The 15th Disney Vacation Club property will be Disney Riviera Resort, which will be added to Walt Disney World’s new Skyliner gondola line, adjacent to Caribbean Beach Resort.
We’ve updated this post in November 2018 to share our latest construction update of Disney’s Riviera Resort as well as our Re-Imagined Caribbean Beach Resort post, which takes a look at how the Riviera’s “sister” resort has improved its amenities. You can also take a look at our most recent Disney Skyliner Gondola Update, which shows how the Riviera’s biggest selling point–gondola transportation to Disney’s Hollywood Studios–is coming along.
With Disney’s Riviera Resort expected to open in early Fall 2019, a lot of work remains to be done, but in our most recent visit in late November 2018 (and every month before that for the last 5 months) to Caribbean Beach, it certainly appears that significant progress is being made, with an opening as early as September 2019 not outside the realm of possibility. Now, for the official details that have been announced about Disney’s Riviera Resort…
Bob Chapek, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, announced the next planned development during the D23 Expo, and shared a few details and concept art for the project. The main detail he shared was that the resort would feature a rooftop restaurant with views of both Epcot’s and Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ nighttime spectaculars.
Disney Riviera Resort is slated to open in Fall 2019, with approximately 300 units spread across a variety of accommodation types. Construction progress has already begun on this resort, and if you’ve stayed at Caribbean Beach Resort recently, you’ve probably seen it…
This announcement comes just ahead of the opening of Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, featuring 184 “rustically elegant” vacation accommodations including Deluxe Studios, 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom Villas, Grand Villas, and waterfront cabins.
More on Disney Riviera Resort below…
In case it was not clear, this is the rumored Caribbean Beach Resort Disney Vacation Club development. The one that work began on in the spring. I was a bit surprised to see this name, because I always assumed this would be called “something at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort.”
My guess would be that the association of a Disney Vacation Club resort with a Moderate Resort would not sit well with a lot of DVC Members, and Disney knows this. Caribbean Beach Resort won’t be a Moderate Resort when this is all finished, and Disney Riviera Resort is likely to share at least some facilities with Caribbean Beach, but I guess it’s all about the marketing pitch.
It will be interesting to see what efforts are made to make Disney Riviera Resort and Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort distinct from one another, and where they’ll share facilities–or at least encourage use of those at their “sister resort.” Previously, my assumption was that this resort would lack a feature pool on par with Fuentes del Morro Pool, and likely wouldn’t have a slate of dining options like Caribbean Beach, either.
My assumption was that this was at least partly motivating the huge refurbishments to give Caribbean Beach a more upscale waterfront area. The other part of the motivation is unquestionably the Skyliner, which will instantly elevate all of the resorts it connects in status. (This is why Caribbean Beach Resort and Pop Century are both receiving upgrades.)
As for Disney Riviera Resort itself? Eh, it’s difficult to judge on a single piece of concept art, but that art to me looks no different from what you might see for a Homewood Suites or something of that sort. It does not scream “themed” to me. Heck, it does not even whisper “themed” to me.
I worry that this is the direction Disney Vacation Club is heading, and recent room refurbishments have reflected a trend towards more generic styles. I’m not at all a fan of the changes at the Beach Club Villas, and the Boardwalk Villas have a similar problem with looking too generic for my tastes.
To be honest, I don’t know whether these generic styles are a more crowd-pleasing design as Disney Vacation Club tries to appeal to a more mainstream audience that may not necessarily care about theme in their hotel room–or are fine with light character touches and hidden Mickeys. I don’t want to generalize too much, but for some newer Disney fans, it seems that throwing a Mickey print in a picture frame makes a room themed.
Alternatively, maybe theme does matter to the bulk of Disney Vacation Club members, but these new room styles are the path of least resistance. Easier, cheaper, and without as much need for frequent updates to keep them fresh.
My bet would be that the reality is somewhere in the middle. I think Disney got a bit heavy-handed with room interior themes in the mid-2000s (the rooms at Wilderness Lodge were garish–the redesign a couple of years ago is a much better balance), and what we are now seeing is an over-correction based on guest feedback. I think a new round of guest feedback will reveal it’s now too subdued. At least, that’s my hope.
As this related to Disney Riviera Resort…it’s really too early to tell. Again, it’s just a single piece of concept art. From that and the trends in interior design, I think there are some things we can safely infer, but I’m willing to reserve further judgment until Disney Vacation Club releases more information about Disney Riviera Resort. I’m hopeful that it is themed…and themed in a way that is complimentary to its sister resort across the water.
If you’re considering joining DVC, first be sure to read our Ultimate Guide to Disney Vacation Club. If you still can’t decide whether membership is right for you, “try before you buy” and rent points from DVC Rental Store. If you are convinced a membership is for you, check out the discounted options at DVC Resale Market.
What are your thoughts about Disney Riviera Resort? Are you cautiously optimistic, disappointed, or is it too early to tell? What, if anything, do you think this new resort will share with Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort? Any questions about this new DVC development? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your thoughts in the comments below!