Laurie had the chance to head over to the Shades of Green and she gives us her input. Even though I cannot book Shades of Green for you, I wanted to be sure to let those know that qualify to stay here, what it was like. Looks great to me.
Over and over I have heard people direct someone away from Shades of Green. I popped in there and was shocked that I did not see quonset huts with one mess hall, a PX, and a parade ground. I had heard a few good words about Shades of Greens but not much praise. I knew what I should be seeing based on her history. I decided to write this article to let everyone know the many good things about Shades of Green and why I wish I could stay there a week.
The resort was built of volcanic rock and wood to give the feel of a Southern country club. It opened in 1971 as a 2 story clubhouse for the golf courses and in December, 1973, it was opened as the Golf Resort. The goal was to provide guests with 490 square foot suite like rooms in a quiet and relaxing atmosphere. In 1986, the resort was renovated with a Snow White theme and was called The Disney Inn. In 1994, the Department of Defense took over the resort and has been operating at near capacity since then. They remodeled, doubled the number of rooms, added a parking garage, added meeting rooms, and added a fitness center while retaining that elite country club look. This is extremely exclusive so that anyone not eligible may not walk the grounds, eat at restaurants, or buy a cup of coffee unlike other WDW resorts. The only way someone not eligible can do those things if they are a guest of someone eligible or have someone eligible with them. I went across the street to Kona Cafe to eat mushroom soup, baked chicken, roasted squash, roasted purple potatoes, and cinammon gelato that came with bacon brittle.
Shades of Green is cracking down on outsiders coming into their resort. Currently anyone can walk into the lobby and walk around the grounds. I read that they are going to change it so that one must be eligible, with someone eligible, or have a room key that shows they are staying onsite with an eligible member. I was checking out a store when a woman was denied her purchase but a nice guy said she was with him.
She did not have proof of eligibility so the young man was the answer. The eligible person must be a registered guest of the hotel, must check in and out on the same day as sponsored guests, and be responsible for sponsored persons. Eligible persons not staying at Shades of Green may visit the resort and partake in the dining and some other stuff. Only registered guests may use the pool, yoga studio, and gym. I am not trying to explain who is eligible. There are 3 tiers for room rates based on rank or grade. A cadet pays tier 1 for the first room and tier 2 for the second room which you see is part of the complexity of the rules for the resort.
Kids under 6 eat free at the buffet. The buffet has Build A Cookie once a week, Build A Pizza once a week, and a weekly Carnival Night. Kids will enjoy the free wifi, cable television, and Raytheon Family Technology Center that offers free use of computers. Magnolia Pool is the quiet pool with shallow entry. There is a kiddie pool and playground as well as pool activities. Pools are heated to 84 degrees and have a lifeguard. Planned for the warmer seasons are outdoor movies. The arcade has cards for sale that give up to 33% in bonus credits. Magnolia Spa offers children ages 4-12 beginning facials, massages, pedicures, and manicures. Guests aged 12 – 18 may use any of the adult procedures if accompanied by an adult. The Princess Makeover offers 3 hair styles, makeup, tiara, and glitter for $30 and there is a discount with receipt at the Exchange on a princess gown and tiara.
I drove to the resort expecting a one-star motel. I was shocked to see what seemed to me to be Cypress Gardens type of landscaping. For $5 a day there is the parking garage and for $10 guests may use the valet. They let guests drop off passengers in front of the lobby. I was taken aback by the beautiful rock waterfall that greets you before you enter the lobby. The lobby has high ceilings with heavy use of beams. There are comfortable places to rest especially by the fireplace and windows that face the gazebo area. Shades of Green tries hard to provide for everything a guest may need or want during their stay. They offer Alamo car rental, scooter and power chair rentals (fee), Raytheon free computer access, airline check in, shuttle to the street where one can walk to Polynesian, shuttle around the resort, package delivery from parks, Early Magic Hours that provides extended hours in parks on certain days, banquet rooms, laundry, and large rooms. Anything one could need for a vacation is at this resort.
DELUXE RESORT AMENITIES
The quiet Magnolia Pool has shallow steps for guests to walk into the pool and a hot tub with disabled transfer seat. They are remodeling the Mickey Mouse head shaped Millpond Pool that has disabled access, nearby playground, kiddie pool, and Evergreens. Evergreens is a sports bar, with pool tables and games, that serves hot dogs, sandwiches, nachos, wings, pizza and burgers. The Fitness Center offers weight machines, treadmills and steppers. The Yoga Center offers free Zumba and Yoga classes. There are meandering paths for jogging and strolling. Kids can feed the koi at the pond or run around the lawns. There is the Arcade in the Magnolia wing where you can find arcade games, pool tables, and air hockey games. There are tennis courts that nobody uses, so call ahead on equipment availability. The laundry rooms have drinks, microwave, and soap but it is cheaper to buy the soap at the Exchange. There is a golf cart to take guests to the main road or around the resort.
SHOPPING AND ROOMS
The AAFES Exchange shop is tax free and offers groceries, sundries, and Disney gifts. The exchange offers everything one needs to set up their own bar including beer, wine coolers, wine, Kahlua, brandy, Maker’s Mark, vodka, Southern Comfort, and those little mini bottles. They have cigars in a display case and cigarettes behind the counter. The inventory is limited for babies as they have one type of baby food, Enfamil, Destin, diapers, and other baby items. For your home away from home they have foam plates, plasticware, cups, laundry powder, softener, and dish soap. The fridge has milk, juice, power drinks, soda pop, and water. They carry cereal, peanut butter, Pringles, nuts, chips, saltine and snack crackers, Pop Tarts, animal crackers, candy and mints, gum, jelly, cup of soup, and Entemanns to name a few of the items in stock. These are the largest regular rooms on WDW at around 500 square feet instead of the 265 square feet for a value room. Standard rooms include 2 queen sized beds, separate vanity with two sinks, mini fridge, cable television, wifi, safe that is larger than normal, and tasteful decor. Some suites have a king sized bed, 2 sofa sleepers, and a murphy bed to sleep 8 guests. Suites have a microwave, mini fridge, hair dryer (on request), iron, ironing board, separate dining area, balcony or patio, kitchenette, 2 bathrooms, and separate living room.
The resort is tax free even the shops and restaurants. There are no resort fees and cars are charged $5 a day for parking. They regularly offer early bird discounts with one for the end of August, 2014, one for Spring, and one for May at $89 to $115 a night. Survivor Family Program offers 50% discount to the family of an active service man and have DB or URW status. Sunrise Package offers a room and breakfast for two persons for $111 to $143 per day average cost (best to aim for other discounts). DOD and Military staying on an OEF/OIF for 270 or more consecutive days receive 20% discount on rooms and some restaurants. Red, White, & Blue offers breakfast, dinner, server tips, and room for 2 guests at $140 to $175 per day on average. It might be cheaper to get a short term discount such as the early bird as the $50 to $60 might be better used on WDW dining. They have a ticket sales desk that offers tax free discounted tickets throughout central Florida. Mangino’s offers specials such as all you can eat prime rib with sides for $21.95 and shrimpfest for $18.95.
I would rather stay at Shades of Green than a moderate resort at WDW as it offers similar amenities as the Grand Floridian resort including tax free shopping, large rooms, arcades, bars, restaurants, beautiful grounds, pools, peaceful resort, well guarded, well maintained, spa, and a covered parking garage. $89 to $150 a night versus the $350 plus a night for other deluxe hotels. It makes me wonder why someone would give up luxury for a value resort. April 4, 2014 is the Shades of Music event and there are chef dinners that are above what is normally served at Mangino’s. The money saved each day could be used on Disney dining, souvenirs and character meals. I am adding this to my wish list and hope to stay here someday. So, have you stayed at Shades of Green? What are your thoughts? Leave us a comment if you have stayed here.