If you’re planning a trip to Disney World and looking for a unique place to stay, Shades of Green Resort at the Walt Disney World Resort should be on your radar. As a military resort hotel, it offers its guests an experience like no other, specifically catering to military service members, families, and sponsored guests. Before you book your stay, here are a few things you need to know.
What is Shades of Green Military Resort?
First and foremost, Shades of Green is exclusively for military members and their families. This means that to enjoy this resort’s perks, you must have a valid United States military ID. Those without a military ID are allowed to stay at the resort if they are sponsored by an eligible member of the military. It’s important to keep this in mind when making your travel plans.
Once inside the resort, you’ll be greeted with a breathtaking view of lush greenery, crystal-clear waters, and luxurious amenities. The resort offers a wide range of activities and facilities to keep you entertained throughout your stay. From relaxing by the pool to indulging in spa treatments or taking advantage of its golf course proximity, there is plenty to do besides visiting Disney World.
Where is Shades of Green Located?
Shades of Green is a spacious, sprawling resort hotel situated between Disney’s Magnolia golf course and Disney’s Palm golf course on the Disney property. It is neither a Disney Good Neighbor Hotel nor a Disney-owned hotel. Shades of Green is located near Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, though walking to that resort to catch the monorail is no longer permitted. It has standard rooms, but they are some of the most spacious on the Disney property.
Who Can Stay at Shades of Green Disney?
A valid military ID is required to access Shades of Green, including use of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES for short) and dining areas. Eligibility requirements for staying at Shades of Green include being an eligible sponsor, such as active duty or retired military personnel, and their eligible family members and guests, including dependent spouses with a dependent ID as verified by the current DD Form.
Shades of Green is considered an Armed Forces Recreation Center (AFRC for short), and updated their access policy in January of 2020 to comply with the Disabled Veterans Equal Access Act of 2018. According to their website, “New Department of Defense/Army Regulations expanded authorized use at AFRC Resorts to Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war (POW), veterans with VA-documented service-connected disability ratings and Primary Family Caregivers of eligible Veterans under the VA Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers.” These new authorizations do not include the Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in Germany or the Dragon Hill Lodge in South Korea.
Additionally, The program “Salute to Our Veterans” allows veterans who have received an honorable discharge to stay at the resort in January and September each year.
What About Those Who Don’t Meet Eligibility Requirements?
Anyone not meeting these eligibility requirements may stay at the hotel while on vacation with an eligible sponsor. Much like the policy for purchasing discounted military tickets, valid military IDs are your ticket to almost everything on the property.
A spouse or sponsor with a valid military ID may book up to three rooms, and guests of the other rooms do not have to have a military ID provided the sponsor is staying in one of the three rooms.
What are the Rooms Like at Shades of Green?
As previously stated, the rooms are some of the largest on the property. Their website likens them to the deluxe category of Disney hotel rooms, and we 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 for fresh air if you need it. The bathrooms are a good size and have enough counter space to hold everyone’s toiletries. The guest rooms at Shades of Green are spacious and comfortable, with options for families and individuals. Room rates are based on pay grade; one service member can reserve up to three rooms at a time.
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 we ran out of specific toiletries and the kids 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 in providing transportation for you and your family to create priceless family memories in Central Florida.
During one day of our trip, we 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, 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 Shades of Green Resort restaurants includes Garden Galley and Evergreen’s. Garden Galley is the largest restaurant on the property, serving buffet-style food. 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.
Why Does Disney World Have a Military Hotel?
Believe it or not, Walter Elias 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). Walt was eager to serve in the Armed Forces.
Due to Walt’s service history, Disney Parks offers special discounts to military members, whether active or retired. Shades of Green Resort, a military hotel, offers exclusive discounts for eligible guests, including military veterans. In addition to the less expensive accommodations, a ticket office on-site sells discounted admission to Disney World and other Orlando-area attractions and theme parks.
Is it Worth it to Stay at Shades of Green?
Is Shades of Green “worth it?” With so many different places to stay on your Disney vacation, choosing one can be a challenge. The cost savings are wonderful if you travel on a budget and still want a great vacation. However, if you’re looking for a total Disney experience, you may find that 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, we would stay at Shades of Green Resort again. We would be more cognizant of the transportation challenges and extra time added to our daily routine. Time is money on my vacation!