian, with most of the extra space in the bath area, and some (particularly compared to the Grand Floridian, which has studios with a similar bath layout) in the living/sleeping area.

They are also one of only a few DVC Studios that sleeps five and has three sleeping surfaces (the others are the studios at the Grand Floridian, Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, the BoardWalk Villas, and the Beach Club Villas.)  Two sleeping spots are on the queen bed, two more on the queen that folds out from the wall above the couch, and the fifth sleeping spot is a fold-down bed that swings down below the TV.

Another distinction in these spaces is the tub/shower/sink combo on one side of the divided bath, and a toilet/shower on the other side. This creates a much more flexible bath. Baths at the Grand Floridian are comparable; Polynesian Studio baths are also divided but in a less useful way.

Like all DVC studios, these spaces also come with a kitchenette including a sink, mini-fridge, microwave, toaster, and coffee pot. A different orientation of the closet, using space stolen from what would otherwise be the entry from a Lock-Off One Bedroom, increases the size and accessibility of the closet compared to most studios.  Reportedly there are dedicated Studios at Rivera as well, which might have a different closet plan.  If you stay in such a room (I am not convinced they exist) please let me know any ways they are different than the floor plan!

Standard Studios at Disney’s Riviera Resort have little in the way of traditional storage, but using the large closet and the non-traditional storage spots Disney has designed into these rooms should make storage in them just fine for most.

A photo tour of a Standard Studio at Disney’s Riviera Resort begins here.

TOWER STUDIOS AT DISNEY’S RIVIERA RESORT

Tower Studios are a distinct offering at Riviera.  They sleep two in a reportedly cramped space (I have not stayed in one yet, but co-author Josh of easyWDW.com has; I’ll link to his review once it is up.)

The sleeping spot is a queen that folds down from the wall behind the couch. This leaves one chair–plus whatever you can pull in from the balcony (and fit). Tower Studios provide a slightly less expensive way to access Rivera for one or two person parties willing to fit into them than Standard Studios, at the cost of some required openness to experience the space itself.

Like all other Walt Disney World rooms, in addition to the (two) folks you can officially book into a Tower Studio, you can also add another person younger than three who sleeps in a crib.  I’m not sure where a crib might best fit–perhaps on the door side of the bed.  If you’ve successfully added a crib, let me know where you put it in the comments below!

The area with the Tower Studios could have been simply another three bay addition to the general Riviera layout.  See the image below, where the Tower Studios are in the upper left corner, circled in red.


Making these Tower Studios instead adds much needed visual interest to the facade, and makes Riviera slightly more economically accessible.

ONE BEDROOM VILLAS AT DISNEY’S RIVIERA RESORT

One Bedroom Villas at Disney’s Riviera Resort are larger than any other such DVC spaces except those at Old Key West and the Villas at the Grand Floridian. They sleep five–two in the king in the master, two on a fold-down queen in the living room, and the fifth in a living room fold down bed under the TV.

Like most DVC offerings except Kidani Village and Bay Lake Tower,   One Bedroom Villas at Disney’s Riviera Resort have only one bath for the five people they hold. But that one bath is large, divided, and easily accessible from all points in the villa.

The kitchen, dining and living rooms spaces are quite comfortable for a family of five, so on balance I’d say that for most families Riviera livability is comparable to that at the villas with two baths.

See this page for a photo tour of the master bedroom and bath, and this for the combined kitchen/dining/living area.

TWO BEDROOM LOCK-OFF VILLAS AT DISNEY’S RIVIERA RESORT

Two Bedroom Villas at Disney’s Riviera Resort  come in two variants–lock-offs, that combine a studio and a One Bedroom Villa, and “dedicated” Two Bedrooms Villas that have a slightly different layout for the second bedroom and the hall that links it to the entry.

The floor plan for a lock-off is above; a floor plan of a dedicated villa–and discussion of the differences between the two types of second bedrooms–is below.

Lock-off Two Bedroom Villas sleep ten.

On the one bedroom side, the master sleeps two and living room three.  The Studio side sleeps five.

These two bedroom villas are comfortable for larger families, having more seating spots both at the dining table and in the living room than many other DVC two bedrooms.

Only Old Key West, Kidani, Grand Floridian, and Bay Lake Tower villas are comparable in their effectiveness for larger families, and only Old Key West Two Bedroom Villas are larger.

TWO BEDROOM DEDICATED VILLAS AT DISNEY’S RIVIERA RESORT

Dedicated Two Bedroom Villas at Disney’s Riviera Resort villas sleep nine. The master sleeps two and living room three.  The second bedroom sleeps four.

All the differences compared to a Lock-Off are in the hall to the second bedroom, and in the second bedroom itself.  The hall has an extra closet.  The second bedroom is missing all the kitchen gear, the couch, and the fold-down fifth sleeping spot. It replaces these with a larger closet, a second queen, and much more storage than you’ll find in a Studio.

For a photo tour of the second bedroom in a dedicated villa at Riviera, see this.

GRAND VILLAS AT DISNEY’S RIVIERA RESORT

Grand Villas at the Disney’s Riviera Resort are distinctive for having a three bay Living-Kitchen-Dining area.  All other Grand Villas that I can think of except those at Copper Creek use only two bays for the Living-Kitchen-Dining space.  The missing bay is a variously a game room, a media room, or most commonly an empty space that allows for a two story living room.

This extra size in the living-dining area makes these spaces more livable than most DVC Grand Villas

Like most other Grand Villas, these rooms sleep 12. They are stacked on top of each other beneath Topolino’s and its viewing terrace.  In the resort map higher on the page, they are center-right, and circled in gold.

There are some flaws in the design.  One is big differences among the two queen bedrooms–one has a private balcony and a private bath, the other shares a balcony and shares an across-the-hall bath. This could lead to simmering jealousies and bitterness among family members, which is either a bug or a feature.

But overall, like the other room types at Disney’s Riviera Resort, these Riviera Resort Grand Villas are among the best designed among all the Disney World DVC Grand Villa options, with only the Copper Creek Grand Villas and the Grand Floridian Grand Villas in the same class.

PHOTO TOUR OF A STANDARD STUDIO AT DISNEY’S RIVIERA RESORT

This review continues here.

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April 8, 2020   No Comments

Photo Tour of a Studio at Disney’s Riviera Resort

(For the first page of this review of Disney’s Riviera Resort, click here.)

PHOTO TOUR OF A STUDIO AT DISNEY’S RIVIERA RESORT

Disney’s Riviera Resort has two spaces with the word “Studio” in their names: Tower Studios and Deluxe Studios.

Tower Studios are two person spaces not of much interest to most.

Deluxe Studios at Disney’s Riviera Resort–which after this I will simply call Studios– are largely similar to what all the other Disney Vacation Club Resorts offer, and are the subject of this photo tour.

These Studios at Disney’s Riviera Resort are the best-designed DVC studios I have ever stayed in.  They include

  • The split bath layout that first emerged in the Studios at the Villas at the Grand Floridian
  • The flip-down under-TV bed that first showed up in the Studios in the Polynesian Villas and Bungalows
  • The fold-down queen beds that first showed up in the Cabins at Fort Wilderness (since replaced by fold-out couches)
  • Innovative approaches to under-bed storage that are much better than their precursors in the Polynesian Studios

Added to all this is a distinctive approach to the closet.  Fitting a closet, divided bath, kitchenette, and connecting door has in the past challenged the designers of Disney World studios. Poor compromises in the past have included moving the connecting door to the sleeping area (making it less peaceful to those sleeping there), including a small armoire rather than full closest, or rotating the closet and putting it in the wall between the bath and the sleeping are–adding humidity and providing easy access to only half the closet.

At Riviera, the brilliant solution in lock-off studios was to rotate the closet, but to provide access to it from entry space that was taken from what would otherwise be hall space to the connecting door in the entry of the next-door One Bedroom Villa.

As you enter, you’ll find the connecting door and this closet on one side, followed by the kitchenette. The other side has a split bath.

At the entry door itself (this is looking at from inside the studio) you’ll find a sundry shelf on one side and a coat rack on the other.  The object on the floor is a trash can. Not high-concept space branding, but there’s not a better location for it, except the closet, which is where I moved mine.

One side of the closet, pre trash can. Note the bedding above.

The other side includes a safe.

The safe is large–my book is 6 inches by 9.

Beyond the closet down the hall is a kitchenette, outfitted as is usual in DVC studios with a coffee maker, mini fridge, toaster, and microwave.

A closer view of the coffee service.

The cabinets above contain basic serving materials. Note the fun square plates. You can move things around to create storage space.

Under the sink is more storage.  I’ll be calling out storage as we go through this room, as it has no dresser.  There is plenty of storage in this studio, but it is in places other than dresser drawers.

The mini fridge…

…includes a small freezer compartment–broadening the utility of the microwave.

The other side of the room has a split bath, with a toilet and shower in one space…

…and a sink and a tub/shower combo in the other. Each space has its own door from the hall, and there is also a door between the two spaces. It’s hard to think of a more flexible layout in comparable square footage.

Some more bath detail: the shower-head in the shower…

The bench and toiletries in the shower

The sink, with storage below

The tub/shower combo–note the toiletries on the right wall

The shower-head in the combo, not as fancy as in the set-up in the dedicated shower.

Deeper in the room, you’ll find a queen bed and a couch.

The bed side from the back of the room.

A closer view of the queen. Note the headboard.

At the foot of and underneath the queen are two easily accessible large storage drawers.

There’s also room under the queen to store luggage. Out of boredom from taking so many similar shots, I used my backpack as a prop, but standard rolly bags will fit underneath as well.

On both sides of the queen you’ll find a bedside table.

Each has three small drawers.

Next to the queen is this couch and coffee table. Unlike the functionally similar couch in One Bedroom Villas, this couch is comfortable.

The coffee table has two drawers…

…that are quite large. (Rotate your table so the drawers face the TV side for better access to them.)

Don’t overload these drawers, as you have to move the coffee table to clear the fold-down bed that is mounted in the wall above the couch, which disappears as you unfold the bed.

The fold-down queen. Note the stylized dalmatians watching TV above the pillows.  I like the version of this at All-Star Movies better.

It may take you a minute to find the best place to put the coffee table after the bed is down. I slid mine under the foot of the bed until I found resistance.

The other side of the room has a 54″ TV above a thingy, and a table and two chairs.

The other side of the room from the back.

From the thingy this bed folds down. I measured it as having a mattress about 74 inches long by 32 inches wide. The framing around the back of the bed makes it sleep pretty tight–there’s only a couple more inches of clearance at the foot and head of the bed.

I like the frogs at Port Orleans Riverside better.

Outside you will find either a balcony, or if you are on the lowest floor as I was, a patio.

All in, these studios at Disney’s Riviera Resort are about as good as you will find at Walt Disney World.

PHOTO TOUR OF THE LIVING-DINING-KITCHEN SPACE OF ONE AND TWO BEDROOM VILLAS AT DISNEY’S RIVIERA RESORT

This review continues here.

The long-time travel agent partner of this site, Kelly, can book you at Disney’s Riviera Resort or anywhere else at Disney World.  Contact her using the form below!

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PAGES IN THIS REVIEW OF DISNEY’S RIVIERA RESORT

 

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March 9, 2020   No Comments