Over the many years I have been to Walt Disney World, I have stayed at the same resort over five different occasions. This resort has changed names, ownership, and theming since its opening, and it gets better and better. Its location close to the Polynesian Resort and the Magic Kingdom makes it well-situated for monorail access and quick trips to the Transportation and Ticket Center. It is the home of two Disney golf courses, and of course the famous sixth hole hidden Mickey sand trap. The resort I am referring to is the Golf Resort…I mean, the Disney Inn…no, the Shades of Green. That’s it. The Shades of Green.
Shades of Green is located near the Magic Kingdom, just southwest of the Polynesian Resort. Unlike the Disney resorts on property, Shades of Green is not specifically themed one way or another, but closely resembles a classy, modern country club (which is appropriate since it sits next to two Disney-built golf courses). After a two year refurbishment from 2002 to 2004, the resort has 586 guest rooms. The resort has lighted tennis courts, two heated swimming pools, a children's pool, a hot tub, fitness center, arcade, and laundry facilities.
In terms of dining, there are several options that are hit or miss (in my opinion). Evergreen’s is a themed sports bar named that serves mostly fast food. It’s located next to the pool, and is “uniquely themed,” in that there are sports scenes and mannequins attached to the ceiling. Different is a good way to describe Evergreen’s. The Garden Gallery is a family style buffet that serves a variety of food on different nights. An upscale Italian restaurant called Manginos was added during the renovation of the resort. There is also a snack bar open extended hours, and a '50s themed ice cream parlor called America. In addition, there is a poolside snack stand offering sandwiches, and a quick-stop restaurant near the entrance to the lobby, the Express Café (often the first stop for many on the way to catch Extra Magic Hours or the opening of a park).
Facing the front of the Shades of Green
A view of some of the guest rooms from the lobby balcony
The courtyard and pond behind the lobby
If you have not been to Walt Disney World for a few years, you may not remember the Shades of Green even existing; that is because the Shades of Green has gone through a couple of major changes over the past three decades. The Shades of Green resort was a Disney-owned property first called The Golf Resort and later The Disney Inn. The original resort was more of a country club for the golf courses and it did not actually have any guest rooms until December 1973. The resort expanded in 1986 and was renamed The Disney Inn and was appropriately renovated with a Snow White theme. It was leased by the Department of Defense beginning in 1994 for the MWR program. The resort was purchased outright January 12, 1996 and the renamed Shades of Green to signify the various shades of green that make up a uniform of the armed services.
The last remnant of the Disney Inn
Who May Stay at the Shades of Green?
Because Shades of Green is an MWR resort, it is not open to the general public. Reservations may only be made by active-duty and retired members of the Armed Forces, current Reserve and National Guard members, and civilian employees of the Department of Defense. People who do not meet these eligibility requirements may stay at Shades of Green so long as they are on vacation with a sponsor who is an eligible person.
What is interesting about it being a military hotel is that room rates are based on rank and/or pay grade. The rates are adjusted on a sliding scale, with prices increasing with rank and pay grade. Even the highest rates are comparable with pricing at Disney's Value Resorts, but with all of the amenities and appeal of a deluxe resort. Eligible guests may also purchase discounted admission tickets for the WDW parks and other Orlando-area parks and activities at the Shades of Green ticket office. Again, these tickets may be used by any person; the only restriction is that the purchaser be one of the eligible persons listed above.
It is hard to see myself venturing away from the Shades of Green, as I have had so many wonderful and relaxing stays there. That resort is also the source of so many great memories. I still remember the Snow White themed resort in the 80’s. I remember driving my first golf cart as well…and marveling at the fact that a sand trap was shaped like Mickey’s head. I remember how confused I was when the resort changed over to the Shades of Green, and the Seven Dwarves seemed to have disappeared. It’s where I rested after touring commando-style and recuperated from having not one, not two, but ten blisters (one on each toe)! I was lucky enough to stay at the Shades of Green because my father is retired from the United States Air Force (and I see myself dragging him along to the World in the future in order to take advantage of that status for the umpteenth time!). While not themed like the Wilderness Lodge or the Polynesian Resort, it still is a spacious, luxurious resort that offers a break from all things Disney. For active and retired military personnel and their families, the Shades of Green is an affordable alternative to Disney-owned and operated properties.
Have you stayed at the Golf Resort, the Disney Inn, or the Shades of Green? Did you enjoy it? Hate it? Leave a comment and share your story!