Special Info for these Crazy Times:
News for 2021:
- Planning and Executing Your Walt Disney World Vacation During These Trying Times
- 2021 Walt Disney World Armed Forces Salute Ticket Announcement
- Using Disney Armed Forces Salute Tickets in 2021
- Using the Walt Disney World Theme Park Reservation System
- Park Hopping Returns to Walt Disney World Starting in 2021
Everything is Different at WDW since it Reopened. See Our Trip Reports:
- Our Return to Walt Disney World (Aug/Sep 2020)
- Our Second Trip Back to Walt Disney World (Nov 2020)
- Our Third Trip Back to Walt Disney World (Jan 2021)
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: December 2020)
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:
- Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
- 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
Note many of the following amenities are not offered or modified in today’s temporary health environment.
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 Caribbean Beach 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 the Caribbean and a Standard Room at Shades.
The Caribbean Beach’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
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 the Caribbean Beach 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 2020 – 30 September 2021:
- Category 1 – $139.00 per night
- Category 3 – $169.00 per night
- Category 3 – $179.00 per night
1 October 2021 – 30 September 2022:
- Category 1 – $154.00 per night
- Category 3 – $184.00 per night
- Category 3 – $194.00 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.
Caribbean Beach – The Caribbean Beach Resort’s 2021 rates for a standard room varies from $240 – $432 per night including tax.
When the maximum Disney Armed Forces Salute discount of 35% the rate is applied these rates are reduced to $156.00 to $280.80 per night.
For each additional adult over 2 there is a $15 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, only 9 dollars a night more!
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 Caribbean Beach rooms 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.
Caribbean Beach Resort – The Caribbean Beach room measured in at 314 square feet with a bedroom, small separate vanity area, which contained the clothes hanging area and shelf. All Caribbean Beach 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
Caribbean Beach – 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 Caribbean Beach’s was quite small), iron and ironing board, toiletries, luggage rack, and at Shades a hair dryer (available on request from the Caribbean Beach).
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.
Caribbean Beach – The Caribbean Beach room is decorated in a lite tropical theme. 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.
Caribbean Beach – There are several dining option at the Caribbean Beach, Sebastian’s Bistro (Table Service) and Centertown Market (Food Court) are near the main building lobby. Centertown Market has a Grab and Go option as well.
The Spyglass Grill (Counter Service) is located well away from the main area to service the furthest rooms.
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 Banana Cabana offers a full bar and snacks, it’s located near the main pool.
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 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.
Caribbean Beach – Disney Moderates offer a full range of recreation options. Your recreation options at the Caribbean Beach include, multiple pools and hot tubs, 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:
Flying – WDW Resorts still 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 $13 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)
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Disney Springs
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. Currently Closed
Caribbean Beach – 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 Caribbean Beach 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, and various boat lines.
At the Caribbean Beach bus transportation is available to all Disney World guest areas.
The Caribbean Beach has multiple bus stops within the large spread out resort. These are at Martinique, Old Port Royale, Barbados, Trinidad, Jamaica, and Aruba. Buses pick up in that order and can be full before getting to the last stop(s).
Buses to Epcot and Hollywood Studios can be limited or do not run during Skyliner operating hours.
The Caribbean Beach is one of the resorts that has the Disney Skyliner gondola system for transportation to Epcot and Disney Hollywood Studios.
The Caribbean Beach is the main Skyliner hub. There are 3 separate lines which run from CBR to:
Disney Hollywood Studios
The Riviera Resort and Epcot
Art of Animation and Pop Century Resorts
When heading to the theme parks during the morning rush, you will only have to wait in 1 line. Those coming from Pop/AoA wait in line there and then go to the back of the line at the Caribbean Beach Station!
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.
Caribbean Beach – 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.
Caribbean Beach – 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
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
- Shades of Green Blog Tour
- Magic Bands for Shades of Green Guests
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Read about the Temporary Changes to Disney World during their Post-Lockdown Re-OpeningSee 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
- Technology Overview Page
- Shades of Green, WDW’s Military Only Resort
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