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by Military Diva

Dear Military Families,

Your struggles are real. Life can be amazing during the home years.  But deployment years can take a toll on even the strongest of families.

Many in our country understand that battles are fought both on the front lines and on the home front. And many of our country’s companies honor this battle through heavy discounts to your families.

The Disney Company has generously and consistently offered a discount for Military families through their Armed Forces Salute discount.   They have made every attempt to honor your struggle by making their parks, resorts and cruise lines affordable. Through the use of this program you can save 30-40% off of your resort stay and close to 45% off of park tickets for stays in both Disney World and Disneyland.

But let’s face it, without months of savings or a tax refund just waiting to be spent, the discounted prices may still seem a bit intimidating.  (And we all know that despite our best intentions deployment years require unexpected repairs and/or replacements of at least two major appliances and one car repair-it’s inevitable!! Good bye savings.)

Now, while you will not find any better ticket discount than the Armed Forces Salute Tickets, there are two fantastic options available to military members to make the resort portion of your vacation affordable:  Shades of Green on Walt Disney World  (an Armed Forces Recreation Center) and the Armed Forces Vacation Club are both companies geared to Military Vacations..

Shades of Green on Walt Disney World

Shades of Green on Walt Disney Resort

Shades of Green, a resort reserved for Military and affiliates, is beautifully situated in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom resort area. While technically owned by the Department of Defense, SOG offers several of the benefits gained from staying in a Disney World Owned Resort-extra magic hours and on-property transportation are a few of these perks.

Add Deluxe resort status, large rooms, golf courses, access to both SOG and Disney Resort transportation (not Magical Express), two newly renovated pools, impressive dining and a spa and you can begin to see the lure of this resort.

Shades of Green Mill Pond pool area

Shades of Green Mill Pond pool area

But the greatest perk comes from Shades of Green’s low cost.

Room rates are based on your current rank! 

Regular room rates begin at $98 per night (E1- E6) ,$128 per night (E7 -E9/O1-O3) and $138 per night (O4-O10). While impressive alone, steady discounts often drive this cost even lower.

For example, a September special offers 30% off of room  rates and two complimentary buffets each morning.  For an E-6 you’re possibly looking at deluxe Magic Kingdom accommodations for $68 a night with a full breakfast for two thrown in-that’s a savings of almost $30 off the daily room rate and an additional daily  food savings of almost $30! Truly a magical deal.

Armed Forces Vacation Club

 Now here is a deal you can use anywhere in the world, not just near Disney Parks.  The Armed Forces Vacation Club is a free program open to all active, reserve, guard and retired members of the military.  If you have not heard of this program, make sure you are sitting and place any hot objects out of reach…this deal will knock you off of your feet!

Summer Bay Resort, an example of AFV club availability

Summer Bay Resort, an example of AFV club availability

AFV club offers Space-A available resorts to the military at the regular rate of ….(drum roll please) $349 a week.

Hotel rooms, studio condos, two and three bedroom condos, all available for under $400 a week (often much lower if you book during a discount!)

example of swim area at Summer Bay Resort

Example of swim area at Summer Bay Resort

How can this happen you ask?  Essentially time share resort properties will have openings that aren’t being booked by their members.  They offer these properties to AFV for use by the military.  Their rooms are filled and you are offered an amazing resort vacation-no membership required and no pressure to attend any timeshare sales presentations!!

Head to their website and “start my vacation search”. Select travel destination, travel dates and price type (Space-A) for a list of available resorts that meet your requirements.  Choose your resort and you will immediately have access to photos, resort overviews, and unit types available.

**Please remember, if searching for a resort for your Disney World/Disneyland vacation these resorts will not be on Disney Property.  Orlando and Anaheim both have many beautiful resorts that are very near to the parks, but you will not participate in Disney’s Extra Magic Hours, Disney’s Magical Express or any perks associated with a Disney Resort stay. What you will receive is a week-long stay in a spacious room/condo, resort specific amenities and the possibility of a full kitchen for less than the cost of two nights in most hotels.

Summer Bay Resort via AFVclub

Summer Bay Resort via AFV Club

So if you are wondering if you and your family can afford a Disney Vacation I gratefully say “Yes you can!”  Check out Shades of Green and the Armed Forces Vacation Club to begin your search for your most affordable vacation option.

 Signed with Honor and Respect,

Military Diva

Portions of this article previously ran on Entertainment New Media Network.

My name is Patricia, aka Military Diva, and I have a soft spot for Disney Destinations! After a two year post-9/11 deployment, our family was able to reconnect during a Disney World vacation. While counting on time together, we did not expect the touching service we received from Cast Members. We were treated like royalty! It is my mission as a writer for "Tips from the Disney Diva" and as owner of "All for Dreams Travel" to help other families experience their own special connections through travel.