Shades of Green is a United States Department of Defense-owned resort located in the city of Bay Lake, Florida, near Walt Disney World. It is an Armed Forces Recreation Center (AFRC) resort and therefore a part of the military's Morale, Welfare, and Recreation program (MWR). The newly expanded resort is one of three AFRC's located in the United States. The resort is self-supporting and operates from non-appropriated funds and all profits are put back into the resort.
Shades of Green is located near the Magic Kingdom, just southwest of the Polynesian Resort. The resort is not, however, on the monorail loop that services the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Transportation around Walt Disney World is provided exclusively by a separate fleet of buses which shuttle guests to and from the Transportation and Ticket Center, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Downtown Disney, and the water parks.
Shades of Green does not have a pervasive theme like other Disney resorts, and the general decor is that of a modern country club. Exposed roof beams and arches of hewn stone give the resort an American Craftsman feel. The main staircase encircles a two story rock formation with waterfalls flowing through it. The resort located in a wooded setting complete with waterfalls and tropical gardens. The resort has 586 guest rooms, most of which are standard guest rooms with floor space.
The standard room offered at Shades of Green is larger than the standard rooms throughout the Walt Disney World Resort. The resort also has 11 suites that can accommodate up to 8 people. The resort has two lighted tennis courts, two heated swimming pools, a children's pool, hot tub, fitness center, arcade, and laundry facilities.
There is also over banquet space with audio-visual equipment, and a staff to host events. Because the resort is owned and operated by the U.S. Military, merchandise sold within the resort is exempt from sales tax, and rooms are exempt from hotel tax. The lease requires that the resort must meet Disney standards.
The resort was designed to provide a vacation spot for the nation's service members and their families. It is a retreat for military personnel of all ranks, their families and their guests. The resort offers discounted prices for hotel rooms and discounts on theme park tickets. The resorts motto is Serving Those Who Serve. Specific eligibility must be met before making a reservation. As guests enter Shades of Green, there are five service flags framing an immense rock formation with five waterfalls, each a tribute to the five branches of military service. Rising above the setting is a larger American Flag and a smaller POW/MIA flag.
Shades of Green originally opened as a Disney-owned resort known as the Golf Resort which opened in December 1973 with 151 rooms. The Golf Resort was located in the middle of the Palm and Magnolia golf courses. the resort was built of wood and volcanic rock in the style of a country club. The core building of the resort was opened in 1971 as a two story clubhouse for the golf courses and did not actually have guest rooms. Guest wings were added to the original clubhouse in 1973 due to the need for overnight accommodations. Every guest room at the resort felt like a suite with at least .
The hotel's full-service Pro Shop offered an instructional program called the "Golf Studio," which was conducted by professionals for players of any age and playing level. The resort provided a restful atmosphere with pleasant views from the guest rooms. The Golf Resort was known for the Magnolia Room restaurant with its signature dessert, French Fried Ice Cream. The Magnolia Room, later the Trophy Room, served breakfast, lunch and dinner in a large, open room complete with a high-timbered ceiling with live entertainment.
The entertainment was usually provided by a guitar playing and singing duo called Amos and Charles. Their shows were a combination of soft rock, bluegrass, country and folk music. The Players Lounge was a large windowed lounge that overlooked the Magnolia Golf Course. The recreation at the resort included two lighted tennis courts and a pool, now the Magnolia Pool, which had three water spouting columns in the shallow portion of the pool. There were also two putting greens at the resort.
The resort only had an occupancy rate of 60% to 75% most of the year while Disney's Polynesian Resort and Disney's Contemporary Resort had an occupancy rate at almost 100%. One of the major problems with the resort was the location. The resort was out of the monorail loop; almost a quarter of a mile away from the nearest monorail station at The Polynesian.
Most travel agents and tourists did not really consider The Golf Resort to really be a "Disney" resort. The resort was expanded and renamed The Disney Inn in February 1986 to try to appeal to more than golfers. It received an additional 150 rooms with a new Snow White theme during that renovation. The resort was still small though for Disney standards. The resort described itself to have a rustic charm of a quiet country inn. Rooms were decorated in a bright and airy feel. The sitting area had pale green paint, oak table and chairs with a chandelier and a pull out couch.
The room was painted in a light tan and had an oak armoire and oak headboards. The beds had floral quilts and there was a small reading chair in the corner. Some dining options included "The Garden Gallery", which is still in operation, with a bright and airy setting, provided a nice spot for relaxed dining and offered American Cuisine. "The Back Porch" was a lounge at the resort.
A snack bar named "The Diamond Mine;" and the "Sand Trap", a poolside bar were two other dining options. Recreation included the diamond mine arcade, swimming in the two pools, jogging, playing tennis on one of the two courts and playing golf on either of the two challenging championship courses right next to the resort. Rates from the early 1990s for the Disney Inn ranged from $195.00 a night for two queen beds and a sleeper sofa to $500.00 for suites.
By the early 1990s, Army officials decided it was time to build a resort in the continental United States. Orlando was the top choice in a market survey of soldiers. On February 1, 1994, the US Department of Defense leased the resort and the land it sits on with a 100 year lease to use for the MWR program and limited the resort to eligible guests. In 1996 the resort was purchased outright, for $43 million, due to the high success of the resort although Disney still owns the land on which the resort sits.
The resort was renamed Shades of Green. Since the opening of Shades of Green, the resort has been running at or near 100% capacity. The name of the resort, Shades of Green, refers to the colors of the different uniforms. While all services have different colored Class A Uniforms, all war-fighting uniforms have some shade of green. The resort previously had a small cafe located near the lobby called Cafe Belle and a lounge called the Back Porch. The resort was completely remodeled and expanded from 2002 to 2004 and now has 586 guest rooms. KBJ Architects was the main architect of the resort expansion.
During the time of the renovation, guests were able to stay at Disney's Contemporary Resort at Shades of Green daily rates. The goal of the renovation was to create an even better resort that included more guest room options, meeting space, additional fine dining and more guest amenities. The renovation remodled the guest rooms in the Magnolia Wing, doubled the number of guest rooms, added ten family suites, additional dining options, meeting facilities, a fitness center and a multi-level, 500 space parking garage.
Eagles Lounge, which served lite fare and drinks closed in 2008.
Guest rooms are located in the two wings of the resort, the Magnolia wing and the Palm wing. Each standard guest room is the largest standard size rooms at Walt Disney World and has two queen size beds and a single sleeper sofa. There is also a sitting area that includes a table and chairs. The bathrooms are large and include double sinks with granite counter tops and a separate room for the toilet and shower.
Each room has a large closet, dressers, a night stand and a color television. Each room has either a patio or private balcony with two chairs and a table that overlooks either the pool, the courtyard gardens or the golf courses. Other amenities include a coffee maker, refrigerator, in-room safe, hair dryer, iron and ironing board, in room movies and internet access. The resort also has 11 family suites.
Suites include a separate bedroom with king size bed and a full bath, living area with two queen size sofa beds and an additional full bath. Room rates are based on pay grade. The maximum amount of rooms that can be reserved by one person is three. Rooms are comparable to those of Deluxe Disney resorts.
Dining and shopping
- Mangino's - Formerly Shades of Green's fine dining option. In early 2009 it was reorganized to account for the closing of The Evergreens Sports Bar and Grill. This resulted in the open-style kitchen being closed, flat-panel televisions tuned to the "Speed" and "ESPN" channels installed over the Tuscany-inspired wall decorations and most of the Northern Italian dishes on the menu being replaced with typical sports bar fare.
- The Garden Gallery - A full service family restaurant with themed buffets include a selection of international cuisine and a fresh fruit, soup, and salad bar.
- Express Cafe - The counter service restaurant includes breakfast sandwiches, pastries, snacks, fresh coffee, tea and more. The express cafe is located next to the resort Bus Area.
- Java Cafe - A small cart that serves Starbucks coffee and assorted pastry items.
- America, The Ice Cream Parlour - An ice cream shop with a 1950s feel. Songs play on an authentic Wurlitzer jukebox. There are a variety of flavors of handmade ice cream made on-site at Shades of Green.
- AAFES - A small convenience store with products including: soda, snacks, film, postcards, t-shirts, sunglasses, and toiletries. Magazines, books, and newspapers are also available, in addition to beer, wine, and tobacco products.
- East Meets West - The official Armed Forces Recreation Center gift shop selling souvenirs from Shades of Green and other AFRCs around the globe. There is a selection of jewelry, art, pottery, clothing, and gifts.
- Fitness Center - The fitness center is open from 0700-2200 for guests exclusive use. It is located on the first floor near Manginos. A jogging path runs from Shades of Green to Disney's Polynesian Resort and Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.
- Tennis Courts - Two hard surface, lighted tennis courts are located on the property and open 24 hours.
- Swimming Pools - Shades of Green has two recreational pools. The Magnolia pool gives guests the ability to swim laps or use the hot tub. There is also the Magnolia Pool Bar which serves grilled hot dogs, sausages, hamburgers and quick snacks and drinks. The Millpond Pool is in the shape of a Mickey Mouse head. There is also a children's wading pool located adjacent to the playground. The Millpond Pool Pavilion provides towel service. Both pools have areas for sun chairs, tables, and umbrellas.
Banquet and meeting facilities
The Magnolia Ballroom can accommodate up to 350 guests for conferences, meetings, wedding receptions, banquets and themed events. The Ballroom can be subdivided into four equal sections for smaller groups. There are also several breakout rooms with various layouts. There are five boardrooms located on the fifth floor of the Palm wing.
Remember the Fun walkway
The 'Remember the Fun' walkway is a unique tribute to the guests’ experience at Shades of Green. The brick walkway is located in the center of the property near the gazebo and displays the names and messages of different guests. Bricks can be purchased at the East Meets West Gift Shop for $75. Personalized cards are sent to the recipient of the brick.
Because Shades of Green is an AFRC resort, it is not open to the general public. Reservations may only be made by active-duty and retired members of the Uniformed Services, current Reserve and National Guard members, and civilian employees of the Department of Defense. People who do not meet these eligibility requirements may stay at Shades of Green so long as they are on vacation with a sponsor who is an eligible person.
"Salute To Our Veterans" is a new program started in 2010, which is designed to give all military veterans who have received an honorable discharge (verified by current DD-214) the opportunity to vacation at Shades of Green during the months of January and September.
Room rates are based on rank and/or pay grade. The rates are adjusted on a sliding scale, with prices increasing with rank and pay grade.
Walt Disney World privileges
Shades of Green guests have full transportation to all Walt Disney World theme parks and attractions. Shades of Green is considered a Disney-owned resort for purposes of Extra Magic Hours/Early Entry Hour at the theme parks. Room charging off Shades of Green property is not available. Resort guests are not eligible for the Disney Dining Plan. It does not participate in the Magical Express program which transfers guests and luggage directly to the Disney resort from Orlando International Airport, skipping baggage claim.
Eligible guests may purchase discounted admission tickets for the Walt Disney World Resort parks and other Orlando-area parks and activities at the Shades of Green Attraction and Ticket Sales Office which is located on the lobby level. A Military Identification Card or a Department of Defense Identification Card must be presented at the time of purchase. These tickets may be used by any person, the only restriction is that the purchaser be one of the eligible persons listed above.
Shades of Green is surrounded by two PGA Championship Golf Courses, Disney's Palm and Magnolia as well as the nine hole Oak Trail. Disney's Palm was designed by Joe Lee and features sparkling lakes and tropical sand in a landscape populated by palm trees. Disney's Magnolia was also designed by Joe Lee and is named for an abundance of magnolias surrounded by manicured links. Both Disney's Palm and Magnolia have a driving range and putting green.
Disney's Oak Trail is home to a nine-hole, par-36 course. This course was designed with holes ranging from 132 to 517 yards. The Clubhouse for the three courses is located next to Shades of Green and was built during the 2002-2004 renovation in the same style as the resort. The Champions Room shows a tribute to every winner of the Children's Miracle Network Classic. The Clubhouse provides new men's and woman's locker rooms.
The Clubhouse also has The Pro Shop which sells a selection of golf merchandise. These courses are only a few feet from the Shades of Green Resort. Golf views can be seen from many guest rooms. Military rates are available for qualified guests.
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