by Military Diva
During the past twelve years, our family has enjoyed many vacations to Disney World. We have chosen to stay off-site at nearby resorts and hotels and on Disney property in both moderate and deluxe resorts. We have enjoyed all of our trips, but know there is truly something magical about a stay in a deluxe resort, at least until you pay the bill!!
Deluxe resorts offer large rooms, fantastic pools, excellent dining, enhanced transportation options and a few extra magic touches at a very high cost. We value these amenities, but as our family grew, we knew the cost of these extra services didn’t merge as well with our military salary. With great apprehension we booked a trip that included accommodations with the Shades of Green on Walt Disney World Resort. I am happy to say this may have been one of the best vacation choices our family has made.
Shades of Green on Walt Disney Resort is the only Armed Forces Recreation Center located within the Continental United States. It is magically located in Lake Buena Vista, within the Magic Kingdom Resort area of Walt Disney World. It provides 583 of the largest rooms and suites on Disney property, low room rates, championship golf courses, restaurants, coffee shops, fitness center and pools, busing to Disney attractions, and access to Disney Parks’ Extra Magic Hours. Whew!
But can it stand up to Disney standards? I am pleased to tell you that it can!
Now, I can rattle off information about eligibility, room rates and amenities. However, I would rather direct you to the Shades of Green website for all of this information.
My focus is more on the surprises and conveniences this resort has to offer, all for the rate of a Disney World Value resort.
Beauty!- Shades of Green is a beautiful resort. It is very green, tropical and full of wildlife. Centered around two PGA Championship golf courses, the grounds are meticulously maintained and almost seem to cater to wild birds and native animals. While these creatures are not intrusive, it is amazing to wake up and see wild turkeys slowly walking across your patio, or catch a glimpse of the tiny alligator that lives in the entry pond. (No worries, the staff members keep an eye on him and any guests that venture near the pond.)
Recreation!- Beyond the two golf courses there are tennis courts, playground, fitness center, and an arcade. Our greatest surprise though came from the two, newly upgraded pools.
Magnolia Pool- horseshoe shaped zero entry sand bottom pool with outdoor seating, showers, restrooms, hot tub and easy access to On the Greens Grille (golf course stop offering beverages and light lunch fare).
Mill Pond Pool – Mickey Mouse shaped pool with many options for families. This pool is large enough for a lap swim and also has outdoor seating, restrooms and access to Evergreens dining. It also offers an enclosed area for young guests to enjoy small water slides, water sprays and a water dump bucket while older guests have access to a larger water slide area.
Both pools offer basketball and volleyball nets and weekly poolside activities. In our opinion, these pool upgrades and activities alone elevate SOG to Disney Deluxe Resort standards.
Transportation!- SOG transportation to the attractions is very efficient. Bus service is on a more limited schedule than Disney Resorts. However, the schedule is posted clearly and drivers will constantly remind you of return schedules and bus locations. Guests also have the option of a short walk or a shuttle ride (golf cart) to Disney’s Polynesian resort for access to Disney World’s monorail service and buses.
Roomy!-Our room was huge! Standard rooms are over 400 sq. ft. and can accommodate 5 guests. Suites sleep up to 8. Our room was clean and comfortable. Priced at a lower cost than the value resorts, SOG rooms alone are certainly a glitch to the “you get what you pay for” theory.
Our first trip to Shades of Green was so relaxing and issue free that we have made it our go to resort for the past three years. Below are a few points to note if you would like to try Shades of Green for your next vacation.
*Shades of Green is a military, partner hotel owned and operated by the Department of Defense. Guests have to meet eligibility requirements to book at this resort.
*Being a non-Disney resort, Magical Express Transportation is NOT available from the airport. Guests have the option of renting a car for their stay and paying the $5 per day garage parking fee or utilizing private transport. The links below offer a few recommended options.
*You ARE eligible for Disney’s Extra Magic Hours in the parks and have access to large rooms, on property transportation and many other perks.
Shades of Green on Walt Disney Resort is an amazing resort in the heart of Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom Resort area. It easily meets our family’s desire for Disney deluxe accommodations for the rate of a value resort. It offers military families, veterans and many DoD members the ability to experience the excitement and beauty of Disney on a budget while having a relaxing, affordable area to return to at the end of the day.