By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

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Review: Shades of Green Resort at Walt Disney World

By Dave Shute


Review Shades of Green Resort from

Note: guests at Shades of Green are eligible for Disney World’s Early Entry program, and for its Extended Evening Hours. They are also eligible for early  access to Disney’s paid system for individual access to certain rides.

Shades of Green is a military-owned Armed Forces Recreation Center at Walt Disney World.

Located near the Magic Kingdom, it’s verdantly nestled among championship golf courses just across the street from Disney’s Polynesian Village resort.

Review ~ Shades of Green Resort at Walt Disney World from yourfirstvisit.netIt  provides really low prices on great rooms for U.S. military personnel, career military retirees, and their families and friends.

Eligible sponsors can rent three rooms, so long as one is for themselves; during much of the year, their spouse can also get another three.

So be nice to your military friends and family members and you might get invited to a room that is really inexpensive for its quality.

(More on eligibility is at Steve Bell’s Military Disney Tips here.)

Dad off the KoreanCoast on DDE 3611

My family has made a number of trips to Shades of Green. We visited most recently in late January and early February in a trip sponsored as always by my dad (above; career Navy).

Based on these visits, Shades of Green is a wonderful choice for eligible returning visitors to Walt Disney World.

However, for first time family visitors, a stay only at Shades is not the ideal choice. It does participate in several key programs, in particular  Disney World’s Early Entry program, and for its Extended Evening Hours. I believe they will also be eligible for early  access to its paid individual system for access to certain rides, but I have not yet found an authoritative statement on this (this should be cleared up soon).

However, Shades of Green has little kid appeal compared to alternatives, and despite a great location across the street from Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, because of common late starts and infrequent service in its bus fleet, so-so convenience.

Shades of Green Resort from


Families considering Shades of Green should also check out Disney World’s Armed Forces Salute, which may give them more inexpensive lodging choices and for sure will give cheaper tickets, and should keep their eye out for Shades of Green discounts.


What is now Shades of Green opened in 1973 as the Golf Resort, and changed its name in 1986 to the Disney Inn.

Shades of Green Resort from

In 1994 it was leased to, and in 1996 purchased outright by, the US Government, to create a resort for U.S. military personnel and their families and friends at Walt Disney World.

Shades of Green Resort from (2)

It is a self-funding Armed Force Recreation Center, and is managed and staffed by federal employees.

Shades of Green Resort from (4)
Nestled among two world-class golf courses with several inner courtyards as well, it has a lovely, tranquil setting…

Shades of Green Resort from (8)

…although the older three story wings aren’t as lovely as the newer five story section.

Shades of Green Resort from (11)

You’ll find lots of wildlife here too–I saw these deer jumping while I was walking the path down to Polynesian…

O10 Shades of Green Resort from

…and this bird (or perhaps an O10) deep in the resort itself.

Theming Shades of Green Resort from

As nice as it is, there’s hardly any Disney theming except for this Mickey statue in the lobby, and a Mickey-head pool. You really could be almost anywhere.


In 2004 a massive expansion was completed, and Shades of Green now offers almost 600 enormous rooms—at 480 square feet, the second largest standard rooms on Walt Disney World property (only standard rooms at the Four Seasons are larger).

Most rooms at Shades sleep five on two queens and a couch that folds down into 72×32 inch daybed.

There are also junior suites, family suites and regular suites.

Shades of Green Floor Plan from

Above is the floor plan of a standard room in the newer Palm wing.

Older Magnolia rooms have the same stuff, but have the couch closer to the window, the beds closer to the bath, and in the freed space a couple of partial walls that block, a bit, the couch and table area from the queens and dresser area.

Bed Side from Back Shades of Green Resort from

In terms of quality of furniture, fixtures, and other amenities, these rooms are directly comparable to Walt Disney World deluxe resorts. More on the accommodations at Shades is here.


There’s two pools at Shades of Green, both in the Magnolia wing:

Magnolia Pool Shades of Green Resort from (2)

…the Magnolia pool…

Mill Pond Pool Shades of Green Resort from

…and the Mill Pond pool.

Each has its positives, but together they are objectively too small for the 2500+ people the resort can hold. Luckily, typically people don’t fill the pools. More on these pools will come later in this review.


Manginos Shades of Green Resort from

Dining at Shades of Green is much better and more varied than that available at the Disney value resorts, but not nearly as good as that available at the typical Disney deluxe resort.

It is comparable to dining at moderates, but less expensive.

More on dining at Shades is here.


This site ranks resorts for first time family visitors based on their kid-appeal and then their convenience, and Shades of Green comes up short on both.

Kid Appeal. Unlike the richly kid-appealing theming of the Walt Disney World Resorts this site recommends, Shades of Green has very little evidence that you are staying within a mile of the Magic Kingdom.

Disney theming is limited to a pool shaped like Mickey Mouse’s head, and a statue of Mickey in the lobby.

Lobby Shades of Green Resort from (2)

Otherwise, Shades has more of the look and feel of a country club, or a business or convention hotel, and could be anywhere.

Bus Schedule Shades of Green Resort from

Convenience. Shades of Green has its own buses, and they run too infrequently, and (especially during off-peak seasons) too late in the morning for the resort to be convenient.

  • Buses are available to the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC), Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
  • The first morning buses to the latter two theme parks arrive too late for you to follow this site’s itineraries. See the bus schedule (click it to enlarge it), where buses leave at 8.30a for these parks.  You should arrive at the turnstiles before 8.30a, not leave the hotel then
  • The bus to the TTC is not nearly as convenient for Magic Kingdom visitors as are the buses from the other Walt Disney World resorts, which drop you off just outside—and 15-30 minutes closer—to the Magic Kingdom.
  • Shades of Green visitors can walk to Disney’s Polynesian Resort, and there take advantage of its transportation options. But this walk adds another 10-20 minutes to your transportation time (depending on your pace and your room location).

Polynesian Walkway Shades of Green Resort from (2)

It’s better to have your own car.  But while Disney resorts offer free parking at the theme parks, Shades guests have to pay $24 per day to park at the them. (Hotel parking is $7/day–much less than Disney now charges.)


The most remarkable thing about Shades of Green is its prices.

Shades of Green sets three basic levels of prices, increasing by military rate/rank. Standard room prices per night begin at $154/night.  (See Steve Bell’s Military Disney Tips here for details)

This means that during most times of the year, you get a deluxe-level room for less–often much less–than what you would pay to stay in a Walt Disney World moderate resort.

Moreover, unlike other hotels in Orlando, these prices are not jacked up during the various higher-demand seasons of the year.

These rates can be shared with family and friends:

  • Eligible guests can sponsor up to three rooms for family and friends, and, during most times of the year, their spouses can sponsor three more.
  • Such guests must be checked in by the sponsor when the sponsor checks in, and check out no later than when the sponsor checks out

But do check out Disney World’s Armed Forces Salute, which may give more inexpensive lodging choices and for sure will give cheaper tickets if a four-day ticket is tolerable, and should keep your eye out for Shades of Green discounts.


Map Shades of Green Resort at Walt Disney World

There are two wings at Shades of Green (see the map; click it to enlarge it).

  • The newer Palm wing rooms (lower right) are closer to the parking garage, and, on average, closer to the lobby where you’ll find most dining and shops, and, at a lower level, the bus stop.
  • The older Magnolia wing rooms (center left) are closer to the pools, arcade, and playground, but can be a hike to the main lobby.

If your group is such that you expect heavy use of the pools and playground, go with the Magnolia wing.  Otherwise choose Palm.


Eligible families looking for deluxe rooms at Walt Disney World at prices comparable to or well below those of a Walt Disney World moderate resort should investigate Shades of Green, after noting any deals and discounts that may bring Disney owned and operated resorts into their price range.

This is particularly the case for families returning to Walt Disney World.

First time visitors will likely have a better trip by staying at a Disney owned-and operated resort.

See also Steve Bell’s for tons more on Shades, and also his ebook on Shades of Green!

Steve Bell is the Military Moderator on this site. And Steve’s Military Disney Tips has always been the go-to site for military families looking to make the most out of their Disney World vacations.

But like every other website (especially mine), finding exactly what you need to know, in the right order, sometimes isn’t as easy as you’d like it to be.

So the great news is that Steve has published a Disney World guidebook for military families.

With entire chapters devoted to the Armed Forces Salute, to Shades of Green, and to other deals and perks available to military families, I can’t recommend it enough!!

This book will be a great help to military families contemplating a Disney World visit in 2018!!


This review continues here!

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1 brian { 03.24.15 at 1:56 pm }

flat out disagree!!! 🙂 SOG is truly a hidden gem for military…. been staying there for years…. yes I have stayed at GF, Contemporary, AKL and upcoming WL. I wont stay anywhere but a deluxe! So very one-sided

2 Dave { 03.24.15 at 3:36 pm }

Brian, please give me specifics where I’m wrong on the facts or one-sided in my judgement and I’ll gladly revise!!

Resort assessments on this site are aimed at first-time visitors who may never return, and have always been driven by 1. kid appeal compared to options, and 2. convenience compared to options.

Obviously other people use different criteria, which is why my reviews get so long!

3 Michael Randall { 03.24.15 at 3:43 pm }

I think your review is spot on for first time visitors, particularly for those with younger children. I have stayed at both SOG and the Value Resorts and think you have made many great points for the first trip. For those of us fortunate enough to get to return often, there are definitely times when SOG wins hands down. As one who has never grown up, the Value Resorts at Disney are much more appealing to us kids and should be experienced at least once. 🙂

4 Dave { 03.24.15 at 4:51 pm }

Thanks Michael–and I edited your comment!

5 Steve From - Military Moderator { 03.24.15 at 6:27 pm }


Everyone has one, and they are usually different!

Everyone also has different vacation and touring thoughts and objectives.

YourFirstVisit is a site expressly for first time WDW visitors, who might never return. Dave’s perspective as a reviewer is solely aimed at those individuals, though others can pick up info too.

Yes, Shades is a hidden gem, especially for Category 1 guests and it was all we had in the way of a military room discount prior to the Disney Armed Forces Salute.

My perspective is that of a WDW addict and the Disney Armed Forces Salutes, since 2009 have allowed me to stay at a wide variety of WDW resorts at a huge savings.

Shades holds a special place in my heart as the first on property, multi-night vacation my young family had back in 2000, made possible by the low cost. But I’d rather have the Disney experience and Shades could be a resort located anywhere in the world, there is no way to know that you are at WDW. I only stay at Shades (while the Salutes continue) for reviews and to keep up with changes.

Others bring a wide variety of perspectives to their WDW vacations, which fortunately all of the magic at WDW can accommodate.

6 Andrea { 07.08.15 at 8:12 am }

I’m helping a friend plan her trip for Jan 10-14, 2016. She was looking at staying at SOG. Since that is a low crowd week, do you think she would be able to get FP+ for SDMT and Anna & Elsa at 30 days out? This is her first visit, so I sent her your review and recommended she do a split stay at a WDW resort, as you suggest.

7 Dave { 07.09.15 at 8:09 am }

Andrea, no on Anna and Elsa, perhaps on SDMT.

8 PegP { 01.25.20 at 12:43 am }

We’ve been to Disney several times, and I can honestly say that my kids haven’t judged their resorts based on Disney theming. They get that at the parks. All they really look at are the pools. And unless you’re staying at Art of Animation, the Value Resorts pools are nothing special, and even AoA doesn’t have a slide.

The other way that Shades of Green surpasses the values, even for first-time visitors, is the location. When you have small children, those packed-to-the-brim Disney buses can get very trying when you’re at resorts that are far from the park.

Not everyone wants to be completed submersed in Disney 24/7 while at Disney, even first-time visitors. Had I known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have stayed at Art of Animation on our first trip. You’re the farthest from Magic Kingdom, there’s no table restaurants, plain pools, and small rooms (REALLY small rooms), and double beds (or worse yet, Murphy beds). Unless money was a real object, I would never recommend a Value Resort to a first time visitor. So, and this is merely my opinion, I think Shades of Green beats any value (and most moderates) hands down, even for those going for the first, and possibly only, time.

9 Dave { 01.26.20 at 10:43 am }

Peg, thanks for your very thoughtful comments. If you use different criteria for sorting, you will certainly get different answers. It’s for that reason that 1) i am so explicit on what my criteria are, and 2) I have such detailed reviews of all the relevant hotels, for those who don’t care what my criteria are!

I do disagree specifically on one point. The location of Shades, from a convenience point of view, matters less than the quality of its bus service. In my experience, the Shades buses start too late, end too early, have too infrequent service, and because of the focus on TTC rather than the MK and Epcot lots, force a two-step process that the Disney resorts don’t.

10 Wilhelmine { 03.25.21 at 3:34 am }

The Shades buses leave something to be desired, but the Polynesian is within walking distance to use Disney World buses or monorail.

11 Dave { 03.26.21 at 8:31 am }

Yup, as noted many places in this review…

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