You may not find Dumbo, a Yeti, or a Star Wars empire – but you WILL find that magical Disney touch on an island just 340 miles north of Walt Disney World. “Welcome Home” to Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort! Located in South Carolina, Hilton Head Island is a beachgoers and golfers haven away from the stresses of life. We’ve enjoyed staying at this calming resort and plan to do so many more times in the future! Before you head to South Carolina’s “Lowcountry,” check out these do’s and don’ts we feel you should know about Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort.
1 – DO Book in Advance
Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort is a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) Resort. Many DVC members take advantage of this resort because the points per night are much less than what you’ll find on Walt Disney World property. The resort is, however, open to all guests with or without DVC points! We recommend booking as early as possible, particularly if planning to visit during Hilton Head’s tourist times, including the summer and holidays. Room types vary, but to get the most out of your stay, we recommend booking a room with a kitchen for reasons as mentioned in #10 below.
2 – DON’T Expect Thrills
You won’t find thrills on Hilton Head Island like you’ll find at Walt Disney World! This resort has a completely calm and serene feel to it. The local charm makes for a home-away-from-home feel, and it’s easy to nod off with pure contentment in one of their hammocks by the marsh with a book in your hands. Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort is built for relaxation, making it a favorite among those needing to get away from it all.
3 – DO Talk with the Cast Members
The Cast Members here are incredible! Yes, they are called “Cast Members” and are always extremely friendly and helpful. They are trained in the same way a Walt Disney World Cast Member would be and are expected to perform at their highest level of excellence. If you stay for a week here, it’s common to get to know some of the key Cast Members and for them to recognize you and your family as well.
4 – DON’T Bring a MagicBand
Even though Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort is technically Disney Property, there are a few differences from what you can expect when staying at a Walt Disney World Resort. You will not receive and don’t need a MagicBand. Instead, you’ll receive a room key card. You also won’t need other Disney World tech experiences like MyDisneyExperience App or Play Disney Parks App.
5 – DO Rent a Bike
The property is split into two parts separated by a busy road. The main resort side is near the marsh while the beach house and ocean are on the other side of the road. There is a shuttle that takes guests to and from the two regularly. It is very common however, for guests to rent a bike at the resort for ease to go from one to the other on their own. Disney has a pass-through for bikes that goes UNDER the busy road, alleviating any traffic safety issues! Bikes are super popular in Hilton Head and tend to be how many guests get around. If you aren’t in the mood to rent a bike or ride the shuttle, you can also drive back and forth from the two sides of the property.
6 – DON’T Skip Resort Activities
Definitely DON’T skip the resort activities! One of our favorite things about this resort is how active they are with recreational experiences. Campfires, scavenger hunts, trivia, botchy ball, horseshoes, a playground, and so much more! Plus, let’s not forget about the BEACH! Build a sandcastle or play some ping-pong at the pool house. During holidays, Cast Members make these resort activities extra special and theme them to the holiday!
7 – DO Meet Shadow
Shadow is Disney’s Hilton Head Island main “character”! Shadow is a resident golden retriever that has a Cast Member name tag on her leash. The story goes she started showing up when the resort was being built. Construction workers called her “Shadow” because she was always right there with them like a shadow. Located at the front of the resort, you’ll find Shadow’s doghouse. A folklore expert shares the story of Shadow often at the resort, so be sure to ask the front desk on details of when this will take place during your stay. Shadow especially loves belly rubs and photos! On very special occasions, her best bud, Pluto, joins here in greeting guests.
8 – DON’T Expect Characters
While we make mention of Pluto above, this is a very rare and special experience. Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort does not have any character meet and greets (besides Shadow!) or any character dining experiences. This is especially important to give the kids a heads up, so they won’t be disappointed when they arrive at a Disney Resort but aren’t able to meet Mickey Mouse and his pals.
9 – DO Eat Disney Classics!
Yes! Even though you’re technically 5 hours away from Walt Disney World, Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort does have the beloved Dole Whips, Mickey Ice Cream Bars, Mickey Waffles, and even the yummy beignets! Check the menus in advance, but these items are typically available at Tide Me Over on the resort side of the property.
1o – DO Bring Swim Gear
The weather is not always as warm as what you’ll find in Orlando, Florida, but Hilton Head Island is warm enough for swimming most times of the year. If it’s a little chilly, the pools are heated to a comfortable temperature. On the resort side of the property, you’ll find The Big Dipper and The Little Dipper Pools. The water tower slide is the highlight for our kids here while we adults enjoy the spa. On the ocean side property, there is a beach house pool, but we tend to spend most of our time riding the ocean waves and playing in the sand!
11 – DON’T Forget Groceries
Probably the biggest negative for us is that Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort does not have any table-service dining location. There are two quick-service dining options on property, including Tide Me Over on the resort side and Signals on the beachside. Tide Me Over has a cute walk-up window to order at with picnic-style seating that is outdoors overlooking the marsh. Tide Me Over closes right around 5 pm, so be sure to plan accordingly. Signals is a great option when you’re on the beachside of the resort. It is a seasonal eatery, so it remains closed during the off-season, which is something you’ll want to check out before making plans to eat here. Refillable mugs like you’ll find at Walt Disney World are available for both locations. We will say both have very good food, even for quick-service options! Next to Tide Me Over, you’ll find a gift shop, Broad Creek Mercantile, which has some Disney snack style food and beverages and stays open later than 5 pm. With all that being said, we find that we usually bring plenty of groceries with us to make our own food (if selecting a room with a kitchen) or eat out at one of the local restaurants.
12 – DON’T Skip out on the Island
We’d be content with staying on Disney’s Hilton Head Island property for a week of seclusion. It is fun, however, to check out the Island itself! There is a lot to do from dolphin tours to golfing and everything in between. Take the family putt-putting or spend an adult evening at one of the local lounges. It may be a quiet island, but it’s a stunning one you won’t want to skip out on!
There you have it…our Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort “do’s and don’ts”! Get ready to relax and unwind with a special Disney touch we all cherish.
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