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

Available on Amazon here.

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Military Families at Walt Disney World and A Split Stay at Shades of Green

By Dave Shute



Eligible military families, and civilians who can travel with an eligible military sponsor, should consider a split stay (staying at two resorts during one trip) at Walt Disney World that includes Shades of Green, based on its very low prices.

Shades of Green is a deluxe-level resort owned by the U.S. Department of Defense, across the street from the Polynesian.


Those eligible to stay at Shades of Green include active duty and retired members of the US Military, current members of the Reserves and National Guard, employees of DOD, U.S. Public Health Service Officers, their families, and people that they sponsor and accompany on the same trip (but not necessarily in the same room–unless you wish to do so).

See this for more specifics on eligibility, services, etc. And check out Steve Bell’s Shades of Green e-book.

Rates vary by rank/rate, and are exceedingly low for rooms of the size (as large as any standard rooms owned by Disney!) and quality offered.For example, junior enlisted (E-5 and below) will pay about $95 a night, and field grade officers pay around $135 a night.These rooms sleep up to 5.

In addition, Family Junior Suites, sleeping up to 6 ($250 per night for all rates/ranks), and Family Suites, sleeping up to 8 ($275 per night for all rates/ranks), are available.


Rooms are comparable to those at Disney-owned deluxe hotels.However, the overall look and feel, while not military, is spartan, and is not nearly as kid-appealing as any Disney-owned hotel. Transportation is much less convenient than at the Polynesian.

Because it is not so appealing and/or convenient, take advantage of its low rates through using a split stay. (On visits after your first, it’s a great place for your entire trip, but on your first visit go for the split stay!)

  • If you are aimed at Art of Animation or another Value, spend your first four nights at Art of Animation, and your last four at Shades of Green (don’t reverse the order, or you’ll be too spoiled by the space at Shades of Green to enjoy Art of Animation!).
  • If you are aimed at the Polynesian or another deluxe, spend your first four nights at Shades of Green and your last four at the Polynesian. (Here, too, don’t reverse the order, or you will be too spoiled by the kid appeal and convenience of the Polynesian to enjoy Shades of Green!)


For an overview of Shades of Green, see this. For the official Shades of Green website, click here.
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.

Walt Disney World for Military Families

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

With entire chapters devoted to the 2016 salute, to Shades of Green, and to other deals and perks available to military families, I can’t recommend it enough!!

It’s available as a PDF–probably the most convenient format–here, and on here.

This book will be a great help to military families contemplating a Disney World visit in 2016!!


Comments moderated by Steve Bell of Military Disney Tips.


1 john { 01.09.13 at 1:41 pm }

Great site! I am considering a split stay between SOG and poly but wondering how I can still use magical express airport shuttle both ways?

Also, could I easily walk with all my luggage from SOG to poly?


2 Dave { 01.09.13 at 5:22 pm }

Hey Tom, and thanks! No on the second, unless all you have is rolly bags. It’s a real hike with luggage. On the first, I’m not sure–I think you can but am going to see what I can find out.

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3 Steve From { 01.09.13 at 6:18 pm }

Hi John,

Dave asked me to chime in.

I have done split stay sat Shades/Disney resort and Disney resort/Disney resort.

First know that doing Shades/Disney is a little harder logictically. You will be on your own for baggage transfer as you mentioned. Where if you were doing Disney/Disney you could have the bell staff at your first resort pick up your bags and they would magically appear in your new room.

You’ll need to check out of Shades by 1100 and get your bags to the Poly. As Dave said if you have roller boards the walk could work, it’s about a 15 min walk without luggage. Shades does offer the Shady Shuttle which will take you to the Shades entry gate cutting about half of your walk off. You could take the Shades bus to the TTC but the walk to the Poly would be about the same.

Once at the Poly you’ll need to get the bell staff to store your bags until your room is ready. You can pre-check in, then you can get on with your day.

Upon return to the Poly at the end of the day or after check in time, you’ll find out your new room number and arrange for you bags to be delivered. as I said I’ve done this (once) for the price savings as Dave mentions on this page.

As far as the Magical Express, you might have an issue (I’m checking with a third resource now). The Magical Express is supposed to take you to the Disney resort you are staying at, in this case the Poly. This past summer I had a reservation at Allstar Sports but wanted to go to Riverside as I’d left my car there and had to get management involved. My question is, arriving several days before your Disney reservation would they even have you in the ME system. I’ll report back with what I hear.

If it does work out, you’d need to get from the Poly to Shades.

4 Dave { 01.10.13 at 7:33 am }

Thanks a million, Steve!

5 Steve From { 01.09.13 at 10:10 pm }

Just heard back from my travel agent friend, and you are only eligible for the Magical express on the day of check in to your Disney hotel…

So you could only use it on the way home.


6 Lori { 01.26.13 at 4:34 pm }

We are booked for our first trip to Disney this April with our soon to be 5 yr. old daughter. I booked the Shades of Green for our entire stay. How much should we expect to pay for meals every day (2 adults, 1 child) eating at character meals or nicer restaurants ever night? Also, 3 character breakfasts? Will we be disappointed to not stay at a Disney resort? We do not want to split our time between 2 resorts, having to move during our stay. Is the Grand Floridian worth the extra $3,000 for a week just for the room? (that’s where we would stay but now there is construction). How much will Disney dining deluxe plan save us vs paying full prices? Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

7 Dave { 01.26.13 at 6:28 pm }

Lori, on your food price questions I can’t help you–that’s too idiosyncratic, and it would take me a while to do the math, which would still be wrong as I would not be picking out the places you want to eat at. Your best bet is to set a rough plan for where and when, and price out your meals using menus you can find on the internet. See one of my itineraries for a starting point on which meals to target–see e.g. The meals are on the image.

I can tell you that most people who get the deluxe dining plan with a 5 year old find it to be a waste of money, as getting full value out of it requires more scheduled meals than a family can tolerate. Moreover, the Grand Floridian would be pretty far down my list of recommended deluxe resorts. See this:

Sorry to not be a lot of help!

8 Larry { 01.14.14 at 6:29 pm }

We have a one night reservation at the Coronado Springs resort and then transfer to SOG for 6 nights. How do we get our luggage to the SOG? Thanks.

9 Dave { 01.15.14 at 7:27 am }

Larry, I cna’t think of a good option other than a cab. There’ll be a cab stand outside of the main lobby…ask a cast member where it is…

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