The charm of the Mediterranean at Walt Disney World® Resort. We have long enjoyed the concept of visiting European countries at Epcot® in the World Showcase. Still, Disney’s Riviera Resort brings the splendor of France and the Mediterranean even more alive to visiting guests. 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 totally 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, interesting in that it contains nostalgic memorabilia from Walt’s travels to the Riviera.
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.”
341 units. 1080 Esplanade Ave, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830; 407-939-5277. Check-in 3 p.m.; Check-out 11 a.m.
Villas here are one of Disney’s most elegant and comfortable. 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.
One-of-a-kind Tower Studios are designed for two Guests, a combination of efficiency and luxury—and are unique to Disney’s Riviera Resort. With only 255 square feet (smaller even than a room at a Value Resort), you’ll find a microwave, small refrigerator, a built-in desk with drawers, and a cleverly hidden pull-down queen-size bed that tucks away during the day for a lounging space. But for such a small space, the bathroom is surprisingly fairly spacious with an oversized shower and large single-sink vanity.
Deluxe Studios sleeps up to 5 people at 423 square feet with a queen-size bed, a pull-down queen-size bed, and a single pull-down bunk-size bed. You’ll also find a kitchenette along with a private patio or balcony.
One-bedroom villas are 813 square feet sleeping up to 5 adults. 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. Access the balcony or patio 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 encased in gorgeous 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.
A two-bedroom villa is simply a combination of the one-bedroom and a connecting Deluxe Studio with two queen beds. Sleeps up to 9 adults in 1,245 square feet.
3-Bedroom Grand Villas offer a King Bed in the master, easy chair and ottoman, and a private balcony; the spacious single-area master bath comes with double vanity, oversized shower, whirlpool tub, and separate toilet area. Each guestroom has two queen beds, one with an en-suite bathroom, the other with a bathroom out in the hallway, but only one of the two rooms has a balcony. The spacious living area dons hardwood flooring topped with a blue/cream area rug, a cream-colored sectional sleeper sofa, two powder blue easy chairs, and an open kitchen with an island seating 4; partitioned off is a formal dining room seating 10. A spacious balcony runs the length of the living room. A full-size washer and dryer is a nice bonus as well. Sleeps up to 12 adults in 2,530 square feet.
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