Welcome to the new Disney’s Riviera Resort! After a full weekend of coverage, we are taking time to reflect on our experiences at this new location on property. You’ve probably read one of our numerous food reviews from the resort, which boasts an incredible lineup of Fast Casual, Signature, and Character Dining, but if you’re looking to actually stay and fully experience the new resort, you’ll probably want to take an in-depth look at accommodations. This review will cover one of the resort’s biggest draws: the innovative new Tower Studio concept. Compact and meant for just one or two guests, these tiny studios morph from day to night with a large Murphy bed that lowers from the wall, and clever furniture that does double duty. Let’s check in and check out these new rooms!
Disney’s Riviera Resort celebrates both the French and Italian Riviera, and you’ll see touches of both throughout the resort grounds.
The small, yet intimate lobby is decked out for the holidays, with plenty of garland, wreaths, a menorah, and even a Christmas tree.
While many have complained of how “small” the lobby is, it’s fairly cozy, and a nice respite if you’re looking to lounge outside of your room. (Which, if you’re staying in a Tower Studio, you’ll certainly want to do.)
The resort features hidden characters everywhere you look––even in the carpets as you walk out onto the elevator lobbies.
In this carpet design, we see Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, and Donald.
As you walk down the halls, the walls are lined with beautiful Disney artwork (available for purchase at the Art on Demand kiosk in La Boutique on the second floor lobby) and fancy French moulding.
Hallways housing Tower Studios lead out to circular bays with three doors, each leading to a separate Tower Studio. There are also a set of handicap accessible Tower Studio rooms––if you’ve stayed at one, feel free to let us know! It’ll be interesting to see how they managed to meet clearance codes within such a tight space.
So here’s what it looks like once inside. On one side of the room, you have the bathroom, TV, and balcony. On the other, you have a wall unit with a Murphy bed, a small office space off to one side, and a kitchen/storage area on the other. Furniture like rolling ottomans feature storage and a secret tray underneath for snacks.
Of course, we really just stayed here for this Aristocats artwork.
While there have been many hot takes on this room since the resort’s opening, this is where Tom actually chose to stay for the opening of Disney’s Riviera Resort, and he stands by it being a good option for solo travelers or couples looking to stay at the newest resort on property. I spent an evening working in the room while everyone else was at the parks, however, and I was definitely on the verge of claustrophobia if not for a few trips out to the vending machine down the hall.
Tower Studios total 220 square feet. Here you can see the view from the inside corner out to the door. (That’s it. This is the room.)
Thanks to the window on one end and this large glass door that leads out to the balcony, the space feels slightly larger, but once night falls, the space starts to feel increasingly small.
Here’s what it looks like with the Murphy bed down. There’s just enough space to walk around to the bathroom, and you can roll off the ottomans underneath the TV console and to the side of the room.
If it were up to me, I’d just leave the bed down all day. The whimsical Peter Pan artwork adds some depth to the room, versus just being a sofa and a grey-green wall.
As with all of these new Murphy beds on property, these are extremely comfortable and rival the quality of most traditional beds on property. A set of pillows is available inside the closet, and you can always order more… about two until the room is at capacity.
A closer look at the artwork reveals two little cubbies embedded into the sides of the bed frame.
These cubbies also feature USB ports and electrical sockets, making them ideal for charging your phone overnight and keeping a book, ear plugs, and maybe even a bottle of water handy.
Over by the office nook, there’s a chair, a Keurig, and a phone. Drawers and ledges are available for additional storage. This resembles something more akin to a study carrel at a library, so prepare for flashbacks from college. Do note that this is the only style of room at the resort with a Keurig, as the Deluxe Studio and all of the villas have a standard coffee pot brewer.
On the other side, you have a makeshift kitchen of sorts, with a stainless steel microwave and a cabinet full of mugs, plates, and silverware above it. Below it is the fridge, and off to the left are various shelves and drawers for storage. Many people have asked us what the dish washing situation is given that there is no kitchen sink. Well, the Tower Studios offer a very luxurious solution to that. Any used plates, cups, or cutlery that you’d like cleared can be picked up by housekeeping by just calling in. They’ll bring you a fresh set and take away the dirty ones regardless of whether you’re staying on cash or DVC points. (Normally, rooms booked using DVC points are not entitled to free housekeeping services, so this is a big plus.)
I almost think this room could’ve benefitted from a smaller TV (blasphemous, I know) or one embedded and installed inside the wall to make it flush against it, instead of jutting out into the room. Normally, this wouldn’t be an issue, but in rooms like these, every square inch counts.
Here’s a look outside at the near Juliette-style balcony, which features great views of the Disney Skyliner, Hollywood Studios, and EPCOT areas. Considering their size, the balconies in these rooms are less about getting you outdoors and more about bringing light and kinetics, and a sense of being outdoors, into the small, closet-like main living room. They also provide reasonable views of fireworks at night:
A look from our balcony at Riviera towards Disney’s Hollywood Studios pic.twitter.com/XRVG6Ckhro
— WDW News Today (@WDWNT) December 18, 2019
We were shocked to see that the bathrooms in Tower Studios are disproportionately large. Not that we were complaining––it’s like a spa in there!
Between the gold fixtures and white marble tiles lining the floors and shower walls, the space is decidedly lavish. The shower here is almost identical to the ones in Deluxe Studios, meaning you get the same quality of bathroom here, at a slightly lower price. A closet with additional linens is off to one end of the bathroom.
The showers feature a large rainshower, plus a hand-held wand, and you can divert water to just one or both of these for the ultimate spa experience. (And we all know how important that it after a long park day.)
At the end of the shower is a large marble slab to sit on or use as a shaving ledge. A nook for additional toiletries is built in to the wall.
Overall, we have zero complaints about the bathroom. I’d rather the bedroom be small and the bathroom have more than enough space for two guests. Despite it not being a his-and-her sink situation, there’s still plenty of room on each end of the counter for everyone’s toiletries, and the built-in shelving adds even more room for storage.
And yes, if anyone asks, the toilet paper was stamped with the resort’s “RR” logo.
For a better sense of the room’s layout and amenities, check out our full walking tour of the Tower Studio:
And now, a look at the numbers. We booked this room as soon as it was announced earlier this year, before Disney Visa discounts were announced. (Even then, the Disney Visa discount did not apply towards Tower Studios.) With these opening day rooms in high demand, we found ourselves easily paying nearly $600 a night with parking, taxes, and fees… for this closet of a room. The night before check-out, a search on My Disney Experience showed the rooms, with an AP discount, at just $340 a night. It’s only at the lower rate of under $350 (with any applicable discounts, ideally) that we can recommend these rooms. While still pricey, you’d be staying at a brand-new resort, and one with all of its amenities built in centrally, making it perfect for a truly all-inclusive, near cruise-like stay. The convenience of being connected to the Skyliner (when it isn’t down or offline for weather), plus views of fireworks, all while being surrounded in adorable Disney artwork gives a stay here, even at a Tower Studio, a sense of tangible and intangible value.
According to rack rate calendars, you should be able to score a room here for as low as $356 without any discounts during low seasons. In fact, the latter half of January is all priced at that rate, save for weekends.
Out of curiosity, I priced out a stay checking in tomorrow at the standard rate. $561 a night for a Tower Studio seems ludicrous, especially considering that you could stay at many other classic Deluxe resorts, in a Standard or even Preferred View room, at this price.
In fact, you could upgrade to a Deluxe Studio, which features an extra bath, a full-sized balcony, and sleeps five for about the same price, give or take an AP/DVC/Florida Resident, or other seasonal room-only discount.
Like Disney’s Old Key West Resort and Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort, this is the only other standalone Disney Vacation Club property at Walt Disney World Resort. That being said, DVC members will play into a huge demographic at the resort, despite reportedly low contract sales for the property.
With points per night ranging from 11 to 27 depending on the season, a DVC member could easily use those points towards a Deluxe Studio or Value Studio (in the case of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge) and have more living space and sleeping surfaces… ones that don’t try to kill you in your sleep.
Overall, if you can find a good deal on a night’s stay here, definitely try it for novelty’s sake, but make sure you plan on spending a lot of time outside the room, or else risk the friendship (or partnership) of whoever you’re staying there with.