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*DIS Contributors review meals, resort stays, and entertainment that they have paid for during their own vacations. They only utilize discounts and offers if they are available to the general public, such as annual passholder discounts, Tables in Wonderland, or DVC membership discounts. They receive no additional compensation for dining experiences or events, so that they may give their honest opinions about price and value.
When we first bought into the Disney Vacation Club a few years back, a trip to their Hilton Head Island Resort wasn’t even on my radar. Like many other DVC owners, I became more and more interested in all things DVC; learning about their two mainland beach properties in the process.
Fast forward to summer 2019 and we’ve just completed our first stay in Hilton Head, but I guarantee it won’t be the last. Read on to find out all you need to know about this hidden gem in South Carolina’s low country.
Location, Location, Location.
Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort is NOT actually on the beach, but a little over a mile from the shoreline across a highway, in a gated community. The property is a beautiful example of South Carolina’s landscape with shady trees throughout.
The grounds and buildings look very spread out on the maps, but in truth, there are a lot of paths that make the resort very walkable. Our room was in the main check-in building, the Live Oak Lodge, which was furthest from the pool but still very accessible.
Lots of guests rent bikes (available on property for rates per day or per week) to get around the resort and to the beach. Since the “feel like” temperature was 115 degrees when we were there, we skipped this option, but would love to try it when the weather is milder.
Fun in the Sun.
Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort is billed as one of two of Disney’s beach resorts (I guess Aulani is in its own class), and the beach here is wide and easy to get to. The resort offers a free shuttle all day from 10:00am- 5:00pm or you can drive and park at the Beach House. Sometimes the parking lot will fill up, but there is a sign outside the main check-in building that is constantly updated if the beach parking is unavailable.
Know that you can rent an umbrella and chairs from an outside vendor or bring your own. The benefit of bringing your own is that you’re able to set up much closer to the water than the rented chairs, but you also have to transport them.
The Beach House, which is only accessible with your Key to the World Card, offers a small pool, an outside bar, a quick service restaurant, some games in the shade, restrooms, and an air conditioned lounge. It was a great place to grab a Dole Whip and get a little shade when the beach became too hot. When we visited, the pool was pretty crowded, so for swim time, we opted just to head back to the resort and enjoy the much bigger pool with the slide.
When you know you’re going to a beach resort, there is a certain image that pops into your mind. Coastal colors and whitewashed wood, perhaps? This is NOT what you will find at Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort. The overall décor is more like your Granddad’s fishing cabin meets Disney’s Fort Wilderness with a splash of Port Orleans’ southern charm.
Everywhere around the resort you’ll find hammocks and lawn games like shuffleboard, horse shoes, and bocce. There are charcoal grills readily available. We took advantage of the grills one evening and ate our steaks at a picnic table with a view of the marsh. You can even rent fishing gear near the pool to complete the theme.
The missing items.
On our drive home from our stay at this DVC Resort we found ourselves dissecting all of the pros and cons from our trip. To be honest, we didn’t have any negative experiences, but did land on what we think is missing and would make this retreat even better.
DINING: It’s important to know that dining on property is limited. Ahem… read: very limited. There is one quick service window (an actual window) with only outdoor tables that closes at 5:00pm Sunday- Thursday. The food here was actually very good (albeit we didn’t try any breakfast offerings), but we would love to see a sit-down option. I think they have an amazing opportunity to deliver some southern delicacies. As I mentioned earlier, we did plan ahead and used the charcoal grills for dinner one night and drove to a restaurant off property another.
SHOPPING: Another “missing” for us was merchandise. There is a very small store upstairs near the pool area with a rack of trading pins, a few DVC offerings, some standard Mickey Mouse items, and a handful of Hilton Head specific selections. I think this is a missed opportunity for Disney and surprising, actually. Adding a second store, either in the main check-in building or at Disney’s Beach House with expanded merchandise would be welcome.
CHARACTERS: I realize not all DVC members buy in to be close to Mickey Mouse all the time, but at this DVC resort, characters were absent. If Disney were to take my hint from earlier and add on a sit down restaurant, that would be a natural spot for some extra character magic. I don’t know if this is “needed”, however, when we visited, the weather was hot, sunny, and perfect for the pool. I imagine if you’re visiting in less than ideal weather, a character interaction would be welcome.
A Sad Goodbye.
Despite the missing items above, we really did fall in love with this resort. From the relaxed atmosphere to the beach time and beyond, there isn’t enough article space to include all that we did. I would encourage every DVC member who wants some downtime to consider visiting Hilton Head.
Stay tuned for PART TWO of this review of Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort where we’ll discuss the cast members and service.
After a five year battle, a lawsuit filed by an autistic man against The Walt Disney Company regarding their disability policy finally has a trial date.
The lawsuit claims that Disney’s 2014 policy change, which introduce the Disability Access Service cards, makes it difficult for guests with severe autism. Rather than allowing guests with disabilities to go to the front of the line, the current policy gives guests with disabilities a return time to experience an attraction, similar to FastPass+.
The lawsuit argues that, for someone with autism who may not understand the concept of time, getting a return time is the same as being asked to wait.
Attorney Anthony Dogali writes in the lawsuit:
The disabled plaintiff is mentally and physically incapable oftraveling across the park to the site of an attraction only to be told to come back later. This experience will induce meltdowns in the large majority of persons with cognitive impairments.
Dogali also argues that the DAS policy treats all guests with disabilities the same, rather than offering different options for different impairments.
In a statement to WESH 2 News, Disney commented:
Disney Parks have an unwavering commitment to providing an inclusive and accessible environment for all our guests. We fully comply with all ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements and believe that the legal claims are without merit.
The federal lawsuit is set to go to trial on February 18, 2020.
The next door neighbor of The Donut Box, Cool Wash, introduced brand new layered slushies on October 1st as well.
True to its name, The Donut Box features donuts and donut-flavored drinks. We tried both the Sweet Corn Fritters and the Strawberry-dusted Yeast Donut Holes. The Sweet Corn Fritters are served with a Fresno and red pepper jelly, and you get 4 fritters for $5.50. The Strawberry-dusted Donut Holes are quite large, and an order of 4 donut holes sells for $4.
The fritters were an interesting and savory option for guests who might not really enjoy a sweet donut. They had a corn bread consistency, and featured whole pieces of corn inside of the fritters. The jelly that they are paired with is somewhat flavorful without being too spicy, but all in all, the fritters fell a little bit flat. They were good, but are not something that I would necessarily purchase again.
The donut holes were huge in size, but not as huge in flavor. They were good, just not fantastic. They were covered in light pink sugar that only lightly tasted like strawberries. I do wish that the strawberry taste was more vibrant (Sunshine Churros, I’m looking your way on this one), but we did enjoy this snack item the most among the snack offerings at The Donut Box. They were fresh, and fluffy, and while I wish they packed more of a punch, if I was craving donut holes one evening while touring the park, I would purchase them again.
The Strawberry Smoothie that’s available at The Donut Box is made with Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Almondmilk, and sells for $5. It comes with a yeast donut hole, but Fiasco said that this donut hole was not as fresh as those that come in the 4 pack. All in all, this smoothie was a hit. It was creamy and cool and reminded me of a strawberry version of the Orange Cream Slushy that came in the Orange Bird Sipper that was available earlier this year at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.
The Black and White Coffee Cocktail is paired with a yeast donut topped with chocolate espresso bean crumbles, and sells for $14. The cocktail did not truly impress Ryno and Steve. The donut, while being good, was not great. The chocolate espresso bean crumbles were a nice touch, but did not prove to be enough to offer flavoring for the entire donut. The donut consistency was tougher and not as fluffy as the donut holes. The cast members at the booth confirmed that, although it is not being advertised, guests may purchase the donut separately for right around $4.
This location also offers Central 28 Beer Company’s Boston Cream Doughnut Ale for $4.50. This beverage was enjoyed by both Ryno and Steve, but the comment was made that, while it was a good beer, the donut taste could’ve been a bit bolder.
After our dessert of donuts, we decided to have even more dessert! We stepped over to Cool Wash and tried their new layered slushy options. There are six flavors available for you to choose from: Coca-Cola, Fanta Cherry, Fanta Orange, Fanta Banana, Fanta Watermelon, and Fanta Blue Raspberry. You can choose to top your slushy with candy pebbles (think Nerds), Boba pearls, spice drops, or popping candy (Pop Rocks).
For my slushy, I chose Fanta Orange, Fanta Banana, and Fanta Cherry. I topped it with Pop Rocks because I’m a child of the 80’s and I like living life on the edge. Ahem. The slushy was delicious. I loved the Fanta Banana flavor, and I thought it was a bright, fresh flavor and did not taste overly artificial. You can choose as many flavors as you’d like for your layered slushy, and you can choose as many of the topping varieties as you would like. The slushies sell for $6, and are the perfect thing to cool you down on a hot Epcot day. Keep in mind that they are also jampacked with sugar, so sharing your slushy with a friend might be a good idea.
Cool Wash also offers a Coca-Cola Orange Vanilla beverage with St. Petersburg Gin for $13.50, and a new drink that features Jack Daniels, as well as one that features rum, will be introduced in the days ahead.
The comment was made that if you choose Boba pearls as the topping for your slushy, they might have a hard time getting up the straw. Be ye warned. The comment was also made that the slushy portion size, while being good for portion control, could have been a bit larger for the price.
It was great to have even more new snack options available at Epcot. I’m always up for trying a new one, especially when sugar is involved.
You can watch Steve, Ryno, Fiasco, and I sample all that The Donut Box and Cool Wash have to offer below:
Jennifer Lee, head of Walt Disney Animation Studios, has announced four directors who are set to create original content for the studio. Lee has said that she hopes to increase the diversity and inclusion at the studio.
The filmmakers are:
Carlos Lopez Estrada – Estrada’s debut live-action film was Blindspotting, for which he received a Directors Guild award for first-time directing, plus was named among Variety’s 10 Directors to Watch. Recently Estrada directed an episode of Legion for FX.
Suzi Yoonessi – Yoonessi is most well know for directing the Duplass brothers’ Unlovable. She also directed Daphne & Velma, plus short films for Funny or Die.
Josie Trinidad – Trinidad joined Disney Animation in 2004 and oversaw the story team on Ralph Breaks the Internet and Zootopia. She also worked on Tangled and Princess and the Frog.
Marc Smith – Smith was the story director for the upcoming Frozen 2. He began at Disney in 1993 as an intern, eventually working on Treasure Planet, Tangled, Frozen, Big Hero 6, and Zootopia.
Lee said of the appointments:
We aim to have Walt Disney Animation Studios serve as the premiere home for filmmakers interested in telling engaging stories within the limitless animation medium.
Carlos and Suzi are two incredible, inventive filmmakers who have both received acclaim for their work. Josie and Marc, master, lead story artists, have been instrumental in shaping such films as Zootopia and Frozen 2. We are so thrilled to have these four talented artists join our 96-year-old studio as directors and help us build the stories of our future — adventures in completely original worlds, stories from around the globe, and the next generation of musicals.
Guests at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on Friday, October 4th will have the chance to meet Ashley Eckstein, founder of Her Universe and voice of Ahsoka Tano on Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. Ashley will be meeting and greeting guests in celebration of the release of her new Princess Leia bun-inspired Minnie ear headband that she designed for Her Universe as part of the Disney Parks Designer Collection.
Ashley will be meeting guests in Launch Bay Cargo in Disney’s Hollywood Studios from 9am to 12pm on the 4th. Wristbands will be handed out to guests at store open on the day of the signing with the purchase of the Princess Leia Minnie ear headband. A limited number of wristbands will be available, and, once the wristbands have been distributed, the line to meet Ashley Eckstein will close.
note from Disney: Merchandise available while supplies last. We ask that only two (2) items be signed per guest, per time in line. We ask that you bring no personal items to be signed. Valid Walt Disney World Resort receipt may be required. Artist signing is subject to space and time availability and is not guaranteed. Theme park admission is required. Event information subject to change without notice.
To celebrate the release of new Frozen 2 merchandise, Disney Parks on both coasts will be holding a Frozen Fan Fest this weekend.
Look for new products in stores at Walt Disney World and the Disneyland Resort, plus on shopDisney.com, beginning Friday, October 4th. The new line will include apparel, accessories, footwear, toys, costumes, bedding, home decor, electronics, a digital game, and books.
More images from the new line will be released soon, but here’s a peek at t-shirts that will have girls setting out on a journey with Anna and Elsa.
This event also includes breakfast at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café. On the menu are items such as scrambled eggs, bacon, breakfast potatoes, pancakes, assorted pastries, and more. Breakfast is served from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., and exclusive event-only access to the attractions lasts from 7:45 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.
Disney Early Morning Magic requires a separate reservation and a separate fee – $89 for adults and $79 for children (regular theme park admission is also required and not included). Admission is limited, so it’s recommended that you book your reservation as soon as you know which date(s) you’d like to attend. Below are the new dates that have been added.
November: 13 and 20, 2019 December: 3, 5, 9, 11, and 17, 2019
Disney Cruise Line has just shared a new video highlighting everything they’ve unveiled so far about the new Disney Wish, including why they chose its name, what the inspiration was for the grand atrium’s design, and which cherished Disney character will adorn the ship’s stern.
This new ship will be powered by liquified natural gas, with more innovation, new technology, and entertainment. It’s also promised that there will be more Disney stories and characters than ever before.
Take a look…
The Disney Wish is scheduled for delivery in late 2021 and will set sail in January 2022.