Staying on property at a Walt Disney World resort is something that we always encourage. There are so many amazing benefits for those staying at a Disney resort, from Magic Bands, a great variety of resort dining options, recreation, early FastPass selection, and more! This past week we were invited by Walt Disney World to experience lodging, some of the best resort dining options, tour rooms, and learn more about all of the offerings available to guests at Walt Disney World resorts. It was a blast, and we learned so much. While we’ll be sharing more in-depth reviews and planning articles from everything we learned, in the meantime, below is an overview of what we experienced during the first part of the Walt Disney World Resort Showcase.
1 – Disney’s Riviera Resort
Disney’s Riviera Resort is Walt Disney World’s latest resort that opened December 16, 2019. Inspired by Walt and Lillian Disney’s European travels, and Imagineered by Disney, the 15th Disney Vacation Club property that immerses guests in the grandeur and enchantment of the European Riviera. While this is home to many DVC guests, you don’t need to be a DVC member to stay here! As with any DVC property, this resort falls in the “Deluxe Villa” category and is an excellent option for families looking for more space or deluxe features with their lodging. We enjoyed the one-bedroom villa, and it was fantastic. The room was so spacious, had great home amenities, such as a stocked kitchen, fridge, oven, washer and dryer, and huge soaking tub. We thoroughly enjoyed our time at this beautiful resort and can’t wait to stay there again!
One great way to experience a DVC resort if you aren’t already a member is to rent points from someone who is. It’s surprisingly simple and can get you into a DVC villa at about the same price as a normal room. To learn more about renting DVC points for your next vacation click here. This is a travel partner of ours, and they have helped many of our readers rent DVC villas including our family. Learn More.
2 – Dinner at Topolino’s Terrace
Our first evening, we enjoyed a delicious dinner at Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera, which sits on the 10th floor of the Riviera resort, offering some fantastic views from the terrace. The restaurant’s name is taken from the Italian word for Mickey Mouse, “Topolino.” The menu serves a selection of fresh meats and seafood, handmade pastas and decadent desserts infused with French and Italian flavors. The wine list is sourced from the Mediterranean coast. Chad enjoyed the salmon, while I enjoyed the rigatoni. In fact, our group agreed the rigatoni was the clear winner of the night. Everyone in our group raved about how good it was! After dinner, we stepped out onto the terrace for some amazing views of Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, the Disney Skyliner, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Epcot. We really enjoyed our dining at Topolino’s and will be back! (Be on the lookout for our full review of Topolino’s, coming soon).
3 – Ale & Compass, Yacht Club Resort
Our next day began with breakfast at Ale & Compass at Yacht Club Resort. This breakfast experience was such a pleasant surprise. I enjoyed it so much and think it’s a fantastic value. This restaurant offers a buffet of “Assorted Breakfast Pastries, House-made Granola, Bagels, Parker House Rolls, Artisanal Cheeses, Charcuterie, Smoked Trout Dip, Assorted Spreads, Jellies, Preserves, Oatmeal with Traditional Garnishes, Biscuits and Gravy. Coffee, Tea, Juice, and Soft Drinks are included”. With the buffet, you select an entrée such as omelets, breakfast flatbreads, pancakes, chocolate waffles, or skirt steak. I chose the salted caramel apple French toast and fell in love. It was delicious and is undoubtedly in the top three best French toasts that I’ve ever had. The buffet costs $23, which is a great value. If you don’t want the buffet, you can just select an entree, which ranges from $12-17. If you’re looking for fantastic food and value for a sit-down breakfast, Ale & Compass is an excellent choice, particularly if you’ll be enjoying Epcot or Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
4 – Disney’s Yacht Club Resort & Beach Club Resort Tour
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort is designed after a New England-style yacht club that sits on Crescent Lake. It’s within walking distance to Epcot International Gateway and the Disney Skyliner Station, making it very easy to get to both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. (You can also take a short boat ride over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios). We had a chance to tour a standard room and the Turret Suite two-bedroom suite, which include Club Level service and a fantastic sunroom that had everyone talking. The rooms have been recently refreshed with hardwood floors and updated nautical theming. We’ll have more details about the rooms with tons of photos in our in-depth look at Yacht & Beach Club coming soon!
Yacht Club and Beach Club share many amenities, including Stormalong Bay, a 3-acre pool area that keeps guests coming back! The pool offers poolside cabana rentals, which are proving very popular with guests. The area includes a sand-bottomed pool, circular river, and one of the highest hotel waterslides at Walt Disney World—a life-sized shipwreck replica. There are also three whirlpool spas and three leisure pools at Disney’s Beach and Yacht Club Resorts if you are looking for a quieter experience.
We also quickly stepped into the very popular Beaches and Cream Soda Shop, which recently re-opened after a refurbishment that enlarged the space and updated the décor and menu. The restaurant looks fantastic. The art pieces were my favorite part. I can’t wait to dine here soon!
Finally, at Disney’s Beach Club, we learned about a newer offering for kids ages 4-12, Captain Hook’s Pirate Crew. This programmed experience for children reminds me of the type of experience kids can have at the Oceaneer Lab on a Disney Cruise. For this adventure, kids learn about pirates and go on a treasure hunt where they have to solve puzzles and gather clues before setting sail on a pirate cruise! This experience includes dinner, a pirate cruise, and kids can meet Captain Hook, making it an excellent value at $55. The experience is long enough at 3.5 hours to give parents a great date night while the kids enjoy their time. Call (407) 824-KIDS or (407) 824-5437 to book or for more information!
5 – Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground Tour
We then were treated to a tour of Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. We consider Fort Wilderness to be our home away from home! We’ve stayed there seventeen times and love everything about it! The resort sits on 750 acres of pine and cypress forest, which offer beautiful views and plenty of shade! Because the resort is so large, we toured the resort in golf carts, which are available to rent during your stay.
First, we toured a cabin. The cabins at Fort Wilderness are the perfect way to experience the campground if you don’t own your own trailer or RV. My sister and family have stayed in the cabins multiple times, and they love the experience. The cabins sleep six and offer a living room, bedroom, full bathroom, private patio, charcoal grill, and modern kitchen complete with a refrigerator, dishwasher, convection/microwave oven, and two countertop burners.
Next, we learned about all the fantastic recreation offerings at Fort Wilderness. We’ve experienced many of these over the years. They are so much fun! We’ve always encouraged guests, no matter where they are staying, to come over to Fort Wilderness for a day of fun. Some of the activities we’ve enjoyed over the years include a canoe ride, the jogging trails, movies under the stars, boat rentals, and Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Campfire Sing-a-Long. No matter what you choose, you’ll have a lot of fun at Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. We’ll have more details about the cabins, campsites, and recreation options with tons of photos in our in-depth look at Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground coming soon!
From Fort Wilderness, we took a boat over to Wilderness Lodge. Fort Wilderness offers water transportation to Magic Kingdom Park, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. It was a chilly day, but we enjoyed it all the same.
6 – Whispering Canyon Cafe, Wilderness Lodge
Lunch at Whispering Canyon Café is always such a fun time. The fun and antics that have made Whispering Canyon Café famous are still around, so just be careful if you ask for ketchup! For lunch, we enjoyed the All-You-Care-To-Enjoy Signature Skillet that includes: Maple-Chipotle Barbecued Slow-smoked Pork Ribs, Barbecued Pulled Pork, Citrus-Herb Chicken, Smashed Potatoes, Buttered Corn, Charred Carrots, Roasted Peppers, Sautéed Green Beans. There is also a plant-based skillet available. Other sandwiches and entrees are available. The cornbread here is still delicious, and the favorite part of my meal! Save room for dessert, because the Whispering Canyon Pioneer Chocolate Cake is a steal at $8. One piece of cake can easily feed your whole family! Learn more about dining at Whispering Canyon Café by clicking here.
7 – Wilderness Lodge and Copper Creek Cabins Tour
After lunch, we enjoyed touring the beautiful Wilderness Lodge and the Copper Creek Villas & Cabins. We toured one of the twenty-six waterfront cabins with wraparound porches. These cabins are amazing, offering gorgeous views of Bay Lake and Disney’s Contemporary Resort. The cabins sleep up to 8 people and offer all the comforts of home. The design is uniquely Disney and fits perfectly with the theming of Wilderness Lodge. We also toured a Deluxe Studio room and a two-bedroom villa, both of which offer beautiful themed rooms and extras that make a stay at Walt Disney World perfect. Wilderness Lodge is conveniently located to Magic Kingdom and the monorail resorts. The Pacific Northwest theme set it apart from other resorts making it one of our favorite resorts to stay at!
Once again, while Copper Creek Villas & Cabins is a DVC property, non-DVC members are welcome to stay here and can rent points to do so. Click here to learn more about renting DVC points. We’ll have more details about the cabins and rooms with tons of photos in our in-depth look at Wilderness Lodge coming soon!
8 – All-Star Movies Resort Tour
One of the things we love at Walt Disney World is they offer a resort room for all types of budgets. We toured All-Star Movies, a value resort, providing a more economical way to plan a vacation. However, just because it is a value resort doesn’t mean you are losing out! The fun movie theming, amenities, and room décor make a stay at a value resort just as fun! One of the things the World Premiere Food Court is known for is amazing cupcakes, and we got to see some of the current offerings. The Fantasia themed pool is also a lot of fun, as well as the 35-foot tall Perdita statue and a 40-foot tall Pongo statue near the resort rooms. We toured a standard room with one queen bed and one queen-size table bed (a table bed is a table by day and a bed by night)! We love the fact that you can hide the queen table bed during the day, making the space really functional for a family up to four. The décor is also a lot of fun! We’ll have more details about the rooms with tons of photos in our in-depth look at the All-Star Resorts coming soon!
9 – Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort Tour
We then headed to Disney’s Coronado Springs and toured a newly updated room in the Casitas section of the resort. Check-in services are now located at the Gran Destino Tower. The adjacent convention center offers a great way to access the Casitas by allowing guests to stay covered and indoors for most of the way to the dining area of the resort. The standard rooms have all been refurbished. If you’re a fan of the Three Caballeros, then you’ll love the design of this room! We then walked over to Villa Del Lago, which offers excellent drinks and views of Gran Destino Tower.
10 – Toledo – Tapas, Steak & Seafood, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
We ended our time at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort with dinner at Toledo – Tapas, Steak & Seafood. Since the restaurant is on the 16th floor of the tower, the views are amazing. The restaurant is named for the storied Spanish city home to avant-garde writers and artists of the 1920s and ’30s. The Spanish-inspired menu features entrees like chuletón, a 32-ounce, Spanish-style ribeye for two, as well as sustainable seafood and classic Spanish sides. It’s all served in a setting that features live olive trees, vibrant colors, and an intricate vaulted ceiling with stained-glass accents. There’s also an onstage tapas kitchen inspired by the flavors of Spain, specializing in small plates, charcuteríá, and cheeses. I enjoyed the Manhattan Steak, and Chad enjoyed the Black Grouper. The tapas were delicious and dessert amazing. I also really enjoyed the house-made seasonal sangria. It was delicious! Everyone in our group enjoyed the meal immensely. Click here to read our review of Toledo – Tapas, Steak & Seafood.
11 – Disney’s Minnie Van Service
After dinner, we enjoyed a ride back to Disney’s Riviera Resort in a Minnie Van. Minnie Vans are a relaxing and quick way to travel across Walt Disney World Resort, from resort hotels to theme parks to Disney Springs and points in between. Minnie Van drivers are Disney cast members who are knowledgeable and friendly, ensuring guests get where they need to go safely and easily. Each van holds up to six passengers and comes equipped with two children’s car seats. Vans can also accommodate guests with wheelchairs and motorized vehicles (additional wait times may occur). It’s such a convenient way to travel from one Disney Resort to another. If you’re traveling between resorts, or if the thought of another bus ride is just too much, Minnie Vans are a great option.
12 – Disney Skyliner to Epcot
After we returned to Disney’s Riviera Resort, we had just enough time to get to Epcot to see the Epcot Forever nighttime spectacular. Disney’s Riviera Resort has its own Disney Skyliner station, making it easy to get to Epcot quickly. Our travel time to Epcot was just about eight minutes—much faster than taking a bus or driving. We walked around World Showcase and enjoyed the show. It was a great way to end the evening. After the show, we joined the crowd and headed to Epcot International Gateway to ride the Skyliner back to Riviera. We waited for about seven minutes to get on the Skyliner. Our ride back was another 8 minutes. We couldn’t believe we got back to our resort in just fifteen minutes even with the rush of people leaving all at once! We love the Disney Skyliner, and our experience that night made us love it even more!
More from our Resort Showcase coverage:
Editor’s Note: Disney Parks, Experiences and Products provided us a complimentary three-night stay at Disney’s Riviera Resort that included media-specific tours and dining experiences. However, as always, the thoughts and opinions contained in this article are entirely our own.
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