Shades of Green Resort: Especially for Military Families

by Sarah Mudd, PassPorter Message Board Guide (Moderator)
Last modified 12-23-2010

Photo illustrating Walt Disney World - Lodging

Tucked between the Walt Disney World Palm and Magnolia golf courses, and just a short distance from Disney's Polynesian Resort is a small resort owned by the U.S. Department of Defense called Shades of Green.

Shades of Green Lobby photo
Shades of Green Lobby

The lobby of the Shades of Green Resort at Walt Disney World.

Opened in 1972, the resort was originally called The Golf Resort (due to its location). Then, in 1986, the name was changed to The Disney Inn. In 1994, the Department of Defense (DoD) leased the resort for use by military members and renamed the property to Shades of Green. Ten years later, in 2004, the DoD bought the resort outright and performed a major renovation and expansion to make Shades of Green the beautiful resort it is now.

The resort contains just 586 guest rooms, 6 of which are Junior Suites that will sleep 6 people and 5 which are large Suites that will sleep eight. It is among the smaller resorts on property being right about the same size as Disney's Beach Club resort, as far as room count goes. However, Shades of Green boasts the largest standard guest rooms on property at 480 square feet!

The resort's amenities include two swimming pools, a kiddie pool, two tennis courts, playground, fitness center, arcade, on-site laundry, gift shop... all the normal resort amenities. But in addition, it also includes the only place on Walt Disney World property where you can get your hands on Starbucks coffee! There is a ticket office in the main building of the resort where guests (either staying at the resort or military visitors to the resort) can purchase discounted tickets for Disney parks as well as other area attractions. There is also an AAFES shop where guests can purchase basic grocery items as well as discounted Disney souvenirs.

Shades of Green now has a photo service available that is similar to (but spendier than) Disney's PhotoPass resort sessions. The Shades of Green photographer will take your family's photo at various locations around the resort and make a package from those or can just take your photos with the patriotic Mickey Mouse statue in the resort lobby. The package prices vary and are a bit pricier than that of PhotoPass but the individual Mickey statue lobby photo prices are about on par with what you might pay for individual PhotoPass photos or a ride photo in the park.

There are a couple of buses that run on a schedule between the resort and the main parks, water parks and Downtown Disney. If you would rather not wait for a Shades of Green bus, you can hail the "Shady Shuttle" (a multi-passenger golf cart) or walk down the path to the entrance of the resort and cross the street to the Polynesian to catch a bus or monorail. It is a nice 10-15 minute walk but can be fun, actually! Sometimes, you may be able to catch a glimpse of an alligator or two in the ponds along the way, so many times our family prefers to walk so that we can go on a “wildlife hunt” of sorts.

Shades of Green has three restaurants and a quick-service counter eatery to choose from. Garden Gallery is open for breakfast and dinner and offers both a buffet and menu ordering. Mangino's Bistro was once solely Italian in terms of menu items but, last year, revamped their menu to include some American items like steak, chicken wings, and burgers. Evergreen’s Sports Bar was closed for a time but has reopened with a limited food menu and a full bar. They now offer salads, cold sandwiches, hot dogs, and hamburgers. Express Cafe is a great spot to pop into along the way to the bus stop in the mornings. They offer pastries, hot breakfast sandwiches, coffee, cereal and such.

All that said, you’re essentially getting the accommodation of a deluxe resort, especially with the proximity to the Magic Kingdom, for less than the price of a moderate Disney resort.

Room rates typically go up on October 1 each year (the start of the new fiscal year) and are set in three categories, based on rank.

Category 1 rates are for military members ranked E-1 through E-5. The current rate for a standard room is $95 per night and just $10 more per night for a poolside room.

Category 2 rates are for members ranked E-6 through E-9, O-1 through O-3, WO1-WO3, military widows, 100% disabled veterans and Medal of Honor recipients. The room rate for this category is currently $123 per night for a standard room and $10 more for poolside.

Category 3 rates are for members ranked O-4 through O-10, WO-4 and WO-5, active DOD civilians, foreign military, and DOD contractors assigned to US bases. The room rate is currently $131 per night for a standard room and just $10 per night extra for a poolside room.

If you are a member that falls under category 1 and you reserve more than one room, your first room will fall under the category 1 rate while your additional room will fall under category 2. Each member, regardless of category, may reserve up to three rooms. The resort does charge a parking fee for their parking garage so if you'll have a car with you, be prepared to pay $5 per night of your stay. One night’s deposit, per room, is required when you make your reservation and there is a 30-day change or cancel policy.

Shades of Green is only for the use of active or retired Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard, reserve components of each branch and DOD civilians year round, however, if you are an honorably discharged veteran who does not have an ID card but DOES have your DD-214 discharge form, you can go to SHADESOFGREENVETS.ORG and you may be eligible to stay at the resort during the months of January and September only!

Whether you are a guest staying at the resort or a military member visiting, you may use the services of the attraction ticket office. They offer tickets for Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Busch Gardens, Sea World, Kennedy Space Center, Gatorland, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, Titanic the Experience, Boggy Creek Air Boat tours, area dinner shows, and the Richard Petty Experience. The tickets are at a pretty good discount and are tax-free when purchased at Shades of Green.

As an example of the savings you can get purchasing your tickets there, Shades of Green offers the Rookie Experience at Richard Petty for $361. If you were to book that same experience through Disney, it was cost you $449. Also, a 4-day Magic Your Way base ticket with no options added will cost you $247.08 if purchased at a Disney World ticket window whereas if purchased at Shades of Green, it will run you only $228! The savings on some attractions are pretty significant when you use the benefit of Shades of Green’s attraction ticket services!

Some folks ask “Why stay there? Don’t you like getting that Disney feeling staying at a more ‘themed’ place?” Sure I do! But where else would I find such a large, lovely room and all those great amenities for that low of a price and so close to my favorite things at Disney World (the Polynesian, Magic Kingdom and the monorail)? Besides, there’s a big, patriotic Mickey Mouse in the lobby that sends me off to the parks each morning and greets me when I come back to the resort at night. And that’s enough for me.

Shades of Green Lobby photo
Shades of Green Lobby

About the Author:
Sarah is a stay-at-home mom, PassPorter Message Board Guide and Navy wife currently stationed in Washington state.  She has made many trips to both Walt Disney World and Disneyland.  Her family is currently planning their 2-year-old son's first Disneyland trip in summer 2011!

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Reader Comments:

Great, informative article and quite timely for myself and my family. We arrive for a 2 week stay at Shades of Green in just two weeks! Thanks for the article!

     DebiDebiDebi on December 23, 2010 @ 11:47 pm
I've been lucky enough to stay at SOG with my father-in-law who served in the USAF. It's a wonderful place and the large rooms are great. The one downside is they (like the Swan & Dolphin) do not participate in the Magical Express since they are not Disney properties. So you'd still need to get airport transportation.

     minortj on December 24, 2010 @ 7:51 am
Actually, if you go to the Shades of Green website, the cost for the 4-day park hopper is listed as $138 right now... AND the price of tickets quoted on the Walt Disney site (aka full price) does *not* include tax, so there's another $20-50 savings, depending on how many tickets you get! smiley for :)

     ksumyers on December 26, 2010 @ 10:00 pm
We used the Mears shuttle when we went last April and it was great! Cost was $30 round-trip for us and we only waited about 30 minutes to leave the airport; stopped 2 times before our hotel. Our driver gave us a quick tour/trivia along the drive and even let my husband and me stop at a gas station to grab a couple last minute things smiley for :) They were right on time to pick us back up to the airport too. We're planning on using them again in August!

     ksumyers on December 26, 2010 @ 10:04 pm
shades of green sounds lovely. can outsiders, or guests staying at a WDW resort visit??? Happy New year.

     nannyjude on December 28, 2010 @ 6:23 am
nannyjude;3519207 >shades of green sounds lovely. can outsiders, or guests staying at a WDW resort visit??? Happy New year.

You can visit the property only if you have a military or Department of Defense ID card. There is a guard shack at the entrance to the property and they do check IDs there (as well as check the reservation list if you tell them you're checking in). They also check IDs on their buses. smiley for :yes:

     DopeyGirl on December 29, 2010 @ 3:49 am
When we were there April 2010, if you drove in, they would ask for your ID's at the guard shack. HOWEVER, they never once asked for ID on the buses. If you can find someone that's staying there to "escort" you, there's no problem in visiting.

     ksumyers on December 29, 2010 @ 9:13 am
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Updated 12-23-2010 - Article #556 

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