Disney Riviera Resort Coming to Disney World
The 15th DVC property will be Disney’s Riviera Resort, which will be added to Walt Disney World’s new Skyliner gondola line, adjacent to Caribbean Beach, a Moderate tier hotel. This new Disney Vacation Club property is currently being built, and work appears ahead of schedule. (Last updated April 26, 2019.)
With Disney’s Riviera Resort slated to open in December 2019, a lot of work remains to be done both inside and outside the resort. However, we were able to see the finished rooms in April 2019, and share the experience in our new Photo Tour of Disney’s Riviera Resort Rooms from our walk-through of the studio and 1-bedroom units. Suffice to say, these rooms look better in person than Disney’s concept art.
The other big news is that Disney’s Riviera Resort is now accepting bookings for December 2019! As you can see in our New Details & Reservation Info for Disney’s Riviera Resort, images of the guest rooms, lobby, and rooftop restaurant have all been released. Walt Disney World has released a ton of new info and images, so be sure to check out that post! We also discuss the resort’s style (similar to Four Seasons Orlando), price points, and new category of rooms exclusive to the Rivera Resort.
For more on the current status of the project, check out our latest construction update of Disney’s Riviera Resort. Our Re-Imagined Caribbean Beach Resort post is also a good look at how the “sister” hotel to Disney’s Riviera Resort has improved its amenities.
You can also take a look at our Disney Skyliner Gondola Update, which shows how the Riviera’s biggest selling point–gondola transportation to Disney’s Hollywood Studios–is coming along. 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.
Since then, Disney has announced that the Riviera is inspired by the European grandeur Walt Disney experienced in his travels along Europe’s Mediterranean coastline. Disney Riviera Resort is slated to open in Fall 2019, with approximately 300 units spread across a variety of accommodation types.
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!
Generic? Cheap? Theme-less? I am a happy DVC member with contracts at Beach Club and Animal Kingdom Lodge. The above comments don’t quite represent many of the available resorts. Check out the lobby of Wilderness Lodge or the African animals roaming around at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Be part of a sea turtle release at Vero. Disney continues to be leading edge and magical. DVC is worth every penny and memory.
No one is calling the current DVC properties generic (with the exception of Saratoga), the concern being expressed here is the direction Disney is heading in the future.
Yes, BC, WL and AKL are themed to the hilt. But note that all of them were simply add ons to already existing hotels. The lobby you love at the WL existed long before DVC added rooms there.
If you love those resorts you might want to share our concern that Disney does not seem interested in building great hotels anymore if the Riviera and the tower at the Coronado are any indication.
I agree totally. I purchased DVC for the upgraded rooms and amenities. Does anyone remember the pitch when they told you all rooms 1BR and higher have jetted tubs? I have now been to 2 recently renovated resorts and the tub is now a garden tub. Also noted that DVD players are not always in the resort anymore. It just seems that the “extra” touches are being removed slowly but surely.
being DVC and trying to raise the status of another hotel with it will still be hard. I don’t think this is going to go that well
Agree 100%. What has always distinguished Disney hotel properties is their well thought-out themes. Being anywhere on site has usually been refreshing and transformative, as though you, too, live in a special place during your vacation. Remove this and you have less “happy chemicals” from your surroundings. No fun destination branding, no sense of being somewhere treasured. My husband’s theory: Disney is aiming for the less discerning demographics. (Very apparent, as you point out, with the new Beach Club decor. ) My theory: It’s cheaper & requires less upkeep.
Agree! The reburbs at Pop and Coronado Springs, while offering very nice storage and easy maintenance, look uninteresting and sterile to me. So does the new ‘un-imagined’ food court at POFQ. Certainly not giving a feeling that I would be staying anywhere special. I am trying to imagine the rooms at this resort. Will they be similarly lacking in pleasing theme? Part of the WDW fun for us was the anticipation of staying on a property for its ambiance and atmosphere. If they are going generic we would no longer care where we stayed or if we even stayed on property. We can find wonderfully clean, cheerful non-transformative rooms elsewhere, a lot cheaper. I wonder if Disney realizes how many of us love the feeling of being transported in time or place when we visit? It is (was?) part of the ‘magic’.
My husband and I have been saying this for years…Disney should build another moderate resort. Not like they did with Art of Animation though, that has higher prices than the other value resorts. Just a strictly moderate resort. We like to stay in moderate resorts and we feel like our choices are somewhat limited, especially with our favorite resort, French Quarter, not participating in “free dining” and other specials. I wish this new resort wasn’t part of the DVC.
I was hoping that that new villas would somewhat echo the Caribbean feel, but the name Riviera, doesn’t seem like a great fit. I guess we’ll wait and see. I love the themes as long as they’re not overdone. Seems like the new Disney Hotel for Star Wars will be a little over the edge, complete with available costumes!
I myself am also concerned over this new trend towards more “generic” looking resorts as a big part of the Disney magic is it unique theming. I looked forward to staying at different DVC resorts to be able to immerse myself in the story of that resort. If I wanted to stay at a regular hotel I wouldn’t be a member. I do find the gondolas exciting but agree with the fact that there still needs to be other transportation options, like there is at Grand Floridian, Polynesian, and Comtemporary/Bay Towers for those who may not find this appealing. This also needs to be free of charge as members pay good money for our membership and should not have to pay to travel to parks. Just my thoughts…
I agree that all rooms, in particular, Bwv, Bcv and even Hilton Head all look very generic. I want some of the theming to return!!
Having been a DVC member since 1997, with home resorts BDWK & KV, I, and my family, have already witnessed numerous remodels over the years and we all agree the generic updates are boring and probably less expensive for Disney when routine repairs are needed. What happened to the days of the boardwalk-style carpet & grass wallpaper that gave BDWK the feel of it’s namesake? The same applies to BCVs. Part of the enchantment of the resorts on the grounds of Epcot & MK is the close proximity to the parks. Sure the new gondola system will be novel, but it’s still going to require additional time for guests to navigate between their resorts and the parks. If I’m a guest at a DVC property, I want quick, easy access to & from my resort, and expect a unique experience within the confines of that resort.
Disney is getting off target when it comes to what they do best – an experience taking the “on-property” guest from hum-drum to the over-the-top unique immersive adventure.
I absolutely agree with you!
I love Bay Lake due to convenience but even my teen and adult kids think it is “boring” re design.
You go to Disney to get “Disneyfied”!
My guess is it’s going to be themed after the Riveria maya , being that’s also the Caribbean ocean. Where Coronado had an Aztec theme, this may be a modern resort with touches of the Mexican / Mayan culture . It would make sense based on it being with a resort with buildings like Jamaica and Barbados .
I as a Dvc member am always happy for new property, it allows us to be able to book new experiences . Non members can rent Dvc room via disney or through agencies that rent member points . There are many reputable companies that do this and generally it’s less expensive than booking via disney. You can still add dining and park tickets and you reservation still goes through disney experience once you have a reservation number to link.
Ohhh, that’s a good point. When I saw “Riviera” I assumed it meant French riviera, which made me say “meh”, but Riviera Maya makes more sense for the location. The fact that we can’t tell at all from looking at it does kind of make me concerned that it will continue the trend of virtually nonexistent theming. I’m a DVC member and I like themed resorts. I guess I’ll just stay at the Poly until they bring back theming other places.
When I saw the name of the resort I assumed it was going to be themed to the iconic hotels of the French Riviera at the turn of the last century. The sunny, Mediterranean vibe would not have been out of place in proximity to Caribbean Beach, and Disney already excels at Art Deco so why not try their hand at Art Nouveau? If all else fails, they could fall back on Art Deco and use HK Disneyland’s Hollywood Hotel as a template.
Instead it seems to be an extremely generic, contemporary hotel. It could not be a more stark contrast to the Star Wars hotel also announced at the expo, which looks to have wonderfully immersive theming.
I think that Disney may have learned that the sprawling DVC resorts like OKW and SS is less appealing because many guest do not like the multiple bus stops and long walks to the lobby for shopping and restaurants. The taller buildings are harder to theme unless you want a Vegas styled resort. Disney impresses me far more than they let me down so I am optimistic about this new resort. I happen to love BLT even though it lacks a cool theme like the Polynesian so maybe this one will be great to.
The concept art reminds me of the new Four Seasons Resort on their property. I wonder if this is their response to that upscale hotel. Almost in line with the Swan and Dolphin. Could be nice if the rebuild a Caribbean market and city square along the waterfront.
Sounds to me they could retheme the entire resort area from a Disney film or two, and just putting all the buildings in place to do so later. The gondola system will bring alot more guests too. Pirates or Frog Princess would be my guess.
I think DVC threw in the towel with theme once Bay Lake Tower came on line. It feels just like an upscale timeshare you would see in Miami or Vegas. Unless you can offer a “theme” for this hotel I have not thought of.
I literally just received my DVC membership number on Friday. Reading about the new Riviera is exciting, yet I wonder why they have to tag it onto a moderate. I am a moderate visitor, so I am not deluxe snobby. But when I need to do cash stays, this could be one less place to pick from. I can only imagine how much the Riviera DVC will cost per point. Do you think the other resorts will go up also?
Ok, here’s an odd question…
Can non-DVC visitors stay at what is referenced as DVC hotels?
My wife and I have no use for the DVC program but we sometimes worry that Disney is getting so that they only want DVC members…
You can definitely stay at a DVC resort! I think you can book those rooms on their website or you can rent DVC points (which we have done in the past).
Yes, you can stay in DVC rooms/villas. Disney often discounts them 30%-37% off. We booked a 2 bedrm villa last summer for $449/night (two bedrooms, two bathrooms, full kitchen, living room, laundry room with washer & dryer).. There’s almost always a discount. On the WDW website…under Place to Stay…View Special Offers….click Resort Characteristics.
As a DVC member I’m excited for another resort. My family enjoys trying out resorts other than our home resort, Saratoga. I kinda get the feeling that this new resort will be along the lines of Saratoga, AKV, and OKW when it comes to bookability of a non-home resort (after the newness wears off) because it’s still won’t be as “deluxe” as the Poly, GF or Bay Lake and still not as close to the parks as Beachclub and Boardwalk.
I guess time will tell and I can’t wait to see what the theming is.
With regards to theme, I agree that it’s a single piece of concept art, and I have a little bit of faith in Disney to realize that theme is very important. While I haven’t stayed in the renovated rooms that you feel are now overly generic, I agree that if they are not sufficiently themed, then there will be an eventual correction.
Here’s the thing: people pay a *lot* of money for the purpose of staying in the Disney bubble. Yes, you get free parking, and you don’t have to rent a car, and you can get the dining plan, and 60-day FP+ has some value. But I think fundamentally a big part of the bubble is having a high level of theming everywhere you go, the feeling that you’ve never left the World even when you’re at your hotel and in your room.
The best kept secret at Disney World isn’t DVC, it’s that you can rent equivalent accommodations for a week off-site at $700 / week if you plan 11 months in advance, or for roughly half the rack rate of a DVC room if you don’t, all without being tied into a contract or having to think about the opportunity cost of money. If Disney wants to keep people from thinking about that too hard, they need to make sure the differential of the experience that you get stays highly visible, and that means sufficient theming everywhere, including the resorts and room interiors.
“But I think fundamentally a big part of the bubble is having a high level of theming everywhere you go, the feeling that you’ve never left the World even when you’re at your hotel and in your room.”
I agree with most everything you’ve written, but wanted to underscore this.
People are willing to pay a significant premium for location, but it’s the unique Disney theme that helps them justify the HUGE price difference between off-site and on-site.
If your room looks indistinguishable from a Hilton, will you have second thoughts about paying 4x the price for a Hilton on your next trip? Is location and convenience worth *that* much to guests?
For some, sure. For as many as Disney needs to fill all those hotel rooms? I doubt it.
I agree with you completely Tom on the room decor. Yes, it was leaning to the garish side & needed to be toned down, but I was taken aback when I saw the new rooms at Beach Club. My feelings of excitement of getting to come back & stay at this resort after many years were quickly deflated. The room seemed bare with any themeing all but gone. It felt like a plain ol chain hotel room. I was so disappointed. I hope Disney wakes up to this, they indeed over corrected. We were starting to consider a DVC membership, but I’m really not liking these new rooms. This is a case when less is not more, b/c when they stripped out the theme they took the fun with it.
You’ve mentioned this before, in regards to the upgrades being made at CBR, and the gondola system coming to Pop as well, that eventually the 3 tier system of resorts is going to be eliminated. This was all before this most recent DVC Riviera announcement. Now that we basically know for absolute sure that CBR is not going to be a moderate resort any longer, and probably prices hiking up at Pop, my fear is that many more people will start getting priced out of Disney. Prices already increase significantly every year, on everything from resorts, to food, tickets, etc etc. It is kind of scary to “lose” a moderate, as well as the best “value” resort to likely higher prices once this DVC and the gondola system opens. With how fast DVC is expanding, can we expect this to happen at POR and POFQ next…just frustrating. Gah!
I am wondering the same thing. So none of the resorts will be classified as Deluxe, Moderate, and Value anymore or Caribbean Beach and Pop Century just won’t classified in those tiers anymore?