Shades of Green:
The Other Resort on Disney Property

by Rose Folan
AllEars® Feature Writer

Feature Article

This article appeared in the February 12, 2002 Issue #125 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)


Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.


(Editor's Note: As reported last week, Shades of Green has announced that the entire resort will close April 1, 2002, to undergo a major expansion project. It's slated to reopen in September 2003. Although you may not get the chance to stay at this resort until next year, we thought you might enjoy reading about it now, so you can start planning for later! By the way, Shades of Green will continue taking reservations during its closure -- guests will be placed at another resort on Walt Disney World property.)

Nestled between two championship golf courses, the Shades of Green resort on Walt Disney World property is unique in a couple of ways.

First, it's available only to military personnel, including active and retired members of the uniformed services, Reserves and National Guard, and Department of Defense civilian employees.

Second, lodging cost is based on military-pay grade and ranges from $66 to $99 per night -- a bargain by anyone's standards. But even more amazing than those rates is that since the hotel was originally built as the deluxe Disney Inn, the accommodations are exceptional.

Additionally, while Disney is shuttering hotel rooms and putting new construction on hold, Shades of Green continues to operate at 90% to 99% capacity and is planning an expansion that will double its current 287 rooms.

The hotel has some of the largest on-property rooms (480 square feet) and each room comfortably accommodates five people. Rooms are well maintained, decorated in soft colors and have lovely light-pine furniture. They include two queen-size beds, a sleeper sofa, bureau, and armoire with television as well as a dining table and four chairs. All rooms also have either a private balcony or patio.

As if the rates and accommodations aren't enough to bring people here, there's even more. Take the location for example -- not off somewhere in the maze of highways and byways of greater Orlando, Shades of Green is close enough that guests can watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from their rooms. It's also only a short walk from both the Polynesian (10 minutes) and the Ticket and Transportation Center (15 minutes).

Or, if you don't feel like walking, take the free transportation provided exclusively for Shades of Green guests. Two buses serve guests, who must show a room key to ride. One runs to the TTC; the other does a circuit of Animal Kingdom, Blizzard Beach and Disney-MGM Studios.

Additionally, guests have the same privileges as Disney-resort guests, so after taking that quick walk to the Polynesian or TTC, Shades' guests can board the monorail or other Disney transportation free of charge.

Now before you think that your tax dollars are subsidizing this elegant vacationing by members of the Armed Forces, let me assure you that Armed Forces Recreation Centers -- like Shades of Green -- are not government subsidized. These recreation centers are expected to operate without federal funding and to generate sufficient revenue to cover all expenses. In fact, Shades of Green's upcoming expansion plans hinge on finding private funding.

Before my first visit, I knew most of this. I'd read all the literature. I'd looked at all the photos. But nothing, and I repeat nothing, prepared me for what I found at Shades of Green, because the information doesn't fully convey what an unbelievable place this is to visit.

If I were to tell you my first impressions, they would be that Shades is an exceptionally friendly place to stay, and that it's an oasis of peace and tranquility in the midst of the fun and excitement of the Walt Disney World Resort.

My retired-military husband and I stayed at the Boardwalk Inn during our first visit to WDW, so I actually expected to be disappointed by Shades of Green. After all, the Boardwalk Inn is so convenient to everything, and it's a deluxe resort offering all the Disney amenities. But Shades of Green did not disappoint! If I missed anything, it was Mickey's morning wake-up call (which isn't available). But that's it!

When we arrived at Shades, we found the staff very friendly and helpful. But a most pleasant surprise came the next morning. As we walked down the hall to breakfast, everyone -- including other guests -- greeted us with a friendly "good morning" and a smile. Now, that was very different from other hotels where everyone avoids any greeting in the halls -- especially before breakfast!

Soon we discovered this is one of the greatest things about staying at Shades of Green -- the friendliness. Perhaps it's camaraderie because everyone is somehow related to the Armed Forces, but I can tell you it's wonderful. Let me also say that from the comments ALL EARS received recently from readers, our experience wasn't unique. Many of you have echoed these same sentiments.

The other thing we really enjoy is the sense of relaxation at Shades of Green. After a hectic day at the parks, it's wonderful to return to the midst of this quiet country inn surrounded by greenery. We especially enjoy going down to Evergreens, the sports bar, to sit outside on the deck, have a cold drink and maybe a snack, while unwinding after a busy day. We return to our room relaxed and ready for a good night's sleep before our next busy day.

Speaking of the next day, you can't beat waking up and drawing your drapes to see the wonderful, peaceful, green expanse of the golf course beyond your balcony. That alone is enough to make me never want to leave!

As I mentioned, Shades of Green was built as a deluxe hotel. So guests can expect the same amenities as any deluxe hotel, from lighted tennis courts and two heated swimming pools (plus an adults-only hot tub and a kids' pool and play area) to in-room amenities including a safe, iron and ironing board, hair dryer and coffee maker.

While the hotel includes one full-service restaurant, a lounge and a sports bar, food tends to be the one area where opinions differ. As with everything else at Shades of Green, the prices are very reasonable, but not everyone is enthusiastic about the quality or selection of food.

The Garden Gallery, the restaurant, is large and bright. Service is friendly and attentive. My husband and I really enjoy starting our day with the breakfast buffet. It offers a good selection of hot and cold items, which change daily, at a reasonable price.

We've never tried the dinner buffet, which has a different theme each evening, opting instead to make our main meal a mid-afternoon lunch while at WDW. But I've heard differing opinions about dinner, ranging from excellent food and price to bland food and too expensive. So my guess is that, like most things in life, it's really up to the individual.

Non-guests can also eat at the restaurant. But, like all military facilities, Shades of Green has a guard posted at the gate and photo identification is required before visitors are given a guest pass and permitted entry.

There is one thing we've missed at Shades of Green -- that is seeing the alligators. But from ALL EARS readers' comments, I guess we're the only ones! So many of you commented on how you and your children enjoy visiting the two ponds on Shades property and seeing the alligators and other animals. I guess we're going to have to be more attentive next time!

More information (including the comments from ALL EARS readers) about Shades of Green can be found at http://allears.net/acc/faq_sog.htm

Also be sure to visit the Shades of Green photo gallery at http://allears.net/acc/g_sog.htm


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Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.