Often times when we think of Disney we think about the rides, entertainment, and parks. What some of us don’t realize is that there is so much more to Disney that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the rides or the parks. Disney has properties in several different places with a water slide as the one any only attraction. Two such places are Disney’s Hilton Head Resort in Hilton Head, South Carolina and Disney’s Vero Beach Resort in Vero Beach, Florida.
I was lucky enough to visit Hilton Head for the first time at the end of September. I was restricted to staying by an outlet (doing a project for school) but still was able to enjoy some of Hilton Head’s wonderful amenities. My boyfriend on the other hand had ample time to explore some of the great things Hilton Head and the Hilton Head Resort had to offer. Here is his experience:
“Disney’s Hilton Head Resort is bordered by a marsh and a harbor. It is a quaint area quieter than you’d think with other resorts near by. Disney built this resort to resemble a 1940’s lowcountry vacation lodge. The story goes while building the resort the imagineers and construction crews were greeted everyday by a mischievous pup. They grew to love her and now she has a permanent home here at the resort. Everywhere you go you can find her footprints in the sidewalks, doggy doors, and a doghouse just for her. You may be lucky enough to meet her too.
Hilton Head is known for world-class golf courses, but if you didn’t come to the resort to play golf there is plenty of more to do, the resort offers kayaks, bikes and fishing poles to rent. There are also plenty of activities for the kids to participate in such as making shell necklaces, learning about the ecosystem of the marsh, and other arts and crafts. Hilton Head does a lot of nature and science type activities that tie in with its surroundings. No matter what you are interested in there’s plenty to keep you and your kids busy all day.
While staying at the resort if your goal is to relax then there is plenty of places to do so, may it be by the pool located near the villas, or just swinging in a hammock under the shade of the trees. When what you’re looking for is a little more excitement, hop on the bus that takes you across the main roadway to Disney’s Beach House, where you’ll find another pool as well as the Atlantic Ocean. While you’re at the beach house you can also go to the lounge (which is open seasonally), an arcade, and a snack bar. There is a small splash and play area for the kids to play in. They have ping pong tables for the families to play with as well.
One downfall of the resort is that there is no restaurants on property but Hilton Head Island makes up for that. On property there are two quick service stations, one located at the pool on property, the other at the Beach House. The pool quick service window is called Tide Me Over, it is open for breakfast and lunch. The Beach House quick service is called Signals and offers lunch. Both close early around 4pm. This is when venturing off property is highly recommended and the front desk Cast Members will be more than happy to help you find the perfect restaurant. It’s a beautiful island with lots of fantastic restaurants.
Overall the resort was great, quiet and very friendly and the island is a great place to explore and relax. I can’t wait for our next visit.”
Now for Disney’s other beach resort. Disney’s Vero Beach is one of my favorite, non-park area Disney resorts. If I think of going to Disney and just relaxing Vero Beach is my go to place. It is located right on the beach in Vero Beach. When you walk on the path behind the buildings you will see a few cottages, these are a part of the resort, which you can rent for up to 12 people. There are also studios and 1 or bed bedroom villas available as well. But if you continue on the path past the back lawn, where kids can learn to play croquet and other fun games with the activities Cast Members, you will come to a fork in the path. You can go left and walk onto the beach, straight to more villas, or right to the pool.
If you go left you will walk out onto the beach where you can rent jet skis, or rent beach chairs and umbrellas. You can walk up and down the beach with opportunities to see sea turtles, manatees, and even dolphins. If you going during the right time of year you may catch a sea turtles nest, or even better see some baby sea turtles make the long trek to the sea. The beach is open at all times with no lifeguards on duty. It is perfect for an early morning stroll or after dinner walk. If the sand isn’t exactly your cup of tea you can try the pool.
The pool features a pool slide, kiddy water play area, and mini golf course. There is a rental station at the pool where you can rent the golf clubs, tennis rackets, ping-pong paddles, shuffleboard equipment, and bikes. There is also a game room, and fitness center located off of the pool area. If you get hungry or thirsty from all the fun in the sun there is a window called Bleachers where you can get breakfast, lunch, or dinner plus drinks poolside. If sitting by the pool or the beach isn’t for you, Vero Beach Resort also features tennis courts and soccer fields. If you’re more of a sit back and relax type of person try out the spa for some of their phenomenal massages.
Now we already discussed Bleachers poolside but Vero Beach also offers two other restaurants and a bar. For casual dining there’s Shutters, which serves breakfast lunch and dinner. They do offer character breakfasts and dinners once a week as well to make it feel like your back at the parks. There is a more intimate dining area as well at Sonya’s. They are typically opened for dinner only except on the days that there is character dining for breakfast. Vero Beach also offers a bar called the Green Cabin Room, which is open in the afternoon; besides drinks they offer light foods to snack on.
If you want to stay on Disney property but be in a relaxing environment then Vero Beach Resort is for you. There is plenty to do and you don’t have to leave the property to do it. The best part is it never feels crowded. If you want to go off of the property but keep the Disney feel they even offer excursions where everything you need is provided for you. My dad and I took the Kayaking adventure. We did have to pay extra for it but it was well worth it. There are times on that trip that people see manatees while they’re kayaking, so close that if they wanted to they could have touched them. (My sister would want me to tell you to please not touch the manatees. They are wild creatures that should be admired from afar and to not disrupt their environment.) They also offer a fishing trip and bike hike. All excursions are lead by Disney Cast Members. For the younger ones there are activities held on property for them often times resulting in arts and crafts that make great souvenirs to take home.
So as you can see Disney offers two very beautiful and very unique beachside resorts. Depending on whether you are looking for a nice relaxing vacation that you stay on Disney property for, or if you would rather go exploring around the area, Disney has everything you may wish for. Each resort still offers the touch of Disney that you’re looking for but with a more secluded less crowded version. Now as some of you, if not all of you may know, Disney now has a resort located in Hawaii. It is called Aulani. Unfortunately I have not been able to make it there just yet. Until next time friends, have faith and trust, and go to one of Disney’s beachside resorts and get sprinkled in that pixie dust.
P.S. To any of my wonderful readers who feel so inclined to sponsor me on a research trip to Aulani I would be honored. I would then love to write all the wonderful details from a first hand experience.
Jess was born and raised on Long Island, New York but once college began so did her adventures. She’s lived in Florida, Wisconsin, and now South Carolina. Her family is part of the Disney Vacation Club and has been visiting since she was a little girl, and continuously goes every year. Besides being a big Disney fan she has also been a Disney Cast Member working in Magic Kingdom, and she counts it as one of the most magical experiences. She worked with everyone’s favorite elephant Dumbo, Cinderella’s Carousel, and Mickey’s Philharmagic. Jess has also visited Disneyland, Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, and gone on two Disney Cruises. She has so many great memories from Disney besides running half marathons and 5ks, birthday parties, and family reunions. If asked where she would want to go it is almost always Disney, and when asked why, it is almost always because she can eat awesome gluten free food! And it doesn’t hurt that there is always faith, trust, and pixie dust with magic in the air!