Shades of Green Resort Review & Info
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.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
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!
I thought this new article (“Disney Blocks Access to Premier Military Resort”) might be of interest to you and your readers, especially given your own history with the Shades of Green: https://amgreatness.com/2023/05/03/disney-blocks-access-to-premier-military-resort/. Disney’s military guests deserve far better.
This is covered in the last update to this post about a month ago. I agree that this is disappointing news, but that article is just sad–and ironic given that it has a pop-up about “real news” and speaking truth to power.
While an unfortunate change, this roadway expansion project is years in the making and has absolutely nothing to do with the recent DeSantis v. Disney battle, anything “woke,” culture wars, or whatever other nonsense is being peddled here.
I think you were duped by the subtitle, which is the only place where the word “woke” is used. Nor is “culture wars” used anywhere.
The point of the article is that Disney apparently doesn’t care about greatly undermining the experience of military families and veterans at the premier Armed Forces resort in the United States. Disney has dramatically downgraded the experience of those guests by cutting off walking access and forcing them onto Shades of Green’s inferior buses, even as Disney has increased walking access at the Grand Floridan in recent years, preserved walking access (via bridges) at Disney Springs hotels, and added a whole Skyliner system for three Disney-owned hotels that used to have to rely on buses.
Don’t focus on the culture wars. What’s important is how poorly Disney is treating military families and veterans, while also effectively reducing the value of this premier military resort. It’s not that hard to build a bridge or put up a stop sign or stoplight, and to keep the crosswalk open until then.
The closure of the walkway to the Polynesian is a big loss for Shades of Green and military families, and it’s entirely unnecessary. It makes as little sense as Disney’s not making it so that Wilderness Lodge guests can walk to the TTC. The difference is that guests have apparently been able to walk from the then-Golf Resort to the Polynesian for 50 years. now Disney has effectively changed Shades of Green from a monorail resort to a bus resort overnight. Maybe, just maybe, it’s because Disney wants to limit monorail access to those who pay $700/night at Disney-owned hotels?
Since the planned construction, is it best to bus to TTC and monorail to get to Epcot and MK? I don’t imagine the ferry would be time-efficient, neither the bus. It’s ben so long since we’ve been anywhere remotely near the TTC I can barely recall the layout. We are finally getting to stay at SoG at the end of May, and although a little disappointed in the walkway being removed, we are still excited to visit.
Retired Marine here. Stayed at SoG a couple times and (regrettably) at their sister resort Hale Koa in Honolulu. We have been to WDW 19 times for multi day trips since 2012 and stayed on property each time, and we’ve only stayed at SoG twice in that time period. This is NOT an indictment on the quality, value, etc. We just prefer the more immersive experience that we get at the Disney-owned resorts. That being said, we love SoG and similarly despise Hale Koa for reasons that wouldn’t make sense to list here since it would be tangential and not relevant to this post. SoG is a wonderful experience that I recommend to anyone who could/would only visit WDW if they stayed at a value resort.
One noteworthy bit of info is that I got a survey from them yesterday (04/09/23) that strongly suggests they’re about to revamp their sports bar into a brew pub/gastro pub. I think anyone who has stayed here would agree that this would be an amazing decision. Even when we don’t stay at SoG we usually stop by to hit the Exchange and Ticket Office and I don’t think I’ve ever seen more than 5 total people in the sports bar at one time. Oddly, the survey asked about how important things like sustainability and environmental consciousness are when choosing what to eat at a brew pub. Can’t say I’ve ever wondered about the sourcing of water at the Guinness brewery when drinking a pint of their sweet glorious nectar of life, but maybe that’s just me?
Anyways, thanks for updating us regarding the walkway. I also wonder how the construction will impact runDisney’s marathon route? Each event I’ve participated in runs right through that area.
“That being said, we love SoG and similarly despise Hale Koa for reasons that wouldn’t make sense to list here since it would be tangential and not relevant to this post…”
Now you have me curious! I’ve only stayed at Hale Koa once, and also hated it, but that was nothing to do with the resort itself, but rather, that I wished my parents had taken me to Walt Disney World instead. It was so long ago that I couldn’t even pick the hotel out of a lineup today.
I can’t speak to how the marathon route will change, but also assume it’ll be impacted.
Completely bummed about the walkway to the Poly going away. This was a huge bonus for guests at Shades. Riding the Shady Shuttle golf cart to/from the end of the driveway was great as well. We would pick up a Dole Whip on the way back – more times than I care to count! It almost felt like staying at a monorail resort. Maybe time to check out some other resorts next time we visit. Sad.
HA! “Shady Shuttle.” Love that. I hadn’t heard it called that before, but I think someone should make that their official title.
Can anyone make dining reservations there and use their bar and lobby to relax?
You actually do get the same advanced dining reservation timeframe as Disney Resort guests when staying at SOG.
There is a small but significant difference between the 60 day advance reservations.
As a SOG guest you can only book 60 days out. Unlike WDW resort guests who are able to book 60 PLUS 10 days out. So your chance of getting Space 220 or any of the other popular restaurants is very very small. However this may not matter to everyone!
Where are you getting the plus 10? That’s news to me. Just curious.
We stayed at SOG during Spring Break 2020. It’s our third or fourth stay. We have also stayed several times at the Coronado when SOG was full. For the money, you cannot beat SOG. As noted in the review, the rooms are huge, the resort is nice and if you’re willing to sacrifice Disney-theme rooms, I highly recommend it. One amenity I didn’t see reviewed is the golfing. The golf courses at SOG are managed by WDWGolf and they are wonderful! It is a very nice way to spend a bit of time away from the Parks.
A couple of things to note here. Room prices have gone up since whenever this was published. The starting rate (category 1) currently is $139 a night until Sept 30, 2021. The new rates on Oct 1, 2021 will be starting at $154. There are two really important things to remember about these rates, besides simply being way lower than Disney prices. First, the rates are the same no matter what day of the week you’re staying. This can be huge considering the price jump between a weekday and a weekend night at a Disney resort. Second, while most blogs mention that purchases are tax free, few also mention that the hotel rooms are tax free also. Even with a 35% discount at a Deluxe, the added tax will put the amount way above the Shades of Green prices.
And if you have little ones, while the Disney theming isn’t in your face, Shades of Green offers something the other resorts don’t – princess and pirate makeovers. Not only can the little ones get that done at the resort before hitting the park, but it’s significantly less expensive than Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo.
Not just more for different days of the week – but the same all year. The difference in the pricing for a WDW hotel during September and Christmas week feels exponential. The prices have definitely increased at SOG, but it’s a phenomenal deal during the busiest weeks of the year!
My question is regarding Magic Bands. Are they available for purchase at SoG? Do they come in the mail prior to arrival? Do we need Magic Bands to book our Fast Passes? Thank you!
We stayed 2 years ago, at that time you can purchase your park tickets ahead of time. 2 years ago, you couldn’t get fast passes until 30 days prior to your stay. They’ve now changed it to 60 days. They may have changed it but your magic bands are linked with your tickets. We are going back in December and calling today actually to order our park tickets. They’ll email a picture of your tickets. Then you upload the ticket numbers to the Disney World website or App. They get linked to the people going. That way you can reserve your fast passes ahead of time through the Disney website. This was 2 yrs ago but so far the process is going the same way as we did it last time. When you show up to Shades of Green, you check in and they have your physical tickets. Then you go to whatever park, but stop at their guest services and buy the magic bands. I think the plain color ones were $10. You don’t have to buy the magic bands but it makes life so much easier then having to pull your ticket out of your pocket to enter and it also serves as your fast pass.
We stayed at SoG once, and loved the rooms (Deluxe Resort sized) and the resort overall. The pricing cannot be beaten, especially if you are junior enlisted (E-4 and below). When we stayed there, the buses were mini-buses (like you would see at a retirement community) that were almost always overloaded, so we walked to/from the Poly most of the time. The huge drawback for us is that you cannot get the Disney Dining Plan when staying at SoG. If DDP was available at SoG, we would stay there all the time just for the location and price.
If you’re military and don’t mind paying for food out of pocket, then this is the place to stay.
My aunt is retired Army and our family has stayed at Shades of Green many times (both before & after the expansion). Our last trip was in January 2012 with just my aunt & I driving down for a week there. I love the spacious rooms & peaceful golf course views (even if I don’t golf). The only food we got there were the breakfast sandwiches by where you catch the bus and also the sports bar behind the pool, both of which were good & way cheaper than WDW prices. This trip was also the first time we walked over to the Poly & TTC to catch the monorail, which was easy & convenient as well as a nice quiet walk back at night. We even managed to time it perfectly one night to walk out onto the dock at the Poly to watch the Electrical Water Pageant float past! We didn’t have any problems with the bus system other than sometimes you had a long wait going back to SOG because they don’t run as often as the regular Disney buses but the drivers were always friendly & very helpful with loading my ECV. I also was grateful for the big game room with easy computer access as I had some personal issues going on the required me to get online regularly and I would do that in the evenings after we got back from the parks.
My boyfriend and I stayed at SOG last September. At that time, we got the magic hours but not the 60 day fastpass. I’m happy to read that is a thing now. We are planning our next trip December 2019 and wouldn’t stay anywhere else. Besides the fact that you can’t beat the price it was fabulous. We had the complimentary breakfast every morning and it was beyond delicious and very filly. Tons of options. We also got dinner to go a couple times and it was very good. We did walk to the Polynesian a lot because of the bus system but it wasn’t too far of a walk and very convenient. I thought it was great that they had the pathway and signs. When I first read you could do that I thought it was going to be weird to walk to another resort but obviously they don’t care and encourage it. We didn’t explore the hotel a lot but what we did see it was great. I can’t wait to go back.
Appropriate for veterans day…My family and I have stayed at SOG many times and it is my 18 year old daughters favorite accommodations. For our next stay in Dec we could only get one night so we took it anyway. The décor certainly fits my liking and the room size is excellent. There is also a small exchange on site so you can get mementoes and necessities (sunscreen etc.) at a reasonable price. The buses are almost always on time Though we prefer the walk to the monorail…by the way for those who travel a lot, there are 4 of these hotels (Disneyworld, Hawaii, Germany and South Korea) I’ve always heard great things about all 4 – though we have only stayed in the first 2).
While we stayed on property the first 3 trips we took, we stayed at Shades on the 4th and haven’t gone back to a Disney-owned property since. We LOVE this resort and my boys don’t miss the theming. They love spreading out in the room, my husband loves the respite from all the music on the Disney busses, and appreciates the downtime there away from the stimulation in the parks, and the price is consistent and can’t be beat! Love your newsletters Tom!
I loved your mention of the Dinosaur nuggets! My kids also loved eating at Evergreens when we would go to WDW. Your article brought back some great memories!
I have been wanting to say at shades of green for a very long time now. My family are huge Disney fanatics and we travel there every year with our children. My husband and I are both combat veterans of the US Army with more than 4 years combined deployment time and I am a 70% disabled veteran. We are not eligible to stay at this resort. It is absolutely infuriating! My mother in law who was never married to her husband while he served/retired from the marines however IS eligible to book and stay at this resort. I know it won’t change anything but I just wanted to add my feedback and frustration. I believe the eligibility requirements should be amended. They are leaving out a lot of amazing customers who have served their country and deserve this benefit while including many who do not.
There are actually two months that veterans are allowed to book at SoG, I believe they are February and September. Just need a DD214.. Just a thought, but you should do some research before complaining about a benefit that you are actually eligible for.
Being eligible for two months of the year with kids who are in school really isn’t all that helpful though is it. Maybe you should be less salty towards a stranger on the internet, just a thought.
Maybe you should be less salty to a vet, just a thought.
Thank you both for your concerns over my saltiness. However, I am a OEF/ OIF combat vet and a spouse of a 26 year active duty member so I will say what I want when someone complains about not having an amazing benefit when it actually exists and then complains that it doesn’t fit into her timeline. Most veterans are actually thankful that they are included in the benefit. Personally, I love SoG and all the Disney military discounts that I use all year round!
Heather, I agree! As a combat veteran it’s very disappointing that I’m not eligible in my own right while my husband–who I love dearly but who never served in the military at all is eligible (he’s a DOD civilian). Veterans should be eligible and not just for an occasional in-school month that’s not very useful.
Thank you Amanda!
Thanks for this review and all the pictures. I am a very frequent visitor to WDW, but not military. However, planning a girls trip to WDW in spring 2020. We have a retired military officer in our group who is going to try to get us rooms. Your review gave me valuable information that will help in planning. Thanks … looking forward to staying at Shades of Green.
We stayed here the first time we visited WDW. It was The Disney Inn back then. We stayed there because friends recommended it.
We loved it & were sad (for us) when it changed to SOG. We have stayed at many different resorts since then, but it is still one of our favorites.
A coworker of mine took her (and her children’s; not sure if her hubby had ever been) first trip to WDW, and was able to stay at Shades of Green. I never did ask her how she and her family liked the resort. Fortunately, the 60 day Fastpass+ benefit began for Shades of Green just prior to her family’s visit.