The Disney Resorts That Aren’t at Disney
The Walt Disney Company once held greater ambitions for its hotel empire. When Disney founded its timeshare equivalent, the Disney Vacation Club, executives plotted a different kind of Disney vacation.
In fact, the premise still survives to this day. It’s called Storyliving by Disney, which brings the parks to your neighborhood.
Before now, Disney applied the same strategy to three other hotels, deluxe accommodations at places other than Anaheim and Orlando.
Let’s talk about the Disney resorts that aren’t at Disney theme parks!
Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort
While all three Disney resorts we’re discussing today are impressive, one holds a special place in my heart.
I love Hilton Head, South Carolina, so much that I once honeymooned there. It’s among the most beautiful beach locations in the south.
The residents work hard to protect the island’s beauty, too. Local ordinances prevent unseemly billboards and neon signs from overtaking the town.
Hilton Head limits the size and style of its advertising, which is both wonderful and often confusing.
You should use the mapping app on your phone while in town. Otherwise, you might drive right past your destination.
The lack of attention-grabbing signs keeps Hilton Head beautiful but makes navigation a fist-clenching adventure.
You won’t care, though. Once you arrive at the Disney resort here, you’ll forget all your problems in life.
The joy begins at check-in, where the kindest cast members you’ll ever meet will introduce themselves.
They’ll provide you with a map of the hotel grounds, local tourist establishments of note, and even a few restaurants and shops to try.
Friendliness and southern hospitality represent two of the best amenities at Disney’s Hilton Head property. However, it’s still very, VERY Disney.
You’ll discover numerous entertainment options at the Community Hall, the lobby den, and even the main pool.
We’re talking about painting, bracelet making, wall art creation, and waterslide races.
A hotel stay here proves substantially more communal than anywhere else in the Disney collective.
You’ll also love the rooms, which are 455 square feet. They’re massive! They also come with kitchenette features and a balcony view of either the campus or the water.
I must stress that this Disney hotel isn’t on the beach. However, Disney owns a private beachfront area you can reach via a hotel shuttle. This beach is breathtaking!
Disney’s Vero Beach Resort
I’m a Hilton Head loyalist. Still, I recognize that some people prefer a beachfront hotel.
Also, adventurous vacationers love the idea of marrying a theme park vacation with a few days at the beach.
For these reasons, Disney’s Vero Beach Resort has proven an ideal tourist destination throughout the years.
The hotel resides roughly 100 miles away from Magic Kingdom. You can theoretically leave the hotel and be at the park in under two hours.
Do you want to do that? Of course, the answer depends on whether you like to drive. But the benefit is obvious. You’ll spend part of your vacation at the beach!
In fact, the Treasure Coast portion of Florida delights guests with its combination of tourist activities and pirate stories.
You’ll also find a wildly popular sea turtle conservation station here, as the turtles nest at the beach each year.
Cast members set up a walking path and make an event of it. For this reason, the hotel always books early for the walking path.
Presuming that you’re not a turtle fan, you’ll still find plenty to do at the resort.
The main pool counts as a second hangout area when you don’t want sand in your clothes. And the waterslide here, Pirate’s Plunge, includes a 163-foot ride!
Vero Beach also hosts its own miniature golf course, although you will pay extra for this amenity. Unfortunately, it’s not included with your hotel room.
Across the Treasure Coast, you’ll also find ample golfing and water sports activities.
The Atlantic Beach waters are world-renowned for their beauty. So, you may prefer to rent an umbrella and hang out at the beach all day.
Disney also rents sailboats, jet skis, and kayaks. Water sports enthusiasts will love this resort, while Disney fans will soak up the ambiance.
Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa
The two resorts I’ve mentioned work perfectly for tourists searching for a beach vacation. However, we all dream of Hawaii.
People living in the continental United States fantasize about a Hawaiian vacation as a means of escaping the drudgery of the outside world.
Roughly 15 years ago, Disney constructed a resort that resides in its own little world. You never need to leave the campus here unless you choose.
At Aulani, cast members will cater to your every need. Aunty’s Beach House will provide children with entertainment while their parents play.
Everyone will adore the luau that the resort hosts nightly.
KA WA’A is so popular that I spent the body of the pandemic explaining to impatient DVC members why it hadn’t returned yet.
Disney fans will immediately recognize the similarities to the former Spirit of Aloha show, but this one’s even more remarkable in scope and style.
I could go on and on about the dining, as this resort serves some of the tastiest cuisines of any Disney resort. We’re obviously discussing primarily Polynesian flavors.
However, you’ll find plenty more to do here as well. The hotel operates several pools and lazy rivers. In fact, you can book hotel room views of these locales.
Once you’re done swimming and sunbathing, you can also spend time at the beach.
Aulani guests don’t gain private access here, as Hawaii has laws against that. But the Disney section feels exclusive anyway.
Still, that’s the one pro that Hilton Head and Vero Beach have over Aulani. Their beaches are private.
At Aulani, you should also plan to visit Pearl Harbor Museum. It’s one of the most popular tourist activities and well worth your time!
Overall, Aulani joins Disney vacations – complete with character interactions – with Hawaiian beauty and tranquility.