A month late is better than never, right? One of the only farming season vacations we plan in advance is the first week of August. This is the best week of the farming season for us to leave even if it isn’t raining because the crops are getting ready for harvest and requiring less attention. It also happens to be our 4th child Belle’s birthday week since her birthday is August 1. So every year for the last 3 years we have gone to Disney World for Belle’s birthday.
This year we stayed at Disney’s Riviera Resort in a 2 bedroom villa. These villas are amazing! They can sleep up to 9 adults and feature a stocked full size kitchen, dining table, living room, 2 full bathrooms, and a full size washer & dryer. The main bedroom has a king size bed. The living room has a queen size Murphy bed and a twin size Murphy bed. The second bedroom has 2 queen beds.
Here’s a little secret about the Riviera resort: when choosing rooms you are given the option of a standard view room or a more expensive preferred view. Standard view rooms are on the front of the resort and have views of the parking lot and bus stop. Preferred view rooms are on the back of the resort and have views of the pool and Skyliner. So it sounds obvious that the more expensive preferred view rooms would be a better choice but not necessarily. The secret is that the standard view rooms face Epcot so you can see the Epcot ball from them and watch the Epcot fireworks at night. I’m not one to splurge on a better view when we aren’t in the room much so we have stayed in 3 separate standard view rooms at the Riviera in different room categories and on different floors and all of them have had Epcot views and I’d rather watch the fireworks from my room than look at the pool anyway!
If you’ve been following us for a while you might remember that we stayed at the Riviera as soon as it opened and it left a bad taste in our mouth. Since then the resort has worked out some of its opening kinks and has become one of our favorites and we’ve been back 2 more times. I do think it has one of the best pools on property for small children. Yach/Beach Club gets all the credit for its massive pool but it’s lacking in a great splash pad. Riviera has an awesome splash pad for the littles and a big slide in the main pool for everyone. As long as your kids can go down the slide alone there is no height restrictions on the big slide. Even my 2yo loves to fly down it and she has no problem doing it alone. Actually on this trip Belle turned 3 and ditched her life jacket and started swimming all by herself without it even going down the slide! My only complaint with the Riviera is still the Skyliner. It is not open early enough to make it to other Skyliner resorts for breakfast reservations and it is frequently shut down due to weather. This is no fault of Disney’s, they can’t control the weather, but it rains every day in Florida in the summer and when the Skyliner has to be shut down every time it rains that means it’s down for hours daily. We actually only rode the Skyliner twice the entire 8 days of this trip because it was closed all the time. The good news is when the Skyliner is down there are buses running but buses do take longer and are crowded and chaotic.
Something we love about the Riviera that keeps us coming back is their rooftop restaurant Topolino’s Terrace. Topolino’s has a character breakfast with Mickey, Minnie, Daisy & Donald. Oh and the sausage hash is back! It was removed from the menu for a while but it’s back now and is so good! Topolino’s is also great for dinner. Reservations are really hard to get at anytime of the day but always check regularly because people seem to cancel a lot last minute! They also have a very small walk up list that can usually accommodate one or two parties but you have to get there as soon as they open! We were able to get on the walk up list for breakfast twice and dinner once during this stay!
For Belle’s birthday we always spend the day at Magic Kingdom and have dinner at Be Our Guest. It’s our favorite MK park restaurant and since she loves Beauty and the Beast it’s a must for us! In the past we have always ordered her Mickey celebration birthday cake ahead of time and linked it to our reservation because they have limited quantities at each restaurant each day but they are no longer doing this. Now you just tell the hostess when you check in and hope they still have some left. I personally was very irked by this new system but thankfully they still had a cake for us that evening.
There are still no fastpasses at Disney right now (they’re coming back this fall as a paid service) so the lines were incredibly long. Since we are Annual Passholders, come regularly and had 8 days on this trip we were in no rush to cram in a bunch of park time and since the lines for everything were so long and that’s really hard to do with littles, we actually only spent half of each day in the park and half of the day in the pool. This worked out really well for us and the kids really enjoyed it.
For the first time in years we do not have another Disney trip on the books. Our Annual Passes expire in September and we don’t plan to renew them. We will be back to Disney next year for sure but since it’s harvest on the farm now and we have other plans for this coming winter it would be next spring before we’re able to go again and paying for an AP for 6 months that we wouldn’t use just doesn’t make sense. So it’s see ya next year Disney for us!