If you know anything about Disney, you’ll know that it’s almost impossible to get a discount for ANYTHING…unless of course you live in Florida, have an annual pass…OR you’re active military! I love that Disney gives a great Discount to those who serve our country and the discounts will save you hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars! Let’s see how you can save!
Where to Stay?
Shades of Green
If you are military, you may have heard about Disney’s ‘secret’ resort, Shades of Green. Shades of Green Resort is a resort on Disney property, but it is NOT run by Disney. While this resort is on Disney property, it is somewhat outside the “Disney Bubble”, but I’ll explain that later. Let’s start with what’s so great about this resort. For starters, the price! Unlike the rest of the Disney discounts, this discount includes active military, veterans, honorably discharged, surviving families, DoD employees and more. Depending on your rank, you will fit into 1 of the 3 rates. The rates for standard rooms range from $115 to $155. Best of all; these rates stay the same for the entire year. This includes peak times any school breaks and the Holiday Season. So what are the ‘pros’ of staying at Shades of Green?
- Price – While this resort is slightly more than a Disney Value Resort, it has amenities comparable to a Disney Deluxe Resort.
- Pools – Shades of Green has 2 great pools. One good size pool with a water slide and another quite pool. In addition to the pools, they have an awesome splash pad for little ones.
- Dining Options – Like deluxe resorts, SOG has many dining options and they’re all cheaper than the average Disney Restaurant.
- Ticket Office – The SOG ticket office offers military discounted tickets to Disney World, Universal Orlando, Sea World and many other Orlando attractions.
- Room Size – The rooms may not be as magical, but they sure are bigger than most standard rooms on Disney Property
So why do I think it’s not as magical as other Disney Resort? I will admit, I’m a complete snob and I am someone who is totally sold on the magic of being at Disney. I will pay a little more for the all inclusiveness of being in the “Disney Bubble”. So that said, here’s what’s less magical about staying at Shades of Green.
- Theme – Shades of Green lacks a theme. They attempt a woodsy type theme, but it’s not executed like Disney would do it. I do like that when you walk it the doors, it smells like a campfire, you see lots of greenery and the green stone floor is actually pretty cool, but outside of that….the rest is boring and comes off dated to me.
- Transportation – Shades of Green has their own bus system, completely separate from Disney. Because of this, the buses do not run as frequently as all the Disney resorts. In addition, they do not offer transportation to and from the airport. This is the one added expense of staying at Shades of Green.
- No Packages – Booking with Disney will allow you to book everything together; this includes, tickets, dining plans, airport transportation and the benefits of a magic band. Shades of Green offers none of that. You will not be able to use your magic bands for anything else other than tickets and fastpasses.
So what other option do you have?
Disney Resort Discounts
Now we’re talking. You can still stay in the “Disney Bubble” and save hundreds of dollars. If you know anything about Disney, you know that they offer world class service at the most uniquely themed resorts. Disney offers an awesome discounts for active duty military. Keep in mind these discounts are not anywhere on their website, so you’ll have to call Disney directly or call me (and let me do all the work for you). Disney Military room rates are around 40% off, pair that with the Armed Forces Salute ticket and you’ll be seeing dollar signs. As mentioned above, I think the biggest disadvantage of staying at SOG is how it is not all inclusive. When you stay at a Disney operated resort, you can get the military rate, buy the armed forces salute tickets, add the Disney dining plan and use your magic bands seamlessly. Check out my post about the benefits of staying on property to fully understand this.
No matter where you’re staying; the Armed Forces Salute Disney World ticket is one of the best discounts. With great discounts, comes lots of rules, so pay attention. These tickets are available only to active or retired military members and their spouses. Each member/family is allowed to purchase 6 of these discounted tickets per year. Once you purchase these tickets, you will be handed a voucher that looks like a ticket; this voucher will not be activated until the first day you enter the park with the military member or spouse. Once your ticket is activated, you no longer need to be with the military member. With all the boring rules out of the way, lets save you some money…
The armed forced salute ticket is available in a 4 or 5 day ticket. These tickets include either a hopper pass or a water park pass or BOTH.
4 Day Hopper OR Water Park Fun & More Ticket = $209 (Regularly Priced at $425)
4 Day Hopper WITH Water Park Fun & More Ticket = $246 (Regularly Priced at $440)
5 Day Hopper OR Water Park Fun & More Ticket = $224 (Regularly Priced at $445)
5 Day Hopper WITH Water Park Fun & More Ticket = $261 (Regularly Priced at $460)
So you’re probably wondering where can I get these tickets? Because these tickets have so many regulations Disney is very strict about where you can buy them and even when you do buy them, they only hand out vouchers until they validate them at the gate. You can purchase these tickets at Shades of Green or any military installation that has a ticket office. If you are from Massachusetts like me, you can get these tickets at Hanscom Air force Base. Once you order these tickets at a base, it may still take 3 weeks or so for them to come in. If you buy these tickets at SOG, they will hand you the voucher as soon as you show them the money. You are able to buy these tickets at Disney World Gates, but you will have to pay the tax on them, which will cost you another $12-$17.
So How much will I really save?
I’m going to compare the cost of staying at Shades of Green Vs. Staying at a Disney owned Resort for a family of 4. Keep in mind these prices will include the Military tickets previously mentioned and what Disney offers in their packages for free.
Shades of Green has 3 price points depending on your rank and military status. We’re going to go with Category 2, which costs $149 per night.
So you’re probably still wondering; Exactly how much do I save? Right away you save $944 on your tickets no matter where you stay. If you compare the prices for Disney Resorts without a discount, you’re saving over $500 on the moderate resort and over $1,400 on the Deluxe Resort! Of course this depends when on where you stay, but you have the potential of saving thousands of dollars. Please note that if you plan on staying at a Disney Operated Resort, you’ll want to book sooner than later, because they only allocate so many rooms for the Military Discount!
For more information about this Blog Post or about a Vacation perfect for you, please contact me at Jaclyn@castleconnectionstravel.com
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