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This is the largest collection of Disney’s Riviera Resort Tips on the planet.
As the newest resort on the Disney block, finding information about Riviera Resort may be more difficult, even for frequent Disney vacationers.
With new dining locations, a more intimate atmosphere, and the European layout, getting the lay of the land could take some time.
As an entirely Disney Vacation Club (DVC) resort, some of the tips for the Riviera may be a bit different from those to which you are accustomed.
Lucky for you, we have all the tips and tricks you’ll need to plan your stay at Riviera Resort like a pro!
If you have a tip to add or differing viewpoint, I’d love to hear it. Add your tips in the comments below.
Table of Contents
Tips for Planning Your Riviera Resort Vacation
While there are definitely amenities for kids, I would argue that the Riviera Resort is geared more towards adults.
The luxurious atmosphere, gorgeous Disney artwork, and high-end décor emphasizes this fact, appealing to the more adult crowd. With that in mind, if you’re traveling with kids, you might want to think about that before selecting Riviera.
Set a Budget
Frequent readers of Picture the Magic know that I always recommend setting a budget.
In this instance, the budget needs to be at the top of your list. Riviera Resort, as a deluxe DVC resort with a luxury feel, by definition has a higher price.
Even using your DVC points, some of the larger spaces will cost more points than locations like Saratoga Springs or Old Key West.
Know how much you want to spend, points or otherwise, and don’t exceed that budget. Two studios cost less than a two-bedroom villa, but more than a one-bedroom villa. Mix and match until you spend within a range that you are comfortable.
Get the App
No matter what your plans at Riviera Resort, one of the best tips is to download the My Disney Experience app.
Walt Disney World encourages guests to make reservations, plans, and buy tickets through this app.
You can also check out wait times and find particular souvenir items through the app, so make sure everyone in your party has it downloaded on their phone!
Rent DVC Points
Again, Riviera Resort is one of the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) accommodations, meaning you will get the best bang for your buck by using DVC points.
If you own DVC, you already know that the point-to-dollar ratio puts you on top in terms of cost.
For non-owners, you’ll want to consider renting DVC points to get a discounted stay. Even at a price of $19 or $20 a point, it will cost you less money than paying the “sticker price.”
Tips for Choosing Your Riviera Resort Room
There are six different room choices at Riviera Resort, and two categories (standard and preferred).
One of the best tips is to look at the amenities, floor plans, and even pictures of the rooms ahead of time to help inform your choice.
If you’re not going to use the amenities of a certain space, you might want to bump down a class of room. On the other hand, if you have must-haves in terms of amenities, be sure those items are on the list before booking.
Standard v. Preferred
Just a quick reminder – preferred does not equal better or bigger. A preferred room means that the room has a better view of the resort, and tends to be closer to the resort recreation and amenities.
If that is important to you, then go for the preferred. However, if it’s not, one of my main tips is to go with the standard Riviera Resort rooms instead.
Unique accommodations to Riviera Resort, one of the great tips for couples is to get one of these Tower Studios. Especially if you’re going to spend a lot of time out of the room, the smaller space and foldable table bed work perfectly. It doesn’t hurt that you’re also going to save some money!
Get an inside look at a Tower Studio with this video!
Consider Your Party
In a similar frame of mind, you want to think about how many people are in your party when booking.
Singles, couples, and even young families might like the simplicity of a studio versus paying for a larger room, while bigger groups or older kiddos might need the space of multi-room accommodations.
You might even want to consider multiple rooms, or the connecting option, if you have several families traveling together.
When Disney indicates a maximum number of guests in a room, they mean it. There used to be a time when you could get extra cots or rollaway beds at the Disney resorts, but that is no longer the case.
This is where the single pulldown beds at Riviera are so convenient – they make up a bit for the lack of extra cots.
However, when you book the room for the maximum number, that’s still it.
Kids under three that sleep in a pack n’ play are the only exception to this rule – kiddos any older count as a full person in the room. This is mostly for safety and capacity purposes, so just keep that in mind.
Plan for the Amenities
All the villas have full kitchens and laundry facilities, making it easy to prepare your own meals and clean your clothes during your stay.
Plan to bring groceries or have them delivery to Riviera Resort, which is one of the best tips for cutting dining costs.
You can even bring leftovers back from a Disney dining experience, making your meal last!
Even if you’re staying in a studio, you still have access to a mini-fridge, toaster, microwave, coffee pot, and sink.
That’s really all you need to make a quick breakfast, again saving money and getting you out the door faster.
While You’re At It…
Be sure to pack items that you can get at home, like sunscreen and water bottles, which will cost a lot more on Disney property.
Since you’ll have plenty of space in the Riviera Resort rooms, using these money-saving tips is a no-brainer!
You can also conserve room in your suitcase in other ways by rolling your clothes, dividing outfits into gallon Ziploc bags (release the air), or putting your belongings in packing cubes.
Don’t spend unnecessary money on easily acquired essentials.
Keep Bulky Items at Home
While we’re on the subject, you can leave that beach towel or puddle-jumper at home.
At the resort, towels are provided to guests, and you can rent towels at the water parks for just a few dollars.
For the pools and water parks alike, Coast Guard approved life jackets are available for all ages, including infants.
If you are driving and you can throw these items in on top of the pile, that’s up to you, but there’s really no need to take up the space in your suitcase if you’re flying.
After all, odds are you are going to buy some souvenirs, so you’ll need the extra space!
Speaking of souvenirs, if you know that you’re going to be bringing home more than you packed, we suggest bringing either a collapsible duffel bag or an extra suitcase.
With the duffel back, you can just throw it in an outside suitcase pocket or on top of the clothes, and then unfold it when you’re packing for the trip home.
For the suitcase, pack all your clothes and other items in a smaller suitcase, then put that suitcase inside a larger piece of empty luggage.
This gives you an entire extra suitcase in which to pack souvenirs and other items you might purchase.
Plan Your Week
Considering the location of Riviera Resort, you’ll want to use these tips.
You have almost immediate access to both Hollywood Studios and Epcot with the Disney Skyliner, so save yourself the hassle and know where you’re headed.
With the current park pass system, knowing which days will be park days (and which park you’ll be in) is important.
As more people are comfortable traveling, we’re going to see more of these days maxing out, so get that park pass early!
Planning ahead can also help you plan in terms of transportation, since your options are limited.
Also, try not to plan too many park days in a row. A day off in between will do you a world of good – and with the beautiful pools at Riviera, you’ll want to use them!
Emphasis on Park Passes
All indicators are that the park passes are here to stay. With that in mind, don’t put off getting a park pass or think we’ll decide when we get there.
Unless you’re a Florida resident or an Annual Passholder, gone are the let’s wing it days (and even they need park passes).
You need to know what parks you’re going to ahead of time, and you need to get those park passes. Remember, you have to have both a valid ticket and a park pass to enter a Disney theme park, even when park-hopping.
Plan and Coordinate Outfits!
One of my favorite tips is to plan out your outfits for each day, especially at a resort like Riviera.
This makes packing easier, and also helps to coordinate the family for pictures.
Riviera Resort is one of the most photogenic resorts we’ve ever seen, making it an ideal location for the Christmas card or end of year letter.
Also, if you’re planning to rock some Mickey ears while you’re in the parks, you might want to plan your outfits to go with your ears as well.
This tip is particularly good with kids, as it simplifies packing and getting ready while on your trip! I even like to divide particular outfits into bags, labeled for the day I’m going to wear them. I know it seems excessive, but believe me, it helps with organization.
Make Your Own Mickey Ears
I know, I hear you. You’re thinking why make my own when I could buy them?
Trust me, plenty of people are making their own Mickey and Minnie ears; in fact, there’s people making of living doing this on craft sites!
If you want to save a bit of money on ears in the park, or you want to have coordinated ears for an event or special occasion, making your own is the way to go.
You might even find that they are more comfortable than official Disney ears, as you can choose the headband for yourself.
Pack a Separate Pool Bag
Whenever I know I’m going to get to the resort early, I like to pack a separate bag with all my pool gear. That includes swimsuit, sunscreen, and extra clothes.
This is so that, if the room isn’t ready when we arrive, I can head to the bathroom, change into my swim gear, and enjoy the pool while I wait.
Even if you’re flying, you can put this bag in a carryon or in the outside of the suitcase, then ask the front desk to hold your luggage until the room is ready.
For a place like Riviera Resort, this is one of my best tips.
The pools and grounds are so luxurious, you’re going to want to get started with your vacation right away. Pack it now, thank me later!
Bring a Cover-up
Along the same lines, you should plan to bring some sort of swim cover up or “over clothes” to and from the pool.
After using the resort towels, the expectation is that you will return them before exiting the pool area. Unless you bring your own towel, that means you won’t have one to wrap around yourself for the walk back to your room.
That’s where having a cover up, or even just a dedicated pool t-shirt and shorts, can be nice. Even though Riviera isn’t a huge resort, you’ll be glad you listened to these tips when your room is far from either of the two pools.
Similarly, make sure you have swim shoes or flip-flops to wear to the pool. I know, I know, it’s Florida, you’ll probably bring them.
However, I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen people just walk barefoot from their room to the pool…and regret that decision.
Since you’ll probably have to walk through Riviera Resort or around it, this is one of those tips you’ll be glad for in the moment!
Tips to Maximize Your Riviera Resort Stay
No matter where you stay at Disney World, you want to use online check-in.
Just go through your My Disney Experience app and you can be finished the check-in process in no time!
Check in a week before you arrive, or as soon as your plane touches the ground, either way it’s good to do before actually getting to the resort.
This way, you can go straight to your room whenever it is ready, allowing you to jump right in to the vacation.
Get out and Explore!
Once you’ve arrived, since you don’t need to hang out and wait on the Front Desk, you can get out and see the resort!
If you have luggage with you, the Front Desk will hold it until your room is ready.
Until then, use the pool (because you’ll have packed your pool bag!), get the lay of the land, or even go on a ride on the Skyliner.
Unless you’re an Annual Passholder, we don’t recommend planning a park day for the day you arrive.
This is mostly because you won’t necessarily get the maximum amount of time in the park, depending when on your arrival time. Instead, let your time be a bit more relaxing.
Once You’re In – Unpack!
If you’re staying more than a couple of nights, it’s always best to unpack as soon as you get in the room.
This will keep everyone organized, especially if you’re traveling with large groups or kids. While living out of the suitcase might sound like a good idea, it’s an easy way to get everything jumbled together.
Of course, if you top some of our other packing tips, getting everything where it needs to go in your Riviera Resort room will be a breeze!
Take a Photo
Of course, before you unpack, you might want to take some photos of the room.
With the elegant theming, awesome artwork, and luxurious atmosphere, it’s nice to get photos of your Riviera room before life takes over.
It’s not going to be nearly this nice again through your whole stay, even if you get house-keeping every day, so snap that photo now!
Ask for a Laundry Bag
Disney has plastic drawstring bags available particularly for your dirty laundry, and I suggest you use them!
Recently, we’ve had to ask for them at the front desk, but pre-pandemic you could always find them in the bedrooms closets (here’s hoping that comes back!)
Even if you do have to ask for one, having a separate laundry bag will manage the dirty clothes and keep them from combining with the clean ones in your suitcase.
This can saving you on washing when you get home too, which is a bonus!
Use the Pools
While we’re on the subject, you don’t want to miss a chance to use the incredible Riviera Resort pools.
There are two pools and a kid’s play area, making these spaces fun for the whole family.
Appropriately named, the Riviera Pool is the main theme pool, including a zero-point entry and beautiful umbrellas to give it that seaside feel.
Next to this pool is the child’s play area, S’il Vous Play, designed with European fountains in mind.
However, if you want to avoid the family areas, the Beau Soleil Pool is a short walk from the Riviera Pool. Larger than your typical quiet pool, Beau Soleil Pool gives you a chance to relax and soak in the sun in a more peaceful environment.
As always, remember that you can’t save seats for your entire party at Disney pools.
That doesn’t mean that the people with you can’t have chairs or tables, but please don’t send down two people to set up shop for ten. This isn’t fair to the other guests, and it isn’t allowed.
Something else we see is adults sending down kids to save spaces – don’t put that on them.
This often backfires when the kids jump gung-ho into the pool. I’ve literally seen another group of adults sit at a table they thought wasn’t occupied because it only had Disney towels, and then the kids and family tried to return to that table.
Not a pretty sight – just avoid that entirely.
Last of our Riviera Resort pool tips – wear your sunblock!
While the pools definitely have shade, the pool area itself is fully exposed to the strong rays of the Floridian sun.
The kids area in particular has little in the ways of protection from the sun, and your kiddos probably won’t feel that they’re burning with the cool splashing water.
Florida is the Sunshine State after all, and it comes by this nickname honestly. I don’t care if you “don’t burn,” you will here if you don’t put on at least SPF 15. Lather up, reapply, and avoid the burn.
No Wet Clothes on the Balcony
If you’re a frequent Disney traveler, you know all about this.
Disney asks (and enforces) that you do not put your wet clothes, bathing suits, towels, or ponchos out on the balcony railings. This ruins the aesthetic of the resort for everyone else, and it’s a pretty good way to lose things. You never know when a Florida storm is going to whip up, which might blow your items away (not to mention soak them again).
Instead, use the laundry facilities to dry your clothes. If you have a studio, take advantage of the retractable line found in all Disney showers to hang your things. I often will turn on the fan in the bathroom and leave the door open, just to give a bit more circulation. With ponchos, hang them in the shower too, or up in the closet.
Check out Caribbean Beach
Of course, Riviera Resort is beautiful, but one of my best tips is always to check out the other resorts in your area.
You’ll have plenty of time to see your home resort (especially if it rains), but you might not get the chance to see other places once your vacation gets underway.
Caribbean Beach is just across Barefoot Bay from Riviera, and connecting by a running path.
Take some time to see these gorgeous colorful buildings, try some of their food, and even snap some photos!
Photo Scavenger Hunt
Speaking of pictures, Riviera Resort has some of the best artwork on Disney property, including gorgeous mosaics of classic Disney stories.
Particularly with bigger groups or with older kids, you can split into teams and race to find all the items on your list.
Make one ahead or time, or ask the Front Desk if they have one. Either way, you’ll have a great time!
The on-site shopping location at Riviera, you don’t want to miss the chance to grab your resort-specific merch!
As you approach La Boutique, the beautiful French façade draws you in right away. Right in the center is all the Riviera souvenirs – t-shirts, glasses, purses, magnets, and more.
You can also find some cool Disney Skyliner merchandise here, featuring the colorful and cute gondolas is spectacular fashion.
La Boutique is also where you’re purchases go when you choose to send them back to your resort from anywhere else on property, so be sure to stop in to pick those up!
Get a Postcard
Especially at the Riviera Resort, this is one of those tips you’ll be glad you remembered.
Riviera has beautiful artwork in the store, some of which comes on the postcards.
I like to send postcards to my parents and grandmother, especially if we’re using gift money to finance the trip. I’ve also heard of people who like to write the postcard to themselves as a live-journal type of souvenir.
While we’ll certainly tell you about all the dining options at Riviera Resort, I just want to give a quick shout-out to La Café.
Located right in the lobby, this Parisian-style coffee shop is a great place to grab a signature coffee beverage and a quick breakfast in the morning.
Deliciously brewed lattes, cappuccinos, and other delights await you, along with pastries to accompany your selection.
As breakfast is the most important meal of the day, you want to make sure you grab a good one!
Don’t. Skip. Breakfast.
Speaking of breakfast – eat it.
While I know of people who don’t eat breakfast in their normal life (for whatever reason), remember this isn’t your normal life.
This is your Disney life. In in Disney, we eat breakfast. Even if you’re not headed to the parks, your day is likely to be filled with activity – walking, swimming, shopping, and exploring will all take it out of you.
Start your day right by fueling yourself, even if it is just with coffee or tea and a nice piece of fruit. You’ll be glad for it later!
Primo Piatto is the primary quick-service location at Riviera Resort, and one of the best places to get that quick breakfast.
Open from 7:00am to 10:00pm, you can get a fast meal here all day!
With a few pre-made grab and go options as well, you can even grab something for lunch to take into the parks.
They tend to be less expensive than a full park meal, and it will save you the time of waiting in line for lunch.
The newest character meal, breakfast at Topolino’s Terrace is a must if you’re travelling with kids!
This breakfast features Daisy, Donald, Minnie, and Mickey all dressed in their European best. If you have Daisy fans in your group, this is a must-do, because Daisy can be hard to find in the theme parks themselves.
These costumes are unique as well, giving a fun flair to your photos. Besides all that, the food is just delicious!
Skip the line and order your counter service meals on your app!
Whether you’re in the parks or just picking up something at Primo Piatto, Mobile Order is an ideal way to get your food without having to wait.
You also can find more customizations on the app, which helps you to get the food just the way you want it. Particularly if you’re really grabbing and going, Mobile Order is a must.
Right now, you actually have to use Mobile Order at all counter service locations, but it’s still a good habit to be in anyway.
When You Can, Skip the Bus
Disney bus transportation is both a blessing and a curse.
Awesome because those busses will take you just about anywhere, not so great because they can be hard to predict. With that in mind, take the Disney Skyliner whenever you can.
As a resort on the Skyliner line, you can use it to get to Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and the entire BoardWalk area.
Unless it’s absolutely packed (like at the beginning of the park day or after park closing) the Skyliner will be faster than the busses.
It can still be faster during the peak times, depending on the number of parties coming through. Long story short – ride in the sky, not in a bus.
Bus Stop is out Front
If you are taking the bus, one of the most important tips to remember is that there’s only one Disney transportation bus stop at Riviera Resort.
Head out the main lobby towards the car drop off, and then head to the right. Down a covered short walkway, you’ll see the bus stop location.
All the park busses and the bus to Disney Springs will pick you up right there!
Drive Your Car
If you have your own car, rented or no, you should use it!
The exception to this would be going to Epcot or the Studios, since the Skyliner saves you the roundabout route and the parking.
However, if you’re headed somewhere like the Magic Kingdom, the Animal Kingdom, or even Disney Springs, using your own car will be much faster than the Disney busses.
It is also more reliable when it comes to getting back to the resort, particularly in the evening.
If you’re DVC, you don’t have to pay to park anyway, so why not?
Plan Time for Travel
No matter what mode of transportation you’re using at Riviera Resort, one of the top tips always is to plan for travel time.
Walt Disney World isn’t just the parks – it’s the whole property, and it’s huge. There are places that are a good 15-20 minutes apart, depending on the traffic.
Yes, there’s rush hour at Disney too!
With that in mind, give yourself a minimum of half an hour to get where you want to go, especially if you want to be at a specific place at a specific time.
Even if you’re dining right on property at Topolino’s, Disney asks that you arrive for reservations 15 minutes in advance.
Plan time to get ready and get there in the allotted time.
Don’t wear yourself out! After all, you’re on a vacation, and with such amazing pools and other amenities at Riviera Resort, please listen to these tips.
Even a group of all adults can benefit from a dip or a snooze in the middle of the day, or a “day off” in between park days.
There is a misconception that you have to spend every minute of your Disney trip in the park to get the full experience.
That is flat-out lie, and exhausting to boot. Do yourself a favor, and manage your time so that everyone is having fun – without feeling like they’re going to collapse.
Ride the Skyliner…For Fun!
Sometimes it’s just nice to soar over the resorts, taking in the view, without any particular destination in mind.
On your days off from the parks, just hop on the Disney Skyliner and let it take you…wherever!
So many people never take the chance to see what else is on Disney property aside from their own resort and the parks. Go see what’s out there!
Visit Disney Springs
An attraction unto itself, you don’t want to forget about Disney Springs.
With incredible dining, shopping, and entertainment, you could spend a whole day at Disney Springs and still not see everything.
Personally, if I don’t visit World of Disney at least once, I don’t feel like I went to Disney at all!
Riviera Resort is right across the highway from Disney Springs, so be sure to listen to these tips!
Tips for Heading Home from Riviera Resort
Pack the Night Before
It may be the last thing you feel like doing, particularly if you spent your last day at the park, but you’ll be glad you did in the morning.
Packing ahead of time means less scramble, and you will be less likely to leave anything behind in the room. Especially with kiddos, getting everything together the night before will ease the process of leaving in the morning.
Leave out your outfit for the next day and your essentials, but get everything else ready to go. Know what bag you will use to pack up your last minute items. If you have your own car, you could even load the suitcases in the evening to take away that stressor.
With young kids, make sure you know the location of all their items. Your departure will be much smoother, and you will be less stressed, with this one big to-do item checked off your list.
Check Your Balance
One of the other cool features of the My Disney Experience app is that you can check your folio balance (particularly of room charges) right on the app. Click on My Plans, and then Resort Hotel to take you to the information about Riviera.
From there, you can scroll down to see your other options within the app. There will be a folder icon that says View Charges, giving you access to everything charged to your account.
Checking your balance before the day you check out gives you a chance to make sure everything looks correct, make any adjustments, or see if you have any remaining credits to spend. It’s much easier to get help from the Front Desk physically at the resort, and doing it before check out removes the stress from the process.
I know I harp on breakfast, but when you’ve dealt with morning traffic on I-4 with an empty stomach, you’ll understand.
You might think there isn’t enough time for a meal, especially if you have a flight to catch. However, if you plan ahead, there will be enough time for you to eat before you head out, and I suggest that you do.
Heading away from Walt Disney World on an empty stomach not only will make your departure harder, but will most likely make your whole party miserable (especially the kids).
Remember, Primo Piatta opens at 7:00am, but if that isn’t early enough for you, consider getting some snacks the night before to hold you over until you get to the airport.
Absolutely one of my favor tips – if you have a credit card on file with Riviera Resort, you don’t need to stop at the Front Desk to checkout. This saves you a trip back to the main lobby and waiting in line. Riviera Resort sends an itemized statement to your email address, which you can see from the morning of your checkout, and if everything looks good you can be on your way.
The Fun Never Stops!
Just because you have to check out at 11:00am doesn’t mean you have to leave the resort! For those that are driving only a short distance, changing their vacation location, or have a later flight, you can hang out on property and take advantage of all the amenities. Pack up your car or store your baggage with Bell Services and enjoy the magic for just a little longer.
Enjoy your little piece of European luxury with Riviera Resort – with these tips, you’ll be vacationing like a Euro native!
Grace Hoyos, Staff Writer
Grace is a life-long lover of all things Disney, particularly the parks at Walt Disney World. She is also an avid Disney Cruise Line enthusiast who regularly dreams of the white sands of Castaway Cay. Grace loves the fact that her Disney trips give her time to spend with her family, enjoy incredible food, and try new experiences.