What If Disney Discontinues The Armed Forces Salute?
Disney’s Armed Forces Salute is scheduled to end on 30 Sept 2012.
Many military members and their spouses are anxiously waiting to start planning a midpoint leave or post deployment Disney vacation. Unfortunately Disney has yet to announce if they will be continuing offering the Armed Forces Salute past 30 Sept or not.
In January 2009 Disney began offering this very popular military discount on Disney resort rooms and theme park tickets. Many new members of the military have never experienced a time during their career without the Disney Armed Forces Salute, so they are unfamiliar with what other discounts are available.
I’ve received so many emails from those who are frustrated that they are unable to decide if they’ll be able to afford a Disney vacation during the last quarter of 2012 on their military salary.
Old School Disney Military Discounts
On the off chance that Disney does stop offering the Armed Forces Salute, I wanted to do a comprehensive refresher on what discounts would still be available for your Disney Military Vacation.
Military Discounts on Disney Theme Park Tickets
I recently did a post on the Regular Disney Military Discounted Tickets. These discounted tickets, while nowhere as cheap as the Armed Forces Salute tickets have always been available, still are, and will continue to be. These Military Discounted Magic Your Way Tickets are sold at Base Ticket Offices (who may have a limited supply and selection) and at Shades of Green, the military owned and operated resort on Disney World property. You will save approximately 4%-8% off of the Disney gate price with these tickets depending on length and options selected.
It is important to note that Disney raises their prices on Magic Your Way Tickets every year. Traditionally Disney has upped the prices on all of their tickets in August, but last year they surprised everyone with a June 2011 ticket price increase. Price increases on regular gate prices will cause a corresponding increase in the military discounted ticket price. These tickets can be purchased ahead of time to beat the yearly increases. Tickets with 14 day expirations will remain valid and ready for use as long as they are unused. Once used for the first day of admission the expiration clock starts.
Military Discounts on Disney Resorts.
When talking about Military Discounts on Disney hotels, I like to divide the Resorts in and around Disney World into four categories, Shades of Green, Disney Owned Resorts, Other On-Property Resorts, and Off Property Resorts.
Shades of Green
Shades of Green is a military owned and operated resort located on Walt Disney World property. It was formerly called the Disney Inn (among other names) and was owned and operated by Disney. After it was first leased then purchased outright over 18 years ago by Army MWR it became the Shades of Green.
Prior to the Armed Forces Salute, Shades of Green used to be the only military discount going at Disney World, so the vast majority of military vacationers stayed at SoG. Priced comparable to a Disney Moderate Resort yet sized like a Disney Deluxe, Shades of Green was always a great deal.
Should the Armed Forces Salute end, Shades will again become the primary military destination for those visiting WDW. Shades of Green sets its room rates on the military member’s rank, with regular prices ranging from $95 to $141. Shades of Green increases their room rates at the beginning of each fiscal year. Although they did not raise rates this past October (2011).
Shades has had to work hard to keep their occupancy levels where they need them in the face of the steep resort discounts available via the Armed Forces Salute. They have tried out many different types of discounts since Disney’s current military discount started.
An extra benefit available through Shades of green are overflow room rates at Disney resorts.
Disney Owned Resorts Using Overflow Rates
Overflow rates were a very popular program that Shades offered, a program which is currently rendered obsolete by the Armed Forces Salute. Before the Armed Forces Salute when Shades was full during your desired vacation dates they would offer you an overflow rate at various Disney Resorts. This overflow rate was generally up to 20% off the regular room rate. This can’t compare to the current 30% to 40% AFS rates.
Disney only offered a limited number of these rooms, so if one of these rates was your goal it took careful timing to make to make your reservation… After Shades was booked but before the overflow rates were gone.
My family used to do this all the time before 2009. We’ve stayed at many a Disney resort for a “good” rate.
Other On-Property Resorts
There are other resorts which are not owned by Disney but are considered “On Property Resorts.” These include the Swan and Dolphin (Westin owned) and the various hotels in the Downtown Disney Resort Area.
These resorts currently offer military discounts, but that could change in the aftermath of a Disney Armed Forces Salute termination. You’ll just have to check with the chain or local hotel to determine what is offered.
Off Property Resorts
There are a huge number of hotels in the local vicinity of Walt Disney World. Many may offer discounts from time to time. Again a check with the corporate chain or local hotel is in order if you are inclined to stay off property.
Many people have had good luck with travel discount sites like Priceline and you can check this website for military deals in the Orlando area.
Disney Bring Back the Armed Forces Salute!
Here’s hoping we won’t have to worry about going back to pre-Armed Force Salute pricing options for a long time!
Write or email Disney to let them know how much you want the Armed Forces Salute to return!
Walt Disney World Guest Relations
PO Box 10040
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-0040
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
- Shades of Green Rooms
- Shades of Green Room Rates
- Disney Tickets at Shades of Green
- Shades of Green Services and Activities
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