We return to Disney’s Riviera Resort to visit the indoor and outdoor lounges of Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera, the new 10th floor rooftop restaurant at the Disney Vacation Club tower.
Topolino’s Terrace opens at 5pm nightly and offers an elegant signature dinner experience with seatings through 9:30pm.
For breakfast, Topolino’s serves a sit-down character meal that you may be interested in as well. You can pull up my review of that experience here. It’s certainly among the most glamorous and low-key ways to meet Mickey and the gang, but some people may still prefer the boisterousness and variety of food that something like the classic Chef Mickey’s buffet offers.
During dinner hours, there’s also first-come, first-served seating just inside the restaurant at the bar.
Seating is also available at the very long table in the middle of the lounge, and at the bench/comfy chair seating section over there on the left. A couple additional tables are also located on the far side of the restaurant near the windows.
But most people visiting Topolino’s Terrace in the evening are probably interested in the view outside. This is from one step outside the restaurant on the terrace itself.
Out here is a second cocktail lounge with a dedicated bar straight across that blends in well with the scenery. Amusingly(?), the views from the lounge seats aren’t great considering more than half of the chairs are looking away from the water/buildings/sky and instead at the back side of the restaurant. The view from the seats facing skyward are often obstructed by others and are so far back that you can’t see much other than the sky, anyway. In the picture, you can see a woman standing off at the railing on the right. Later in the evening, after drink service has begun, a lot more people will likely be standing there.
It’s sort of like at Narcoossee’s at the Grand Floridian Resort, where theoretically you should have a fireworks view from inside the restaurant, but people end up standing out on the public balcony, blocking everyone’s view from inside.
Much Wider: Here.
In other words, to truly enjoy this view, you’re going to have to stand up at the railing, whether you pick up your drink from the outdoor or indoor bar.
I wouldn’t specifically seek out Topolino’s Terrace for the view of any of the nighttime spectaculars, whether you’re considering a meal inside the restaurant or a drink at the lounge outside.
These are some of the more exciting parts of Epcot Forever, and you can see how far away and obscured the show is from back there. The show audio hasn’t been piped in to the speakers in my experience, so it would be impossible to follow much of the storyline, anyway.
The shows at Hollywood Studios are even further in the distance.
Our dinner went through each of the nighttime spectaculars, all of which were scheduled around 9pm, and we were free to head out to the terrace to watch at our leisure. If the restaurant was designed around seeing any of the nighttime spectaculars, then it would certainly be Epcot’s, which is the closest in proximity. But unless “Harmonious,” the show replacing Epcot Forever, packs a much larger punch, or the audio is at least piped in at an acceptable level, then I don’t think I’d recommend visiting Topolino’s Terrace for the fireworks view. It’s probably going to be a disappointing one.
While the outdoor terrace bar serves its own cocktail menu, most of the drinks are shared with the restaurant inside. During my visits, food hasn’t been available outdoors. At the lounge/bar area inside, the full restaurant food and drink menu would be available.
We’ll go through the drinks in the order that they appear on the outdoor menu:
Most of the bars that have opened up recently, including Topolino’s here, Enchanted Rose at the Grand Floridian Resort, and Dahlia Lounge at Gran Destino, have all offered an upscale, unique drink menu at prices that are typically higher than Disney’s standard bar menu, which is offered at just about every legacy lounge location on property. For years, Disney worked to homogenize the various bar menus, so that a guest who enjoyed a drink at a bar at the Contemporary could enjoy the same drink at dinner at Coral Reef at Epcot three days later. The fact that the new bars are opening with such different drink menus is probably a good sign for those of us who enjoy unique flavors. If you find a drink that you like, and you’re not sure if you’ll see it on another restaurant menu, snap a picture of the name and ingredients on the menu with your phone. Chances are that the next bartender you run into on property can whip something similar, or potentially even better, right up.
First up, we have the $14 “French Rose – Grey Goose Le Citron Vodka, Combier Crème de Pamplemousse Rose Liqueur, Raspberry, Agave, Lemon, Soda Water.” While the description sounds promising – we were expecting a ripe grapefruit presence in a nuanced, effervescent cosmopolitan. Instead, it tasted like cheap vodka mixed with Odwalla Lemonade. I know this in part because it’s what I’m drinking right now. Don’t let this dishearten you too much as virtually all of the other cocktails are going to impress.
The “$14 “Midi Spritz – Magellan Gin, Aperol, Grapefruit, Saint-Hilaire Blanquette de Limoux Brut” is up next. This is an interesting take on your standard Aperol Spritz, where the main ingredient would be prosecco, followed by the Aperol and soda water. Here, the Saint-Hilaire Blanquette de Limoux Brut, which is not as fancy of a bottle as the long name might imply, is supposed to provide the bubbles, while the gin is the main ingredient. It ends up being a pretty bitter, fizzy orange drink that will probably last a while in the glass with all of the ice. I didn’t get any of the strong floral presence or pepper heat that I usually expect from Magellan. Considering it’s a spendy bottle, there’s probably just a little sprtiz involved.
Fortunately for gin lovers, the $14 “Terrace Negroni – Malfy Original Gin, Campari, Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth” is next on the menu. Blending three quality ingredients together, this one is virtually all alcohol and packs a formidable punch. The vanilla in the very Italian vermouth, and how it plays with the orange citrus in the Campari, is what makes the drink particularly compelling. I feel like most people who order a Negroni know what they’re getting into, so I’ll just say that this is a competent rendition. Not for the faint of heart.
Page two takes us first to what may or may not be an Italian take on a Paloma, followed by three whiskey-based cocktails.
The $19 “Mediterranean Paloma – Patrón Disney Select Barrel Añejo Tequila, Cointreau Noir, Aperol, Rosemary, Lemon, Grapefruit” is the second most-expensive cocktail on the menu.
This was one of our favorite cocktails of the night. It was balanced just right – never too sweet or too bitter – and with just enough of the rich agave flavors of the tequila showing past the fruit juices. Incredibly refreshing and substantially-sized too, which is nice considering the premium price, which I think is justified.
The $17 “Modern Fashioned – Knob Creek Rye Whiskey, Appleton Estate Reserve Blend Rum, Vanilla Bean, Bitters” is up next. The Rye Whiskey is most of what you’re going to taste here, which is just fine with me. The Jamaican Rum lends a little bit of a mild, honey caramel flavor, which is elevated by the aroma of the Vanilla Bean. A dash of Bitters helps balance everything out. It’s another sizable drink, which helps make the $17 ask more palatable. It’s virtually all alcohol and a big piece of square ice.
The $16 “Euro Manhattan – Gentleman Jack Whiskey, Amaro Averna, Coca-Cola, Aromatic and Orange Bitters” is up next. This one is the bitterest of the drinks that we’ve seen so far. Since “Amaro” means bitter in Italian, we shouldn’t be too surprised that the Amaro Averna is exactly that, with some caramel notes that lend themselves well to what’s just a little splash of the Coca Cola. The dominant flavor again is the Gentleman Jack with a lot of artificial citrus bitterness from the botanicals. Whether or not you like this one probably comes down to your personal tastes and how it’s prepared. Despite seeing a soda as the third ingredient, this is far from a Jack and Coke.
Rounding out this page, we have the $17 “Boulevardier – Knob Creek Disney Select Single Barrel Bourbon, Campari, Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth.” This is basically the Negroni made with the Knob Creek Bourbon instead of the Gin. If you’re trying to impress someone at home without needing to seek out special syrups that don’t actually exist or concerning yourself about whether or not you’re bruising the mint during the muddling process, then something like this is a good compromise. It tastes much more complex than you’d expect given the fact that it’s three ingredients mixed together in equal parts, perhaps with a heavier pour on the Bourbon. The drink, which balances sweet, bitter, and boozy nicely, is actually really trendy right now. Plus it’s served in this fun-looking glass.
Moving on to the next page.
This is the $18 “Pomo d’Oro Cocktail – Elijah Craig 12 yr Small Batch Bourbon, Busnel VSOP Pays d´Auge Calvados, Lillet Blanc, Brown Butter Tincture, Demerara Sugar.” This was probably the most elegant drink that we were served that evening, mixing a number of high-end ingredients together to create a nicely-balanced bourbon cocktail with just enough fruit and sugar to raise the flavor profile of the Elijah Craig even more. It’s a smooth, strong cocktail that packs a much bigger punch than you’d expect from the mild apple, pear, and apricot flavors. Really good.
The $15 “Aristocrat – Busnel VSOP Pays d´Auge Calvados, Couvoisier VS Cognac, Benedictine, Aromatic Bitters” is sweet, smooth, and not tremendously different than the cocktail we just saw. This one is a little more herbal, a little less sweet, and served in a much taller glass.
Fortunately, this is the last page.
The $16 “Frizzante Anise Brezza – Ricard Pastis de Marseille, Cointreau Noir, Lillet Blanc, Honey, Lemon, Nino Franco Rustico Prosecco Superiore” is a mild and refreshing lemonade with hints of licorice covered up by fizzy sparkling wine and honey. You might save this one for a warmer evening outside, or if you’re looking to nurse something that will take a while to drink.
Next up is the $21 “Champagne Cocktail – Moët & Chandon Impérial Brut, Aperol, Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth.”
Very fancy. Very fancy. Personally, I think I’d take a bottle of the Champagne at the $80 price, but your money here buys you some Aperol for color and some bitter citrus, and the Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth for the aromatics and a little vanilla.
The $17 “Sazerac VS – Courvoisier VS Cognac, Ricard Pastis de Marseille, Peychaud’s Bitters, Sugar” was excellent, blending the sweet caramel of the Courvoisier with the woodsy botanicals and intense anise of the Racard Pastis. I’m a big Sazerac guy and this was my favorite cocktail of the evening. If only it was closer to $12. With tax and tip, you’re looking at a $21+ drink.
Overall, it’s certainly an elevated cocktail menu that may be a little too Italian for some with all of the vermouth, bitters, and liqueurs. Of course, the bar is fully-stocked, so they can whip you up a margarita, cosmopolitan, or just about anything else.
You’ll find five draft beers available:
Jai Alai has become ubiquitous on property and the Funky Buddha Floridian Hefeweizen is also quite good. For a traditional lager, the Peroni or Kronenbourg are fine, though the $9.50 price point on the 1664 is surprising, considering it’s not usually priced at a premium.
Birrificio Le Baladin beers are worth the extra couple of dollars – particularly on the 9% ABV Leon.
I’d probably get that Nino Franco.
The Chappelle Mountain Cuvee is also very good, and the price isn’t terrible compared to the ~$35 retail.
It’s always nice to see the prices, but they’re pretty rough. Hence those $20 drinks.
Even my personal go-to, a Double CC on the rocks, is up to like $13.25.
We’ve also got some hot beverages and some mocktails:
I guess you could bring your own rum for the $13 Garden Mint Soda.
What you see above is the menu that’s provided at the outdoor lounge.
Here’s what the drink menu looks like on the main menu:
It should cover just about everything we’ve seen.
Overall, Topolino’s indoor and outdoor lounges are nice ways to relax, potentially with some great views, food, and drink. Personally, I think I would order a couple of drinks from the outdoor bar, pay for them, and sit on the comfy lounge chairs for about half of the drink. Then I’d head over to the railing to enjoy the view for a bit. On the indoor lounge front, since there aren’t any specials or items unique to that space, I’d probably opt for a dinner reservation unless I was planning on just sharing drinks and an appetizer or two. You don’t get a tremendous feel for the restaurant from the front of it, and only about 10% of the seats enjoy views outside.
But the addition is certainly a nice one, and the resort is relatively convenient on the Disney Skyliner, just one stop away from Epcot and only one easy transfer at the Caribbean Beach Resort from Hollywood Studios.