A review of Shades of Green Resort

(Article last updated: June 20, 2017)

This is a guest post from Ashley Ziegler (follow her on Tumblr). Prices have been updated since this review was originally published. Here's Ashley...

If you’ve never heard of the Shades of Green Resort, I don’t blame you. It’s rarely talked about in the Disney community, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a hidden gem.

Shades of Green is the only Armed Forces Recreation Center in the continental U.S., which means that the resort is available to U.S. military members and their families, as well as some other government employees (check eligibility).

Let's take a look...

An overview

Located just across Floridian Way from the Polynesian Villages Resort, it’s in a great location for being a non-Deluxe resort.

shades of green resort

Not only is the location great, but the resort is beautiful as well.

Located on two PGA golf courses, the Magnolia and Palm offer an amazing setting for the rest that the Shades of Green Resort has to offer. Anyone can golf at these courses, but they do offer reduced rates for military members.

If you’re not into golf, there’s an on-site spa that looks relaxing before even entering it. I’ve never experienced any of the treatments at the Magnolia Spa, but I’m always kind of tempted. Their prices aren’t terrible and the foot treatments always sound heavenly after a long day at the parks.

(Note from Shannon: the spa also has "Princess Makeovers"  which include a bun or braid, a tiara, makeup and glitter and "Pirate Clubs" which includes beard makeup, a bandana, eye patch and pirate earring. The current price as of June 2017 is $30 for the Princess Makeover and $20 for the Pirate one which is far less expensive than the ones available on-site.)

Dining options

If you are not into golfing or relaxing at the spa, I’m going to assume that you eat at some point each day. For those who need some sustenance, Shades of Green has lots dining options plus room service.

  • Java Café is in the lobby and offers Starbucks drinks, pastries, and soft serve ice cream. My family likes to grab a muffin on our way to the parks and an ice cream as an afternoon or evening snack.
  • Express Café is another super convenient option located just before you exit the building to get to the bus stops. They feature a lot of options for breakfast and lunch, and they even offer box lunches that you can order a day in advance so that you can pick them up the next morning before you head to your destination.
  • Next is Manginos, which my family has dined in. It’s very casual but elegant as well. Everything we ate there was great and I would recommend it to anyone staying at the resort.
  • Garden Gallery, Evergreens, and On the Greens are the three places I haven’t tried. However, the Garden Gallery breakfast buffet is extremely appealing, especially for the price. Adults (ages 12+) are just $13.95, children 5-11 are $6.95, and children under 4 are free. Despite the fact that this buffet doesn’t feature Disney characters, the difference in cost might just distract from the lack of entertainment. Evergreens and On the Greens are each located near the two pools on property.

For more information on the dining options (including menus), check the ShadesofGreen.org dining info.

The rooms at the Shades of Green Resort

The rooms at this resort are huge considering their low price. Standard rooms (and standard rooms with a poolside view) are never more than $150 per night and are over 400 square feet.

Magnolia Suites are $280 per night, Junior Suites are $295 per night, Family Suites are $325 per night and Palm Suites are $445 per night. (These are the advertised room rates for Oct. 2017 - Sept. 2018. Be sure to check current room rates.)

Some of these suites can sleep up to 8, which is a huge benefit given the associated cost and compared to what you could be paying by staying on property.

While there isn’t any overwhelming theming like at some of the Disney-owned resorts, the rooms are neutral and pleasant to stay in. I would describe them as understated but beautiful in their own right.

Here's a short room tour I filmed on our last trip...

On-site benefits - what you do and don't get

The Shades of Green Resort is technically an off-site resort and due to this, guests here do not get:

  • use of Magical Express buses to get to and from the airport (info on the airport shuttle is below)
  • FastPass+ reservations 60 days ahead of time (they must be made 30 days beforehand)
  • Free MagicBands (though they can be purchased)
  • Dining reservations made all at once 180 days beforehand (must be made one day at a time, 180 days before the day you want to eat there)

However, Shades of Green guests do get to make use of Extra Magic Hours.

Transportation options

If you’re looking for transportation as a resort benefit, Shades of Green has their own buses that travel to and from the Disney parks. Buses to the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC) depart every 20 minutes - note that this is the only provided transportation to Magic Kingdom and Epcot, as they indicate you should board the monorail from the TTC to get to each of those parks.

(Note from Shannon: you can also walk to The Polynesian and use their transportation, including the monorail. Check out all the transportation options for Shades of Green on the WDW Prep Navigator.)

Buses to the other parks, water parks, and Disney Springs depart every hour on the half hour but be sure to check the current bus schedule as times may change. These are a great option for transportation and really came in handy for my family when driving to Disney Springs is a little bit of a nightmare. 

They also provide transportation to SeaWorld and Universal Studios for an extra cost with an advanced reservation.

One downside to staying at Shades of Green is that Magical Express doesn’t go to this resort. They do have an agreement for reduced airport shuttle rates through SunState Transportation.

See the ShadesofGreen.org transportation page for more info, including shuttle prices.

Park ticket discounts

I’m obviously saving the best for last. A HUGE - and I’m talking HUGE - benefit to staying at Shades of Green is the reduced price of park tickets. Because of this resort’s military benefits, it acts like a military base in that there is no tax. This reduces the prices of tickets a great deal.

They have a wide range of tickets you can purchase. I assume it's the same options you can buy at any Disney ticket window, but one of the best deals is the 4-day + hopper Military Salute pass for $209.00 as of June 2017. According to the Disney site, this same ticket would be $473.99.

My family buys our annual passes through Shades of Green for a huge savings, just based on the lack of taxes applied. They also sell Universal, SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, and Blue Man Group tickets as well.

*****************

If I had to rate this resort on a scale from 1-10, it would get a solid 9.5. The location is great, the staff is helpful and welcoming, I've never seen a room rate above $140/night, and the guests themselves are always polite and courteous. If you’re able, I would highly recommend booking a stay at Shades of Green.

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The express cafe food is stale by the Bus stop is horrible and expensive. Hold out for some place else, a shame that the Shades of Green Management allows this nonsense!

Rebecca Sweet

We love the Shades of Green. We have been staying there at least 14 years. We have taken many family and friends who have also enjoyed their stays. We love seeing the not so wild turkeys come right up to our back door. I remember the first time we came after they renovated. We were in total awe! We are planning a stay later this year at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, and I’m actually a little scared that we’ll be disappointed after our wonderful stays at the Shades of Green. And yes, their buffets need a renovation. We use the Tables of Wonderland pass which costs $100 and gives a 20% discount at most Disney restaurants for up to 10 people. We can’t get a meal plan, but this has worked for us.

laura

can you buy universal tickets while at the hotel or do you have to preorder them. and do you happen to know how far in advance you should make a shuttle to universal studios reservation

Mari Beth

*Retired Military & Family trip* If we don’t stay at SoG, but at AoA, can we still get 7-day park hopper tickets at the military rate, as well as military room rates at AoA? If so, does it all show up under MyDisneyExperience online for reservations like normal?

Brooke

The ticket prices listed in this review do not match the ticket prices listed in Shades of Green Website. Can you provide some more info. We are staying there for the first time this year. Thanks so much!

lori mckinize

We just ordered our tickets for our trip in May and they were 177.00 each

Brooke

Where did you order them from? A base? We are getting ours as retired military so we aren’t on a base.

tina

brooke-i think she is talking abouit the armed forces salute tickets. the base price of them is 177 and then you can add water park and park hopper options and I think the price is 207! hope that helps

Laura

This article is great, but I have a few comments. When we stayed in February busses only departed every hour for HS and AK. Also, you don’t have to stay at SOG to buy tickets through them. We did love our stay there and will be back!!

Emily

This wasn’t mentioned in the article, but the spa there also has a “Princess Makeover” and an option for boys too, but I can’t remember if it’s a Prince or pirate (forgive me as I only have a girl and she’s a major princess fan). The makeover is $30 and includes the hairstyles similar to BBB, tiara, makeup, (and glitter I think). It does not include a costume, but you can take your makeover receipt to the Exchange I, the resort and show it for a discount on a costume. They do require appointments. BUT if there is a weddi,g or special event that gets planned, they may reschedule your appointment. That is the only bad thing. But the people I spoke with the last time I called were so nice. I had to cancel an appointment because my daughter ended up with strep throat, and since we live here, we are just rescheduling. But they were so nice and helpful.

Tiffany

I have stayed on Disney properties and the Shades of Green. Shades of Green is by far my favorite but not just for the discount the we get as military members get (not all discounts are good discounts) but for the size and space of the rooms. They beat the pants off of Disney deluxe resorts in this area and you can’t beat the location, right across the street from the Polynesian. You don’t have the Disney theming but I don’t mind after spending the day in the parks hearing my kid scream for more “stuff”. They have great bus system that’s right on time and you also get the benefit of staying with people you have something in common with, a familiarity. The one complaint I do have is that the food at the restaurants is not very good at all. Needs much improvement in this area. I do have to say that I disagree with you (with a heavy heart I say this because you have always been correct) when you say the the Shades of Green is a non-Deluxe resort. It is very much so without some of the Disney perks but with much better accommodations.

Krystal

If you stay here are you also ineligible for the dining plan?

Eran

Can retirees and their families stay here?

Rebecca

As long as you have a Retiree Military ID card then yes. We stay at SOG for EVERY visit!! WE LOVE it there!!

Erika

If we are going away with my dad ( retired military) can he book us 2 rooms ( one for me and one for him) .? Thanks

trisha

Can non-military people who are not staying at Shades of Green still eat at the resort?

Emily

I believe you have to have a military ID or some sort of proof that you or your spouse served or that you worked for the military as a civilian to enter. It is a military resort and this is how it works with all other military installations and at another military resort we stayed at in Germany. If you know someone who is a guest there and they have a military ID, you might be able to visit with them And eat there with them. I know when we have gone there before for an event, we had to show our ID at the guard shack. You could always call and ask before you go though just to make sure. Hope this helps.

Deborah Velez

We have stayed at Shades of Green many times. We have always had great experiences. The grounds and rooms are clean and well kept. The food is good and the staff is very friendly. I would recommend this to anyone who is able to stay there.

Stephanie

Lucky for you. My husband fought in Vietnam lost his hearing and had ptsd. But that doesn’t count

Adrianna

“Located just across Floridian Way from the Polynesian Villages Resort, it’s in a great location for being a non-Deluxe resort.” Most guidebooks actually categorize it as a deluxe, as it was originally built as just that. Before becoming an AFRC, it was known as The Disney Inn. I believe it was one of the original three Disney resorts. It has balconies, interior hallways, and several table service restaurants–all of which Disney make it on par with the offerings at Disney’s Deluxe resorts.

Emily

You’re right. I read that on another blog that is connected with Shades of Green. I was going to say the same thing, But you beat me to it. Lol!

Shades of Green is a great option for anyone who can stay here. We love staying here and this is our first option to look into when going to Disney World.

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