Welcome to the second installment of the Shades of Green – Disney Resort Comparison Series.
Also please see How does Shades of Green compare to Disney in Price and the other 2 posts in the series:
This is the second post on the differences between Shades of Green and the Disney World resorts, this series is offered in the hope it will help you with your Disney trip planning.
Updated for currency: 17 January 2017
Military members who use Disney’s Armed Forces Salute room discounts receive up to 30% discount off of regular Walt Disney World Moderate Resort rates.
Shades of Green is the military only, military owned and operated resort on Walt Disney World property. Shades offers great low rates based upon the member’s pay grade.
I hope that you find this post helpful! Be sure to post comments and questions below.
The Disney Moderate Resorts that are eligible for the 35% off of the full price rate are:
- Caribbean Beach
- Coronado Springs
- Port Orleans Riverside
- Port Orleans French Quarter
- Fort Wilderness Cabins
Disney Moderate Resorts
Include amenities such as: full-service restaurants, food courts, limited room service, luggage service, swimming pools with a slide and hot tub, on-site recreation, and bus or boat transportation.
For this comparison I’ll be using the Port Orleans Riverside Resort, but all of the Disney Moderates are very similar, varying only in the exterior and interior themes and food options in table service restaurants. Some do have special themed rooms, which cost extra, such as Princess or Pirate Rooms.
Shades of Green includes amenities such as: full-service restaurants, quick service dining options, limited room service, luggage service, swimming pools and hot tub, Army-Air Force Exchange Store, discounted ticket sales, and bus transportation.
This is a comparison between the lowest cost room at each resort, a standard view at Riverside and a Standard Room at Shades.
The Riverside’s room in this review is representative of all the other Disney Moderate resorts.
Disney’s Moderates offer upgraded rooms for from $10 to $80 per night (not including suites or concierge). These upgrades can be in room view or interior decoration.
Views range from the basic covered here through (roughly in order) garden view, pool view, water view, to preferred rooms (location) and combos thereof.
Interior options can be: king beds, royal princess themed rooms, and pirate themed rooms
You can click all images in this post for larger versions
Room – Price
For this comparison I’ll be using Disney’s summer rates (a typical travel time for families with kids) with the 35% Disney Armed Forces Salute discount. Disney prices will be the cheapest most weeks on Monday to Wednesday nights. Sunday & Thursday are in between in price, while Friday & Saturday nights are the most expensive.
Note, starting in 2018 the Disney Armed Forces Salute room discount rates are not a set 35%. They are “up to” 35%, meaning that depending on your dates you might receive a lower discount amount; the only way to know what your price will be is to call (or have your Travel Agent do it for you).
Shades of Green – Shades of Green has 3 price categories for the standard room based upon your rank/status.
Through – 30 September 2018:
- Category 1 – $115.00 per night
- Category 3 – $145.00 per night
- Category 3 – $155.00 per night
1 October 2018 – 30 September 2019:
- Category 1 – $119.00 per night
- Category 3 – $149.00 per night
- Category 3 – $159.00 per night
Category #1 – E-1 thru E-6 and Cadets
Category #2 – E-7 thru E-9, O-1 thru O-3, WO-1 to CW-3, Widows, Medal of Honor Recipients, 100% Disabled Veterans.
Category #3 – O-4 thru O-10, CW-4, CW-5, Active and Retired DoD Civilians.
There is no tax added to these charges. This rate is for double occupancy, it is $2 less for single occupancy and add $15 per extra adults (ages 18+).
Port Orleans Riverside – As mentioned above this comparison uses the summer price period (there are 15 other WDW price periods per year). Summer room rates are more level, in this case $266 Sunday to Thursday and $267 Friday & Saturday.
With the maximum Disney Armed Forces Salute discount of 35% the rate is reduced to $172.90/$165.54.
For each adult over 2 there is a $15 per night charge per person.
For a closer look at the price differences see our comprehensive post on Shades of Green – Disney Price Comparisons.
There are times of the year when Disney’s Moderate resorts are cheaper than the prices above, and when they are more expansive.
So, you can see it depends on your Shades of Green price category and for Disney the time of year and day of the week, which will be cheaper.
Note: There are times of the year when the Disney Armed Forces Salute is not available, these are called blockout dates.
Shades of Green does offer discounts and packages at various times of the year. These vary widely and are often for specific limited dates and are modified over time or cancelled as rooms fill. In this comparison I’m only comparing the rates available all year long. You should check to see if Shades is offering a discount or package for your dates!
There are other factors such as transportation which affect the bottom line though, so read on.
Room – Size
The Moderate rooms have a maximum of four-person occupancy per room (plus one child under 3 in a crib), some Riverside room do have a fold down bed for a 5th person. While Shades’ offers five-person occupancy per room (plus one child under 3 in a crib).
Shades of Green – At 514 square feet the Shades of Green room was the winner on size, hands down. This includes a large bedroom with and entry hall, seating area, closet, and large separate vanity area from the shower/toilet area. All Shades rooms have an inside hall room entrance and a balcony/patio with a table and chairs.
Port Orleans Riverside – The Riverside room measured in at 314 square feet with a bedroom, small separate vanity area, which contained the clothes hanging area and shelf. All Riverside rooms have outside room entrances from a common sidewalk and no exterior furniture.
Room – Beds
Both resorts sleep 5 and had comfortable beds and pillows as well as great bedding.
Shades of Green – 2 Queen sized beds and a couch that converts to a day bed for one. See how the couch-bed works
Port Orleans Riverside – 2 Queen sized beds and in this particular room a fold down single for one.
Room – Amenities
Amenities at both resorts were very similar.
Each had complimentary wifi (Shades’ is not very strong in the guest rooms), flat screen TV’s, mini fridge, safe (Shades’ was good sized, the Riverside’s was quite small), iron and ironing board, toiletries, luggage rack, and at Shades a hair dryer (available on request from Riverside).
Both resorts had receptacles for recycling.
Room – Decor
The biggest difference between staying at Shades and a Disney resort is themeing. Shades is decorated like any civilian hotel and could be placed anywhere, worldwide and fit in.
At the Disney resorts, you definitely know that you are at Disney. Some of their decorating is subdued, and some definitely isn’t depending on which resort you are staying in.
Shades of Green – Many worry that staying at Shades of Green will be like staying in billeting on base, but it definitely is not, the rooms are top notch. The rooms are decorated in greens (to tie into the resort name) with pictures of scenery and plants. The furniture is all good quality. It should be noted that, before the Army MWR purchased the resort from WDW, it was a deluxe Disney resort.
Port Orleans Riverside – The room in this review is located in the Aligator Bayou themed section and decorated in simulated roughhewn wood furniture and rustic lighting. The furniture was all good quality too. Other buildings within this resort and the other Moderates are themed differently.
Resort – Dining
While Shades of Green has the most restaurants, in recent years their food quality has suffered. Since Disney started the Armed Forces Salute offers in 2009, Shades has refrained from raising room prices very much (less that $10 since 2008) and has had to offer discounts to compete. This loss of revenue has been made up by the culinary department, which has had to cut corners on food costs.
The food at Shades is by no means bad, but if you are foodie perhaps you’d be more happy at one of WDW’s table service restaurants. Much of the buffet food comes off the Sysco truck premade and is served as is.
Shades of Green – has a variety of restaurants, Manginos Steakhouse (Steaks and Seafood), The Garden Gallery (breakfast and dinner buffets and a la carte), Evergreens Sports Bar & Grill (sandwiches, wraps and burgers, salads, pizza, wings, and nachos), the Express Cafe (counter service breakfast and lunch sandwiches, pastries, snacks), the Java Cafe (Starbucks coffees teas, pastries and ice cream, and On the Greens Grill (grilled hot dogs, Italian sausage, hamburgers, sandwiches).
The Garden Gallery can be very busy in the mornings, when everyone is trying to get going to the theme parks at the same time. MDT recommends a coffee and pastry at the Java Café or the Express Café to have while waiting on the theme park bus instead. Or do the same on arrival at one of the theme parks.
Port Orleans Riverside – There are two dining option at Riverside, Boatwright’s Dining Hall (Table Service) and the Riverside Mill Food Court (Counter Service).
Boatwright’s is the full service restaurant at Riverside. Their menu features basic fare with a Cajun flare. Specialties are Andouille-crusted catfish; jambalaya with chicken and Andouille sausage.
Disney Resort food courts are set up with several stations at which you can a get a wide variety of menu items. In the morning they offer standard breakfast fare and then switch over to their rest of the day menus.
The food courts can be loud and hectic in the mornings, when everyone is trying to get going to the theme parks at the same time. Get there by 7am for a less hectic experience. Open 6am-midnight, grab a pizza to take back to the room after you return from the parks.
The River Roost Lounge offers a full bar and snacks, there is also a pool bar to enjoy while relaxing by the pool.
Limited room service is also available.
Menus on Touringplans.com:
Resort – Recreation
The recreation options vary quite a bit between the two resorts.
Shades of Green – Shades of Green has two pools, the Mill Pond pool shaped like the Mickey Mouse icon and has a water slide and kids water play area as well as the Magnolia Pool, which features zero entry walk in access. Shades has an arcade and free console games and computers furnished by Raytheon. There are two lighted tennis courts and the resorts sits in the middle of two of Disney’s golf courses. The clubhouse shares a parking lot with Shades of Green. For the little ones there is a jungle gym/play set.
Port Orleans Riverside – Disney Moderates offer a full range of recreation options. Your recreation options at Riverside include, multiple pools and hot tubs, horse drawn carriage rides, bike and surrey bike rentals, boat rentals (motor, pedal, and kayak), fishing, outdoor movies, a playground, and a video arcade.
Resort – Transportation
There was once quite a disparity in this category that favored the Disney World Resorts. Now for reservations made after 21 March 2018 it is a toss up with pluses and minuses for both.
It really depends on how you travel to your Disney World vacation:
Flying – WDW Resorts win out
Shades of Green – Guests arriving in Orlando via airline are responsible for obtaining and paying for their own transportation to Shades of Green.
Those Driving to Shades will have to pay $7 per night to park their car at Shades of Green. If you choose to drive your car to the parks you’ll pay $25 a day for Disney theme/water park parking.
Shades does have their own small fleet of complimentary buses to take their guests to 6 different locations on WDW property via 4 different bus lines:
- The Transportation and Ticket Center (Magic Kingdom and Epcot)
- Downtown Disney & Typhoon Lagoon
- Hollywood Studios
- Animal Kingdom & Blizzard Beach.
Shades Guests also have free full access to the WDW transportation system, which includes busses, the monorail, and various boat lines.
Alamo Car rental has a location at Shades.
Port Orleans Riverside – Guests arriving at Orlando International Airport via airline have access to the Disney’s Magical Express, a free bus service from the airport to your Disney resort.
Those driving to their vacation at the Disney Port Orleans Riverside will pay $19 per night to park.
Parking is free at the the Disney theme parks for Disney Resort guests. WDW resort guests have the complimentary use of the WDW transportation system, which includes buses, the monorail, and various boat lines.
Resort – Amenities
Again Shades stands out as a prior Disney Deluxe in this category.
Shades of Green – Shades features on-site Disney and Orlando ticket sales (tax free), an AAFES Store (tax free souvenirs and sundries), a Shades gift Shop, Alamo Car Rental, luggage service, airline check-in, two guest laundries, scooter rentals, an on-site Gym with cardio and Nautilus equipment, and a full service Spa.
Port Orleans Riverside – Has a Disney resort gift shop (souvenirs and sundries), luggage service, airline check-in, and a guest laundry.
Disney – Amenities
Staying on Disney Property affords several benefits some of which Shades guests also get.
Port Orleans Riverside – 60-Day Fast Pass Plus reservations, complimentary Magic Bands, Extra Magic Hours (early or late entry into specific parks on specific days), resort package delivery, Disney’s Magical Express, Disney Transportation, use of the Disney Dining Plan, charging to your room from all Disney locations.
Shades of Green – 60-Day Fast Pass Plus reservations,Extra Magic Hours (early or late entry into specific parks on specific days), resort package delivery, Disney Transportation
Those Shades guests wanting to use Magic Bands for their park tickets and FastPass Plus return times will need to buy their own bands, either ahead of time at the Disney Store or at a WDW gift shop.
Deciding which resort is right for your family is a very personal decision, so I’ve tried to present an impartial review of both resorts, listing both the good and the bad.
You’ll need to decide which of these areas/items are the most important for you, cost, amenities, room size, transportation, etc.
I hope you find this helpful! Please leave a comment below with which resort you’d choose and why.
Information on Shades of Green the Military Hotel on Disney World property
See all the current Shades of Green Discounts and Packages
A Special Note on Shades of Green Discounts: Something to be aware of is that Shades constantly changes the dates and discounts offered of their specials and packages.
Shades of Green Links
- Shades of Green
- Military Members Review and Rate Shades of Green
- Shades of Green Rooms
- Shades of Green Room Rates
- Disney Tickets at Shades of Green
- Links to Everything Shades of Green
- Shades of Green Blog Tour
- Magic Bands for Shades of Green Guests
Planning a Disney Trip? Want to get the best military discounts that are available? Feeling a little confused? See our:
Learn about the Disney Armed Forces Salute the best military discount that there is for Disney. For where to stay see our Resorts/Hotel Overview Page. Disney doesn’t discount dining for the military, but there are a few places on property that do, see the Dining Overview Page to learn where plus more dining info. You can also learn about Transportation Options. Be sure to check out our Technology Overview to learn about Magic Bands and My Disney Experience to see how they work with military tickets. Walt Disney World visitors might be interested in staying at Shades of Green, WDW’s Military Only Resort.