Big Discount for Riviera Resort’s Opening Months

Walt Disney World is offering up to 40% off stays at Disney’s Riviera Resort for most nights from the hotel’s opening night on December 16, 2019 until March 31, 2020 for Disney Visa Credit Cardholders. In this post, we’ll offer thoughts on the deal, why it’s being offered, and more.

This deal is available for booking through February 14, 2020, and reservations may be made online, by calling (407) 939-5262, or via your Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. The number of rooms available for this offer is limited, and the offer is nontransferable. (Meaning the cardmember must stay in the room.)

We’ve covered the newest Disney Vacation Club property extensively, most recently in our Disney’s Riviera Resort Construction Update: Fall 2019. Just in case you haven’t been paying attention because you’re not a DVC member nor do you intend to buy here, we’ll offer a quick refresher before analyzing the deal…

Walt Disney World has been touting Disney’s Riviera Resort as being influenced by the “European Riviera,” which presumably means both the French and Italian Riviera regions. We’ve criticized Disney for not going all-in on this theme. The details that have been revealed thus far come across more as Europe-inspired decorations than they do thematic elements.

If you’re wondering what the interiors of the guest rooms will look like, we can help with that. Take a look at our Photo Tour of Disney’s Riviera Resort Rooms from our walk-through of the studio and 1-bedroom units. Despite our criticisms of the hotel in general, we like the rooms–they remind us of a cross between the Grand Floridian Villas and Four Seasons Orlando (albeit not as nice).

One of the main draws of Disney’s Riviera Resort will undoubtedly be the rooftop Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera, a new Signature Restaurant that will offer a fine dining experience at dinner and character meal for breakfast.

We anticipate the latter being one of the hot ticket ADRs going forward, as we cover in our Character Dining Reservations Open for Topolino’s Terrace at Disney World. Before even booking at stay at the Riviera, you might want to double-check that ADRs are still available for your travel dates.

The other huge selling point of Disney’s Riviera Resort is its Skyliner gondola station, which will provide direct access to Epcot, or access to Disney’s Hollywood Studios via a transfer. After the main hub station at the adjacent Caribbean Beach Resort, this is the second-most convenient resort Skyliner station.

We’ve already logged a dozen-plus flights on the new gondolas, and offer thoughts in our new Skyliner Gondola Review: Disney World’s Most Magical Flight on Earth. Suffice to say, we love the Skyliner, but it needs to work out some early hiccups. Hopefully that’ll happen well before December!

Okay, moving on to the discount itself. We’d caution against trying to draw any conclusions about the popularity of Disney’s Riviera Resort or Walt Disney World potentially having hotel occupancy woes based upon this deal. It’s really common for new hotels to offer atypically aggressive deals for their opening months, and there are a few reasons for this. (We saw the same thing happen with Gran Destino a few months ago.)

Occupancy-wise, December is a very solid month for most resorts at Walt Disney World. Riviera Resort is different in large part because it hasn’t been available for booking as long as other properties around Walt Disney World. The reservation window opened earlier this calendar year, which was far after all other resorts.

Second, there’s far less info online about Riviera. While diehard Walt Disney World fans are undoubtedly at least generally aware of its existence, that’s far less likely to be true with first-timers. Given that there are no reviews of the upcoming resort and very little info aside from general announcements and construction updates (not exactly what planners are reading), it’s less of a known quantity and more of a gamble.

Third, there’s a disproportionate number of rooms available for regular booking through Disney, as only a fraction of the resort’s total points have been declared into its Disney Vacation Club inventory. These declarations happen as points sell, which explains why there’s zero availability on the DVC side of things but plenty for cash-paying guests.

Finally, the rack rates at Disney’s Riviera Resort are pretty pricey. In looking at the rate charts, standard rooms at Disney’s Riviera Resort are priced above Beach Club, Yacht Club, BoardWalk, Contemporary, and even the Grand Floridian for most dates.

Granted, the Tower Studio is cheaper than some of these resorts for some dates, but that’s supposed to be Riviera Resort’s value option. It being just the two of us, we are really intrigued by the Tower Studio…but not for rates starting at $415 per night. It’s a much more attractive option at 11 DVC points per night!

At 40% off, rates become much more attractive, especially for some travel dates. In doing some spot checking of this discount, we found decent availability, and if you can find a Tower Studio for $249/night or a standard studio room for the mid $300s per night, you might want to give that some thought.

For the best availability, we’d recommend calling Disney or having an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner do it for you. Options seem (to us at least) more limited via the online booking tool.

With that said, you’re still paying more via this Disney Visa discount than you are by booking with DVC points–and that’s true whether you’re an owner or not. Using a $19/point valuation, the prices we found are still significantly higher than what you could score via the rental market. (See our Money-Saving Tips & Guide to Renting DVC Points for more info on how to do that.)

The only problem with that, as noted above, is that Disney’s Riviera Resort has only sold about 7.2% of its 6.7 million total points, and under 20% of the total inventory has been declared. (For those who are curious, sales are about on par with other recent DVC resorts–which is better than we expected given the major new DVC resale restrictions that impact the Riviera.)

This means that it’s currently very difficult to rent points in order to stay at the Riviera. Once more points are sold, we predict it’ll still be very difficult to book Riviera, especially once more of the points start hitting the resale market. That makes this discussion about renting points, especially for trips in the near future, sort of an academic.

Ultimately, the long and short of this is that we’d recommend waiting another year or two to book a stay at Disney’s Riviera Resort, and using DVC points (either via rental or your own) for the stay if you’re a Walt Disney World regular. If you’re a first-timer, infrequent visitor, or simply want to stay at Disney’s Riviera Resort as soon as possible without the headache of renting points, this Disney Visa deal is probably the best direct-from-Disney discount you’re ever going to see for this resort.

If you’re considering joining DVC, first be sure to read our Ultimate Guide to Disney Vacation ClubIf 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.

YOUR THOUGHTS

What do you think of this discount for Disney’s Riviera Resort? Will you be taking advantage and booking for this Christmas or early next year, or will you wait until reviews start coming in and/or better deals are available via DVC point rental? Any questions about Disney’s Riviera Resort? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your thoughts in the comments below!


12 Responses to “Big Discount for Riviera Resort’s Opening Months”
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