Shades of Green – Disney Value Resort Comparison

This is the first 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:

Readers often send me questions on the differences between Shades of Green and the Walt Disney World resorts This side-by-side comparison is an effort to help you in your decision making process.

Updated for currency: 17 January 2017

Military members who use Disney’s Armed Forces Salute room discount receive a 30% discount off of regular Walt Disney World Value 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 Resorts

The Disney Value Resorts that are eligible for the 30% off of the full price rate are:

Disney Value Resorts

Include amenities such as: food courts, pizza delivery to your room, limited luggage service, swimming pools and hot tub, on-site recreation, and bus transportation.

For this comparison I’ll be using the AllStar Sports resort, but all of the Disney Values are very similar, varying only in the exterior and interior themes and food options in the food courts. Some do have special themed rooms, which cost extra.

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 the AllStar and a Standard Room at Shades.

The AllStar Sports room in this review is representative of the other Disney value resorts

Disney’s Preferred rooms, identical except for location (proximity to the main building), are available for $15-$20 more per night.

Shades of Green’s rooms come in Standard (rated here), Poolside (identical to the standard room except for the view) for $10 more per night, and Family Suites.

Disney All Star Sports Military Discount

Disney World’s All-Star Sports Resort

Shades of Green Resort

Shades of Green Resort at Disney World

 You can click on all of the 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 30% Disney Armed Forces Salute discount. Disney prices will be the cheaper weekday (Sunday – Thursday nights) rates. Weekend (Friday & Saturday nights) are more expensive.

Note, starting in 2018 the Disney Armed Forces Salute room discount rates are not a set 30%. They are “up to” 30%, 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 2017:

  • Category 1 – $109.00 per night
  • Category 3 – $139.00 per night
  • Category 3 – $149.00 per night

1 October 2017 – 30 September 2018:

  • Category 1 – $115.00 per night
  • Category 3 – $145.00 per night
  • Category 3 – $155.00 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+).

There is a $7.00 nightly charge to park your car in Shades of green’s garage.

All-Star Sports – As mentioned above this comparison uses the summer price period (there are 15 other WDW price periods per year).

The 2017 Summer Season  weekday room rate per night for this period is $152.09 with tax, with the Disney Armed Forces Salute discount of 30% the rate was reduced to $106.46 (Friday & Saturday are about $20 more per night).


For each adult over 2 there is a $10 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.

Disney resorts do not charge for parking.

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.

 

AS-Room

All-Star Sports Room

Shades-Room

Shades of Green Room

Room – Size

The All-Star rooms have a maximum of four-person occupancy per room (plus one child under 3 in a crib). 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 is the winner on size, hands down. This includes a large bedroom with and entry hall, seating area, closet, and large vanity area separate from the shower/toilet area. All Shades rooms have an inside hall room entrance and a balcony/patio with a table and chairs.

All-Star Sports – The AS Sports room measures in at a much smaller 260 square feet with a bedroom, small separate vanity area, which contained the clothes hanging area and shelf. The All-Star resorts all have outside room entrances from a common sidewalk and no exterior furniture.

All Star Sports Double Beds

All-Star Sports Double Beds

Shades of Green's Queen Beds

Shades of Green’s Queen Beds

Room – Beds

Both resorts 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

All-Star Sports – 2 double sized beds.

All Star Resort Sink Area

All-Star Resort Sink Area

Shades of Green Sink Area

Shades of Green Sink Area

Room – Amenities

Amenities at both resorts were very similar.

Each has complimentary wifi (Shades is not very strong in the guest rooms), flat screen TV’s, mini fridge (there was no temperature adjustment at Sports), Safe (Shades’ was good sized, the Sports was quite small), Iron and ironing board, toiletries, luggage rack, and at Shades a hair dryer (available on request from Sports).

Both resorts have receptacles for recycling and it is important to note that the Sports room thermostat could not be set lower that 65, something desirable when returning to the room mid-day in the Florida summer!

All Star Sports Amenaties

All-Star Sports Amenaties

Shades of Green Amenities

Shades of Green Amenities

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.

All-Star Sports – The rooms are decorated in stars and Disney characters playing sports. The furniture was all good quality too, though I would have liked just a little bigger table for the seating area, but that was limited by the room size.

All Sar Sports Table Area

All-Star Sports Table Area

Shades of Green's Table Area

Shades of Green’s Table Area

Resort – Dining

While Shades of Green has the most restaurants, in recent years their food quality has suffered. Since Disney started the Armed Forces Salutes (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 has 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. For this comparison I’d say Shades’ food is on a par with what’s available at the All-Star Sports for food quality.

Shades of Green – has a variety of restaurants, Manginos Italian restaurant (Pizza and Italian dishes), 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.

More on Shades of Green Dining

All-Star Sports – There is one dining in option at Sports and the other Values, the food court. Disney Value 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 carry breakfast fare and then switch over to their rest of the day menus.

The Value food courts can be very 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,

Pizza and salad Delivery is also available to your room after 5pm. There is also a pool bar to enjoy while relaxing by the pool.


Menus on Touringplans.com:

Shades of Green's Manginos

Shades of Green’s Manginos Dining room

Shades of Green Manginos Kitchen

Shades of Green’s Manginos Open Kitchen

Resort – Recreation

The recreation options vary quite a bit between the two resorts as Shades used to be a Disney Deluxe resort.

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.

All-Star Sports – Your recreation options at Sports are the very nice pool and hot tub, outdoor movies, a playground, and a video arcade.

All Star Movies Pool
All-Star Movies Pool
Millpond-Pool

Resort – Transportation 

There is quite a disparity in this category, which could potentially cost you much more at Shades of Green!

Shades of Green – Guests arriving in Orlando via airline are responsible for obtaining and paying for their own transportation to Shades of Green.

Military Disney Tips has negotiated a Military Discount on Airport Transportation

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 $20 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.

The Shades bellhops will drive you to the edge of the property for a quick walk to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and its Monorail Station.

Alamo Car rental has a location at Shades.

All-Star Sports – 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 park for free at both their Disney resort and the Disney parks. WDW resort guests have the complimentary use of the WDW transportation system, which includes buses, the monorail, and various boat lines.

Shades of Green's AAFES Exchange
Shades of Green’s AAFES Exchange
Shades of Green's Gym
Shades of Green’s Gym

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 of Green 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.

All-Star Sports – 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.

All-Star Sports – 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, Free parking, Disney Transportation, use of the Disney Dining Plan, charging to your room from all Disney locations.

Shades of Green – 30-Day FastPass 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, either ahead of time at the Disney Store or at a WDW gift shop.

Disney Magic Bands for Shades of Green

Summary

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 that 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



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.

Steve Recommends

Do you want all of your Disney Planning information in one place, organized in a step-by-step logical manner with an emphasis on Military Discounts and offers? I've written 3 Guidebooks just for the Military Community:

Walt Disney World for Military Families - Available in Print, Kindle, and Digital PDF Download

The Essential Guide to Shades of Green - Available in Print, Kindle, and Digital PDF Download

Disneyland for Military Families - Available in Print, Kindle, and Digital PDF Download

Here are my recommendations for products and services I've reviewed that can improve your Disney planning. This is a short list since it only includes my top picks.

Ears of Experience - My recommended Travel Agent, Fee Free, Disney Only, Military Family Owned

Need a Little Extra Help Planning your Disney Vacation? Check Out Ears of Experience's Concierge Service

Military Disney Tips Negotiated Military Discounts

Orlando Shuttle Service - $15 off basic round trip pricing to ANY Orlando resort use MDT15

Amusement Park Rentals - 10% Military Discount on Strollers and Scooters Use 10MILITARY at checkout

Other Planning Resources

My Disney Experience - The Official Disney iPhone App (Free iTunes Download)

Buy Your Magic Bands at the Disney Store

Best Ever First Timers WDW Book The Easy Guide to Your First Walt Disney World Visit

YourFirstVisit.net The premier website for first time visitors to Walt Disney World!

The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World The Ultimate WDW Guide!

TouringPlans.com - The website of the Unofficial Guide - Crowd Forecasts, Pre-made Touring Plan, plus lots of detailed info

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  1. Being in the top pricing category at shades and having a family of 6 often prices us out of shades even when there is a great special because the big rooms are always booked. We have stayed there twice. The rooms at pop century were so insanely small we could not get a stroller in the room without folding it and no floor space for a blow up mattress or baby bed as our kids cannot share a double bed (age and sex disparatity). Our favorite rooms were the one bedroom at animal kingdom but we have to only have 5 on the reservation to do that. During armed forces discount it was cheaper than two rooms at value resorts or shades! Would love a post on staying with big families.

    • Tricia,

      Thanks great idea!

      We love the AKL too. We’ve been there twice using the salute discounts.

  2. On your comparison of Shades and Disney’s Discount resorts – another plus for SOG is the walking to and from your room. At the value resorts, I feel I am walking another mile to and from my room. At SOG, the walk is much shorter – it’s a more compact resort with ease in getting to front desk, restaurants, transportation, and gift shop. This is important after a long day at the parks. A negative for SOG, the bus transportation doesn’t come as often as the Discount resorts.

  3. Hey Steve, great article. We have never stayed at SOG or any value resort. We have gone back and forth about staying at SOG and everytime can’t resist the WDW resorts. Also, we always drive and don’t really want to pay to park. The article was very informative , I’m sure it will be a big help to everyone.

  4. THANK YOU!!!! This is the information comparison that I was looking for. Outstanding review on the two resorts.

    • I’m so glad you found it!!! I plan to do comparisons for Moderate/Shades and Deluxe/Shades in the future.

  5. Steve, your comparison of SOG and value resorts is spot on! I have had several stays at both and cannot think of anything significant you missed.

  6. Thank you for this great site! Now that Disney has renewed the Armed Forces Salute, we are ready to plan our trip. How feasible is it that we could get adjoining rooms in an off-peak season?

    • I wouldn’t imagine that at off peak it would be a problem. Just make sure it is noted on your reservation Rachael.

  7. We typically stay at moderate resorts but last time stayed at animal kingdom lodge. For us it is a better value than SOG since we are tier 3 rate. Another thing we love is Disney Dining Plan (DDP) can’t get that at Shades. We fly and our son is in a wheel chair; all of Disney transportation is wheel chair accessible, he can ride in his wheel chair on the Magic Express and all of the busses. We stopped at Shades on our first family visit to WDW to purchase discount park tickets. It was all so sterile of an atmosphere compared to the WDW resorts. Sorry Shades, for us the top reasons we do not chose Shades are transportation from the airport and DDP – we are strictly an on property family! Especially as long as Disney offers 30-40% military discount and we can get Armed Forces Salute for park admission! Thank you Mickey!!!

  8. This information is all new for me. I have learned a lot. I will keep on reading to take advantages for my next trip to WDW. Carmen

  9. Love the comparison! Planning a Christmastime visit. Do you know if the Armed Forces Discounts apply then or are they locked out? Also, what is cab fair for 3 from the airport to SOG?

    Thank you!!!

    Angela

    • HI Angela,

      Thanks, Disney always blocks out from a few days before Christmas through the end of the year. This last time it was the 20th on.

  10. As a family of 4, we have decided to stay at SOG. We think the room size is worth the extra we’ll have to pay for parking. We visit in 3 weeks!

  11. We are big supporters of the Disney Dining Plan. I’ve always wanted to stay at shades but we’ve calculated it and the meal plan is a good deal for us so it’s hard to pass up

  12. Recently got back from first trip to Disney as an adult. Stayed at SOG and frankly wouldn’t consider staying anywhere else. We got two adjoining rooms that totaled less than the cost of a single room at most of the decent WDW resorts.

    I was extremely impressed by the whole place, including dining options, quality of the rooms, and ease of transportation. We walked to the Polynesian to take the monorail when we wanted to go to MK and took buses to the others. If you really hate waiting, you can take a cab a couple times and still come out way ahead. Probably saved $50 in the week just by buying bottles of water in the Exchange every morning and carrying those into the parks. Full size cab van to/from the airport was about $70 each way.

    Not missing much on the dining plan, which was a fear I had before I went. Based on our experience and other comparisons I’ve found online, the dining plan is not a good deal for anyone who is remotely frugal (i.e. brings own snacks, drinks, etc to park each day). If you’re used to eating multi-course meals with dessert, soft drinks, appetizers, etc every time you eat, then you might come out ahead, but you’ll probably also get diabetes, so pack a suitcase of fruit before you go and skip the dining plan.

  13. We are planning to visit Disney in December. We’ve been told it’s a very busy time of year and sometimes the parks close due to crowds, but that resort guests always get in regardless. SOG being Disney, but not really Disney causes me some confusion. Would we still be admitted park entrance if we stay at SOG regardless of crowds, or do we need to stay at another Disney resort for this benefit?

  14. Going to be staying at SOG in several rooms. Really needed one more but did not reserve because we were unsure if nephews could go because of their jobs . One is active duty…as it turns out they now are able to go. No rooms available. Do you know how strict SOG would be with them on an air mattress in one of the rooms? Thanks.

  15. We are planning a quick 3 day trip June 1-4, 2016 staying at SOG. (CAT 2 ) We are driving in from HHI, SC but flying home on the 4th . I am trying to decide if we should keep our rental? I do not understand what the wrist bands are and if we need them. SOG offers a discounted park hopper pass but does not offer their on site meal plan for stays under 4 days. We do not have to see and do everything for this first trip. Any tips or feedback would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hi Dmummey,

      You do not need the Magic Bands if you are going to stay at Shades of Green, they would just be a convenience item. See: http://www.militarydisneytips.com/blog/my-magic-plus/magic-bands-for-shades-of-green-guests/

      I never recommend the Shades Red White and Blue or Sunrise Packages anyway. The Red White and Blue Package requires that you return to the resort to eat dinner which could foul up your plans. The Sunrise Package as well as the RW&B require you to eat the buffet breakfast in the Garden Gallery. The Garden Gallery is very busy in the mornings and this will take you a while. Plus do you want a big heavy breakfast every day before heading to the parks with their great snacks? Get a Starbucks and pastry instead at the Java Cafe in the Shades lobby.

  16. Question: I have called SOG 3 times and gotten different answers. Does a child 3 or under in a crib count against occupancy in a standard room? On your room comparison to value resorts you state 5 plus one child in a crib. SOG twice has said they do count and once has said they do not. I am worried I am going to have a problem when we arrive with 3 adults and 3 kids for one room. Thanks Steve!

    • Hi Katie, what I have is directly from what Shades of Green used to have on their site (copy and paste) I believe on their FAQ page. But I just looked (even did a word search) and there is no mention of cribs at all on their site.

      They got a new manager a few months ago and some things have been in flux. It is silly to count an infant in a crib as a person towards the occupancy. But in reality, how would they know how many other kids not in cribs you have in the room? Just say you have 4 and a crib.

  17. Steve – this says cat 1 is through E-5, but SOG website says through E-6. Please clarify for this wife of retired E-6. 🙂 Thanks!

    • Oops Jen,

      You are correct. This page was missed back when Shades mad the change of what category E-6s were in.

      Thanks!