When it comes to resorts, Walt Disney World is in a class of its own. The magic of Walt Disney World can be felt in every resort, at every turn. With more than 25 resorts to choose from, the decision on where to stay during your time at Disney World may seem a bit daunting.
There is so much to consider when it comes to a hotel. From the dining to the amenities, Disney World Resorts have many options to cater to your perfect vacation experience. To narrow down the search, let’s compare two of the most popular resorts at Disney World: Disney’s Riviera Resort vs Grand Floridian.
Disney’s Riviera Resort: A European Ambiance
The minute you step into Disney’s Riviera Resort, you can feel the magic. You are greeted by a palm tree-lined boulevard and step inside to an elegant lobby, complete with chandeliers and rich, modern and classic furnishings. This hotel is the newest erected at Disney World, which is apparent everywhere you look.
Everything from the landscape to the hotel rooms is gorgeous, modern, and fully updated. You will feel like you have been transported to an elegant European country, while still feeling the magic of Disney.
The artwork featured at this resort is nothing short of breathtaking. You will discover a vast and unique art collection celebrating Disney Characters and icons by artists who were influenced by the European Riviera. The resort features two beautiful murals, one displaying a scene from Peter Pan and another from Tangled. Over one million hand cut tiles were laid by hand to create these spectacular murals.
In one of them, you see Peter Pan flying through the sky. In the other, you will see hundreds of glowing, floating lanterns flying from Rapunzel’s tower. Both murals are connected to flight, and you will feel like you are flying when you gaze upon them.
The sophisticated atmosphere extends beyond the inside of Disney’s Riviera Resort. The beautiful landscape, lush gardens, and sparkling fountains provide a picturesque backdrop to any one of the fantastic rooms or villas in which a family could stay. Taking a walk through this beautiful scenery is the perfect way to unwind after a long day at Disney World.
Best described as European with a touch of Disney, you will feel the enchantment throughout the entirety of Disney’s Riviera Resort.
Rooms and Rates at Disney’s Riviera
The chic, Parisian flair that encompasses the resort extends into the Riviera’s rooms and villas. Most rooms average over $500 a night, with the most extravagant option being the three-bedroom Grand Villa at around $3600 a night. The studios and the one- and two-bedroom villas prices range from around $550-$1700 a night. Both the studios and the villas have fully equipped kitchens, spacious living areas, large closets, and gorgeous bathrooms with marble tile and gold accents.
The Tower Studio or the Deluxe Studio are great options for couples or small groups. Both Deluxe Studio options include one queen bed, one queen-size pull-down bed, and one single pull-down bed. For an additional cost, you can stay in a Deluxe Studio with a preferred view, featuring views of the courtyard, lake, gorgeous landscapes, pool, or the Disney Skyliner.
The villas are the best option for large families. The one-bedroom villas sleep up to five people, and the two-bedroom villas sleep up to nine people. Just like the studios, for an additional cost you can upgrade to a preferred view in the villas.
The amenities in the villas are top notch. Both the one- and two-bedroom villas are equipped with an oven, private porch or balcony, at least two flat screen TVs, a stacked washer and dryer, a bathroom with a bubble-jettub and walk in shower, and more.
If you are really wanting to splurge, your family could stay in the three-bedroom grand villa. This lavish villa sleeps up to 12 people and features views of the lake, three full bathrooms, and plenty of space for everyone!
No matter what your needs are, Disney’s Riviera Resort will have the perfect room for you.
Disney’s Riviera Resort Dining
The restaurants at the Riviera Resort cannot be beat. Whether you’re looking for a quick cocktail by the pool or a delicious rooftop dinner, Disney’s Riviera Resort has you covered.
For breakfast, head to Le Petit Cafe. It is an authentic Parisian cafe, perfect for grabbing a coffee and pastry before a full day at Disney World or even a late-night drink and small plate.
Getting thirsty while swimming at the Riviera Pool?
Enjoy a frozen cocktail poolside at Bar Riva! Bar Riva also offers sandwiches and fresh salads if you’re feeling a bit hungry. If you’re looking for a grab-and-go option before hitting the parks, Primo Piatto offers quick service meals of sandwiches, salads, beer, wine, and more. Primo Piatto also takes mobile orders if you’re really in a rush.
Finally, Topolino’s Terrace at the Riviera is a must-book for many during their trips to Disney World. The restaurant serves breakfast and dinner featuring French and Italian cuisine, along with stunning rooftop views.
Favorites on the menu include the ricotta and the rigatoni; for dessert, you can’t go wrong with the chocolate cake. The beautiful views add the cherry on top to a stellar dining experience at Topolino’s Terrace.
Transportation Options at the Riviera
Getting to and from the parks is very easy when you’re staying at Disney’s Riviera. The most convenient mode of transportation is the Disney Skyliner, a new gondola system that connects guests to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios with ease. Because Disney’s Riviera is so close to Hollywood Studios and Epcot, the Skyliner is a great choice for transportation. The Skyliner allows you to head to the park and take you right back to the entrance of the Riviera Resort. (Please note that the Skyliner will be closed from January 23-28, 2022).
Disney Bus transportation is also an option when you’re staying at Disney’s Riviera Resort. Guests can use this complimentary bus service to get to and from all four theme parks. If you’re planning to spend a lot of time at Animal Kingdom or Magic Kingdom, it may be helpful to keep in mind that the bus ride to either one of these parks is slightly lengthy. Disney’s Minnie Van by Lyft is also offered as transportation, but this service is temporarily unavailable.
Disney’s Magical Express offers complimentary transportation to and from Orlando International Airport. Unfortunately, the Magical Express will no longer be in service after January 1, 2022. It is important to note that it will still honor operations for new and existing reservations made in 2021.
To make planning your transportation for the day a breeze, download the My Disney Experience Mobile App. It is the perfect way to plan your day at the park and view routes for various modes of transportation, including monorails, water taxis, and buses.
No matter where you’re headed for the day at Disney World, the Riviera Resort has all the options you could need for easy transportation.
Recreation and Amenities at Disney’s Riviera Resort
There are two pools at the resort: the Riviera Pool and Beau Soleil Pool. A family-friendly amenity, the Riviera Pool is the perfect place to swim and enjoy absolute vacation bliss. Kids will love the huge pool slide that winds around a Rapunzel-like tower and adults will love the poolside bar! The resort also offers S’il Vous Play, a water play area for younger children. They’ll love the Fantasia characters seen at this interactive splash area! S’il Vous Play is the perfect place for kids to have fun.
If you are looking for a quiet afternoon to relax, the Beau Soleil Pool is the place to go. Relax in the comfortable chaise lounge chairs and enjoy the shimmering waters in this luxurious pool. Disney’s Riviera also has a private beach area where you can enjoy an even more peaceful atmosphere.
In addition to its beautiful pools, the resort also has a fitness center for all your exercise needs!
Amenities at Disney’s Riviera Resort are pretty standard for a hotel. They include parking, Wi-Fi access, and a housekeeping service. When it comes to parking, it is important to note that standard overnight self-parking is available to guests for a fee. Parking for Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts is $25 a night, while valet parking is available for $33 a night.
Disney’s Riviera Resort Overview
There are pros and cons to this resort. If you’re looking for an elegant, modern, fully updated resort to stay during your next trip to Disney World, Disney’s Riviera Resort is the place. Most rooms do average over $500 a night, and while that doesn’t make it the most expensive property in which to stay, it is also not the most affordable. If you are planning on spending a lot of time at Hollywood Studios or Epcot, using the Skyliner at the Riviera as transportation is very easy.
Those who are planning on spending most of their time at Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom may find that this property is a bit far. The food at Disney’s Riviera is to die for; it has some of the best restaurants on property! All in all, with its lush landscape, beautiful views, and delicious dining experiences, this deluxe resort will exceed your expectations.
Grand Floridian Resort: Ultimate Deluxe Experience
Let’s think of Disney’s Riviera Resort vs Grand Floridian. If I could use one word to describe Disney’s Grand Floridian, “grand” would certainly be that word. The resort features Victorian architecture, with its steep, gabled roofs, towers, decorative woodwork, and bright, bold colors. The palm trees, the bright green lawn, and the sheer size of the resort will take your breath away when you first set eyes on it. This lavish resort transports guests to a sophisticated, timeless atmosphere.
When you step foot into the lobby, you are greeted by giant, glittering chandeliers and a grand staircase that would make anyone feel like royalty. There is a grand piano on which live musicians play Disney music, which adds an extra magical flair guests will love. The entire resort has an exquisite fairytale ambiance.
The grandness of Disney’s Grand Floridian extends beyond its inside. The gorgeous landscape offers the perfect walking path to get you to and from the parks, and the iconic white frame buildings with red roofs will be a great place to call home during your Disney World vacation. The entire atmosphere of Disney’s Grand Floridian is elegant, stunning, and simply majestic.
Pricing at Disney’s Grand Floridian
Between Disney’s Riviera Resort and the Grand Floridian, the Grand Floridian is the more expensive option. Room rates at the Grand Floridian range from about $790-$4300, where guests can choose from rooms and suites with Club Level Services as well as rooms and suites without these services. There are many options of rooms and suites with Club Level Service, such as rooms with theme park views, panoramic views of resort grounds, views of the courtyard pool or the lagoon, or even a view of Cinderella’s Castle!
The rooms and suites that do not offer Club Level Service feature views of the garden, lagoon, pool areas, or Magic Kingdom Park. Most of the rooms and suites sleep up to five adults, with the most being able to sleep up to eight, making any one of them a great option for a medium to large sized family!
The amenities of the rooms and suites are comparable to most hotel services. They include a patio or balcony, small refrigerator, flatscreen TV, bathrobes, and a coffee maker. Those with Club Level Service can enjoy complimentary health club access and access to the club-level lounge in addition to all other room amenities.
The rooms and bathrooms themselves are spacious, but do not offer a lot of storage space. While they are gorgeous, the rooms and suites are a bit outdated and could use a little bit of a refresh. Despite this, you can still feel the magic and enjoy beautiful views, lots of room space, and a luxurious experience.
Grand Floridian Restaurants
When it comes to restaurants, Disney’s Grand Floridian has you covered! With a total of 11 restaurants inside of the resort, there is certainly no shortage of dining options.
For an amazing American fine-dining experience, head to Citricos. The whimsical details of this restaurant are inspired by Mary Poppins Returns, bringing guests into a beautiful garden scene that is influenced by the film’s animated scenes. Must-haves at Citricos include the strawberry salad and the roulade of chicken. Or try the house made rigatoni that is made from a tomato! You can also stop by the Citricos lounge for a pre-dinner glass of wine.
The Enchanted Rose lounge is the perfect place to unwind after a long day at the parks. Inspired by Beauty and the Beast, you will notice some familiar characters as well as a stunning chandelier that resembles the flow of Belle’s iconic ball gown. The unique cocktails even pay homage to the Disney classic. If you are craving seafood, Narcoossee’s at the Grand Floridian is the place to go. Grab a table on the water and enjoy the spectacular views and be sure to check out the Finding Nemo-inspired sculpture made out of chocolate!
The Grand Floridian Cafe offers casual American dining for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You cannot miss this cafe for breakfast, as it features the brioche French toast and the classic Mickey Mouse waffle. Lounging at one of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort two gorgeous pool areas? Check out Beaches Pool Bar and Grill or the Courtyard Pool Bar!
Beaches Pool Bar and Grill offers lunch and bar service poolside or even by the sandy beach. Enjoy a tropical cocktail at Courtyard Pool Bar, which also features a ping-pong table and two TVs for added entertainment. If you are looking for a quick bite to eat, Gasparilla Island Grill offers casual dining, fast service American food.
While 1900 Park Fare, Victoria and Albert’s, and the Garden View Tea Room are dining options at the Grand Floridian, they are temporarily unavailable during this time. Overall, the dining options at this resort are incredible! Even if you are not staying at Disney’s Grand Floridian, you will want to eat at least one of these fantastic restaurants during your time at Disney World.
Transportation at the Grand Floridian
The easy access to the parks is a major pro for the Grand Floridian. Just like Disney’s Riviera Resort, the Grand Floridian offers the Disney bus, Disney’s Minnie Van by Lyft (temporarily unavailable), and Disney’s Magical Express until January 1, 2022.
In addition to those transportation options, Disney World parks are just a leisurely boat ride away upon the grand ferryboat. The Monorail is another choice for quick and complimentary transportation straight to Magic Kingdom. You can even enjoy a convenient walk to the parks via Disney’s Grand Floridian walking path! If you are planning on spending a lot of time at Magic Kingdom, the Grand Floridian is for you. Easy access to this park is provided by boat, Monorail, or walking path.
The Grand Floridian’s Amenities
The amenities and recreation options at Disney’s Grand Floridian are very impressive. It offers some of the same amenities as Disney’s Riviera resort, such as parking, Wifi, and housekeeping, as well as an ATM, banking services, laundry and dry-cleaning services, mail services, and a health club.
There are two large pool areas at the resort: the Beach Pool and the Courtyard Pool. The Beach Pool overlooks the Seven Seas Lagoon, and it features a 181-foot-long water slide both kids and adults will love! Don’t forget about Beaches Pool Bar and Grill if you want to grab a refreshment. Adjacent to the pool is a splash play area perfect for small children. Cabanas are available to rent at the Beach Pool as well. The heated Courtyard Pool offers a more peaceful setting, perfect for unwinding after a long day. It also features a whirlpool spa!
The Electrical Water Pageant is on display on the Seven Seas Lagoon every evening. During this spectacular light show, watch sea creatures sail across the water to the music of Disney. Enjoy the perfect viewing place of this show from the comfort of Disney’s Grand Floridian! To better plan for this experience, be sure to check out the My Disney Experience App.
In addition to the amenities listed above, the Grand Floridian has tons of recreational activities. Seriously, you could plan an entire day outside of the parks just participating in all the recreation this resort has to offer! Recreational activities include motorized boat rentals, fishing, specialty cruises, arcade games, basketball courts, jogging trails, and campfire activities. You can even enjoy a complimentary viewing of your favorite Disney movie with Disney’s Movies Under the Stars! The possibilities really are endless.
Disney’s Grand Floridian: In Conclusion
If you are looking for a magnificently luxurious experience during your Disney vacation, the Grand Floridian is for you. From its abundant array of amenities to the spectacular dining options, you really can’t go wrong at this resort.
Keep in mind that most rooms and suites average over $790 a night, living up to its deluxe resort name. It is a great place to stay if you are planning on spending lots of time at Magic Kingdom, and all the transportation options at the Grand Floridian really can’t be beat. While this resort may not be the best option for those on a budget, staying at Disney’s Grand Floridian is recommended if you’re wanting to splurge.
Best Disney World Hotel
It is difficult to say which Disney World hotel or resort is the best. Depending on your price range, distance to the parks, and overall desired experience, the choice is different for everyone. Both Disney’s Riviera Resort and Disney’s Grand Floridian provide deluxe, luxurious experiences.
For everything it offers, Disney’s Riviera Resort is the best place to stay to get the most bang for your buck. The fact that it is the newest hotel built makes it very appealing to guests.
The lush grounds, easy access to the parks via the Skyliner, the size and amenities of the villas, and the overall elegant ambiance can’t be beat. Between Disney’s Riviera Resort vs Grand Floridian, Disney’s Riviera Resort is the best Disney World Hotel in which to spend your next Disney World vacation!
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