Looking for Disney magic but a little bit more low key? You don’t have to head to the Walt Disney World Resort or theme parks to see Mickey. There are beautiful Disney Vacation Club resorts right on the Atlantic Ocean. We share why you’ll love Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort in South Carolina’s Low Country.
If you’ve been strictly a Disney theme park visitor you may think Disney’s only beach resort is the Beach Club in Florida. What if we told you you could enjoy miles of heavenly beaches, golf courses, the attention of Disney cast members, and spectacular pools without the hustle and bustle of Orlando. Disney’s Vero Beach Resort and Disney Hilton Head offer pixie dust with a side of relaxation. Here’s what one of our writers loved about her vacation and why she’d choose it again!
Reasons to Choose Disney Hilton Head
Our family went to Walt Disney World for the first time a year ago and we loved it so much we have become one of “those” people who are planning their next Disney trip before the current one is over. The kids were 3 and 5 and felt like the perfect age for it. My husband and I had never been to Disney so it was so special to see it for the first time together as a family.
As I was immersing myself in all things Disney I learned Disney actually has resorts outside of its parks. We made the 16 hour drive from our home outside Houston and visited the beautiful Disney Hilton Head Resort property in South Carolina and were able to explore an incredible new place and still experience the Disney Magic we’ve grown, let’s face it, addicted to.
Disney Hilton Head is a casually elegant resort fashioned after a 1940’s hunting and fishing lodge and features 12 miles of picturesque Atlantic beaches. Location-wise, Disney’s Hilton Head Resort is a little over 20 miles from Savannah and just under 100 miles from Charleston. In case you’re wondering, Disney Hilton Head is 340 miles (5 hours-ish) from Walt Disney World. Here’s four reasons Disney Hilton Head is a magical vacation destination.
Disney Hilton Head Island Resort Layout and Amenities
It’s important to clarify the layout of the resort. There are technically two parts to Disney Hilton Head- the main resort building (The Live Oak Lodge) located at 22 Harbourside Lane and Disney’s Beach House which is about 1 mile away on 3.5 acres of Atlantic Ocean Beachfront. You can get from the resort to Disney’s Beach House in three ways- drive, take the shuttle, or a 1.25 mile bike path. It’s important to note that the Disney Hilton Head Island Resort itself isn’t directly on the beach.
Like most Disney resorts you’ll find familiar recreation and amenities like a fitness center, pools, a general store (Broad Creek Mercantile Shop) for items you might need, laundry services, and free wifi. The resort also features a community hall where you can gather with family and make new friends. Conveniently located across the street from Live Oak Lodge is Shelter Cove Towne Center with shopping and dining options galore.
Unlike most other Disney resorts self-parking is free. Unique amenities and recreation available at Hilton Head include tennis courts, golfing, grills, and guided nature walks.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Learn how renting DVC points could lower the cost of your stay!
The Villas at Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort
The resort offers three room types from deluxe studios that sleep 4 all the way up to Grand Villas- three bedroom villas (there are 5 on property). We rented a 2 bedroom villa and we could have just moved right in and never left. The villa had a large master bedroom retreat with a soaker tub and shower and large flat screen TV.
The second bedroom was surprisingly spacious and the kids made it their own little home away from home. It featured two queen beds, a full bath with shower and tub, spacious closet with pack and play, plenty of storage, and another flat screen TV for watching Disney Junior after a fun filled day.
The living area was comfy and well-appointed, and felt very much like an apartment. There was plenty of seating to relax, another large TV, and the sofa and chair are both pull out sleepers.
I love to cook and Disney Hilton Head features a full kitchen that is completely stocked. We grabbed some things at the local grocery store and I whipped up some easy money saving meals. There are a few local grocery stores in Hilton Head but they are very protective of local business so there aren’t many big chains. The Mercantile at the resort does have some groceries but of course those are pricier.
There is a dining area right off the kitchen, but our favorite place to eat our meals was the very large balcony with picnic table and beautiful view of the wetlands.
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Disney Hilton Head features studio, one bedroom, two bedroom villas, and Grand Villas and are priced comparable with a moderate WDW resort. The villas also come with a washer and dryer and a mudroom entrance area which was super handy when we came back from the beach wet and sandy.
Disney Hilton Head Island Resort has three pools to choose from- and wow is it hard to choose! The Big Dipper and The Little Dipper are located at the main resort area.
The Big Dipper is a 72,000 gallon heated pool and spa with a water slide reminiscent of an old school swimming hole. The pool is smaller than the pools we’ve experienced at WDW but there’s plenty of room for having fun and it’s well maintained to Disney standards.
The Little Dipper pool is located directly next to The Big Dipper and is perfect for the little ones. It’s a small shallow pool with spitting frogs that the kids will love.
The third pool is at the Disney Hilton Head Beach Club. Towels are provided at this H-shaped pool. It is important to note that the Disney Beach is actually across the street from the main resort. There were resort shuttles to take us back and forth but we piled into our van and made the less than mile drive over.
Hilton Head has a beautiful beach and is a charming coastal town. It’s been named one of the top South Carolina vacation destinations (by Home Away) which is why Disney chose to build their resort there. They have created a wonderful beach club for their guests to enjoy.
As I mentioned, the beach club is not directly at the resort but across the road on the beach side. Whether you take the handy shuttle or the trusty mini van as we did, you’re certain to have a magical beach day. The beach house has cozy furniture to take a break from the sun, Foosball tables, and a large screen TV.
Disney’s Beach Club is also where the third of the resort pools is located. In addition to the Surfmen’s Station (an air-conditioned lounge), there are restrooms, changing rooms, a concession stand, and chairs for lounging. Indoor games are available as well. We opted to take the short boardwalk down to the beach for splashing and sandcastle fun.
We had never been to an Atlantic beach but were hooked right away. Disney Hilton Head has a beautiful, clean beach with great sand for making castles and blue waters made for splashing.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Did you know that Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort is part of Disney’s unique timeshare program, Disney Vacation Club? Learn more about DVC membership in our full post.
Dining at Disney’s Hilton Head
Dining options at this resort are a little different than other Disney properties. You aren’t going to find character meals or sit down options. Also, some of the options are seasonal so always check before you visit! At the main resort property you’ll find a snack bar Tide Me Over. You can place pickup order for Carolina favorites, sandwiches, and salads. For sit down meals or dinner you’ll head across the street to Shelter Cove Town Center which features cuisine ranging from seafood (of course) to Latin American to French Bakery. If you’re over at the Beach Club you can grab lunch or a snack at Signals.
The Activities at Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort
Like the other Disney properties, there is no shortage of fun activities for families at Disney Hilton Head. They have everything from Disney movies by the pool, bike rentals, campfires and s’mores, crafts, Goofy bingo, and even fishing, crabbing or dolphin watching. Disney Hilton Head also has a large DVD library of (what else?) Disney movies for just relaxing in the villa.
Another important thing to note about Disney Hilton Head is that there are no characters to meet and no character dining.
We also did the Backyard BBQ while there. The BBQ is seasonal and does sell out so definitely purchase tickets upon check in at the front desk or ahead of time. It was held poolside and had burgers, hot dogs, brisket, beans, potato salad, apple pie and watermelon- all the things you would want at a backyard BBQ. The kids could also participate in pirate makeovers with bandanas, face painting and eye patches.
Wherever we go, we try to take the kids to a museum as a hands on way to experience local history and culture. Hilton Head was no different. We visited the Coastal Discovery Museum which was a fun and educational way for the whole family to learn about Low Country Life.
We also did a dolphin watching cruise that featured a fireworks finale. Hilton Head does fireworks once per week throughout the summer. Check when you’re booking to make sure there are fireworks offered that day.
The Disney parks are their own special brand of magic and we can’t wait to return. But now we know Disney magic is not just for the parks. With amazing accommodations, great pools, beautiful beaches and fun activities, Disney Hilton Head Island Resort had us saying, “See ya real soon!”