Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Day Visit Review of Disney's Hilton Head Resort

Last Wednesday was my birthday and my husband wanted to do something special to honor the occasion.  So, he decided he wanted to take me to Savannah.  Of course, I knew how close Savannah was to Disney's Hilton Head Resort, which is located in South Carolina, so I strongly suggested that we also make a stop there, just to check out the resort and see what it was all about.

Disney's Hilton Head, much like Disney's Vero Beach are two places that get talked about a lot in the Disney community, but hardly anyone has actually been. To me, it's kind of like a Disney Holy Grail, because typically, you aren't planning a special trip for that resort unless you live in the area or you are a Disney Vacation Club Member. (Since it's a DVC Resort.). I knew, being so close, I had to finally see what the place I'd long heard about, was actually like.

One thing I noticed when researching a little about the resort, is there really isn't a whole lot written about the resort.  That includes on Disney's own website.  A lot of questions went unanswered until we actually showed up.

One of those was what will happen when we arrive?  Typically when entering a Disney Resort, we're being grandly ushered in, however, this entrance was totally nondescript.  There was a sign that indicated the resort, and a bridge to drive down, but otherwise that was it.  There was no guard shack or anything.  We actually parked in a communal parking lot and walked the bridge (which you will later see, walking around is par for the course here.)

There is also a main lobby area, known as the Live Oak Lodge, but it's not like what us Disney fans expect.  It isn't this grand lobby.  In fact, the check-in area was small.  There was the dog house for Shadow (the dog who resides at the property) outside the main front door, and a game room/family room area where you could relax, but it would seem that most of the action at this resort would take place elsewhere.

One of the other burning questions we had was what was there to eat.  We arrived to the resort at about 5:00 p.m. with every intention of grabbing a meal.  It was actually the whole purpose of driving over.  However, Disney's website didn't mention much about dining there, only that they had dinner available, but seasonally.  I figured, this was summer, after all, and the resort seemed to be hopping.  Surely they would have a place to eat dinner.  I quickly found out that wasn't the case. With the exception of select weekends, there is no sit-down dining here.  Even the quick service snack counter closed at 5:00 p.m. (We had JUST missed it.)

We walked back to the Live Oak Lodge section after exploring the resort, realizing that the resort had no where to eat. We were quickly informed that there was a great boardwalk area across way (over the bridge we had walked over to get there) and there were lots of shops and restaurants we could explore.  So back over the bridge we went.

Given that it was my birthday and I wanted something special, we decided on Scott's Fish Market.  I got the Parmesan Crusted Scallops, which were quite delicious.After dinner, we walked back to the resort, because we hadn't really gotten a great look at it before (given how starving we had been when we pulled up.)

Now it was time to do some exploring.  The first thing we figured out is there are two sections to this resort.  There's the main section, where a pool, the Broad Creek Mercantile shop, the Tide Me Over quick snack eatery, and a lot of the activities take place.  There's also the Beach House, which is located about a mile away and guests can get to it by either biking (something that seems to be extremely popular to do in this area) or taking a bus. (Shuttle service runs every half hour, until 5:00 p.m....again, we had just missed getting to see the Beach House section.)  The Beach House houses a counter-service location called Signals, which is only open from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. and it's only open April - October.  There is also another pool located here for guests to swim in. Of course, the beach is right there too, if you'd prefer.

The resort overall reminds me a lot of Port Orleans Riverside's Alligator Bayou.  Each section appears to be very rustic and sort of folksy. That makes sense because the resort is actually themed around a 1940s fishing lodge.  Our favorite part was finding the hammocks that are tucked away throughout the resort.

For those who are looking for the action, they'll want to head over to the main section, where the pool area looks like it would be a lot of fun.  The Big Dipper Pool is a decent sized pool that features a water slide. There's also a hot tub area, as well as a little kids wading pool,  called the Little Dipper Pool.

Of course, where this place really shines is in its recreation.  There are a ton of things to do here, both included in the cost, as well as that cost extra.  There are billiards, Foosball, ping pong, a work out room, campfires and sing-alongs, and s'mores, crafts at Community Hall, fishing, bike rentals, golf, nature treks,  dolphin excursions, movie night, and much more! The number of activities is astounding.

As I mentioned previously, this is where you'll also find the Tide Me Over snack window and that's literally what it is...a window.  There are a few offerings for breakfast and lunch and tables are all outdoors, some are covered by umbrellas.  There's also a counter for guests to sit and dine at.

It really does amaze me that this is it in the way of dining for much of the year.  It also amazes me that it's only open until 5 p.m.  I would think that the guests staying here would be willing to grab dinner here or a snack or something, but I'm sure Disney has discovered that is simply not the case.

Connected to the snack bar is the Broad Creek Mercantile.  Here is where guests can pick up a few snacks, microwavable dinners, and of course, Mickey Bars! Guests can also shop here, with a small selection of Disney/Hilton Head/DVC merchandise. Outside the shop is where one of the Rapid Fill refillable mug stations is located.

I had to get a Mickey bar!

One of my favorite places to visit that evening was the Fishing Pole Pier. Guests can fish off the dock, but I enjoyed the bridge to walk down to the fishing pier the most. You see, the bridge is situated over the water and this particular evening featured a gorgeous sunset.  I honestly couldn't stop taking photos of it.

Disney's Hilton Head Resort is a fantastic place to go if you want to get away from it all for a few days.  With the fun that can be had at the main section, as well as enjoying a day or two at the beach/Beach House, it really is the perfect getaway.  To me, a long weekend would be just long enough, however, I can imagine, especially if you wanted to explore more of Hilton Head and the surrounding areas, you could certainly enjoy a full week there.

As for us, we absolutely want to stay here, after exploring the resort for a bit.  Hopefully we can get the chance during this Fall/Winter.  It's certainly right up our alley.  I get to have my Disney fix and and Brian gets the relaxation he so desperately craves.  It's win-win!

What are your thoughts?  Do you want to potentially stay here?  Have you stayed here before?  Let me know in the comments section or on the Facebook page.  Also, if you have any questions about the resort, feel free to ask them too and I'll try to answer to the best of my ability.  Since this is a resort that not a lot of people know about, I want to help those of you planning trips here have a successful trip.  I know that I learned a lot just from stopping in. 

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Ollie Glass said...

My wife, daughter(1.5), and I stayed here in May. The weather was beautiful and it wasn't very crowded. We are not DVC members, but like you needed a Disney fix and this certainly quenched that thirst. We stayed in a 2-bedroom villa. The room was recently updated and was very spacious. The views of the marsh were awesome but being situated on the first floor, could hear a lot of movement above us, which made it not as peaceful at night. We utilized the kitchen a ton with all the fresh seafood around (Kroger is down the street), but supplemented every morning with Mickey waffles and every night with a Mickey Ice Cream Bar. You can rent Disney movies for free at the mercantile which is awesome. We did the smores at the campfire, butterfly craft making, and the Shadow meet and greet which were all fantastic. The pool at the resort is great and the waterside as tons of fun. The pool at the beach is an odd H shape making it difficult to float around and the kiddie sections are pretty weak too. It would be great if they could improve/update that portion. However, having the pool, the ocean, and on site lunch option was overall very convenient. We are planning to go again in September when it cools off a little. Having a Disney-ish place a few hours from home is definitely awesome.

Unknown said...

I'm so glad that you enjoyed staying at Hilton Head! And thanks so much for sharing your review of staying there too!

Anonymous said...

Hey Rikki! The boardwalk area your are speaking of is called Shelter Cove. It's kind of the mid island hub of activity. We've been vacationing at HHI for years and you will so love spending more time there. It is the most most relaxing non Carribean island vacation you'll ever have. Best part is there is still plenty to do for the week all within a few minutes of any resort. Maybe we'll see ya down there some day!!!