Thanks to my parents for their many years of service in the US military, specifically the United States Air Force. My dad’s active-duty and now retired status has given me many opportunities throughout my lifetime. One of those opportunities included the chance to stay at the Shades of Green Resort at Disney World.
Shades of Green Hotel Review
It is well known that Walt Disney wanted to join the military as early as 16. His desire was so great that he changed one number on the birthday of his application paper to make himself a few months older in order to join the service (after his mother signed it, of course, so she would not know he was joining the ranks). He completely understood the desire to serve our country.
Because of this history, Disney Parks offer special discounts to members of the military, whether active or retired. Shades of Green Resort is sometimes called the “military hotel” because you must have a valid ID to book a stay there. In addition to the less expensive accommodations, there is a ticket office on site selling discounted admission to Disney World as well as other Orlando-area attractions and theme parks.
What is Shades of Green? Who Can Stay There?
First of all, Shades of Green is a spacious, large resort hotel between two excellent golf courses on the Disney property. It is neither a Disney Good Neighbor Hotel nor a Disney-owned hotel. It has standard rooms, but they are some of the most spacious on the Disney property.
A valid military ID is required to access Shades of Green, including use of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES Exchange for short) and dining areas. A dependent spouse may stay at the hotel without the military sponsor, but only if the spouse has a dependent ID. Much like the policy for purchasing discounted military tickets, valid military IDs are your ticket to just about everything on the property.
However, a spouse or sponsor with a valid military ID may book up to three rooms with their ID. As I am married with my own family now, I am no longer a dependent of my parents and thus have no military ID. My dad was able to book us a room along with his room because of his retired military status and ID.
What are the Rooms Like at Shades of Green?
As previously stated, the rooms are some of the largest on property. Their website likens them to the deluxe category of Disney hotel rooms. I would agree with this assessment.
We had the fortune of staying in their newly renovated wing a few years ago, and it was quite nice. Most rooms have two queen beds and a pull-out sofa, but there is plenty of floor space and a balcony that’s great for fresh air if you need it. The bathrooms are a good size and have enough counter space to hold everyone’s toiletries.
Amenities at Shades of Green Resort at Disney World
One of the things we loved about our stay was the ability to use their amazing pools. The Magnolia Pool is a zero-entry pool with a nearby hot tub that is perfect for adult relaxation. Over at the Mill Pond Pool is a three-level slide, a cushioned splash park, and a nearby playground. There is also an arcade if the kids get tired of the pool.
We also took advantage of the AAFES Exchange when I ran out of contact lens solution, and the girls needed new swim goggles. The prices were definitely more reasonable than a Disney hotel gift shop!
Transportation at Shades of Green Hotel
If there were a downside to the wonderful price and size of Shades of Green, it would be their transportation. They have a complimentary shuttle that will transport you to the Disney theme parks, but no other transportation is available to other area attractions unless you pay for it. Like the Disney Resorts bus system, Shades of Green Resort has a complimentary bus system, but it is not as efficient or quick as Disney’s.
During one day of our trip, my family opted to walk to the Polynesian Village Hotel and try the monorail. Even though it was a bit of a lengthy walk that involved crossing a very busy road (with a crosswalk, so it was safe mind you), we found that process to be much faster than waiting for a Shades of Green Resort bus and hoping it wasn’t full. Unfortunately, this walk is no longer an option, so your choices are now rideshare, driving yourself, or using the complimentary shuttle.
Additionally, if you choose to drive to the parks, you will pay the daily parking rate while at the theme parks. Unlike Disney hotels which include parking at the theme parks, Shades of Green Resort guests incur a daily parking fee at the hotel and a daily parking fee at the theme parks. Those costs really add up after a while!
Restaurants at Shades of Green Resort
Our only experience with the restaurants at Shades of Green Resort includes the Garden Galley and Evergreen’s. Garden Galley is the largest restaurant on property, and it serves food buffet style. We had breakfast there during our stay, and it was fine. We also ate late-night snacks at Evergreen’s near the pool area.
Other grab-and-go spots include Express Cafe, Java Cafe, and Bistro to Go. Lastly, Mangino’s is the Shades of Green Steakhouse. It is only open for dinner, so we haven’t tried it, but the menu looks appetizing.
Is it Worth it to Stay at Shades of Green?
Lastly, is Shades of Green worth it? I often get that question, especially with so many different places to stay on your Disney vacation. I think the benefits of cost savings are really great. However, if you’re looking for a total Disney experience, you may find the Shades of Green Resort at Disney World comes up short. The Disney theming is not there, and the “Disney-esque” service we all love and expect is not there either.
It really depends on what is most important to your family—cost savings or Disney quality service. Having experienced both, I would stay at Shades of Green Resort again. I would be more cognizant of the transportation challenges and extra time added daily. Time is money on my vacation!