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 currency: February 2020)
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.
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 Pop Century 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 Pop Century and a Standard Room at Shades.
The Pop Century 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.
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:
1 October 2019 – 30 September 2020:
- Category 1 – $124.00 per night
- Category 2 – $154.00 per night
- Category 3 – $164.00 per night
1 October 2020 – 30 September 2021:
- Category 1 – $139.00 per night
- Category 3 – $169.00 per night
- Category 3 – $179.00 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+).
Pop Century –
As mentioned above this comparison uses the summer price period (there are 15 other WDW price periods per year). Summer room rates are more level, in this case $178 Sunday to Thursday and $208 Friday & Saturday.
When the maximum Disney Armed Forces Salute discount of 30% the rate is applied and 11.5% in taxes are applied the summer rates are reduced to $138.93 Sunday to Thursday/$162.34 Friday & Saturday nights.
For each additional adult over 2 there is a $10 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! $30 cheeper a night! 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, 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 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.
Pop Century – The Pop Century 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.
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
Pop Century – 2 double sized beds.
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, Safe (Shades’ was good sized, the Pop Century was quite small), Iron and ironing board, toiletries, luggage rack, and at Shades a hair dryer (available on request from Pop Century).
Both resorts have receptacles for recycling and it is important to note that the Pop Century room thermostat could not be set lower that 65, something desirable when returning to the room mid-day in the Florida summer!
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.
Pop Century – The rooms have been recently renovated. The furniture was all great quality too. The new Murphy Bed has vastly increased what was a limited sized room.
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 On the Greens Grill (grilled hot dogs, Italian sausage, hamburgers, 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.
Pop Century – There is one dining in option at Pop Century 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:
- 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 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.
Pop Century – Your recreation options at Pop Century are the very nice pool and hot tub, outdoor movies, a playground, and a video arcade.
Resort – Transportation
Parking at the Disney World Resorts used to be free. But for reservations made after 21 March 2018 they now cahrge
This area is now a toss up with pluses and minuses for both.
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 $11 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 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.
Alamo Car rental has a location at Shades.
Pop Century – 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 All-Stars will pay $13 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.
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.
Pop Century – 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.
Pop Century – 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, 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.
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
- Shades of Green Rooms
- Shades of Green Room Rates
- Disney Tickets at Shades of Green
- Links to Everything Shades of Green
- Shades of Green Blog Tour
- Magic Bands for Shades of Green Guests
Planning a Disney Trip? Want to get the best military discounts that are available? Feeling a little confused? Get Our Email Newsletter 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
- Technology Overview Page
- Shades of Green, WDW’s Military Only Resort
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