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:
- Shades of Green – Disney Moderate Resort Comparison
- Shades of Green – Disney Deluxe Resort Comparison
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 2023 prices: December 2022)
Military members who use Disney’s Armed Forces Salute room discount receive up to 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.
Here are the Disney Value Resorts, most are eligible for up to 30% off of the full price rate are:
- Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort
- Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
- Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
- Disney’s Pop Century Resort (Pop Century is not eligible for the Disney Armed Forces Salute Discount in 2022)
- Disney’s Art of Animation Resort (Little Mermaid Rooms at Art of Animation are not eligible for the Disney Armed Forces Salute Discount)
Disney Value Resorts include amenities such as: food courts, pizza delivery to your room, luggage service, swimming pools with hot tub and cast member lead activities, on-site recreation, and bus transportation.
For this comparison I’ll be using the All-Star Music Resort, but all of the Disney Values are very similar, varying only in the exterior themes and food options in the food courts. Art of Animation has 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, 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 All-Star Music and a Standard Room at Shades.
The All-Star Music room in this review is representative of the other All-Star and Pop Century Resorts
Disney’s Value Preferred rooms, identical except for location (proximity to the main building), are available for $15-$20 more per night. All-Star Music also offers Family Suites at a higher rate.
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 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).
For this comparison I’ll be using the maximum 30% Disney Armed Forces Salute discount. Disney adds various sales and resort taxes to their room rates. At Pop Century and Art of Animation the tax rate is 12.5% and at the All-Stars it is 13.5%
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.
All-Star Music – The All-Star Music Resort’s 2022 full rates for a standard room varies from $121 to $289 per night including tax.
When the maximum Disney Armed Forces Salute discount of 30% the rate is applied these rates are reduced to $90 to $202 per night.
This price is for up to 2 people. For each additional adult over 18 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 Value resorts with the maximum Disney Armed Forces Salute are way cheaper than Shades of Green’s Category 1 rates! And there there are times when they are more expensive.
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 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 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 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.
All-Star Music – The All-Star Music room measures in at a much smaller 260 square feet with a bedroom that includes 2 double beds (one platform, one Murphy), a small separate vanity area separate from the shower/toilet area, the vanity area which contains a clothes hanging area and shelf. The All-Star resorts all 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
All-Star Music – 2 double beds (one platform, one Murphy). The Murphy Bed folds up to create a table and there are 2 chairs
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 (Shades’ was good sized, the All-Star Music’s is quite small), iron and ironing board, toiletries, hair dryer, and luggage rack (available on request at All-Star Music).
Both resorts have receptacles for recycling and it is important to note that the All-Star Music room thermostat could not be set lower that 68, a cooler temperature is desirable when returning to the room mid-day in the Florida summer (at least for me)!
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. At the values theming is all outside in big bold icons and bright colors! Inside, you cannot tell the Values’ rooms apart (except for Art of Animation). In all Disney’s recent remodels, they have made many resorts including the Values very generic.
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 Music – The rooms have been recently renovated. The furniture is all great quality too. The new Murphy Bed has vastly increased what was a limited sized room. And you can stash all your luggage under the other platform bed if you are a vacation unpacker.
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 Value! There isn’t the volume of people to make that necessary.
More on Shades of Green Dining
All-Star Music – There is one dining in option at All-Star Music and all 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 plus a grab and go section. 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 7 a.m. for a less hectic experience. Open 6 a.m.-midnight,
Pizza and salad Delivery is also available to your room after 5 p.m. There is also a pool bar to enjoy while relaxing by the pool.
Menus on DisneyWorld.com:
- World Premiere Food Court (Movies)
- Intermission Food Court (Music)
- End Zone Food Court (Sports)
- Everything POP Shopping and Dining (Pop Century)
- Landscape of Flavors (Art of Animation)
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. 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).
All-Star Music – Your recreation options at All-Star Music are the very nice pool and hot tub with cast member led activities, 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.
Military Disney Tips has negotiated a Military Discount on Airport Transportation
Those Driving to Shades of Green 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 of Green 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 of Green’s guests also have free full access to the WDW transportation system, which includes busses, the monorail, and various boat lines.
The Shades of Green’s bellhops will drive you to the edge of the property for a quick walk to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and its Monorail Station.
All-Star Music – As of January 2022, guests arriving in Orlando via airline are responsible for obtaining and paying for their own transportation to Disney Resorts.
Those driving to their vacation at the Disney All-Stars will pay $15 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.
The All-Star Resorts only have bus transportation available to all Disney World guest areas.
The other Value Resorts, Pop Century and Art of Animation have access to the Disney Skyliner gondola system for transportation to Epcot and Disney Hollywood Studios. Buses to Epcot and Hollywood Studios don’t run or can be limited during Skyliner operating hours.
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.
All-Star Music – Has a Disney resort gift shop (souvenirs and sundries), luggage service, and a 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 of Green 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 that 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.
Subscribe to Steve's email newsletter to get website updates and news by clicking this link.
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!
Tricia Mahlau-Heinert says
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.
Thanks great idea!
We love the AKL too. We’ve been there twice using the salute discounts.
Mary Shepard says
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.
Good points, you can be VERY tired at the end of a long day in the parks…
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.
What resort are you staying at this time?
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.
Great article! We love Shades, but my son has always wanted to stay at Sports!
Mike Randall says
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.
I appreciate the kind words!
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.
Lauri Shumway says
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!!!
I Know, we just love that 40% off at AKL!!!
Next trip 40% off at the Beach CLub
Carmen E. Alverio says
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
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?
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.
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!
Awesome, thanks Jessica.
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
Indiana Jones says
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.
Thanks so much for the great trip report.
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?
Entry on days that are closed due to volume is one of the couple of Disney Resort benefits extended to Shades of Green.
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.
Awesome tips for the maid daily, see no evil….
Thank you. Great advice on tipping. I just did not want to get kicked out We love SOG
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.
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.
Katie Moe says
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.
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!
You are correct. This page was missed back when Shades mad the change of what category E-6s were in.