Riviera Resort Update: February 2019

As we continue our Walt Disney World construction updates for February 2019, we check out progress on Disney’s Riviera Resort, the new Disney Vacation Club hotel being built on adjacent to Caribbean Beach on Barefoot Bay. Here we’ll share construction photos and thoughts on the latest news at this resort.

Since our last construction update from here, Walt Disney World opened reservations and released new details about the dining, amenities, and rooms at Disney’s Riviera Resort. Most of that’s nothing exciting, with the exception of the announcement of all-new room category, Tower Studios, which sleep two guests each.

Following that announcement about a month ago, Disney has been dropping little nuggets of info in weekly updates on the Parks Blog. This past week, Walt Disney World released more info about the feature pool, Riviera Pool, Beau Soleil leisure pool, and S’il Vous Play, an interactive water play area themed to Fantasia.

Releasing a trickle of details is nothing noteworthy. Disney Vacation Club obviously wants to drum up enthusiasm leading to sales of the resort. What I find more interesting is the use of Walt Disney and his family’s travels throughout Europe as a way to tie Riviera Resort to Europe, as well as the constant mentioning of how the resort evokes or is inspired by Europe.

This reminds me a lot of the ill-fated Nahtazu ad campaign that followed the debut of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. For those unfamiliar with that, it was pronounced “not a zoo” and I’m sure you can surmise from that what it entailed. I find this approach unpersuasive, and I generally think people see through it. If you have to tell guests via marketing what something isn’t, you’ve already lost.

That’s not completely what’s happening with Disney’s Riviera Resort, as marketing is telling people what the resort is supposed to be, but it’s still occurring in a way that’s overcompensation for substantive, thematic failures. In the case of Animal Kingdom, early guests formed an impression that park was zoo-like because much of its substance was zoo-like. Thankfully, subsequent additions like Expedition Everest and Pandora have remedied that to a great degree.

In the case of Riviera Resort, Disney is leaning heavily on the “inspired by Europe and Walt’s travels” publicity materials because that’s something few people would glean when simply looking at the concept art. “It doesn’t really look European, so let’s keep reiterating that it is when describing it.” Suffice to say, you don’t see this type of promo for Wilderness Lodge or even BoardWalk Inn.

On a related note, all of the Walt stuff bothers me, and I wish Disney would avoid invoking his name and quotes so liberally. While this strategy has the short-term effect of giving whatever project some emotional goodwill, that well is only so deep. Eventually even the most fervent fans will start to role their eyes (I already do) and see through it.

Worse yet, people will start to view Walt Disney not as a real person but as a corporate mascot detached from all of the incredible things he actually accomplished. I’d argue that this is already happening, and this is part of why we encourage every fan who can to visit the Walt Disney Family Museum. It’s a great way to ‘recalibrate’ your perspective, and gain a deeper respect and appreciation for what Walt the person did, instead of what Walt the caricature says to you on paper cups and plates.

…And with mention of disposable dinnerware, we’ve gone sufficiently off-topic. Let’s ‘recalibrate’ this post and get to the construction photos…

It’s probably not clear from our posts about it, but we’re moderately enthused to stay at Disney’s Riviera Resort this fall.

Not because of its theme, rooms, dining, or amenities, but because it’s likely our best option for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

Historically, we’ve found the easiest time to book Disney Vacation Club resorts is when they first open.

While we expect this to be a bit more competitive as nearly every other DVC owner will still have the same idea as us, we hope to score a few nights. Otherwise, it’s back to Caribbean Beach.

We’re also really intrigued by the Tower Studio rooms.

From a practical perspective, these are a great option for us. As a hotel enthusiast, I’m also super intrigued by the logistics and comfort level they will offer. We’ve stayed in some tiny hotel rooms in Asia, and none seem to utilize space as effectively as the Tower Studio rooms.

It seems like there are several hospitality design companies doing incredibly innovative things right now (both these rooms and the upcoming Saratoga Springs studios come to mind), and it’s good to see Disney keeping its finger on the pulse of what’s happening.

We’ve been vocal critics of Disney’s recent approach with theme (or lack thereof) in room redesigns, but we generally love what they’ve been doing in terms of practicality. Lots of little things (and some big ones) that make guest rooms more functional.

None of that commentary has much of anything to do with the accompanying photos, but most of these images are the same views we showed last month…and the months before…but with slightly more progress.

Above is our first “new” view, which offers a look at the Riviera Skyliner Station. I suspect the rooms over on this side of Caribbean Beach are going to be in-demand once the gondolas and Riviera Resort open.

Here’s another new look. Not of the Aérophile/Characters in Flight balloon, but directly under that, where the water slide for the Riviera Pool is starting to take shape.

You can also see that the waterfront promenade is progressing, and other landscape work is occurring.

In semi-related news, a bunch of ground and pavement is torn up around Caribbean Beach on this side of Barefoot Bay. I assume this is related to the Skyliner, but the odd thing is that this was “finished” back when those pillars were installed last summer. I intend upon doing a quick photo update about that, but in the event that I don’t get to it for some reason, I’d recommend avoiding buildings 51-56 for the time being.

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!


Have any thoughts about Disney’s Riviera Resort? Is this tower-style location with Skyliner access to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot attractive to you? Do you agree with my take on the resort’s marketing, or am I getting “worked up” over nothing? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

12 Responses to “Riviera Resort Update: February 2019”
  1. Courtney February 26, 2019
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