Shades of Green Resort at Disney
Military Resort At Walt Disney World
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL -- More military members and their families can exclaim “I’m going to Disney World,” thanks to the recent expansion of Shades of Green Armed Forces Recreation Center on Walt Disney World Resort.
“This is not just a grand opening, it’s a celebration of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines because that’s what these properties take care of,” said John McLaurin, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for Human Resources. “The Shades of Green here represents the Army’s latest commitment to providing high-quality morale, welfare and recreation opportunities to members of the U.S. Armed Forces.”
Charles Abell, principal deputy undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness said the resort provides much-needed respite from the rigors of military duty.
“This is an occasion that reaffirms the Department of Defense’s commitment to provide quality, wholesome and affordable recreation opportunities to members of U.S. forces who have and who continue to underwrite the peace and stability of our nation,” Abell said.
Abell also mentioned how Shades of Green makes the Central Florida vacation experience affordable for those who have stayed there.
“The majority … tell us that were it not for the Shades of Green, they would not have been able to vacation here in America’s premiere vacation destination,” Abell said. “It is gratifying to see this dramatically improved and expanded hotel on these beautiful grounds. This wonderful facility is one of the jewels in the Armed Forces Recreation Center crown.”
The other AFRCs were represented at the Shades of Green reopening. The Hale Koa Hotel in Hawaii; Dragon Hill Lodge in Korea; and Edelweiss Lodge and Resort, which is scheduled to open this autumn in Germany, staged exhibits during the reception, providing a taste of many cultures -- from Polynesian and Korean dancers to an Oktoberfest tent complete with an oompah band from Epcot.
There was plenty of music at the reception as well. The Southeast Swing Band from Jacksonville Naval Air Station played atop a dock in the center of a pond. “When Buffet meets Sinatra,” a duo playing Jimmy and Frank’s classics, was stationed in a drained kiddie pool on the other side of the hotel.
Even Mickey and Minnie Mouse joined the festivities, along with friends Donald, Daisy, Pluto and Goofy.
But the true star of the ceremony was the resort itself. With the reopening, it has more than doubled in size with the addition of 299 rooms to the previous 287, plus a 500-seat ballroom, two new restaurants, and a second heated swimming pool. The upgraded complex also better accommodates buses that shuttle guests around Disney’s property, separate from the flow of traffic near the hotel’s check-in area.
Active Duty Military and Retired members and their familes enjoy the Shades of Green very reasonable room rates compared with many Disney World Resorts and other hotels in the local area. Rates are based upon rank/pay grade, with junior member paying much less.
The response from guests at the upgraded Shades of Green has been overwhelmingly positive.
“We hear things like: ‘We can’t wait to come back’ and “This is the best thing the Army has ever done;’ ‘We love this place;’ and ‘This is our home away from home,’ – all great things,” Shades of Green acting general manager Melissa Colvin said.
Shades of Green is adjacent to Disney’s Palm Golf Course, home of the PGA Tour’s FUNAI Classic, and just outside the gates of Mickey Mouse’s famous house. Another one of Disney’s five championship 18-hole golf courses and a nine-hole executive layout are within walking distance.
“We do not promote the fact that it’s a golf resort probably as much as we should,” said Colvin, who hasn’t needed to market the resort. “Military families do certainly appreciate the golf factor, but I can honestly say most of them are coming here to go see the attractions in this area. Weather also plays a big role – they want to get away from the snow and enjoy the sunshine.”
The hotel features two lighted tennis courts, hot tub, children’s pool and play area, lounge and sports bar, banquet accommodations, gift shops, video arcade, laundry facilities, fitness center and travel to the local parks and events.
For room reservations at Shades of Green, call 888-593-2242 or fax to 407-824-3665. The hotel’s direct number is 407-824-3400 and fax is 407-824-3460. An online reservation system is coming soon.
Reservations are accepted up to one year in advance. Six to eight months in advance traditionally is required to secure a room. Holidays and long weekends tend to get booked a full year in advance.
For soldiers on short-notice R&R leave, Shades of Green has overflow contract arrangements with alternate hotels at Walt Disney World Resort.