Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Special Reader Review Of Disney's Shades Of Green Resort


Today you are in for a special treat! We have a very special reader review of Disney's Shade's of Green Resort. Nichole and her family visited Shades of Green just a few months ago and she has written a very detailed review of her experience. Enjoy!
 
In September 2013 my family made our fifth trip to Shades of Green. This time we had two kids in tow; my daughter who was 2.5 and my son who was 13 months. Although we had visited the resort plenty of times before we weren’t exactly sure what to expect since we had two little kids with us.

As we arrived through the gate we were greeted by beautiful scenery. There are golf courses located on each side and a large waterfall directly in front of the resort with each of the Armed Services flags in the background. We pulled our vehicle up to the front of the resort and were greeted by bell hops offering to take our luggage. My daughter and I headed inside to start the check in process. I proceeded right up to the check in desk while my daughter was occupied by the children’s movie area. The lobby is stunning. Shades of Green has been adding plenty of upgrades in the past few years and the lobby has been one of them. Next to the check in desk is a children’s area with a TV playing Disney movies and two rows of little chairs. The lobby itself is very large with plenty of seating areas, a fireplace, a patriotic Mickey statue, and a café that serves drinks, pastries, ice cream, and Starbucks.

After check in we headed back to the car to park it in the garage. Shades of Green does charge $5 a day for parking but there are always plenty of spots available and your vehicle will be out of the sun. For those that do not take their car, the resort does offer plenty of transportation options which I will get in to later and there is also a rental car agency on location. Once the car was parked we loaded the kids up in to their strollers and headed up to our room.

Having stayed in value resorts before, the size between each of the rooms is pretty noticeable with Shades of Green being much larger. Although the room and maybe the hotel itself might lack the Disney feel, there is plenty of room to stretch out. The rooms are pretty basic. You will not find any Disney decorations within the rooms. The comforter, curtains, and rug are all different shades of green with flower accents. A standard room has two queen sized beds, a pull out couch, table and chairs that can serve as an eating area, small refrigerator, coffee pot, and bathroom with separate sink area. Each of the rooms also has a balcony with a seating area and beautiful views. Our room for this visit was located on the second floor overlooking the Mickey pool and children’s pool. The kids loved it! If you are in need of a crib during your stay these are also available. A quick call to room service and they will bring a clean crib right to your door.

Shades of Green has two pools, a children’s pool, and a hot tub. During our visit one of the pools was shut down as they are once again making several upgrades. The Magnolia pool, which was the one shut down during our visit, will be reopening shortly with a zero entry feature. This will enable many of the resorts disabled veterans to easily enter the pool without having to worry about stairs. Once renovations are complete on the Magnolia pool, construction will begin on the Mill Pond pool to add a water slide and splash pad area for kids. A list of current renovations can be found on the Shades of Green website so you can further plan for your trip.

Also located at the resort is a ticket booth. Tickets for just about anything in the Orlando area can be bought here including Disney tickets, Universal Studios tickets, Sea World, area water parks, dining adventures, NASA, and many others. A full list of available tickets and their prices are also located on the Shades of Green website. All tickets are offered at a military rate. While transportation is provided for all of the Disney parks it is not for other area attractions such as Universal Studios or Sea World. If you did not drive on your own or rent a vehicle, Shades of Green will provide transportation to these destinations for an additional fee per person.

Transportation to Hollywood Studios, Disney water parks, Animal Kingdom, Downtown Disney, and the Ticket and Transportation Center are all provided by bus. The buses require you to fold up your stroller completely before boarding so make sure you can do so. Buses run on a strict schedule and arrive every hour for the parks or every half hour for the ticket and transportation center. The bus station for Shades of Green is located on the lower level. No worries if you have a stroller, there are plenty of elevators located within the resort. Once you arrive down to the first floor there is another café that sells sandwiches, fruit, cereal, yogurt, drinks, and plenty of snacks to grab on your way out. If you are interested in going to the Magic Kingdom or Epcot there are a few options available. Our favorite option is walking across the street to the Polynesian Resort and catching the monorail. A paved trail is available for the walk to the Polynesian but beware it is about a half mile walk. If you have kids in tow it is best to bring the stroller along. If you have older kids and no stroller is needed the shady shuttle may be available. The shady shuttle is a golf cart which provides transportation to the end of Shades of Green property and makes the trip to the Polynesian much shorter. Once you arrive at the Polynesian you can make your way up to the second floor for the monorail or take the ferry over. If you choose to take the small ferry your stroller must once again be folded up as there is not much room onboard. The other option to get to the other parks is the bus ride to the ticket and transportation center. Once you arrive there you can use the monorail, ferry, or bus.

Shades of Green also has two gift shops. One sells items specific to the resort with Shades of Green logos while the other shop offers discounted Disney merchandise, snacks, drinks, and other items you made need during your stay.

The Magnolia Spa offers massages, facials, haircuts, manicures, pedicures, and plenty of other services. While I haven’t checked out this area of the resort yet, I definitely plan to for my next trip.

There are many food options available at the resort as well. One of my personal favorites is the Garden Gallery. The Garden Gallery is primarily open for breakfast and is served buffet style but if a buffet isn’t your thing a breakfast menu is also available. They also do themed dinner nights such as carnival night where corn dogs, pizza, cotton candy, and other carnival favorites are served up while balloon animals are made for the kids around the restaurant. Another restaurant available at the resort is Mangino’s Bistro. Mangino’s offers Italian cuisine decently priced. My husband and I have eaten here once but don’t plan to go back. While the food sounds great on the menu, it’s pretty bland. There is also a sports bar, Evergreens, located behind one of the pool areas. Pizza, sandwiches, wings, and drinks are served here. Pool tables and arcade games are also available at this location. As mentioned earlier there are also two cafes on the premises as well.

If golf is your thing, Shades of Green is the place to be. While I haven’t personally experienced the courses here, my husband has. Shades of Green offers 3 different courses; one walking and two you would need a cart for. You can choose to play 9 or 18 holes and rates are excellent if you have a military ID. Rates range from $39-$69 per player with cart rental depending on what time of the day it is. While my husband played golf I had plenty to do with the kids right at the resort. Along with the arcade, children’s TV area, and pools, there is also playground equipment.

While we love Shades of Green resort it does definitely lack a bit of that Disney feel that the other resorts do have. The price alone might change your mind in to staying here and forgoing the other resorts though. Shades of Green offers tiered pricing depending on what your military rank is. The less you make, the less you pay. A standard room for E1-E5 starts at $95 a night. The resort also offers many discounts during the year and if you catch it soon enough you can save up to 30% off each of those nights. Veterans, widows, Medal of Honor recipients, DOD civilians, and family members of active duty military and any of the previous listed members may also stay at the Shades of Green. While the prices will be higher than $95 a night you will be provided with a large room, beautiful scenery, security, and a resort located within the deluxe resorts.

 

PROS:

·         Price …. Especially for active duty military

·         Scenery

·         Large rooms

·         VERY clean

·         Transportation not overcrowded

·         Security

·         Activities (golf, spa, workout room, pools, playground area, arcades)

·         Located within deluxe resort area

·         Ticket booth with military pricing available

·         Family friendly. Staff is courteous and our children were referred to as Prince and Princess daily

CONS:

  • Lacks a Disney feel
  • Long walk to monorail
  • Pools need updating to compete with other resorts (currently in the works)
  • Restaurants, specifically Mangino’s, need a menu change

To learn more information about Shades of Green Resort visit their website at http://www.shadesofgreen.org/

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