Shades of Green is a military hotel at Walt Disney World that offers Deluxe Resort-caliber accommodations, and is located in the Magic Kingdom area. In this review, we’ll share thoughts on our past stays here, provide basic info, a photo tour, and whether it’s worth sacrificing theme for the heavily discounted nightly room rates. (Updated April 6, 2023.)
Most Walt Disney World guests are not eligible to book Shades of Green; the hotel is available for military service members, their families, and sponsored guests. As an Armed Forces Recreation Center, the resort has eligibility requirements that must be met in order to qualify for booking, with U.S. Department of Defense civilians and survivor families qualifying just being some of the eligible guests. Refer to this chart to determine whether you qualify.
Growing up, Shades of Green became my family’s go-to resort for our annual trips from around the time the U.S. Department of Defense leased the resort from Disney in 1994 until around the early 2000s, with one stay at Dixie Landings during that time because Shades of Green had overbooked. We’ve stayed again more recently with my parents, and wanted to share thoughts and photos from our experiences…
Much of the online discussion around Shades of Green seems to revolve around whether it feels “Disney” enough. From a thematic perspective, this is more akin to a golf resort than it is a themed Walt Disney World resort.
In fact, back when it was Disney owned, Shades of Green was originally known as the Golf Resort. Later, it was changed to the Disney Inn due to a lack of popularity, with an accompanying Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs motif.
We’ve stayed at three different golf resorts in Central Florida, and Shades of Green is a quintessential example of these. Muted green and beige color schemes, classy but understated design, and indoor-outdoor design. I don’t know what the exact style is, but parts of it remind me of a 1970s Floridian merger of modern and craftsman. (Other areas, like the lobby, are more like modern-rustic.)
Suffice to say, you don’t stay at Shades of Green for in-your-face theme. It’s more like a place to escape theme, with the bordering golf courses, water features, and landscaping all imparting a sense of relaxation and serenity. You most definitely will not find oversized Disney characters or re-created locales. Shades of Green is very taste-specific; I happen to like it, but your mileage may vary.
April 6, 2023 Update: One of our favorite features of Shades of Green is that it’s located across the street from Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort; less than 15 minutes lobby to lobby. Whenever we stayed at Shades of Green, we would do this walk to the Poly and use the monorail or boats for transportation to Magic Kingdom or EPCOT. This is far quicker than using the Shades of Green bus, as it drops you off at the TTC.
Unfortunately, that will no longer be possible next month. Due to the World Drive Expansion Project, the walkway between the Shades of Green Resort and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort will permanently close on May 1, 2023. This is not simply a construction closure; the sidewalk is being removed as World Drive is widened from two lanes to a 4-lane highway with no crosswalk once finished in 2027.
In an attempt to offset the sidewalk closure, which is a big blow for guests who preferred walking, Shades of Green has indicated that it’ll add buses to the TTC route. That should help, but it honestly will not be the same. Shades of Green bus service is inefficient, and waits can be especially bad for guests with ECVs.
For Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, and Disney Springs, we used Shades of Green buses. We found them always to be on time and efficient. Here’s hoping that the expanded bus service to TTC makes getting to Magic Kingdom and EPCOT easier and quicker, too.
On a positive note, even though Shades of Green is not owned by Walt Disney World, it is still largely treated as an on-site resort with Disney benefits. This means that Shades of Green guests have access to Early Entry and Extended Evening Hours, both of which are hugely advantageous.
That means bonus access to TRON Lightcycle Run at Magic Kingdom and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at EPCOT, both of which are currently still using virtual queues. Previously, Shades of Green did not offer other on-site perks (like Disney’s Magical Express or free MagicBands), but those have all been eliminated for Disney-owned hotels, so the gap is almost non-existent. If anything, the on-site perks at Shades of Green are better than Value or Moderate Resorts (minus transportation and parking).
Even if Shades of Green is not your cup of tea thematically, if you are eligible to stay at Shades of Green, you absolutely should. For starters, the rooms are huge. Size-wise, they’re roughly equivalent to the Polynesian (remember, both resorts are ‘Vacation Kingdom’ era Disney), but price-wise, they are a fraction of the cost.
Nightly rates depend upon rank, room category, and number of adults, but prices for 2 adults in a standard room (which is larger than guest rooms at the Grand Floridian) start at under $200 per night. The rooms are fairly nondescript, but that price cannot be beat. (You can see room photos and rates based upon rank here.)
Even if you’re able to score a 40% off military rate at the Polynesian or Contemporary, you’re still looking at double–or potentially triple-those rates. Unless the thematic touches matter a lot, I cannot fathom paying so much more for a monorail loop resort.
Due to its pricing, Shades of Green is usually fully booked, and often sells out months in advance. Reservations can be made a year in advance, and booking as close to that year mark is advised for some seasons. December is especially popular.
In terms of amenities, the two big ones are pools and dining. There are several restaurants at Shades of Green, ranging from grab and go cafes and coffee spots (serving Starbucks!) to the full service Mangino’s and Evergreen’s. These restaurants are all incredibly affordable, with ‘real-world’ prices rather than Walt Disney World inflation.
I can’t really offer insight into the quality of any of these restaurants. Evergreen’s was my family’s go-to growing up, and I absolutely loved ordering the dinosaur nuggets and playing Twilight Zone pinball there. Ten year old me would give those dinosaur nuggets an A+, but I’m not so sure that’s a credible review (nor am I sure they even offer dinosaur nuggets anymore, but it would be a travesty if not).
The Mill Pond Pool is Mickey Mouse-shaped and features a splash park along with a three-level playscape & waterslide. This is the main pool at Shades of Green, with zero entry, a hot tub, lap lane, and variety of games daily.
Magnolia Pool is more laid back, ideal for lounging or a game of Marco Polo.
Another important amenity is the ticket office. This is where military members can purchase tickets at steep discounts, including the popular Walt Disney World Armed Forces Salute and the Stars & Stripes ticket offers. Note that you do not have to be staying at Shades of Green to purchase tickets here (you still must be eligible military, though), and the benefit of buying at Shades of Green is the lack of sales tax.
In addition to Walt Disney World tickets, the office here sells a variety of other discounted tickets for other parks and attractions in Orlando and the greater Central Florida area.
One other thing to consider is the vibe at Shades of Green. This may vary much appeal to members of your party who are not totally “into” the whole Disney thing. As to what I mean by this, I’ll offer my dad as an example. He is the stereotypical military man: gets up at the crack of dawn daily for no discernible reason, gruff demeanor, and fairly reserved. I’m not sure to what degree he liked our annual trips to Walt Disney World when I was a kid, or if what he mostly enjoyed was seeing the joy it brought my mom and me.
In any case, age has definitely not made him more of a fan. During our most recent stay at Shades of Green, unquestionably his favorite thing was getting up at the crack of dawn, getting coffee, and talking to other retirees. His second favorite thing was getting back from the parks, sitting in the lobby, and chatting. This was a nice respite from the parks for him, and when we took my parents back to Walt Disney World more recently and stayed at Fort Wilderness, I could tell he definitely missed the camaraderie offered by Shades of Green.
I would bet this dynamic is not unique to my family, and is something to consider if the military member in your party is less enthusiastic about a trip to Walt Disney World. Staying at Shades of Green might make the vacation more enjoyable for them, which will in turn make it more pleasant for you. There is undoubtedly a conviviality present at Shades of Green that you won’t find at other Walt Disney World resorts.
Overall, you probably don’t need this review to “sell” you on Shades of Green. If you’re eligible to book here, we’d highly recommend doing so. The bang for your buck offered by Shades of Green is exponentially higher than other Walt Disney World resorts, and other than the understated theme, there is little reason to book elsewhere. Shades of Green is a lovely, Deluxe-caliber resort at below-market prices, and its proximity to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort makes a great option if you need your Disney fix…or monorail transportation.
Have you stayed at Shades of Green? What did you think of the design and atmosphere of the resort? Was it sufficiently “Disney” for you? Would you stay at Shades of Green again? Do you agree or disagree with our review? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!