One of our favorite FREE things to do at Walt Disney World is to take a ride on one of the many boats. Disney does an excellent job in transporting it’s guests all around the Walt Disney World Resort. In addition to the boats, you can also use buses or the monorail. There are rumors that a gondola system is also being added to connect several Disney hotels, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Currently, there are several areas where you can utilize the free boat transportation:
- Ferry Boats connect the Transportation and Ticket Center to Magic Kingdom. The ferries begin operating 30 minutes prior to park opening including Extra Magic Hours. They operate until 1.5 hours after park closing, including Extra Magic Hours.
- Boat Launchers and Cruisers are used to transport guests from The Polynesian Resort, Grand Floridian Resort, Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness to Magic Kingdom.
- Friendship Boats carry guests from Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios to the Dolphin and Swan Resort, Beach ad Yacht Club, and the Boardwalk.
- Sassagoula River Cruise is a beautiful ride carrying guests from Disney Springs to Port Orleans, Saratoga Springs, and Old Key West. There is also boat transportation between Disney Springs West Side, Marketplace, and the Landing.
Thanks to my mom for writing this article for A Disney Mom’s Thoughts. I have not had the pleasure of staying at Shades of Green so I had to turn to my mom! Before she shares her thoughts, here is a bit of history about this resort:
In 1971, this building was the club house for the Palm and Magnolia Golf Courses. In December 1973, Disney added guest rooms and opened the Golf Resort. It had 151 rooms. Since this resort was only appealing to Golfers and not your typical Magic Kingdom and Epcot guests, Disney changed the name in 1986 to The Disney Inn. They added 150 more rooms and included a Snow White theme. In 1994, the Department of Defense leased the resort and land from Disney. In 1996, the DoD purchased the resort, but Disney still owns the land. Currently, there are 586 rooms at the resort.
Shades of Green is an Armed Forces Recreation Center resort serving members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families. The AFRC Resorts were built and financed by Service Members own funds and now operates on a self-sustaining basis. It is also available for non-military personnel of the Department of Defense.
Rates for the rooms are based on the rank or pay scale for qualified military and DoD personnel.
My husband is retired military and we have taken advantage of staying at Shades of Green only one time. We decided to check out this resort when we were on our way to Fort Lauderdale for a wedding and were not planning to go into the parks.
It is located close to the Polynesian Resort. WDW transportation does not service SOG, however this resort offers their own bus service. We have never used this service, but I have talked to others who have and they thought that it met their needs.
Since we were only going to be there one night, we were limited on our activities. We walked to the Polynesian where we had reservations for the Luau. After that, we got on the WDW buses to go to what was Downtown Disney at the time. We rode a WDW bus back to the Polynesian and walked to SOG. Not a long walk at all.
This resort is located on golf courses, so the next morning we got up early to play the 9 hole course before we headed to Fort Lauderdale.
We were in a handicapped room and it was huge! It easily accommodated a wheelchair in the bathroom and room. But my guess is that is the size of a regular room, but I do not know that for sure.
We had two double beds with plenty of “walking around room”, plus a sitting area with a sofa that pulled out to a double bed. There was a balcony that overlooked one of the pools. It really was a great room at a great rate.
The grounds were very well landscaped and we enjoyed a beautiful walk around the property.
The lobby was very large to accommodate many people checking in. There was a statue of Mickey Mouse dressed in red, white, and blue saluting. That was cool. There is a small post exchange (PX) inside which provides limited groceries, souvenirs, and liquor. I don’t remember going to any other “stores” or using the dining room at the resort.
The best part of SOG is the ticket office. They offer discounted attraction tickets for the Orlando area. With your military ID you can get great prices for Sea World/Busch Gardens, Universal Studios and others. The best deal is the Salute Package where you can get a 4 day park hopper ticket for $209! One person with credentials (military ID) can get a limited number of these tickets. To activate them, you take them to a WDW service desk with your ID along with everyone who will be using this ticket. A person with a military ticket must be present when activating the tickets. These tickets are also available at military bases. Check it out here: http://www.shadesofgreen.org/tickets/WDW_4DAY.pdf
The rates for the rooms stay constant. The rates are based on your military grade, so they do not fluctuate according to seasons. Therefore, sometimes you can get cheaper rates at the Value Resorts on the WDW property. That is why we have only stayed at Shades of Green once.
My overall opinion of the Shades of Green is positive. We usually go there when we are down there just to go to the PX to save taxes! It is a large facility, but fills up quickly, so make your reservations early! For more information, check out the website: http://www.shadesofgreen.org/index.html
- Shades of Green does participate in Extra Magic Hours at the parks.
- You can have your packages from the parks sent back to Shades of Green.
- If you drive your car from Shades of Green to a park, you will have to pay the $20 a day parking. It’s best to use the SoG transportation or walk to the Polynesian and use WDW transportation.
- There are several restaurants and dining options at SoG. The Garden Gallery Restaurant for breakfast and dinner, Evergreens Sports Bar and Grill for lunch and dinner, Express Cafe for breakfast, snacks and coffee, Mangino’s Italian restaurant for dinner.
|image from wdwnews.com|
|phone charging station at the Rapunzel
bathrooms at Magic Kingdom
- Magic Kingdom Park
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park
- Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park
- Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
- Disney Springs
- Disney’s BoardWalk
- All Resort Hotels
- Fort Wilderness (but you must pick up a cable modem kit at Meadow Trading Post)
To access complimentary Wi-Fi, simply select the Walt Disney World Resort network from a Wi-Fi enabled device and begin browsing the internet, checking email, uploading photos to social media and more!
- Never unplug anything to charge your phone
- Only use the plugs in the Child Care Centers or First Aid areas if you are legitimately using these spaces for the intended purpose.
- Never leave your phone unattended.
- Don’t block walkways or sidewalks waiting on your phone to charge.
- Don’t move furniture or displays to get to a plug.
- Don’t remove outlet covers in order to charge.
- While dining, look for tables near a plug. This way you can eat and charge at the same time.
One Freebie I’m excited to try on our next trip is the BoardWalk Ballyhoo Tour! This is a free 60 minute tour around Disney’s BoardWalk Resort where you and your family can learn about the history of the Resort and the Imagineer’s inspiration from Atlantic City. This history lesson is a guided tour of the “Showplace on the Shore.” You’ll have a chance to explore all the hidden areas of the resort.
You will begin at the Belle Vue Lounge and move to the miniature carousel in the lobby. Then you’ll head to the Luna Park pool and the boardwalk itself. You’ll have a chance to look at the early 20th century artifacts, artwork, and architecture that are unique to the BoardWalk.
This tour takes place every week, Wednesday- Saturday, and departs promptly at 9:00am. This is a free tour and you need to check in a the Belle Vue Lounge at 8:45am. Tours are subject to change without notice. For additional information visit the Disney Web site!
Honestly, during the day there aren’t many free activities at the BoardWalk. However, during the evening hours, usually between 6:30-10:30pm, you can find all sorts of FREE entertainers. In the past a group called the “Boardwalk Busters” performed various acts along the Boardwalk such as juggling, magic shows, and musicians. The Busters are no longer a “group”, but you can still find fun entertainment along the Boardwalk such as street performers whose acts may include comedy, fire eaters, jugglers, balancing acts and musical entertainment.
We make sure to visit the BoardWalk at least once every visit to see what FREE entertainment we can find!