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Old 06-26-2011, 06:18 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Simba's Mom View Post
Shadow is just the sweetest, gentlest, most PATIENT dog I've ever met. When I think about the insurance and chances Disney takes-I mean, I've seen [what I thought] was the nicest dog nip when she's suddenly spooked and had her tail stepped on by an over-zealous child. Yet, it seems like nothing fazes Shadow-she just sits and chills. I know you said you're eating in a lot, but if you want to go out and need ideas, Gordon in the Mercantile is a great resource-he knows good food! Say Hi to him and Dottie for us-we'll see them again at Thanksgiving.
Any cookies in the lobby?
Gordon has had some health issues (appendix I think) and won't be back for a couple of weeks - although he is chomping at the bit to get back to work.

Shadow is an amazing dog. It's apparent that B'Lou has done a marvelous job training her.

The resort is at capacity again this week!
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Old 06-26-2011, 06:39 PM   #32
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We've (DH, DS14, DD12 and I) been to HHI twice now -- once three years ago when our school calendar let us go Labor Day week and this May when our new school calendar let us go Memorial Day week. We love the resort, and if I can ever get enough cash together to add-on, HHI is on the short list (along with a Poly DVC if they ever build one!). The first time I wrote a letter to the management of the resort to let them know how much we loved B'Lou, this last time I got smarter and wrote to Member Satisfaction. I did get a call back letting me know that they appreciated knowing how much B'Lou means to the members, so by all means, keep those letters coming!
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Old 06-26-2011, 06:56 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by CMOORE185 View Post
Get off the fence, HHI beats VB hands down,(IMHO of course). HH beach much bigger and better, more to due in HH. Vero is a beautiful resort though and is right on the beach. Also unless you own at HHI it may be hard to get a ressie for the summer.
I'm open to either resort--HHI or VB as long as I can get a reservation! I did notice that it seems on the DIS that HHI is more popular in the summer than VB, so I figured it would possibly be easier to get a ressie at VB. Plus, we've flown into Orlando so many times now that I feel comfortable with the car rental, how to get around, etc. HHI would take a few more points too, I believe, so we'll see what MS tells me they have available when I finally reach that 7 month mark. Sounds like I should avoid HHI or my addonitis might kick in and get me in trouble!

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Old 06-26-2011, 07:13 PM   #34
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So glad to read your report, going on August 7

Can't wait to read more of your report. HHI is not our home resort but calling EXACTLY at 7 months out was the trick to getting the ressie we wanted. We haven't been there since 2005. Would love to see a current schedule of activities.

Oh yeah, we also stayed at the main building. The walk is manageable (but we didn't have a two year old with us!) but there were other conveniences. We hope we stay there again this time.

Finally, thanks for the Steelers nation locales, a definite plus in determining where to eat. Talked with an acquaintance who lives there full time. Says the chicken fingers at the Publix are great.
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Old 06-26-2011, 07:28 PM   #35
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I'm enjoying your trip report! My family and I are going to HHI at the end of July and I feel just like you did...how can I have a vacation without all the WDW planning? Please keep your report going, I'm getting some great ideas for things to do with my kiddos (dd 8 and ds 5). Keep it coming...
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Old 06-26-2011, 10:22 PM   #36
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Thanks for the information. Since I almost always fly SW and have at least 10 free round trips and a companion pass from them coming, I was trying to find the nearest airport that SW flies to.
Ooops! Sorry ... I missed that nuance. Good luck!
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Old 06-26-2011, 11:09 PM   #37
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Day 3 - A beach, some ghosts, and a man named Shannon

Thanks for all of the feedback! I just want to clear up something. My trip report is from LAST week (Father's Day week). We have since returned to the land of crabs and terrapins. . . . I appreciate all of your suggestions for our next trip. I hope those reading and following will heed the advice of those commenting! Some GREAT suggestions!

Now, on to the report!

I think this day is a wonderful example of the diverse offerings at HHI. For those of you who think HHI will be boring, read on. . . . For those of you who already know "the best kept secret" in DVC read on with pleasure. . . .

We tend to wake-up early in our family (like 6:30 in the summertime) so when we actually slept-in until 7:30, that's a HUGE success for us! I woke up, made pancakes and bacon (a family tradition when at a DVC resort), then we headed to the Beach House for a morning/lunch on the beach.

We arrived at 9:30 and hoped for a parking space. . . . No problem at 9:30! Got a great spot under the beach house so our car stayed nice and cool! Can I let everybody on a HUGE secret no matter where you are DVC related (WDW, HHI, DL, etc.). . . . . GET THERE EARLY AND YOU WILL BE HAPPY! The beach was ours for choosing a spot, setting up the sport-brella purchased at Costco (a GREAT buy, by the way if you need shade for the little ones), and letting the kids go in the water. Temperature was warm as was the water. Of course, the dead jellyfish all over the beach was a bit disheartening, but, hey it's nature. . . . We were told by somebody that "those kind of jellyfish don't sting". . . . I thought to myself, "Of course they don't. . . .They're dead. . . . . "

Children played for about 2 hours while we "attempted" to do some reading. It's hard to just sit and read while my DS 2 is playing on the beach. Can't wait until he gets a bit older. . .




Now listen, I'm a former ADHD kid (Ritalin child) and I was so worried about just "sitting there." But I challenge ANYBODY to be stressed listening to the ocean waves and watching the grandeur of the ocean. I understand the TRUE power of nature. It truly is magical that no ride can ever recreate. It's one of those things you have to experience to be able to talk about. Sorry, it's just the way it is. Kind of like marriage. . . . .

At about 12, the heat index warning went up and we left the beach to go swim/eat lunch at the Beach House! Boy, did we pass a LOT of people trying to get on the beach. . . . Did I mention the whole "early" thing. . .

Wow! The pool here is absolutely PERFECT! We found the water temperature at the resort pool to be like bath water. This pool temperature is absolutely cool and relaxing. It's PERFECT! Not too warm, not too cold. It truly is refreshing on a hot day! Found a great table, ate, then defied mothers everywhere and swam right afterwards! No two hours for us!!! We're on vacation! Let the cramps come if they want. If I'm going, it's going to be in a Disney pool oceanside! You got a better way?

My DS 12 got involved with a good volleyball game in the pool and asked to stay. With Disney, no problem. Grab the shuttle out front and we will see you back at the resort. So with baby napping at 2, DW and I sat out on the balcony of the resort and did some serious reading The Water is Wide for me, a Nora Roberts novel for DW. One of the great things about HHI is the amount of shade 100 year old oaks give you. Yes, it was hot (heat index of 107), but in the shade it was actually quite comfortable outside reading and sipping on a free lemonade.

At 3:30, my DS 12 returned and we decided to attend B'Lou's "Ghosts and Legends of the Low Country." One of the best choices we made all week! I'm a HS teacher so I am always impressed when ANYBODY can keep the attention of a tweens and teenagers. . . . B'Lou kept an audience of adults, teens, tweens, and children ENTHRALLED with his tales of the area for almost an hour. GREAT, GREAT, GREAT! A true storyteller in the mode of Tom Bodett or Garrison Keillor. The reason I love Disney is for these little "finds" that seem inconsequential at the time that turn into something, well, magical. My DS 12 absolutely adored B'Lou and his tales. Who would have thought that just looking at the schedule. You really have to experience it. . . . 'Nuff said Y'all. . . .

After a dinner of burgers on the grill (there are charcoal grills and hammocks EVERYWHERE in the resort) we headed over to catch Shannon Tanner at Shelter Cove. Although not employed by Disney in any way, this is a GREAT place for families with children old and young. It's in a great little theater and Mr. Tanner could not have been anymore entertaining for the entire family!




Look at all the children on the stage sitting nicely. . . Can you find my son. . . ?

Shannon is a great entertainer, very engaging, and a perfect way to round out a day at HHI. Trust me, you will have a smile on your face the whole time!

We left the show at 7:30, put the DS 2 in bed for the night, and my son and I did some late night swimming at the pool. Now if that wasn't a great, relaxing day, what is? Walking back, with the marsh alive with great sounds, and a nice breeze blowing on the boardwalk, and the smell of salt water in the air. . . Honestly, can it get any better than this?

As I was walking through the resort, I felt a bad case of Addoninitis coming on VERY strongly. I should have known when I walked into the room at 10:00 with my wife looking at points charts and "The Timeshare Store" website that she had Addoninitis as well. . . . Maybe it's in the water. . . .

Next report: Why you really should just eat anywhere but Disney while at HHI. . . . .
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Old 06-27-2011, 12:35 AM   #38
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Gosh I am loving this report! I did an add-on in 2000 after I visited HHI for the first time. Your writing style is great - I can't wait for the next segment.
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Old 06-27-2011, 06:42 AM   #39
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Loving the TR! We are contemplating doing and add-on at HHI (via resale) and we haven't even been yet. The plan is to head down to HHI for a week next year, and if we love it (as much as you did) buy a contract.

For us, the drive is about 9 hours. Very doable in one day! The goal is to buy a full HHI contract and take a vacation every 6 months. Summer in HHI, Winter in WDW.

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We load up the Honda minivan and head south down 270, through the beltway, then on to 95. First thing you learn. . . DO NOT TAKE I-495 and I-95 through DC!!!! We left early and even doing that the traffic on the beltway and through Fredericksburg should be an embarrassment to civil engineers everywhere!
For future reference, it will save you a headache to take US-15 South to US-17 South to I-95. US-15 and US-17 are two lanes, but US-17 intersects with I-95 at Fredricksburg thus missing both DC and NOVA traffic.
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Old 06-27-2011, 07:24 AM   #40
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We did a resale add on (2) because of one 2 night visit there! We're looking forward to a 2012 summertime visit with the family.

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Old 06-27-2011, 10:11 AM   #41
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For future reference, it will save you a headache to take US-15 South to US-17 South to I-95. US-15 and US-17 are two lanes, but US-17 intersects with I-95 at Fredricksburg thus missing both DC and NOVA traffic.
Thanks for the tip! We actually did that on the return trip home. . . . We'll be doing the "15-17 Jog" from now on. . . . Plus, there's a Quaker Steak and Lube in Fredericksburg that we absolutely LOVE! Best Wings in the world! And that is NOT English teacher hyperbole. . . . That is a cold, hard fact! Louisiana Lickers are the best!

I think there is one opening soon in Manassas. . . .

But, again, thanks for the tip!
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Old 06-27-2011, 10:36 AM   #42
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I am loving your TR- and so very, very happy you get the specialness of this resort. We all love it there- we have been the past 3 summers, and this year we are doing something different- I am looking forward to the cruise we will be doing in August, but I am REALLY, REALLY missing HHI. If it's for you, HHI gets under your skin- and that Disney resort is such a fantastic family place. The CMs are the greatest, I think- oh, I miss it sooooooo much!!

Looking forward to the rest of your story!
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Old 06-27-2011, 12:13 PM   #43
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We were there last week as well. Reading your report makes me miss all the fun we had last week. It truly is an amazing resort. Sooo much to do yet so relaxing at the same time. We also ate at Guiseppes and loved it, saw Shannon Tanner, did some shopping there (the mall was pretty bare, but found the cutest little shop there--- Gifts of Joy). My girls (3 and 5) loved all the activities they had. Best yet were the Cast Members.... all of them seemed to have so much fun and we also LOVED B'lou!!! Sounds like you had a great trip, can't wait to read the rest.
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Old 06-27-2011, 01:02 PM   #44
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Day 4 - Yo Ho! Yo Ho! A Pirate Party for me!

Our Tuesday morning went exactly as planned. Got up early, headed to the beach, and enjoyed a great HOT morning under the sun. While we were getting ready to go to the beach house, our little red light was flashing on the phone. Being at Disney my first thought was "guess my purchase arrived at the gift shop", but then I remembered I was at HHI, not WDW! It was a message informing us that the Beach House was closed for the morning because of a water main break! Oh the irony! Water, water everywhere at the ocean!

Of course, my favorite part of that recorded message was the part where the cast member assured us all that the ocean was, indeed, still open. . . No "closed for your future enjoyment" signs from the big guy upstairs. . . .Although an "Imagineers at Work" sign would be funny in front of the ocean now that I think about it. . . But I digress. . . .

While I was sitting on the beach that morning, I swear I could hear Jimmy Buffet songs playing in the background. It could have been my amazing imagination. . . . Or those Marriott neighbors. . .

DS 12 left us at 10:30 to take part in the "Teen Capture the Flag" activity back at the resort while we stayed behind with baby to continue to relax. Best laid plans of mice and men. . . DS 2 really was quite bored without his big brother to help him in the sand, so we headed back around 11 to go to the resort pool. We had to resort to the resort pool (like the pun?) because of the not-yet-fixed water main break. No problem. . .

Yet another reason to love HHI. . . Get bored with one thing, go on to something else. A problem with one area? No problem! Lots of choices! And choices that don't involve fastpasses, runs from entrances to rides, and a one-hour bus ride to your destination. Not that I mind those things when I'm at WDW, but this place is just. . . .well. . . different. . . In a GREAT, laid-back way.

Not that HHI is absolutely flawless. . . Let's chat about the food, shall we. . . Please keep in mind, this was OUR experience. . . Your experience and mileage may be different.

6:00PM rolls around and we head down to the Pirate BBQ Party at the pool. We paid $22.95/per person for three of us, and DS 2 was free. I thought the sheet given to us at check-in was a bit misleading. . . It hinted that for this price we received the food AND entrance to the pool party going on in the rec. area. The reality. . . The $22.95 gives you access to the food. The other "things" and "games" are available to ANYONE in the pool area! Again, I'm not blaming Disney for their marketing of the "Pirate BBQ", it is what it is. But, keep it in mind for those of you going later. Because, trust me, you may not want to pay the amount of money they were charging for the food you received. . . Here comes the rant (Pete, you will be proud). . . .

A bit of a disclaimer here. . . I take absolute PRIDE in my BBQ skills. It is a big hobby of mine and I love to cook ribs, pulled pork, steaks, hamburgers, etc. I own a smoker, a charcoal grill, and a gas grill. I LOVE IT!!!! Now, I'm not a BBQ snob. I just appreciate good preparation and good food. BBQ is about the soul and the passion behind the food. That was not here. . . It was not AWFUL, just not worth $22.95 per person. For $22.95 you got:

Ribs, BBQ Chicken, Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Cole Slaw, Watermelon, Baked Beans, Cornbread, Corn-On-The-Cob, and an array of sweet treats. You also had a choice of lemonade, sweetened or unsweetened tea, and water.

Now, on paper, that makes my mouth water. In reality, my school cafeteria serves about the same quality of food. There was just nothing "special" at all about the food. In an area like the south that takes such pride in their food (especially their BBQ), this does not even come close to being worthy of $22.95. The whole food buffet was, quite simply, forgettable. . . . As a matter of fact, it was so forgettable I forgot to take pictures. . . . Sorry. . .

Rant begins. . . .
C'mon Disney! Y'all can do better than this! I know you can! I've eaten at the Hoop-Dee-Do-Revue: that's good! I've eaten at Flame Tree BBQ: that's good! It's within your capabilities! Let's go team! There is no excuse when somebody less than five miles away from you is creating amazing BBQ at an amazing price (more about One Hot Mama's in a later post) that you should be able to do it as well! Now go out there and make the Carolinas proud!

Rant over. . .

The games and activities seemed like fun, definitely for the entire family. We really enjoyed watching them. But, it was one of those activities more geared for the 4 - 10 year old age set. Our DS 2 was not interested, and the DS 12 was a bit bored. He did stick around for the pool party and the fireworks and found that to be much more "fun." We headed back to the room at 7:30 to put DS 2 to bed and to watch the fireworks from our balcony. Yes, you can see the fireworks from some of the balconies. If your room is facing the marsh, your seeing and hearing some fireworks!

A bit of a note about the fireworks: these are not "Disney" fireworks. These are put on by Hilton Head Island and just happen to be in Shelter Cove (the resort area). They are right behind the Disney resort so a great "bonus" for viewing them. But, please do not expect "Fantasy in the Marsh" show where gators start singing, fish start doing the hula, and some crab starts being your "conscience". . . . Ain't happening. They're not bad at all, just not some Disney spectacular. As a matter of fact, we really enjoyed the laid back, small town atmosphere of the fireworks. Just a great summer activity like you remember in your own hometown. Definitely a "must do"!

Sorry for the lack of pictures in this post. I promise a LOT more in the next post. Including a review of the "Dolphin Tour" and the local "putt-putt".
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Old 06-27-2011, 01:08 PM   #45
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Thank you for a great TR! We first went to HHI 3 years ago and fell in love with the place as well. We added on last year, after our second trip confirmed that we wanted to be able to go every year. As much as we love WDW, it is not quite a "relaxing" vacation. So happy DVC allows us to have our relaxing family trips to HHI, and our fun go,go,go trips to WDW as well!
BTW - you are right on about the food. I did the online resort review, and let them know what I think about their food service at HHI. It is the one and only weak spot in an otherwise fantastic resort. Hopefully things will change in the future!
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