Welcome to the second installment of the Shades of Green – Disney Resort Comparison 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.
Also please see the other 2 posts in the series:
And: How does Shades of Green compare to Disney in Price
(Updated for 2023 prices: December 2022)
Military members who use Disney’s Armed Forces Salute room discounts receive up to a 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 up to 35% off of the full price rate are:
- Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort (not eligible for the Salute Discount in 2022)
- Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
- The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
Disney Moderate Resorts include amenities such as: full-service restaurants (except French Quarter), food courts, room service, luggage service, swimming pools with a slide, hot tub and cast member lead activities, 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. Note the Caribbean Beach Resort has a higher price and demand than the other moderates due to its Disney Skyliner access and also is not eligible for the Disney Armed Forces Salute discount in 2022. The Coronado Springs has both comparable and much higher rates due to its wide variety of room locations and types.
Shades of Green includes amenities such as: full-service restaurants, quick service dining options, limited room service, luggage service, swimming pools and hot tub, an 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 Port Orleans – Riverside and a Standard Room at Shades.
The Port Orleans – Riverside’s room in this review is representative of all the other Disney Moderate resorts.
Disney’s Moderates offer upgraded rooms for from $25 to $115 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
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.
Room – Price
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).
For this comparison I’ll be using the maximum 35% Disney Armed Forces Salute discount. Disney adds various sales and resort taxes to their room rates, at Port Orleans – Riverside the rate is 12.5%.
I’ll show the prices for Standard Rooms at both resorts.
Shades of Green – Shades of Green has 3 price categories for the standard room based upon your rank/status:
1 October 2022 – 30 September 2023:
- Category 1 – $169.00 per night
- Category 3 – $199.00 per night
- Category 3 – $209.00 per night
1 October 2023 – 30 September 2024:
- Category 1 – $174.00 per night
- Category 3 – $214.00 per night
- Category 3 – $224.00 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+).
Shades of Green’s prices are the same every day of the year, they do not vary like Disney’s do.
Port Orleans – Riverside – The Port Orleans – Riverside Resort’s 2023 rates for a standard room varies from $278 – $451 per night including tax.
When the maximum Disney Armed Forces Salute discount of 35% the rate is applied these rates are reduced to $181 to $293 per night.
For each additional adult over 18 there is a $25 per night charge.
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 very close in price to Shades of Green Category 3 rates!
Note: There are times of the year when the Disney Armed Forces Salute is not available at all, 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 very 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 Port Orleans – Riverside rooms do have a fold down bed for a 5th person. While Shades of Green 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 2 queen beds, a single sleeper sofa, entry hall, seating area with a small table and 2 chairs, a 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.
Port Orleans – Riverside Resort – The Port Orleans – Riverside room measured in at 314 square feet with a bedroom with vanity, which contains the clothes hanging area and shelf. All Port Orleans – Riverside rooms have outside room entrances from a common sidewalk and no exterior furniture.
Room – Beds
Both resorts have 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 some rooms a fold down single for one.
Room – Amenities
Amenities at both resorts were very similar.
Each has complimentary wifi (Shades of Green’s is not very strong or dependable in the guest rooms), flat screen TV’s, mini fridge, coffee maker that uses pods, a safe, iron and ironing board, toiletries, hair dryer, and luggage rack.
Both resorts had receptacles for recycling.
Room – Decor
The biggest difference between staying at Shades of Green 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 – Port Orleans – Riverside standard room’s are decorated in several themes based on location, either southern mansion or bayou cabin. All Disney Moderates feel about the same, the rooms are all the same size and shape.
Resort – Dining
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 Chip n’ Dale’s Deli (grilled hot dogs, wraps, sandwiches).
The counter service locations are just fine. At the Garden Gallery much of the buffet food comes off the Sysco truck pre made and is served as is. The food quality and service at Manginos is sub-par to what you’ll find at a Disney table service restaurant. And the food at Evergreens is microwaved and only recommended if there is no other option.
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.
You’ll find no food court here as you will at a Disney Moderate! There isn’t the volume of people to make that necessary.
More on Shades of Green Dining
Port Orleans – Riverside – There are several dining options at Port Orleans – Riverside, Boatwright’s Dining Hall (Table Service), Riverside Mill (Food Court), and the River Roost Lounge are all near the main building lobby, while the Muddy Rivers Bar is the pool bar.
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.
Limited room service is also available.
Menus on DisneyWorld.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. And the Magnolia Pool which is the quiet pool featuring zero entry, walk in access and a hot tub. Shades of Green has an arcade. 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 (at the Millpond Pool).
Port Orleans – Riverside – Disney Moderates offer a full range of recreation options. Your recreation options at the Port Orleans – Riverside include, multiple pools and hot tubs with cast member led activities, bike rentals, boat rentals (motor, pedal, and kayak), fishing, outdoor movies, a playground, and a video arcade.
Resort – Transportation
It really depends on how you travel to your Disney World vacation:
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 $15 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 limited locations on WDW property.
Shades of Green currently offers bus service to:
- Transportation and Ticket Center (Magic Kingdom and Epcot)
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Disney Springs
- Typhoon Lagoon
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.
Port Orleans – Riverside – As of January 2022, Guests arriving in Orlando via airline are responsible for obtaining and paying for their own transportation toDisney Resorts.
Those driving to their vacation at Port Orleans – Riverside will pay $20 per night to park.
Those staying at Disney Resorts have access to WDW’s fleet of buses, water taxies, monorails and other transportation, depending on location.
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, Skyliner, and various boat lines.
At Port Orleans – Riverside bus transportation is available to all Disney World guest areas.
Port Orleans – Riverside has multiple bus stops within the large spread out resort. These are at the main building and 3 others spaced roughly equally around the perimeter of the resort. Buses pick up in that order and can be full before getting to the last stop(s).
Port Orleans – Riverside also offers boat transportation to Port Orleans – French Quarter and Disney Springs shopping and entertainment district.
For Airport Transportation check out the Walt Disney World Airport Transportation section of my Transportation Overview Page.
Resort – Amenities
Again Shades stands out as a prior Disney Deluxe in this category.
Shades of Green – Shades features on-site Disney and Orlando area ticket sales (tax free), an AAFES Store (tax free souvenirs and sundries), luggage service, two guest laundries, 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, guest laundry.
Disney – Amenities
Early Entry & Extended Evening Hours
Starting in October 2021, Disney Resort guests including Shades of Green guests will be eligible for the new Early Entry & Extended Evening Hours that replace Extra Magic Hours.
Guests may both enter every theme park early, and stay late on select days at select Walt Disney World theme parks.
Disney Genie, Genie+, and Individual Lightning Lane Purchases
All guests can participate in Disney Genie, Disney Genie+ and in app purchase of Individual Lightning Lane attractions. Guests staying at Shades of Green and Disney Resorts are able to make Genie+ selections and purchase their Individual Lightning Lane attractions at 7 a.m. the day of their visit, while others will have to wait until park opening time.
Those Shades guests wanting to use Magic Bands for their park tickets will need to buy their own, 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.
This MDT Post By: Steve Bell
Steve is the the Military Disney Tips Founder. He a retired U.S. Military Member who's been touring the Disney Parks since 1971! Steve's mission is to help military families with their Disney vacations in every way. Check out Steve's Bio.
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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
- Why Stay at Shades of Green?
- Shades of Green Rooms
- Shades of Green Room Rates
- Shades of Green Resort Activities and Amenities
- Disney Tickets at Shades of Green
- Magic Bands for Shades of Green Guests
- Shades of Green Fact Sheet and FAQ
Planning a Disney Trip? Want to get the best military discounts that are available? Feeling a little confused?
See Our Great Disney Discount and Planning Info:
- Disney Veteran & Military Discount Eligibility Guide
- The Military Family’s Walt Disney World Comprehensive Vacation Planning and Preparation Guide
- Military Disney Tips Disney Packing Checklist
- Disney Military Tickets – Your Start to Finish Guide
- Resorts/Hotel Overview Page
- Dining Overview Page
- Transportation Overview Page
- Shades of Green, WDW’s Military Only Resort
Military Disney Tips' Recommended Disney Travel Agent
Ears of Experience Disney Only Travel Agency. Military family owned and operated! They know all the ins and outs of Disney military discounts!
Good comparison with many of the values & amenities well pointed out – though I feel you missed the service aspect of the comparison. We’ve stayed there a few times and each time I bid myself to have an open mind & be thankful to be at WDW. However, the service at Shades does not compare to the Disney Resorts. Each time we have stayed at Shades we have had poor service; at the front desk (waiting for anything), at the tickets & tours (if there are even there – many times you are standing around waiting & waiting), at the dining (never had good service) and even from the guests staying at Shades of Green. My husband & I went for a drink at Evergreens bar at 1030 at night & there were little kids in there crying & fussing, while other kids were running in & out of the pool into Evergreens). Even the menu at Evergreens says to “place your food & drink orders at the bar” so no service there. After 4 visits to Shades we have decided that we won’t return -there’s just no Disney “Magic”. I will pass your comparison on to others as it is well done!
Thanks for the comment! Good point on the service, you are correct, I’ve experienced it too.
I have to say though my experience with other guests at SoG has been hugely positive. I find very friendly folks who greet each other rather than passing in silence as happens in general public resorts.
I think no matter where you go today you’ll occasionally run into people who don’t pay the slightest bit of attention to what their kids are doing and haven’t taught them manners and restraint.
Thanks for the article. I have a reservation at SOG and POFQ for Oct. which means I’m hoping for the new discounts to come out. You hit the nail on the head when you said transportation is the main difference. and the reason I’m leaning that way. Also magic bands are another concern. Thanks for all you do to keep us informed of changes and discounts. Keep up the great work.
It’s my pleasure Denise, I love doing it!
The main reason I may choose to stay at a Disney owned property rather than SOG is simply that to my knowledge guests of the SOG do not have access to the Disney meal plan which leaves you paying a la carte for each meal and snack. I have to do some math but was hoping this article would have addressed that. I have stayed at SOG before (2008) and thought it was great to use the transportation at the nearby Polynesian.
Hi Amy, good point!
I’ll work on that.
Peg P says
You might want to review menus at restaurants you plan at dining at to make sure the dining plan is a good deal for you. I’ve found that unless you’re loading up on character meals or eating the most expensive item on the menu, you’re losing money with the dining plan.
I canceled ours this year after looking at all the menus and adding up what we’d most likely be ordering. I found that paying out of pocket was going to save me $300! And that’s just for one adult and one child under 10. When she turns 10 next year and has to be on the adult dining plan, I’d save even more with paying out of pocket.
And I even added in the cost of two resort mugs, snacks, tips, and taxes
Sage advice Peg!
Theresa Fuller says
I have another comparison you might consider: walking to/from your room. At SoG, your walk to/from the lobby is indoors (nice when the weather is too hot or too wet) and at Values/Moderates you have to walk outdoors to get to your building. But the SoG hallways have many turns and I have gotten lost more than once since there are no signs to point you toward your room and the walk is often not intuitive (ever stayed on the first floor near the Mill Pool??? It is so confusing to get there from the lobby!). It seems that although you might have a longer walk to get to your room at a Moderate, the route to take is more obvious.
Thanks Theresa, great observations!
chris van v says
We stayed at SoG a four years ago at Christmas time, then 2 years later we stayed at Pop Century. We are returning to SoG because we found the service wonderful, we had no wait times for the bus, and our fellow travelers were better behaved than at Pop.
I left my cell phone charger at home so I called the front desk at SoG to see if they had any extras lying around, perhaps in the lost and found, that I could borrow for the remainder of our trip. The wonderful staff was able to locate a charger for me within 5 minutes, which considering that I noticed my charger had not been packed at 23:00 was no small feat.
As I stated we were there at Christmas, one of the busiest times to be at Disney, yet we never saw any unmonitored children running around the hotel the way we did at Pop 2 years later. At Pop we often waited 45 min or more in line for transportation, at SOG if the dedicated bus service was scheduled for another 15 – 20 min the staff was always quick to let us know and offer to drive us to the end of the property on the Shady Shuttle. One of the Shady Shuttle drivers was a great tour guide that gave us tons of good to know advice for Disney first timers. We ended up taking the shuttle more often then not just to talk to him.
Besides, with the portions that Disney serves walking to and from the Polynesian was probably a good idea! At Pop my husband complained that the rooms were so small we felt claustrophobic, but at SoG we had plenty of room to spread out. I even had enough room to get in some yoga in the morning before we headed to the park. At Pop I barely had enough room to stretch out my arms, trying to get into any other pose was out of the question.
As the families early riser the separate vanity area with a door I could close was also a big deal. At Pop I was always afraid that I would wake everyone else up just applying my makeup.
My only reservations about SoG is that the transportation we reserved to pick us up at the airport last time was 2 hours late, which was not SoG’s fault, and Pop has the wonderful Magic Shuttle, and the new Magic Band system with the Fast Pass +. It seems as though anyone not staying on Disney Property is getting screwed with their new system, but since we are going at the end of Sept, a time which usually has lower attendance, we are hoping it will work itself out.
Thanks for the great observations and trip report Chris!
Love getting other’s thoughts.
We are wondering about the Caribbean Resort rooms. Some agents say no some say yes to this. Room fits 5 adults but some agents say the 5th person needs to be 10 or younger to fit on bed. Hate to reserve room and my teenager not fit comfortably in the bed. Do you know anything about the 3rd bed? Thank you
It’s not so much age as height Lori.
It is a single fold out bed. I’m not sure if it is a standard single length though.
Here is a pic I just took at riverside which has the same setup: http://www.militarydisneytips.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Riverside-Bed.jpg
This article was written a couple of years ago but I believe nearly all of Disney’s moderate rooms have now been refurbished and have queen beds.
Yes you are correct Caroline. Thanks, I’ve fixed that.
Any insight as to dining reservation differences? We want to make reservations at BOG, if we book with SOG instead of a Disney Resort will we still be given the 180 days out for dining booking? Or is the 180 days out only given to those purchasing a dining plan? Thanks!
Yes anyone can book 180 days prior to the day in question no matter where they stay (or not i.e. day guests/local area people). The issue is that those staying at Disney resorts can book 180 days prior to check in, for their entire trip up to the first 10 days of the trip.
So the day you call for your BOG, those checking from 1 to up to 10 days prior to that date (depending on the length of their stay), have all had a crack at booking for the same day.
I hope that makes sense.
Peg P says
Thanks for this article. I booked our reservation for Port Orleans Riverside for next year as soon as the 2018 discount came out on Friday. However, after wondering why the reservation was much more expensive than expected, I discovered that we didn’t get the usual 35% moderate resort discount. It was only 30%.
So now I’m looking at doing something different for a change to lower the cost. I may try Universal since they offer a good military discount, but also wanted to look at Shades of Green. While I’ve stayed at its sister hotel the Hale Koa on Oahu, I’ve never desired to stay at SOG simply because of the lack of theming and airport transportation. But now I will.
We can get a pool-view room, tickets to Universal Orlando, Sea World & Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party, plus transportation to and from the airport, and to and from Universal & Sea World all for $100 less than the room-only cost of my reservation at Riverside with the 30% discount. And it could go down even more with the sporadic specials SOG offers if they decide later next year to add one around the time we’d like to go.
Shades can be a big part of a money saving vacation! It’ll just be slightly different than you are used to but great nonetheless.
Vicki Davis says
SoG allows a sponsor to book up to three rooms. Can a sponsor get the discount on more than room at a WDW resort?
Yes up to three rooms as well, see http://www.militarydisneytips.com/Disney-Armed-Forces-Salute.html