When we decided to go to WDW again, we knew we would be staying at the Shades of Green Resort. For those of you unfamiliar, this is a military only resort. It is owned by the DoD but its on WDW property. You get to take advantage of "Extra Magic Hours", but no meal plans. You can have merchandise from the parks sent back to your room. They have bus transport to all the parks plus you are a 10 minute walk from the monorail at The Polynesian Resort.
They run specials almost year-round and base the room rate on your rank. Last year, we went at the end of February and they were running a "Leap Year" special so we paid $93/night as an E5. This year we went 2 weeks before Easter so there weren't any specials going on and since we are now E6, we paid $123/night. No taxes! The price difference was still well worth it though! I have stayed at other resorts on WDW, mainly the value resorts. While the rooms are nice, they don't compare to what you get at Shades of Green. The rooms are the LARGEST rooms of all the WDW resorts. You get 2 queen sized beds plus a queen sleeper sofa. All very comfy. The bathroom has double sinks separated from the large shower and toilet. You also have a mini fridge in your room. Both trips, we have stayed in the Palm Wing which is the newest portion of the resort. The rooms overlook the property surrounded by golf courses or you can get a room overlooking a pool. There are a handful of restaurants at the resort, a mini-Exchange, ticket sales counter, car rental, swimming pools, a spa, an ice cream shoppe, and many more amenities.
|View from our room last year|
|View from our room this year, 1st floor|
We booked our room almost 8 months in advance, spring break season fills up the resort quickly. Last year, it was a slower time of year so we booked barely a month ahead of time. You have to pay for one nights stay up front, and as long as you cancel 30 days in advance you will be refunded. You can book online or call over the phone.
We waited until we checked in to the resort buy our 4 day park hopper passes. Since we are military, we were able to take advantage of Walt Disney World's Armed Forces Salute. For $156, we were able to purchase 4 day park hopper passes! I could've bought these tickets at any ITT office on base, but I decided since we were going to be at the resort I may as well wait. Once you buy the tickets, you have to "activate" them at guest services on the first day you use them. You just have to fill out a small piece of paper and show your military ID to activate the tickets purchased. So do NOT expect to be in the park immediately after rope drop on the first day.
Since we still have a little one, we always bring our stroller. She still rides in it alot plus this gives us storage for snacks. We always pack snacks and bottled water. Its a great way to save money at WDW. At the parks, a bottle of water costs $2.50! Every day, I packed a large bag with water, snacks, sunscreen, and coloring books (for entertainment for Little Miss). Last year we even packed PB&J's to eat for a quick lunch. Do not pack things loosely in the stroller, always keep them in a bag. When you enter the parks, they check your bags. When you get on the buses and a few of the ferrys, you have to fold up your strollers. Having your stuff in a bag just makes it all easier. I have a nice big bag from 31 Gifts that has lots of pockets along the outside.
Speaking of saving money on food, we brought our own breakfast to the resort. I made a dozen muffins that we munched on. I used the coffee maker to make hot water for instant oatmeal every morning. We also brought our own coffee, filters, creamer, and travel cups to brew coffee every morning. My mom brought milk, cereal, and bowls for my dad to have every morning. She also brought yogurt too. This saved us both time and money at the parks.
To save money on souveniers, I purchased quite a few things before we even made the trip. I found lots of cheap glowsticks, wands, and rings for Little Miss to play with at night in the parks. At the Dollar Tree I also picked up coloring books and colors for her to stay busy while we waited around at the parks. Since Little Miss loves her princess dresses, I packed a few of them with us. We did splurge for a princess makeover so we just slipped on one of her dresses from home, saving us at least $100 because we didn't buy one at the park. I also made an autograph book at home with scrapbook paper and had it laminated & ringed together at Office Depot.
What also came in handy: my mom bought nice rain panchos at WalMart for $6 (I couldn't find any at Dollar Tree). There was one day where it was drizzling on and off, having the panchos saved us from having to buy them at the park. At the park, they cost $8.50 and I do not think they were reusable.
So preparing in advance for your trip will save you $$ when you get there. Also, make your reservations as far out as possible. We booked 2 character meals and a makeover at Bibbiddi Bobbiddi Boutique only 4 months in advance and didn't have many choices for reservation times.
Next blog post I will talk about our fun time at the parks and what we learned!