Are you planning a trip to Disney World but haven’t decided which resort to book your stay? Or have you actually whittled down the choices between Disney’s Beach Club and the Riviera Resort—but you can’t quite decide which is best?
Well, in this Disney Riviera resort vs Beach Club comparison review, I’m going to cover everything that these two great resort hotels have to offer, including pricing, amenities, transportation, restaurants and more!
So let’s begin with the great Disney Beach Club Resort.
Disney’s Beach Club Resort
Disney’s Beach Club Resort is a luxury, Four-Diamond Award-Winning resort that opened November 1990 on Disney World property. Disney’s Beach Club is known for its luxurious sand-bottom pools, and its beautiful Newport Beach Cottage theme. Key reasons to choose the Disney Beach Club include: its proximity to the BoardWalk and Epcot, its gorgeous landscaping, and its high-quality seafood restaurants.
The theme of the Beach Club Resort is, well, “beachy.” The New England Style architecture, colors, and decor are designed to look like a Newport Beach cottage. The resort boasts gorgeous blue and green buildings, white sand beaches, a pool to top all Disney World pools, and seafood restaurants galore.
Neither Disney’s Beach Club nor Disney’s Riviera Resort are known for their cost-effectiveness. Both of these hotels are quite pricey in exchange for their fancy experience. Rooms at Disney’s Beach Club resort typically range from a low of $504/night in a standard room during low season, to $991/night for a deluxe room during peak season.
Summer prices typically vary from $600 to $800 per night. Beach Club Villas typically start at around $1000/night, and are only available to DVC members.
Keep in mind that prices are always subject to change and, due to inflation, will inevitably increase a bit over time.
The steep price to stay at Disney’s Beach Club Resort is justified by the incredible amenities at recreational activities available at this luxury hotel. For starters, the Beach Club boasts what we consider to be the best pool in all of Walt Disney World Florida. The pool and waterside paraphernalia spans a whopping three acres, and includes a life-size shipwreck that gives way to a waterslide, a lazy river, three whirlpool spas, and a sand pool ideal for little kids.
Next to the pool sits a classic 1950s-style diner adorably named Beaches and Cream. Whether you stop by for a burger and a shake, or you crave a poolside sundae, this ice cream parlor is an essential part of your poolside adventure.
If miniature golf is your thing, the Beach Club is the right place for you. Their on-site 5-hole fantasia-themed course is perfect for both kids and adults.
There are many hotel activities designed for kids including resort campfires for roasting s’mores, outdoor movie showings, and a Pirate Adventure Cruise where they can search for hidden treasure. There’s also an arcade next to the pool!
Adult guests can take advantage of the motorized boat rental opportunities, fishing excursions, sand volleyball courts, and beachside jogging trails. If fitness is your thing, the Beach Club is also home to Ship Shape, a 24-hour on-site gym with a neighboring spa.
Disney’s Beach Club offers bus transportation to all of the Disney World parks, waterparks and to Disney Springs. The Beach Club is unique in that it is situated within walking-distance of Epcot and Epcot’s Skyliner transportation station. The Beach Club is also one of few resorts that offer boat transportation through Disney’s Friend Ships.
Ease of getting to and from the parks
The Beach Club Resort is most convenient for its easy access to Epcot, which is a short walk from the back of the resort. Hollywood Studios is technically also walkable, if you prefer very long walks, but we recommend taking a boat to that park. Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom are reachable by bus, and so are both of the waterparks and Disney Springs.
Disney’s Beach Club Restaurants
Disney’s Beach Club resort is home to a few casual dining options, a handful of lounges, and some fine-dining restaurants. Most notable is Cape May Cafe, a breakfast buffet in the morning and seasonal surf and turf restaurant in the evening that frequently hosts character dining opportunities.
Cape May Cafe
Located in the lobby of the Beach Club Resort, Cape May Cafe is the perfect place for a family-style breakfast, or a surf and turf dinner featuring fresh mussels, shrimp, crab legs, lobster, and slow-roasted strip loin. If you’re a seafood fanatic, this casual dining option is a great dinner choice for you.
Beaches and Cream
This poolside diner is the perfect place to pick up a sundae or stay for a grilled cheese and a strawberry shake. Available for lunch and dinner, this ice cream parlor is known for their onion rings, and their kitchen sink sundae, which comes in a sink-shaped souvenir cup and serves four.
Beach Club Marketplace
If you’re in need of a quick grab-and-go snack or an easy quick-service meal, stop by the Beach Club Marketplace. This serves as a kind of mini grocery store for the hotel, equipped with the essentials and some simple snacks. We recommend anything from their breakfast menu, and their brisket mac and cheese.
This New England beach house themed lounge is known for their wine and cheese, but they also have imported draft beers, a cocktail menu, and a handful of hearty appetizers. Try their New England clam chowder, loaded potato barrels, and artisan cheese plate with your favorite beverage.
Hurricane Hannah’s Waterside Bar and Grill
If you get hungry during your pool day, don’t fret! Hurricane Hannah’s is here to satiate your snacky needs. Relax by the lazy river with some onion rings, chicken tenders, and a cocktail. Whether you need a pina colada or a blueberry lemonade, there are plenty of beverages for adults and kids alike.
Ale & Compass Restaurant and Lounge
This nautical themed lounge is where you should stop if you crave a flatbread pizza and a mojito. Kids can enjoy strawberry, lime, and grapefruit “no-jito” drinks, and parents can sample from the large selection of wines.
For a fancy dinner in a New England style steakhouse, check out the Yachtsman Steakhouse. This restaurant is technically located in Disney’s Yacht Club resort, but because it borders the Beach Club, Disney includes it in their Beach Club restaurant list. Here you and your family can enjoy a delicious steak or lobster meal with some French onion soup, and a savory side of truffle mac and cheese.
Disney’s Riviera Resort
To continue our review of Disney’s Riviera Resort vs Beach Club resort, we now need to spill the details on Disney’s Riviera Resort, a modern European themed DVC-exclusive hotel that opened in December 2019. Disney’s Riviera Resort is known for its access to Disney’s skyliner, the newest mode of Disney transportation inspired by Walt Disney himself. The Riviera is also home to some of the biggest, most accommodating hotel rooms on Disney property. If you’re looking for a high-end, quiet, modern Disney resort, the Riviera is for you.
The Riviera resort is designed to look like a classy European hotel, filled with modern amenities. The exterior is meticulously designed, with well-kept gardens, and a custom-made Tangled mosaic mural. The interior is the definition of class, with white marble-esque flooring, countless custom Disney paintings, and a French-style coffee shop right in the lobby.
Rooms at the Riviera range from $400 a night, all the way up to $4500 a night. Pricing at the Riviera varies so greatly because of the vast diversity of rooms to choose from. At the Riviera, you can save some cash by staying in a cozy tower studio, or you can splurge on a three-bedroom complete with a full kitchen and living room. All rooms at the Riviera can be purchased with DVC points, which could save you some money if you choose to go in the low season and pay with some saved-up points.
Disney’s Riviera Resort is a relatively quiet hotel that lacks many of the amenities of Disney’s larger resorts. But the Riviera still includes multiple pools and a splash pad. There are also various spaces for lawn games, and large poolside beds for relaxing outdoors. The Riviera also has one of the biggest and nicest gyms on Disney property, so if fitness is your niche, the Riviera is worth considering.
The Riviera is known for its access to the Skyliner transportation, which can take guests to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. For access to the other parks, water parks, and Disney Springs, the Riviera also has a bus system similar to those at all other Disney resorts. It’s worth noting that while the Skyliner is cool, new, and convenient, it can’t run in the rain! So during Florida’s rainy season, the Riviera’s bus system gets a lot more use.
Ease of getting to and from the parks
As far as we know, the Riviera isn’t within walking distance of any of the Disney parks, but the Skyliner means that transportation from the Riviera to Epcot and Hollywood Studios is quick and easy. Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom require bus transportation, but you could also take the Skyliner to Epcot and then take a monorail to the Magic Kingdom.
Disney’s Riviera Resort Dining
The Riviera Resort is home to only four restaurants, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in quality. Each and every one of the Riviera’s restaurants is worth stopping by! the Riviera is known for their fine dining restaurant Topolino’s Terrace, a fancy French and Italian restaurant located at the top of the Riviera Resort. Topolino’s Terrace is known for their stunning filet mignon, and their decadent creme brulee. They also offer character dining opportunities!
As we mentioned, Topolino’s Terrace is the star of the show at Disney’s Riviera resort. Inspired by Europe’s cliffside restaurants, Topolino’s Terrace is as visually stunning as it is delicious. Whether you’re stopping by for a breakfast quiche, or staying for escargot and rigatoni, Topolino’s Terrace is sure to please your taste buds. They also offer character dining opportunities! But pack something other than your park clothes- Topolino’s is one of very few restaurants in Walt Disney World that has a dress code.
Le Petit Cafe
This is the coffee shop we referenced earlier that is conveniently located right in the lobby of the resort. Le Petit Cafe is open all day so you can get your coffee fix before or after the parks, and they also offer a plethora of delicious pastries to choose from. In the evening, Le Petit Cafe also serves alcoholic beverages and small plates inspired by Paris. If you’re in need of a snack, we recommend the charcuterie board and the almond cold brew with honey-almond whipped cream.
Bar Riva is the poolside bar where you can treat yourself to a spicy Italian sandwich, a Greek salad, or a Riva margarita. The bar also includes their fair share of kids cocktails so they can experience this poolside luxury as well.
Last on the list of restaurants at the Riviera is Primo Piatto, a quick-service restaurant that offers convenient grab-and-go options. Enjoy a croque madame or blueberry lemon pancakes for breakfast, or grab a chocolate croissant before you hit the parks. Primo Piatto is open all day, so if you need a lunch or dinner break, you’re welcome to try your choice of pizzas, hot and cold sandwiches, or an artisanal cheese plate.
How They Compare
Overall, both the Beach Club and the Riviera resorts are noteworthy hotel options for you and your family if you plan on taking a trip to Walt Disney World in Florida. However, which of these resorts you choose heavily depends on what you’re looking for in your Disney hotel. While the Beach Club is bigger, the Riviera is newer and more modern. The Beach Club is a classic Walt Disney World Resort, but the Riviera is fancy and exclusive to DVC members.
Other differences between the Beach Club and the Riviera are their highlights. The Beach Club is known for its pool, but the Riviera is known for its restaurant, Topolino’s Terrace. In terms of transportation, the Riviera has on-site access to the Skyliner transportation, but the Beach Club has access to the Friend Ship boat transportation. Both hotels are good options for DVC members because both hotels cater to DVC members, but only the Beach Club caters to non-DVC members and Disney newbies.
Selecting the Best Disney Hotel Overall
Below, check out some of the best Disney World Resort hotels (especially ones that are deemed more high end), and see how they all compare and contrast to both Disney’s Beach Club, as well as the Riviera Resort.
Disney’s Beach Club Resort
One of our personal favorites, Disney’s Beach Club Resort is a vintage-beach-themed resort and hotel that includes exclusive villas for DVC guests. The Beach Club makes our top 5 list for it’s iconic theming, its beautiful sand-bottom pool, and its classy seafood restaurants.
We recommend choosing this hotel if you are a DVC member, you or your kids love spending time at the pool, and or you love delicious seafood buffets. The Beach Club is also ideal for guests that love visiting Epcot because it’s located right in Epcot’s backyard.
Very close in both theme and proximity to Disney’s Beach Club, Disney’s BoardWalk Resort is another one of our favorites. Disney’s BoardWalk is located, well, right on the BoardWalk! Known for its easy access to restaurants, bakeries, and nightlife events, the BoardWalk is a great hotel if you and your family enjoy spending time out on the boardwalk plaza eating fresh churros and watching street performers.
The BoardWalk Hotel also offers easy access to Disney’s Friend Ship boats, which you can take to many of the Walt Disney World resorts and parks.
If the Magic Kingdom is your favorite park, and Moana is your favorite Disney princess, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort was practically made for you. Known for its plant-filled lobby, water bungalow villas, proximity to the Magic Kingdom, and Polynesian-themed restaurants, Disney’s Polynessian Village is one of our favorite hotels in all of Walt Disney World.
The theming is absolutely exquisite, with jungle plants and wooden decor galore, and the poolside snack bar even offers our favorite cold treat: Dole Whip. This alone would be reason enough for us to book a room.
The Polynesian Village Resort is a quick monorail trip to Disney’s Magic Kingdom, with hotel room views of the Magic Kingdom Fireworks shows. The Polynesian is also home to some of the most popular restaurants on Walt Disney World property, including Kona Cafe.
Last but not least, Disney’s DVC members are treated to what’s possibly the coolest Disney villas to date- Bungalows that sit on the water across the lake from the Magic Kingdom. If any of this sounds like your dream destination, the Polynesian Resort Village is the right Disney Resort for you.
Next on our list is the beautiful Spanish-inspired Coronado Springs Resort, the hotel home to Toledo- Tapas, Steak & Seafood restaurant, recently remodeled luxury hotel rooms, and a pool with a pyramid waterfall. This hotel may have the most reasonable room rates of the hotels on our list, and it’s a huge resort that boasts a plethora of activities for kids and adults alike.
Take advantage of Coronado Springs’ scenic jogging trail, sand volleyball courts, and outdoor movie theater with regular Disney Under The Stars movie events. We prefer Disney’s Coronado Springs for the fun pool and delicious food options, and the welcoming atmosphere.
Disney’s Riviera Resort
Last on our top 5 list is Disney’s Riviera Resort, which is currently Disney’s newest resort addition. This European-inspired hotel getaway is known for Topolino’s Terrace, the famous Italian and French fine-dining experience mentioned in so many Disney food blogs.
The Riviera resort is also known for its use of the Skyliner as its primary mode of park transportation. Disney’s Riviera Resort is exclusive to DVC members, which makes it an ideal vacation destination for veteran Disney-goers.
Which Resort Should You Choose?
Given all of this information, how do you know which hotel is the best fit for you? We tried to narrow it down to make it easier to pick and choose.
Choosing The Beach Club
If you enjoy seafood, night life on the boardwalk, and spending time by the pool, choose the Beach Club. Choose the Beach Club if Epcot is your favorite park, and if you have younger children.
Choosing The Riviera
If you’re a veteran Disney-goer and a DVC member, choose the Riviera. Choose the Riviera if you prefer a quieter, classier, more exclusive hotel. Choose the Riviera if you like working out, if you prioritize fine dining, and if you love riding the Skyliner.
Well, there you have it. This was our complete deep-dive into Disney’s Riviera Resort vs Beach Club, and why you should choose one over the other when planning your next Disney vacation.
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