Hey everyone, a lady who works with my wife has asked me to help her plan her family’s first Disney trip. Her husband is active military so I thought about Shades of Green but I know nothing about it. I have looked at their website and have determined they have somewhat the same advantages as staying at a Disney owned property, ADRs at 180 and FPP at 60, but is it cheaper to stay there or go through like MVT and get a package somewhere else? From what I saw the ticket rates for the military look really nice and also I see Disney gives military discounts off of their room rates. If anyone has any information on this I would appreciate the input. I may just need to ask her to contact Darcy at MVT. Thanks!
@brerbeer is on vacation right now but he is very knowledgeable on this. I am tagging him in the hopes that in a couple of days he can respond.
Depending on what level/view of room you get at SoG (or what’s available) along with the rank of the sponsoring military member, you may or may not get a better rate at Shades of Green.
Disney’s military discounts are usually 5-10% more (depending on category) than any other discount they offer; it’s often 40% on Deluxe resorts.
Remember that Shades does not have access to Magically express, so there will be a cost to get to and from MCO if you’re flying.
I have access but haven’t stayed there, as the times I’ve been the Disney resorts were a better deal than the rooms still available at SoG.
Hope that all helps.
If I handed them off to a TA like Darcy at MVT would she be able to get multiple quotes for them or do they need to call SoG themselves because of the verification process?
Or would that be a question to ask Darcy?
Generally, the SoG petiole will only talk to people authorized to use them; you might be able to have your local rec-itt office call them.
But you can sure compare that to anything your TA offers. Be sure that they know that you qualify for the military discounts for Disney-owned resorts.
SOG is nice. We have stayed there multiple times. The rooms are large (and I think larger than any of the deluxe resorts). The rates vary depending on military rank. Transportation is the big issue when staying there I think. You’re not eligible for DME and the bus transportation to the parks is through SOG and not through Disney. We usually walked across the street to the Poly and took transportation from there. Regardless of whether they stay at SOG, they can purchase military salute tickets which are an awesome deal. There is a really good website about all the military benefits at Disney.(http://www.militarydisneytips.com/)
I would definitely recommend calling WDW reservations and seeing what rate you can get using a Salute to Service discount. I’ve stayed at both SOG and Disney properties. For us, the perks for Disney outweigh the savings at SOG. We drive, so we what we save on the room at SOG is cancelled out because you have to pay for parking at SOG and if you decide to drive to a park. The rooms at SOG are huge, but depending on the room can be a little run down. They definitely look like they are stuck in the 1990’s. Also, the furniture in our room had definitely seen better days. We also walked over to Poly most days to catch the monorail because the buses weren’t always reliable. When we stayed at a Disney resort, we were on the dining plan. You don’t qualify for the dining plan at SOG. Military park tickets are an amazing deal, but don’t wait until you (they) get to SOG to buy them. They can be purchased at an ITT office on base/post. A 5 day park hopper is less than a regular child’s ticket through the ITT office.
Whether or not they stay at Shades, they can purchase their Armed Forces Salute tickets through them well ahead of time, and Shades will FedEx it to them. These tickets are already activated, so that’s better than getting them through their local base. Shipping is about $10-$15.
We are military, and I’ve stayed at Shades, PoR, and WL in recent years. They are all wonderful in their own way. Now that Shades gets the 60 FPP, it makes the decision even harder. Shades rooms are bigger than almost any other property, so that’s a big plus for some people. The grounds are lovely, if not overly themed. Transportation wasn’t a problem for us, but if you prefer to drive your own car to the parks that adds parking costs. Shades rates are based on the military person’s pay grade. Shades is a particularly good deal for junior enlisted, and they will not be able to get a comparable room at a Disney property for a similar rate. If the military person has a higher pay grade, then the difference between the Shades rate and a mid-level Disney property is negligible. Then it comes down to personal preference, as so many things do. One other thing I’d add is the the pool at Shades is adequate, but doesn’t have any special theme.
I’ll preface this all by saying that the last time I stayed at SOG was in 2012, so things may have changed since then…
I’ve stayed at SOG a number of times and like it quite a lot. As others have said rooms that are larger than any other rooms on property (not counting suites/villas) with 2 queen beds and private balconies (all of the rooms are interior access). Regarding theming, if they had called it something like "Carolina Pines’ and advertised it as a Craftsman style luxury golf resort, then it would be dead on point.
It’s been a number of years since I did a detailed price point comparison, but as someone in the highest rank group, a night at SOG was somewhere between Disney Value and Moderate (closer to Value) based on rack rate. Figuring in the Disney military discount, Values came out cheaper, but mods were still markedly higher than SOG. Deluxes, with military discount, were still double to triple the SOG rates.
A “hidden bonus” of staying there is the small PX downstairs. Here, for more or less “standard” PX prices you can purchase anything from tooth paste to some clothing items to snack food to a bottle of rum.
Downsides of SOG:
No DME. I always drive, so this is a moot point for me, but if you fly in, you will need transportation to WDW.
Nightly parking fee at SOG. If you drive, or have a rental car, you will have to pay a nightly fee (it was $5 last time I stayed there). The plus side of this is that all parking is covered, and the garage opens directly into the hotel, so no long walks across griddle-like parking lots. I consider this perk to be well worth a small parking fee.
No free parking at the parks. If you have a car and plan on driving to the parks this will add to the effective cost of the room. Not a big issue for me as I gladly leave my car parked and us SOG and/or WDW transportation to get to the parks.
SOG buses. I’ll say up front that I actually like the SOG buses better than the WDW buses, but as most people consider them a negative, I’ll discuss them. The main difference is that WDW works on a dispatch model and SOG operates on a time schedule. What this means is that at a WDW resort, pretty much any time you get to a bus stop, a bus to your destination will probably be coming by within the next 20 min. If that one fills, there will be another one along in some period of time. At SOG, there is a set bus schedule (e.g. buses to AK depart every hour on the half hour). In all my times using the SOG buses, I’ve never had one that departed more than a minute or two late (and that’s because they were still loading). The same holds true for pick up at the parks. And if the “9:00 bus” fills, there is a second bus either already there or arriving in a matter of minutes to pick up the overflow. Only 2 real “downsides” to SOG buses: (a) there is no direct bus service to MK or EP; the SOG buses go to the TTC and you pick up WDW transportation from there, and (b) the buses do not run as frequently. If I remember correctly buses to the TTC ran every 30 min and to DHS, AK, and DS every hour. But as others have said, it’s only a 10 min walk to the Poly, and from there you can get to just about anywhere you want to go via WDW transportation.
Dining options. If you’re a foodie type person, don’t plan on eating (m)any meals at SOG. There’s a “family buffet” that has the usual suspects for breakfast and dinner at a price point half or less than a similar buffet anywhere else on property. I don’t like large breakfasts, but if I did, chowing down there in the AM would certainly save on the food budget. There is one true “table service” restaurant there called “Mangino’s” which serves Italian food that falls somewhere between Tony’s in the MK and MM in DHS in quality and considerably below either in price. On arrival day, after an 8 hour day in the car it was nice to just go downstairs and have a couple glasses of wine, a salad, and a plate of not bad lasagna. But I would never leave a park to come back to eat there… There is also a fairly nice little “sports bar” that serves standard sandwiches and grill items (but it’s pretty far out of the way if you are staying in the newer wing of SOG).
The pool. For me this is a non-issue as I virtually never go to a pool while on vacation (unless it’s to go to pool-side bar for a drink). It’s main “claim to fame” is that it’s in the shape of a giant “hidden Mickey”. Otherwise it was pretty plain. There was a major renovation completed about a year ago with the addition of a slide; I haven’t seen it, but the pictures look nice.
This reads like a lot of “downsides”, but for me none of them are really very important, and to be able to stay in a “deluxe” resort for the price of a “Value”, these are pretty minor. On solo trips when I spend very little time in my room, resort amenities are pretty low on my priority list, so I use a military discount at a Value and save $50-60/night over SOG. But if I’m going with my wife and we plan a more leisurely vacation - and I don’t have enough advance time to rent DVC points - this is where we stay.
I spent a bit of time getting some “real” numbers for a potentially “real” trip that I would love to take the first week in December. I would be checking in on Sun, Dec 2nd, and checking out on Sat, Dec 8th.
SOG (top pay tier) - $960
ASSPorts (Mil Disc) $670
Coronado (Mil Disc) $995
AKL Savanah (Mil Disc) $2280
These are the only 3 resorts that offered military discounts for the weeks in question. I’ve rounded the numbers to the nearest $5. It still plays out pretty closely to the way I remembered it.
Coranado is good.
This is a fantastic Breakdown. Thank you!
I really can’t add anything to bswan except to say we love SOG. We just had to switch our dates and SOG is not available. When I told my boys we had to stay at a Disney resort they were disappointed!
Only thing I can add is that the palm side rooms are renovated and beautiful.
And peaceful. We’ve never had a noise problem at SOG.