Walt Disney World covers 43 square miles. To put that into perspective, it’s roughly the size of San Francisco, or about twice the size of Manhattan. It’s a good thing their space is so large, though, because the resort currently gets over 50,000,000 visitors per year.
So where do all these people stay?
To accommodate a chunk of those visitors, WDW owns and operates 19 hotels and another 12 “Deluxe Villa” properties that are part of Disney Vacation Club (DVC is Disney’s unique version of a timeshare). Some of these DVC resorts are attached to some of the hotels above (i.e. Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows are part of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort Hotel), while others are freestanding entities on property (i.e. Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa and Disney’s Old Key West Resort).
There are also close to a dozen “Official WDW Hotels” that are on WDW property but are not run by Disney. They’re instead part of name-brand chains such as IHG, Marriott, Hilton, etc.
However there’s one hotel on Disney property that, although once owned and operated by Disney (and even had a major name and theme change during its 20 years of Disney tenure), is now run by the U.S. Department of Defense.
Shades of Green is dedicated to serving the men and women of the U.S. Armed Services community, their families, other eligible Department of Defense employees, and guests that they sponsor for vacations. Here’s more info about it…
My first visit to WDW was in early 1979 and we stayed at the Polynesian (for $69/night. For a LAGOON VIEW!). I vaguely remember us walking “across the street” to the Golf Resort and I remember thinking it was, “just a regular hotel. Boring.” I also think I may have eaten at a restaurant at the Disney Inn once in the early 1990s but that’s about it. Unfortunately, I don’t have photos of either visit – it cost money to get film developed! Alas, I’ve never had the opportunity to stay at, or even visit Shades of Green.
What other options are there?
Of course, lots and lots of people stay off Disney property. There are more than 450 hotels in Central Florida, with over 121,000 hotel rooms combined. They run the gamut from super cheap places where homeless families might be your neighbors to the likes of the Four Seasons, the Ritz Carleton and the Waldorf-Astoria.
So even if you can’t stay at Shades of Green, you still have lots and LOTS of choices!
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary