One of the best jobs I have ever had (and probably will ever had) was when I was an intern at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL. I worked at Innoventions in EPCOT performing three different educational shows for six months. My husband, then boyfriend, was on his first deployment to Iraq. The Happiest Place on Earth was the ultimate distraction from a very frightening time; I was 21 years old, hopelessly in love and counting down the days until we could be together again… preferably in Disney! I wanted to share my experience there with him more than anything and I got my wish. Actually, I got it tenfold when he got down on one knee during Illuminations, the EPCOT fireworks show, and asked me to be his wife. Disney will always hold a special place in my heart.
Another reason to love Disney is because they are quite patriotic and military friendly. Everyday on Main Street in Magic Kingdom a veteran is selected to help with the flag lowering ceremony. In 2009, when my husband was there, they had the Year of Dreams program where my husband got five park hopper passes for five free days in all the parks! That was one of the best promotional deals I think I ever experienced. Most importantly, Disney even has their own resort called Shades of Green. It is a discounted resort located on Disney Property for members of the Armed Forces and their Families. It goes beyond that, offering discounts to retirees, veterans, widows and widowers, DOD members, and US Department of Defense Civilians plus family members for all the above. Each sponsor can have up to three rooms, including suites, with pricing based on rank (whether current or when you left the service) and service. Room rates are available in full here. They also have special holiday packages available Thanksgiving through New Years.
Staying at a resort on Disney property is quite convenient with free shuttles to the park and the perk of Extra Magic Hours! Imagine going into Magic Kingdom an hour before it opens or staying two hours after it closes. The rides are still running of course and the lines are nothing like during the day! You can also look into Disney’s dining program to save a little extra. The resort itself has everything from a pool to a spa to a golf course if you want to take a day to just relax. It is a big advantage that makes your trip a lot easier, especially considering the price of parking at the parks isn’t exactly cheap. The parking garage at the resort is only $5 a day if you choose to drive down to Florida instead of fly. They even have an AAFES store on property for some cheaper Disney souvenirs, beverages and snacks.
Shades of Green also has specials running throughout the year. May 10-20th they are currently running the Caregiver Special, where if you send your story to them you can book a standard room at $69 a night! April is the Month of the Military Child so from April 14-30th you can buy a four night package starting at $349 and kids eat free! From May 1st-19th and 27th-31st they are running a Military Appreciation Month special where you can stay at the resort for $89-$99 a night. Want to take a trip at the end of summer before the kids go back to school? The Endless Summer Special runs August 20th through September 30th where you can enjoy 40% your room rate. They also have the AFRC Survivor’s Family Program where widows and widowers (combat related deaths or not) can stay at the resort with their families and guests for 50% off.
Last year they expanded the resort to 586 rooms so reservations are not as difficult as they were in the past. Long weekends and holidays book much quicker, but there is usually not a six month waiting period like there was in the past! Getting leave isn’t easy, believe me I know, so this expansion definitely makes your trip a lot more realistic than it previously had been.
Although my husband visited me before Shades of Green expanded and I did not get to stay there, I do hope we can one day. Disney is a wonderful place, whether you have kids or not, and I cannot wait to return some day. If you were looking for a family vacation or just a get away for the two of you, here is your chance. Go! Enjoy!
Have you stayed at Shades of Green? Do you foresee a trip to Disney World in your future?