Walt Disney World Resort: Shades of Green
Resort type: Shades of Green is a resort on Disney Property that is owned by the Department of Defense. It is reserved for the use of active and retired military, DOD civilians and US Public Health Officers.
Price: $100 to $275 (price is based on pay grade)
Food options: Garden Gallery Restaurant, Evergreens Sports Bar and Grill, Express Cafe and Mangino’s
Pools: 2 pools
Transportation: Buses to all the parks
This featured review comes from my reader Lisa…
We are retired military and stayed at the Shades of Green, which is considered on a scale of a DELUXE resort, for the first time in December, 2010. My husband is a retired LT. COL. and so our rate was $131 a night, plus $5/ day (I think that amount is correct) to park in the garage (all of their parking is covered and so that was nice)….PLUS, NO TAXES!!!!! The rates are based on RANK and they fluctuate based on the season. Our rate is the next to the highest level, because of my husband’s rank. They also have suites, if you need to sleep more people. Our room was based on 2 adults. Suites are based on 4 adults.
Just a little rabbit trail……I knew about the Shades of Green when we were booking our trip in September, 2010 but I wanted the TRUE Disney experience since it was out first ever trip and so we stayed in a Magic Kingdom view room at the Polynesian. We received a 40% discount on that room due to a military discount they were offering. We did have the dining plan, but it was not free dining since you can only have one discount. It was too our advantage to have the 40% discount on the room instead of free dining. We had MANY character dining’s booked since this was our first trip and we were there for 10 days and so we needed the dining plan in order to save some expense on the food. Long story short, our dining plan and lodging for the Sept. trip was $4,500. We saw Shades of Green ACROSS the street from the Poly and realized that we could still ride the monorail if we stayed there and so we determined that we would do just that on our next trip. At the time, I didn’t know we were going back so soon!!!!
Okay, back on track…..I will discuss the perceived disadvantages of SOG first. 1. You can’t get the Disney dining plan if you stay there so you will be paying out of pocket for all of your meals. I doubt we will ever have as many table services (which are the most costly) as we did on our first trip and so unless you have a lot of character dining (which are table services) you can save money by eating counter meals or planning your dinner meals at the SOG…..I know you have tips for saving money on meals and so I will leave my comments at that. I don’t feel that not having the dining plan is a reason to avoid the SOG. The rate you pay at the SOG is so much less than any other DELUXE resort and it takes a lot of time to have a sit down meal so I am happy with counters and maybe a table service on a couple of nights. Plus, I don’t normally eat dessert and so some of the food on the dining plan for us ends up going to waste. 2. If you drive to the parks, you do have to pay to park. If you are staying in a Disney owned resort, parking at the parks is free. I think we paid $14/day…which is for 24 hrs so you aren’t charged an additional parking fee if you park hop. 3. Not the same atmosphere and level of excitement that you get at a Disney owned resort. More like checking into a regular hotel…you won’t hear “Have a Magical Day”, there won’t be cute little towel characters on your bed at night or your stuffed animals arranged in a whimsical way to welcome your kids back to the room! I could care less about this stuff…it is nice, but I don’t have to have it to keep the magic alive while I’m sleeping!
The advantages far outweigh any “perceived” disadvantages! Where do I start!!!! The resort is BEAUTIFUL! The lobby has a homey lodge feel. There were couches everywhere with a beautiful REAL and HUGE Christmas tree in the center of it all. There were pillows and throw blankets on the couches and people would sit around at all times of the day and night, covered with a blanket, feet propped up talking and laughing! I felt like I was at my family reunion! The check in was a breeze and our bags arrived to our room within 15 minutes of us arriving. The room was BEAUTIFUL! It was HUGE!!!! I would dare say it was almost twice as big as our room at the Poly. The smallest bed they have is a QUEEN, which is bigger than any of the value resorts and all moderates except for one. We had two queen beds and a couch sleeper in a sitting area which also had a nice size round table with 2 dining chairs. We had a big balcony overlooking the AMAZING pool area, they also have a nice big HOT TUB!!!! The balcony had two chairs and a table. The bathroom was HUGE! Two sinks on a super long vanity. The toilet and shower were in a separate room and even that area was big enough for three people to turn around comfortably. We had a nice big closet that had what I call pantry shelves. I take a lot of snack food and so I used it as my pantry and it was perfect. We had a nice size mini fridge, too. No microwaves in the rooms but there are some located in the break room areas, along with ice machines if you need to heat something up. and microwave, too. There was a long dresser for storage and a nice size flat screen TV. The beds were super comfortable and the room was very quiet at night. We had room service breakfast and it was fast and good! One of my favorite things…..The hallways were very WIDE and they have comfortable sitting areas in nearly every corner, which are away from any rooms. They also have book shelves loaded with many board games and puzzles as well as tables/chairs nearby to sit and play the afternoon or evening away! If you want a break from the parks, it’s great that they offer these sitting or play areas on YOUR floor so that you don’t have to stay locked away in your room! The resort also has a nice little gift shop and snack shop with a lot of variety…again no tax! They have a coffee shop! Photography services! GREAT pool! Beautiful golf course! Fitness Center! A SPA! Even a few Penny Pressing machines! I can’t say enough positive things about our stay at the Shades of Green! The rooms were super clean! The towels were soft! The sheets were crisp!…In fact, I felt like we were staying in a BRAND NEW RESORT!
You DO get to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours at the parks and they do offer FREE transportation by bus to all of the parks. We walked (with a stroller) down a beautiful walking trail to the Polynesian in 8 MINUTES to ride the monorail to MK!!!! Having the monorail so accessible is a DEFINITE PLUS to our family. We have a little girl and so we spend more time at the MK than we do any of the other parks. PLUS, the monorail IS a ride to her and so we have to include it in our trip!
We can book up to 6 rooms – 3 on my husband’s military I.D. and 3 on my dependant I.D. (one of the 6 would obviously be ours) The extra rooms would be the same rate as our room rate. The only catch is that guests have to check in at the same time we do because we have to present our I.D. and vouch for them…basically we are sponsoring them. Guests in your party don’t have to have any connection to the military. They can check out prior to us but they HAVE to check in at the same time we do. We sponsored two other families when we stayed at the Poly in Sept. and they received the same 40% discount we did. Another GREAT thing about SOG is that there are ONLY 586 rooms and so the resort doesn’t feel crowded and you don’t wait but a second for the elevator, which is massive! PLUS, they have a ticket office inside the report and you can purchase tickets to the Disney Parks, shows, sea world, universal, etc…all with a military discount, if you have a valid I.D.!
If your readers qualify to stay at the Shades of Green, I think they owe it to themselves to stay there and find out for first hand why this resort is a TRUE benefit!!!
You might also consider staying at Disney’s Swan and Dolphin.