Military Perspective – No Shades of Green for Me

Recently, a Chip Panel Blogger wrote a great article about where to start planning a Disney Vacation as a military family.  This article is a great overview of some fantastic options.  I wanted to expand on this article from my perspective.

As a member of the U.S. Military for over 7 years now, I have taken full advantage of many of the perks Walt Disney World offers to the U.S. Military.  I am regularly asked questions by my coworkers what the best options are and I usually hear everyone say that they stay at the Shades of Green.  Why?  The assumption that the “military resort” offers the best deals for members of the military and their families.

The first time I looked into the Shades of Green, it was completely booked.  When that happens, they have an overflow rate at the Disney resorts, even if they have no official discount.  When I was looking, the discount offered from WDW was a better deal than the Shades of Green overflow rate.



As mentioned in the previous article, there is no transportation from the airport, so either a car rental or a cab ride is necessary.  If you do rent a car, the cost to park at the Shades of Green is $5 per day and this does not transfer to the parking lots for the theme parks.

Then comes the actual cost of staying at Shades of Green versus staying at a Disney resort.  1st – while I’ve never experienced the SoG first hand, the pictures don’t make me feel like it is as magical and filled with Disney magic – after all, it is not run and operated by Disney.  I have coworkers and friends who have stayed and enjoyed it, but when I look at cost, I still see it as Disney vs. Non-Disney.

Let me show you this comparison:

For E6 to-E9, O1 to O3, WO-1 to CW3, a Standard Room runs for $123 per night.  More for higher ranks, less for lower ranks.

With Walt Disney Worlds 35% of a moderate resort offer, a night at the Port Orleans Riverside Resort runs for $117 night.

Though the Shades of Green does consider itself a “deluxe” resort, I would choose Disney Magic an extra perk to staying at POR.  And, with the 40% discount on Deluxe Resorts, a night in a standard view at the Animal Kingdom Lodge would be $195 per night.  That includes parking, Disney’s Magical Express, and full time Disney Magic.

Which would you choose?

  • Disney salutes the U.S. Military (chipandco.com)
  • Planning a Disney Vacation for Military Families (chipandco.com)

Jenn

With family in Florida, Jenn started traveling to WDW as a baby and hasn't stopped.She visits annually or more if possible with her husband and two sons. Jenn can be found at http://www.Disneybabiesblog.com and on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/disneybabiesblog
Military Perspective – No Shades of Green for Me was last modified: September 8th, 2013 by Jenn




  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chanel-Chapman/100003569995582 Chanel Chapman

    We have gone to Disney twice in 2 years now, and both times we stayed at SOG. I really don’t understand what you mean by “missing” the Disney magic. Shades of Green used to be the Disney Inn. This property was built with all the same stuff the others are. It was just purchased by MWR in the 90s. It still has a Mickey shaped pool, A picture pose spot with Mickey, an ice cream shop, some pretty fun extra play areas, a couple of restaraunts theme days with special events and more. The rooms are huge and beautiful. The decor is much better than the cheap and garish look of a lot of the Disney resorts. Everyone is really nice. The best part is that because of the location and the fact that there are a lot of military staying there, the hotel is quiet. That is the most important thing to me after a long and hot day in the parks. I just want a cold drink from my mini fridge, a shower and some sleep. Oh, and when I stayed in September of 2011, my room cast $50 a night. I couldn’t stay in a flea motel for that much in Orlando.

  • Abubbles77

    Whrn looking for for last trip..we thought about SOG, but since we could not get the dining plan we decided to stay at POP. It was a little bit more per night for the room, but having the dining plan was worth it for us.

  • Chattycat2008

    Just in case some misunderstand…..Disney is the one that has decided to charge the parking fees at the parks not Shades…..unless it has something to do with the resort themselves, Disney calls the shots. I only know this because we had called and talked to personnel as to why some changes and not for the better, were being made and that was what was explained to us.

  • Chattycat2008

    EMH have always been part of staying at Shades that has never been taken away…..we go there at least twice a yr and have always been able to be part of the EMH…as for the DDP and ME…they probably prefer to not be part of if so as to not raise the rates for their guests, because Shades has their own DP now…..I honestly prefer not to be part of ME I dont like having to make all these other stops. I like having a private driver meet me at the gate, take care of my bags and off we go. No waiting around.

  • CoreyA

    I wrote the blog post that you’re referring to, and did point out pretty much everything that you hit about SoG. My issue with this post, respectfully, is that you’ve never stayed there. You’ve formed an opinion about a very nice hotel without even walking through the door or giving it a chance. We may not stay there as often when our room rate goes up when my husband gets promoted, but it can’t be beat when you’re on a budget. I checked. I would suggest at least giving it a try. You might be surprised.

  • Usachick4

    They couldnt take the discount at Shades of Green that we were getting, and FIL is a contractor so he has to pay the highest price.

  • Anonymous

    It wasn’t so much a review as my opinion on why I don’t stay. I buy my tickets on my post tax-free before I leave – usually better discounts that aren’t necessarily offered at WDW. Thanks for your opinion.

  • Patti Stough

    I have stayed at both Shades of Green and Disney Resorts. Sometimes I find better deals through Disney sometimes I have found better deals through Shades of Green. I do like the Shades of Green, but our past visit the service was not as good as what it had been neither was the food. I have not experienced any poor service or bad food through Disney yet and have had pretty good discounts for military. I have also found booking myself I have gotten better deals then through SOG overflow rate. My kids also have enjoyed some of the activities that Disney has to offer at their hotels that SOG does not offer.

  • Anonymous

    Just checking when you say it’s cheaper for in-laws at Pop – as a military member, you can sponsor extra rooms at SoG for the same discount. Not sure if that was included in your decision for Pop!

  • Anonymous

    Great tips about the AAFES! I totally forgot to mention that. I didn’t see the current 50% off – that does make them a great deal!

  • Anonymous

    Well I didn’t mean to put you off by writing this – that is why I included it in the article. The military deals aren’t like the other deals – they’re valid when deals for others are not – so it’s always worth a shot to check. And, though EMH are available, I’ve heard in past years, they weren’t always an option. Non-Disney resorts have the option to pay for those or not to and in past years, SoG had chosen not to include them. I am glad they are back, but for my opinion, I would rather the Disney Magic for the price.

  • Chattycat2008

    Totally disagree respectfully of course! But we have stayed at Shades since it opened in 94, went through all the latest transformations with them, to which it only heightened our experiences there. You cant beat the location, across from the Poly so we can walk over and hop on the monorail. The rooms are some of the largest on property…Disney rates Shades right up there with their deluxe resorts. Yes they dont have magical express but there are car companies that charge $109 r/t to take us to Shades and back to MCO and have a store run if needed. We get all the other perks as if we are staying at a Disney resort (cept the DDP). I have stayed at Deluxe and Mod Disney resorts and we always say give us Shades of Green anytime. We love the interior corridors, you dont feel like you are staying at a motel like we do at the mods and value. There are 3 pools….gorgeous golf courses, 3 awesome restuarants, gift shops, a gym, bus transportation to all the parks and to DTD, they run as much as the Disney buses do and whats nice is we dont share with anyother resort, like most do! Do we have a Disney motif in our room, nope, its a tropical theme, just like we’ve seen at the Poly!! Oh and not to mention we get special TAX FREE rates and TAX FREE tickets……sure you can go and stay at the Disney resorts at a military discount, but Disney still charges you a resort tax! Its all what you want to pay for, but for someone to give a review that has never experienced Shades first hand, isn’t really concrete information now is it?

  • Akspeach

    As a surviving spouse, I have stayed at SoG several times, but only because they are running a special right now for surviving family members.The rooms are 50% off which makes them a good deal. I usually drive then park at the Polynesian instead of paying $14 for parking at the parks.

    When this offer is not in place, you are absolutely right, the WDW military discount is a better deal. I find it odd that the rooms are so expensive (my husband was an 04, so that puts the price up there) and do not offer the perks of the WDW resorts (except EMH), and they charge for parking.

    One tip I have, even if you are not staying at SoG, they have an AAFES shoppette on site and the prices for basics (milk, bread, soda cereal) is much cheaper than the other on site stores. Plus, they sell liquor at Class VI prices and have souvenirs that are slightly cheaper, though limited selection.

  • ArmyMom

    I’ve stayed at SOG plus Disney hotels. The best deal takes some research – sometimes its a WDW hotel, sometimes it is SoG. The lower the rank, the better deal by staying at SoG (IMO). And if you go when no discounts are available (esp for those of us who can only travel during school vacations), the difference in room price can be huge. The rooms at SoG are HUGE – something the article doesn’t mention and can be important to a large family or to a family looking at SoG versus a value/mod WDW hotel. And you can take full advantage of the “extra Magic hours”, etc. Because of the central location of SoG, as well as the availability of the bus system, there really isn’t a need to park your car at each of the theme parks. While I wish they didn’t charge for parking, we factor that cost into the room rate when budgeting for the vacation.
    I’m a little put off that this article was written by someone who has only viewed pictures of SoG rather than someone who has actually stayed there.
    There are definitely some pros and cons to consider. Does it have the Disney “magic” of the Disney deluxe resorts? Nope, no question. But when we stayed at a deluxe WDW resort recently, we were surprised that the room was actually smaller than the one at SoG. The SoG pool is a shaped like a big Mickey head – not as themed as the mod/deluxe pools but much nicer than the value pools. SoG is an option that should not be dismissed simply by looking at the pictures of the resort. One big con is the food option – unless things have changed in the last 2 years, the restaurants at SoG were not up to the Disney standards we expect. But with so many dining options at WDW, that did not affect us.
    If you’re looking for an experience like watching the animals at AK at the SoG, this hotel probably isn’t for you. But if you are looking for a hotel ON Disney property (that is closer to the MK than any of the mod/values and even some of the deluxe properties..), with some the perks of a Disney resort, with a room that can easily accommodate a family of 5 – 6, large bath, workout area, great running access and is located just across the street from the Poly, give this hotel a try. Mickey may not be there to greet you but he’s just across the street. Literally.

  • Usachick4

    270 days and Vow renewal at SOG (sorry long night)

  • Usachick4

    We have stayed at both Pop and Shades. If you are looking for comfort you cant beat Shades of Green. They offer a 20% discount if you have been deployed 270 or more. This comes out to $99 a night (or $104 if you add in the $5 parking). The rooms are also larger, they have queen size beds and a single sleeper sofa, and there are 5 options for food at the hotel. The park transportation isnt an issue either. You are with in walking distance to Poly so you can hop on the monorail from there if you dont want to take Shades of Green transportation. If you are looking for a relaxing vacation Shades is great. Heck we are going there in April for 2 nights b4 moving over to the Pop (and having our Vow Renewal there). There are a lot of discounts at Shades that can bring the cost cheaper than staying at a Disney Hotel. I dont find that it lacks that Disney touch at all either. You have the Patriotic Mickey and the Mickey pool. It’s a great option for military members, esp when the discount rate isn’t there anymore. This will be our 3rd time staying there. The only reason we are moving to Pop is because it was cheaper for my MIL/FIL. Over all WE would have come out cheaper at SOG vs POP. I will continue to suggest Shades of Green for those wanting a comfortable trip. They just need to check w/ their ITT/ITR office to have it priced and see which would be better for them in the long run.

  • MaryW

    Totally agree. As retired military, we pick up our park tickets at SOG, and it is a pleasant hotel, but not nearly as cool as a Deluxe (or even moderate) Disney Resort! Too expensive for us. We stay at the Value Resorts, and enjoy the free parking and transportation there.

  • http://www.facebook.com/wendyla Wendy Johnson La

    Just driving into SoG and trying to talk to their Front Desk was enough for me. I don’t think I’d stay there.