As of May 1st 2023 Guests staying at Shades of Green, Disney World’s Military Only Resort, no longer have the ability to take the scenic half-mile walk to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort with its easy monorail and boat access to the Magic Kingdom and wonderful dining and shopping venues.
The walkway in question dates back to the early 1970s, when Shades of Green was owned by Disney and operated as their Golf Resort. Guests for the last 50 years have been able to take this short walk to access Disney’s transportation system, a big benefit for veterans with mobility issues who use scooters and families with strollers. Shades of Green’s buses only hold 2 scooters at a time, prompting many on scooters to head to the Polynesian rather than wait for several buses until they can board. Likewise families with small kids in double strollers find it easier to take the walk rather than deal with removing all their gear and the kids from the stroller and folding it to ride the bus. Some choose to walk to avoid the crowds at the Transportation and Tickets Center (TTC), where Shades of Green’s buses deposit guests bound for the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT.
UPDATED 24 May 2023, see the bottom of the post for current pics from this past weekend.
Disney hss closed the walkway that runs along Shades of Green’s entrance drive as part of their upgrade of Floridian Way, the road that runs between Shades of Green and the Polynesian. As part of Disney’s never-ending road construction Floridian Way is being upgraded to a 4 lane divided road. The road in this specific area is currently 1 lane in each direction with Shades of Green’s drive meeting it at 90 degrees. A pedestrian crosswalk was available until this month crossing the road, which is divided where the crosswalk crosses.
The crosswalk was closed this month in preparation for construction, which is said to last through 2027! A ridiculous number of barriers went up across the walkway, in at least 5 locations, on the first of the month to ensure that the military gets the idea that they are no longer welcome. Disney has said that the crosswalk will not be replaced as part of the expansion project.
Sources at Shades of Green said that prior to the closure a study indicated that roughly 800 people per day use this walkway. This figure indicates that between 23 and 46 percent of their guests had been using this path. This volume of people must now be accommodated by Shades of Green’s small bus system.
A major point of interest is that the road being widened is used almost exclusively by Disney cast members (what they call employees) to get to and from work, not by paying guests. After passing Shades of Green the road passes Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa and then enters Disney’s “back stage” area not accessible to guests. Cast members who live in the communities to the north and west use this road to get to work. Placing a stop light and cross walk would slightly inconvenience only the few paying guests driving to the Grand Floridian.
Shades of Green has historically (back to Disney’s ownership) been considered a monorail resort due to the close proximity and ability to walk to the Polynesian’s monorail station. This is a premium feature that Disney itself charges hundreds more per night than they do for their other deluxe resorts. Blocking pedestrian access to the monorail for the military has severely degraded the value of this resort that the Department of Defense bought from Disney in the early 90s.
Some suspect that Disney is taking advantage of the construction to end access to the monorail for the military families staying at Shades of Green is due to their concerns about the added volume the new Disney’s Polynesian DVC Tower (under construction) will add to the monorail line.
Shades of Green
In their statement to guests sent less than 30 days prior to the closure, Shades of Green said that in order to compensate for this closure they would be “…adding extra buses to the Transportation and Ticket Center route, so you can still easily get to your destination.” Disney in replying to complaints from concerned military families also stated this remedy.
However Shades of Green’s published bus schedule for this week indicates no change in the frequency of departures for the TTC which are still every 20 minutes as always. More buses do not help the problem if they do not run more often.
Reports from on scene indicate that this is not working well, with long waits for buses being encountered.
Shades of Green operates its own bus service utilizing just a few routes to service the Disney theme parks, water parks, and Disney Springs (Disney’s dining and shopping area). Shades of Green’s buses operate on a much less user friendly schedule compared to Disney, with some routes having to wait an hour between scheduled bus pickups (Disney’s buses wait times are roughly 20 minutes). For example if you were heading to Disney Springs and just missed the Shades of Green bus, it would have been way quicker to walk to the Polynesian and then take a Disney bus; you’d get there much sooner than waiting the hour for the next bus at Shades of Green.
Then there is the Transportation and Ticket Center where Shades of Green’s buses drop guests bound for the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT. The TTC is where all guests who drive and park their cars (a significant portion of Disney’s attendance) arrive for the Magic Kingdom. All local hotel shuttle vans, tour group buses, taxis and ride hires also drop here. It is a significant volume of people processing through security that Shades of Green’s guests were able to avoid by the short walk to the Polynesian and a quick monorail ride the the Magic Kingdom.
Disney in replying to multiple complaints has stated no remedy, rather they refer to the extra buses being added.
They have not mentioned adding a traffic light and crosswalk, elevating the roadway over a pedestrian passage, or building an elevated pedestrian bridge.
Unnamed sources at Shades of Green indicate that Shades of Green did obtain an estimate for an elevated pedestrian bridge, which came in at about $1.2 million dollars. Disney wouldn’t pay for it, even in part, and Shades of Green has decided it’s too expensive. This from a resort that pulls in an estimated 2.4 million in parking fees per year for a 22 year old parking garage (Likely paid for prior to construction or long ago).
All of the things I just mentioned that Disney has not discussed are potential solutions.
Traffic light and crosswalk – This would be the cheapest and easiest option. The excuse has been given that a crosswalk is not safe as this will be a 4 lane divided “highway.” However prior to the massive expansion of East Buena Vista Drive, that runs in front of Disney Springs, Disney had crosswalks that crossed 8 lanes of divided traffic. This would be a minor add on to the current plans.
Elevating the roadway over a pedestrian passage – Pre-stressed tunnel segments are readily available. Just place it, back fill over it and pave the road over it. However plans are already finished and submitted so this is unlikely.
Building an elevated pedestrian bridge – Granted probably the most costly at 1.2 million, but for Disney’s Construction budget it a drop in the bucket (they are the ones causing the issue after all). Recently they put 5 such pedestrian bridges with elevators over Disney Spring’s East Buena Vista Drive when it was widened, 1 for cast parking and so Disney cast members who work at the Team Disney building can go to lunch at Disney Springs, 2 for a guest parking garage, and 2 for continued access for the 5 non-Disney owned hotels on Hotel Plaza Blvd (left to right below). This would only be minor add on to current plans.
Update 24 May
I’m just back from a long weekend at WDW and I went by Shades of Green to see just what is going on, or isn’t. Any construction sure isn’t going on 20 plus days after the sidewalk closure. The only thing that has happened is the survey for buried cables and pipes, as evidenced by all the colored flags stuck in the ground.
Here is just what things look like:
As you exit Shades of Green’s lobby you are soon presented with a warning sign.
At the bottom of the hill another and a red vehicle barrier.
Then another 2 barriers and the same sign a short ways down the path.
As you approach the guard shack another barrier.
Halfway to the road from the guard shack another, are you getting the message yet?
Then finally at the road between Shades of Green and the Polynesian more signs and barriers.
Now this, this is the best, after crossing to the Polynesian side a sign and not 1 but 3 vehicle barriers!
On the Polynesian property side you will see the below barriers when you come to the entrance to the path to Shades of Green.
I checked Ride Hire prices. Note this is mid-day, prices will be higher during busy periods (Park opening and closing). My Minnie Van driver said that runs to and from Shades of Green had picked up frequency this month.
And just so you know why Disney says it’s so dangerous to put a crosswalk across 4 lanes of traffic see the video below of the hectic crazy traffic in this spot!
It should be noted that Shades of Green has increased the frequency of the Transportation and Ticket Center buses during heavy traffic times (Park open and close) to roughly every 10 minutes and return to the old every 20 minutes during off-peak times.
You can voice your displeasure with Disney over this slight to the military community. See my Contact Disney Officials Page for how.
So where does this go. I don’t know.
I just know it’s wrong!
Unless Disney grows a conscience and or Shades of Green grows a spine and brings Disney to the table or pays for the foot bridge themselves, probably nowhere.
A last ditch effort if you are interested would be to contact your elected officials, especially those who serve on the Armed Services Committee or the Veterans Affairs Committee.
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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“Unless Disney grows a conscience and or Shades of Green grows a spine and brings Disney to the table or pays for the foot bridge themselves, probably nowhere.”
Sad but most probably true :(. Thanks Steve for the post, the reports about the buses (and non-extra buses!), and on-the-ground coverage and photos. Figured the number of SOG guests who used the walkway was high, but interesting to see the actual data, thanks for sharing.
I’ve got a half-written email to Shades of Green after receiving Disney’s canned responses but haven’t sent it yet. We’ll be there in a few weeks and will see how that stay goes I think so I can tell them how this affected our trip.
(Talking with my friend earlier today who we are traveling with, I have a feeling both our families are prob going to pony up and pay for the parking at the parks. Sure wish Disney would at least offer that perk for those who do have a car.)
Maybe Disney and/or Shades will change their mind someday…
Thanks for the note.
Yep, as long as you are going, best to see how you feel before writing.
The thing that gets me besides the fact that this could have been easily fixed from the start and we wouldn’t even be here, is the sheer volume of slap in your face barriers that have been placed the whole length of the walkway.
Also, something I will work into the post now is that Disney has 2 cast crosswalks further up the road across from the Wedding Pavilion and the Grand Floridian due to the cast parking lot across the street from the GF. I wonder what the plan for those are???
Looks like the road will re-route around the cast parking, placing it on the same side of the road as the GF.