I could never cover all the things you should see and do at Disney World. There are already blogs upon blogs covering every aspect of your Disney experience. I wouldn’t even attempt to be the authority on how you should use your Fast Passes, what experiences you should book 6 months in advance, where to stand to watch the fireworks or what time you should visit Space Mountain if you are at the park on January to avoid the longest line. People have covered all of these things and more. The blog that covers the statistical analysis on when to use Fast Passes is amazing. Unfortunately, I never took a statistics class so I have nothing of the sort to offer you. All I have is my review of the Shades of Green (SOG) resort.
If you aren’t familiar with the Shades of Green resort, you are not alone. Shades of Green is not open to the general public. It is actually a Department of Defense owned property that has strict eligibility requirements. It offers very competitive room rates (based on rank) to the men and women of the Armed Forces and their families. If you are eligible (the requirements are listed on their website) it is a great place to stay and enjoy all that central Florida has to offer.
You need to book your trip well in advance as the resort can fill up rather quickly. We reserved our room for Christmas back in April. Make sure you are eligible before you book to avoid being disappointed when you arrive (they will check your ID).
Problems Specific to Shades of Green:
-I only had one real “problem” with staying on the Shades of Green property. You can only make your Fast Pass reservations 30 days in advance while the typical Disney resort allows you to makes them 60 days in advance. Depending on when you go and what you want to do it may not make much difference, but we were unable to make Fast Pass reservations for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Cart because all the Fast Passes were used by the time I went to reserve our times. If you have no idea what a Fast Pass is, you need to Google it and learn about it before you go. It is a science all by itself. You will also find that you do not get Magic Bands (another Google topic) with your stay at the Shades of Green, but they can be purchased separately at the park. Not really a huge problem but something to be aware of.
Benefits to Staying at Shades of Green:
-Location: The resort is about at 10 minute walk to the Polynesian Hotel which provides you with access to the monorail system which takes you directly to the Magic Kingdom. We also enjoyed taking the ferry from the Polynesian at night to enjoy the breeze and the Light Show that occurs every night on Lake Buena Vista (I swear the light show hasn’t changed in over 40 years). SOG is very convenient for trips to the Magic Kingdom. Shades also has a bus that runs to all of the other parks at regular intervals. The buses were always very punctual and the times were convenient through the day.
-Price: The rate varies by rank, but my rate was as good if not better than all of the other resorts. My room may not have had a fancy Disney theme, but I found we spent so little time in the room that it didn’t matter. You can also purchase your park tickets at the resort and usually at a discounted rate.
-Rooms: I already mentioned the room was cheap, but it was also huge. We didn’t spend too much time in the room but when we did we never got that claustrophobic, “on top of each other” feeling. Our room also opened out to the pool so we could go back and forth very easily. The rooms might be starting to show their age a little, but not so much it took away from our time at the resort. I didn’t notice anything that a little paint couldn’t fix.
-Food: Dining in Disney can be an expensive undertaking all by itself. We did some of the character experiences and dined at some of the themed restaurants and they all cost a bundle. We should have eaten most of our meals at the resort. The dinner buffet was some of the best food I had the entire trip, and probably the cheapest meal we had. They had a number of different options at the resort and all of the ones we visited had courteous staff and good food.
-Staff: I read some reviews that claimed the staff wasn’t very friendly but I didn’t find that to be the case at all. I found some were extraordinarily friendly (bus drivers, the coffee bar) and didn’t think anyone was rude. I would have rated them higher than most hotels I have stayed at.
-Magic Hours: Guest at Shades of Green enjoy the Extra Magic Hours at all of the themes parks as well. This allows you extra time before and after the park open to the general public to enjoy the attractions. For those of you that want to squeeze every possible moment of fun out of your trip, this can give you a couple of extra hours. Which parks have extra hours changes day to day, but you will receive a pamphlet when you arrive at the resort that will provide you with all of that information.
*****If you can stay at Shades of Green you should. You get the enjoy 99% of the benefits that others get by staying on the Disney Property and you can save a bundle. Any trip to Disney can be pricing but the saving you get from staying at Shades can help you afford that fancy dinner in Cinderella’s Castle.
For more information:
***They also have DoD facilities in Hawaii, Germany and South Korea (the requirements to stay vary for the different resorts).