My 2 most recent visit to Walt Disney World Resort were planned solely around the fact that I could stay at Shades of Green Resort.
This is a military resort owned by the US Army and classified as an AFRC (Armed Forces Recreation Center). The only time in my life that I’ve used even close to the amount of acronyms I did while serving in the US Air Force is when I’ve tried to describe anything Disney. Generally speaking, this resort is only available to active duty military (or spouses/survivors), 100% disabled veterans, a few government employees…and seriously just look here (https://www.shadesofgreen.org/accommodations/eligibility) because that’s an easier chart. But you won’t find your “run of the mill Honorably Discharged Veteran” on that chart, the category in which I include myself. But wait, there’s more! In the months of September and January, Shades of Green opens its doors to veterans such as myself as long as we provide proper documentation (a DD214 suffices, which is something you don’t have any damn reason to understand unless you have one). This is absolutely huge, in my opinion. See, Shades of Green is about a 6 minute walk to Disney’s Polynesian Resort, home of my beloved Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto. That is invaluable because staying at Shades of Green is less than half the cost of a room at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. Additionally, Shades has the largest standard rooms on property. They are gigantic, many are recently refurbished, and are quite comfortable.
Another great feature is this resort is QUIET. Not like you can’t have a great time, but after a day in the parks with people everywhere, it is amazing to come back to the peaceful setting. I guess I sound old, but if you have kids, or are simply needing a mental stimulus break, you’ll appreciate this. To be fair, it’s not exactly Mickey-themed, but you can purchase discounted and tax-free merch in the shop, as well as tickets to Orlando area attractions. Yes, I have purchased discounted, tax-free Walt Disney World tickets. In September, I was able to buy a tax-free Annual Pass for my brother, which was a decent savings! One down side is you cannot use Disney gift cards, so ALWAYS do the math and pay attention to prices. I can’t use this perk unless I’m eligible to be staying at Shades AND staying there. So I can’t order from there without a current reservation, and the tickets have to be picked up (can be attached to a My Disney Experience earlier so you can make FastPass+ reservations at 60 days). This was most important for the Annual Pass, we had to pick up the certificate and then activate at a ticket booth at the gate.
Shades offers shuttles to each park or the Ticket & Transportation Center (TTC), where you can hop a monorail as well. My general preference is to walk to the Poly and use their transportation but depending on heat and timing you might want to take the regular on-site transportation. You need an ID to enter the property, and nobody gets use of the buses if they don’t have an ID AND a Shades of Green guest pass. As it is owned by the US Army not Disney, this resort does NOT have MagicBands. You can still use them by linking reservation and ticket numbers to them, but you’ll get a good old fashioned room key here (well, a key card. We’re at least in the ’90s at this point). The parking at the resort is $11/day (for overnight guests; they have hourly rates and golfing parking rates) and it’s still cheaper than the value resorts at Walt Disney World Resort.