Be a Disney Insider: Shades of Green


One of the best jobs I have ever had (and probably will ever had) was when I was an intern at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL. I worked at Innoventions in EPCOT performing three different educational shows for six months. My husband, then boyfriend, was on his first deployment to Iraq. The Happiest Place on Earth was the ultimate distraction from a very frightening time; I was 21 years old, hopelessly in love and counting down the days until we could be together again… preferably in Disney! I wanted to share my experience there with him more than anything and I got my wish. Actually, I got it tenfold when he got down on one knee during Illuminations, the EPCOT fireworks show, and asked me to be his wife. Disney will always hold a special place in my heart.

Another reason to love Disney is because they are quite patriotic and military friendly. Everyday on Main Street in Magic Kingdom a veteran is selected to help with the flag lowering ceremony. In 2009, when my husband was there, they had the Year of Dreams program where my husband got five park hopper passes for five free days in all the parks! That was one of the best promotional deals I think I ever experienced. Most importantly, Disney even has their own resort called Shades of Green. It is a discounted resort located on Disney Property for members of the Armed Forces and their Families. It goes beyond that, offering discounts to retirees, veterans, widows and widowers, DOD members, and US Department of Defense Civilians plus family members for all the above. Each sponsor can have up to three rooms, including suites, with pricing based on rank (whether current or when you left the service) and service. Room rates are available in full here. They also have special holiday packages available Thanksgiving through New Years.

Staying at a resort on Disney property is quite convenient with free shuttles to the park and the perk of Extra Magic Hours! Imagine going into Magic Kingdom an hour before it opens or staying two hours after it closes. The rides are still running of course and the lines are nothing like during the day! You can also look into Disney’s dining program to save a little extra. The resort itself has everything from a pool to a spa to a golf course if you want to take a day to just relax. It is a big advantage that makes your trip a lot easier, especially considering the price of parking at the parks isn’t exactly cheap. The parking garage at the resort is only $5 a day if you choose to drive down to Florida instead of fly. They even have an AAFES store on property for some cheaper Disney souvenirs, beverages and snacks.

Shades of Green also has specials running throughout the year. May 10-20th they are currently running the Caregiver Special, where if you send your story to them you can book a standard room at $69 a night! April is the Month of the Military Child so from April 14-30th you can buy a four night package starting at $349 and kids eat free! From May 1st-19th and 27th-31st they are running a Military Appreciation Month special where you can stay at the resort for $89-$99 a night. Want to take a trip at the end of summer before the kids go back to school? The Endless Summer Special runs August 20th through September 30th where you can enjoy 40% your room rate. They also have the AFRC Survivor’s Family Program where widows and widowers (combat related deaths or not) can stay at the resort with their families and guests for 50% off.

Last year they expanded the resort to 586 rooms so reservations are not as difficult as they were in the past. Long weekends and holidays book much quicker, but there is usually not a six month waiting period like there was in the past! Getting leave isn’t easy, believe me I know, so this expansion definitely makes your trip a lot more realistic than it previously had been.

Although my husband visited me before Shades of Green expanded and I did not get to stay there, I do hope we can one day. Disney is a wonderful place, whether you have kids or not, and I cannot wait to return some day. If you were looking for a family vacation or just a get away for the two of you, here is your chance. Go! Enjoy!

Have you stayed at Shades of Green? Do you foresee a trip to Disney World in your future?

About the Author

Allie Lovette
Allie is a blogger, actress, writer, puppy mama and active duty military spouse. She is a new library aid on Camp Johnson and uses her free time to do extra work for TV shows in Wilmington. Allie and her husband Ryan have been together for five years, one deployment to Iraq, three parade seasons, college, a Disney World internship, and a battle with geo-bachelor living. They now live in North Carolina where Ryan is stationed at Camp Lejeune. Allie blogs at so everyone knows what sort of trouble she is getting herself into when she is on her own.
  • Michelle

    Hi, some corrections: you cannot get the Disney Dining program when staying at Shades of Green. :) And the expansion happened way back in 2003, so it’s been “big” now since then.

    otherwise, we’ve stayed at Shades every time we go to Disney (4 or 5 times now there) cannot beat the location and ease and especially the price. Plus, you don’t pay room tax (or tax on tickets purchased there) think about THAT savings too.

    The restaurant situation at Shades is horrid though, so don’t plan on eating any meals there (other than breakfast). But otherwise you just can’t beat it. The transportation is awesome and then you link into all of Disney’s transport.

    Currently the Military Ticket promotion is only running until Sept 30, so get it while you can
    That itself is a HUGE savings on park tickets. But when that promotion ends, we hope to see a new one (Disney has been running a military promotion since 2008) But also you can buy different, discounted Disney tickets at Shades as well apart from the promotion. And remember, TAX FREE.

    • They were doing more construction when I was there in 2009 so let’s hope it’s even better! Thanks for the information.

      • Michelle

        that was simply renovations of the older rooms in the “Magnolia” section. But no existing rooms have been added since the major redo in 2003/2004. :)

  • Heather

    We have stayed there twice and loved it both times. It’s not Disney decor, but it is very nice, and yes, you can’t beat the location. We had bottom floor rooms so the kids loved seeing the turkey’s in the morning. We don’t typically eat at the resorts we stay at, but we did have breakfast once and it was ok, nothing special. You really can’t beat the price of the rooms and they are by far some of the largest. Though we have opted for a two room suite at a Disney resort for our next vacation (2013). As for the Disney Dining plan, no, you can’t use it through Shades, but we have found we spend far less and eat far less without that. I don’t want to spend my days trying to make it to a meal. We budget X amount and we usually come back with a good amount of $. And that’s having nice dinners every night. I also worked at Disney World back in the late 80’s early 90’s, and it was a great time. Unfortunately I think the standards have gone down a little, but it’s still my favorite vacation spot. The beach is great, but you can’t beat all the fun stuff to do and see at Disney World!

  • Dana

    We got married at SOG. It was FANTASTIC! Rates were unbeatable, setting was awesome since we got married outside on the lake and we had more food then anyone could possibly have eaten at the restaurant for our reception for a crazy low price. It was perfect and I can’t recommend it enough!!

    • Amy_Bushatz

      And as a bonus to wedding ambiance — wild turkeys strutting about. (Sorry I couldnt resist, Dana)

      • Dana

        And alligator signs. It actually made for some super funny pictures. You know you loved the turkeys Amy :)

  • Suzanne

    And Disney doesn’t own Shades of Green, the AFRC does! We enjoyed staying there last April and would love to stay there again someday if it fits our needs. Oh, and you do pay to park at the Theme parks, as well. Evening EMH is 3 hours, not 2

    • It depends on the time of year, but EMH can change and be up to three hours, so yes on that! You definitely pay a lot to park at the Parks, so that’s why only $5 at SOG is great, you can park there and leave your car and just shuttle to all the parks. Definitely a money saver!

      • Michelle

        actually EMH at night is 3. Suzanne is correct.

    • JMS

      Yes AFRC owns it, however Disney donated the property to AFRC. I stayed there many years ago when it was an actual Disney resort.

  • Michelle

    Thanks Suzanne for more correct info. i’m not sure how someone can write an article about a place she’s never stayed…..

  • mandy

    We found that once Hubby reached the E7 rank, it has always been better to stay in Disney at a Moderate resort, the Military Discount blows away the rates for his rank at Shades of Green. In fact, staying in a delux resort was cheaper than what shades of green would charge for his current rank! I agree with the poster who stated the food situation was terrible at shades of green, and Disney offers the Military Discount on the dining plans too.

    • Michelle

      I can’t imagine that. We’re E9s and there’s no way we could touch a deluxe resort.

  • Suzanne

    NEVER been to an Evening EMH that was shorter than 3 hours and we go quite often. NEVER heard of one being shorter, either. Since you say you have worked there, you would think you would know.

    We liked Shades, and even with hubby’s rank it can be less than a Disney Resort, once you add parking fees it’s not worth it. Also, we like to Valet and can valet free with my handicap placard. We also didn’t care for the bus system and sometimes we just prefer to drive.

    But, for those that prefer to drive to the parks, you WILL pay for parking, that’s kind of a deal breaker for us. We will walk to the Poly and catch the monorail or bus. But I won’t be staying at SoG often.

  • Megan

    Extra magic hours are either one hour before the park opens or three hours after the park closes to the general public. I have never seen it be less than that. Also, Disney does not own Shades of Green, you cannot get the dining plan and there are 583 rooms. Rates are only based on rank-it doesn’t matter which branch you are in. Oh yeah and there are two pools and two golf courses-which are owned by Arnold Palmer and not Shades.

  • Janet

    If you are not staying
    at SOG, but staying on Disney property, can we still go into the AAFES to shop? We are active duty UCG and would like to go so the property..


  • Janet

    Sorry, I left out that we are active duty USCG.


  • Regina

    Stayed at the SOG in June for the first time. We loved it there. With many other Disney trips under our belt, we were able to compare the differences. The things we thought were more pleasing to us were:
    We were much closer to the parks. The transportation was easier, never had to wait on buses, more direct routes, once you got to your resort you didn’t have to make multiple stops throughout the resort, when you were there, you were there! Shopped at AAFES tax free and of course the whole trip was tax free. As for eating, we ate the SOG breakfast buffet in the mornings and it was so good and complete we never ate again until later in the day so we saved money by only eating 2 meals a day. The second meal was usually at one of the parks. We had a party of 12 and we all thought the SOG service was excellent. Of course, as in any other resort or anywhere in Disney, the service is always superb. After all you are in Disney World!