Military Newbie looking for some guidance in planning....

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Military Newbie looking for some guidance in planning....

Hello all...

After looking over this forum for the last hour, I see that many of you have "been there, done that" in regards to Disney World and all it has to offer.

I, however, have never been...always wanted to go, and now it looks as though my husband and I may be able to finally make it to Disney World this summer.

My husband is currently deployed for a year..he left in December and will return this December. He gets a 2 week break in the middle of his deployment and I think going to DisneyWorld would be something we would love to do during his break. ( I would have started planning sooner, but just got word yesterday that this would be the time he would be allowed off for his break)

If I start now, is this sufficient time to plan something?

If so, here's my problem...I have no idea where to start....
He flies in July 10th...we would fly out of here on the 12th and have to be back here on July 22nd so he can leave on the 24th.
I know that I can could get a travel agent, but I'd like to save the money I would pay them for the trip. I am not cheap, but I do like to spend our money wisely.

Anyone out there be willing to guide me where I need to go to get the best options? It would just be he and I, so preferably a resort with no children (we aren't against changing resorts either)...Someplace that is close to the nightlife and has a great pool...Of course, we want to hit the parks too, but I'm lost when it comes to the options of those as well. Of course, any and all suggestions for great restaurants, pubs, taverns, attractions or things to do besides the parks, etc are welcomed and anything else that can get me started on my way.

I don't have a lot of time to plan..I know things should get done asap...

Thanks in advance for the help...
Vicky

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http://www.mousesavers.com/sources-for-discounts-on-walt-disney-world-tickets/#military

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http://www.mousesavers.com/walt-disney-world-vacation-discounts-and-deals/disney-world-resort-hotel-discounts-codes/#military

A Disney Authorized Travel Agent won't cost you a dime! And I am pretty sure that they can work out the best combination of discounts for you.

Then we have to figure out what kind of food you want so that we can get you started on your dining reservations! wink I am hungry, so Disney food is on my brain right now.

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Tammi

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Hi and welcome . As you will see food is really top priority. laugh I agree with WDWfanatic. Get your trip squared away and we will be happy to let you know about all the dining options.

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Welcome! I would recommend Port Orleans French Quarter as a great resort. Its quaint, romantic, and you can easily hop a boat for a fun cruise over to Downtown Disney for some night life. My husband and I spent our honeymoon there and absolutely loved it. In fact, its been my resort of choice for every trip since then. You can call Disney directly to book. Their agents are great, and its free! I'm not sure how long you are looking to stay (the whole two weeks or just part of them), but I do recommend getting the park hopper option added to your tickets. It gives you the flexibility to move from park to park in the same day (rather than only being able to get into one park per day).

By the way, thank you to both you and your husband for your service!

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Hello calienteward and welcome to Walt Disney World Fo Grownups. So glad you found us and we would be most happy to help you get started in the right direction. It is true a Disney Authorized Travel Agent won't cost you a dime. The problem we do here sometimes is that if you have to change something once your at WDW, you have to contact you agent to do it, you cannot doit yourself. Several people have run across this glitch and it can be rather disturbing. We have never used an agent, always just booked ourselves directly through Disney and never had a problem. There is always a deal of some sort going on.

Your going to have kids at all the resort, you will never get away from that, considering Disney is for kids of all ages. There are three levels of resorts on Disney property, value, moderate and deluxe. There are also the villas, but with just two of you, you don't need that.

Think of them just a they sound. All are themed and all have there own charm. Then there are the monorail resorts, all deluxe, the Contemporary, the Polynesian (our favorite) , and the Grand Floridian. These resorts would put you right in the heart of things, just outside of the Magic Kingdom, only a monorail ride, or boat ride away. You can switch monorails at the ticket and transportation center and wiz over to EPCOT & the World Showcase. There are also Disney buses for transportation that are included, no cost , to go to all the other parks and Down Town Disney or any of the other resorts you might like to visit.

You could check out Shades of Green if you where interested in that, but I'm sure that gets booked months out in advance, but some of the military people on here would have to tell you about that. There are several here on the forum. While I'm at this point , thank you both for your service, it's an honor to assist you in anyway we can.

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Oh my gosh! Thank you so much for all the replies already! It's overwhelming all the information to sift through. Smile
I appreciate the recommendations on places to say as well...not ever being there, it's tough to imagine each place.

The sound of the Port Orleans French Quarter sounds heavenly...but, I have to admit that the Polynesian sounds intriguing as well.

Forgive me if I sound like I don't like children..nothing is further from the truth..just hoping to find a resort that maybe most families shy away from... Smile

We will probably be there for about 10 days. I have to give him time to get here and we have to have some time at the end to get him back here for his flight back...

If you have any other suggestions or advice...I appreciate it!

Vicky

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I would suggest staying clear of the value resorts. These definitely cater to families. I will be staying in the Port Orleans French Quarter in September. It is a smaller moderate resort and it is close to Epcot and Downtown Disney. You have a lot to choose from. You have come to the right place. There are so many on here that will be more than happy to give the direction you seek. Good luck! mickey

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Hi!! This sounds like a perfect opportunity for you and your husband to relax mid-deployment!! You should definitely check into Shades of Green. The upsides to SOG is that the rooms are REALLY nice (and HUGE), there is a nice pool (and a little bar), a lovely golf course (if you're into that sort of thing, if not, it's still pretty to look at!), and you get MOST of the benefits of Disney while saving some money. The room rates vary depending obviously on season, but also on the rank of your military connection - but even still, the rooms are usually between the price of a Disney value and a Disney moderate resort. There is Disney transportation to the parks and you are literally across the street from the Poly, so you can walk right over and hop on the monorail, the water taxi, or another bus. You are also considered on Disney property, so you get extra magic hours!!! Also, since it is considered military property, certain things are not taxed (I can't honestly remember if the rooms were taxed, but buying any sundries/souvenirs/food/beverages in the little shops are just like buying on post).

The downsides are that it is not overly themed. It's a nice hotel/resort and there are definitely Disney touches, but it's not like the theming you will find at a Disney resort. I don't believe you are eligible for Disney's Magical Express and you can't use the Disney Dining Plan (there are some on site restaurants that are fairly inexpensive. Food is not 5 star, but it's edible, particularly breakfast!).

There was a nice mix of families and couples without children. I don't remember being over run with kids.

Regardless of whether you stay there or not, you can buy your tickets at SOG for a heck of a deal. We paid $138 for a 4 day park hopper (although the website says the price has gone up to $156 - still that's like 1/2 price!) Check out their website www.shadesofgreen.org.

**Disclaimer: We stayed there to save money with the large group we were traveling with. Although I wouldn't hesitate to stay there again (it was very nice and clean and had everything you can want!) there is just SOMETHING about staying at a Disney resort that adds a little magic. Both the POFQ and the Poly are excellent choices. I don't think you can go wrong!

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calienteward, please check your messages under the forum tab. biggrin

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Our Travel Agent advised me, while shopping for a resort for my honeymoon, that Port Orleans Riverside, of the Moderates, is the least attractive to most young children. I had never been to WDW before and DH hadn't been in 20 years, they stayed off site. There is a great pool and slide at Port Orleans French Quarter, which attracts kids. Caribbean Beach had tons of kids and teens outside being loud until all hours. I would avoid Coronado Springs, it is a conference center and can be filled up with younger kids at any time. It is a GORGEOUS resort, but not for what you are looking for.

Port Orleans Riverside is our favorite Moderate as far as theme. It is just this completely sprawled out lazy hazy resort. Even though it is sprawled out, it takes me that much further into the theme. I love that!

You may want to avoid the Value resorts if you are looking for a little more separation from the vast majority of younger children.

I can't speak for the 3 big deluxe resorts, Polynesian (where I DESPERATELY want to stay), Grand Floridian or the Contemporary. We were a Value and Moderate family, and now a Villa family with a little Value and Moderate mixed in. biggrin

If you are voting for the Poly, GO FOR IT!!!!

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Tammi

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Again, THANK YOU for all of the suggestions and help so far!

Thanks to those sending me private messages with even more information...I can't express how thankful I am to have such help from you all...

Can someone explain the concept of a 4 day park hopper pass? Does this mean you can go to a park on 4 different days for one price? If so, do we have to use it 4 consecutive days in a row or break it up? Is it one specific park on each day, or can you go to 2 parks on each of the four days you use it?

If you book with any of the resorts, is transportation from the airport to resort and back included?

How does tipping work for maid service?

I know, so many questions....I appreciate all you have to offer though!

Thanks!
Vicky

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4 day park hopper means that you have 4 day tickets with the park hopper option. You can visit all 4 parks each day if you would like. The park hopper option gives you the flexibility to move to a different park on the same day, as many times as you want to.

You do not have to use all the days consecutively. You have 14 days, from the first day you use your tickets, to use the rest of the days.

Yes, if you book a WDW resort, you have access to the Magical Express. Make sure that you tell the person that you are booking with. But they will probably ask you.

Tipping is up to you. I have heard some folks do $5 per day per person. Some do less, some do more, some do nothing.

You have come to a place where everyone loves to talk Disney. Please do not worry about asking questions. We love this!

Thank you so much for doing what you do and thank your Husband for doing what he does!!

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stars Hi Vicky, Welcome! stars
and thank you so much for your service.

You're already getting lots of fantastic advise, so I'm just gonna hang back and let the fantastic people on this forum do what they do best. I've just got a couple of tibits to share.

In my opinion the Polynesian and the Grand Floridian seem to have less children. I think it's a combination of how the resorts are laid out and their higher price points. That being said, you can spend two nights at a moderate resort like Port Orleans for the price of one at the Polynesian or Grand Floridian.

For two people, I usually leave the maid a $5 daily tip.

If you stay at a Disney Resort transportation from and to the Orlando International Airport (not Sanford) is included.

Oh! And using a travel agent won't cost you a thing they get a percentage directly from Disney.

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JMUDukz wrote:
Hi!! This sounds like a perfect opportunity for you and your husband to relax mid-deployment!! You should definitely check into Shades of Green. The upsides to SOG is that the rooms are REALLY nice (and HUGE), there is a nice pool (and a little bar), a lovely golf course (if you're into that sort of thing, if not, it's still pretty to look at!), and you get MOST of the benefits of Disney while saving some money. The room rates vary depending obviously on season, but also on the rank of your military connection - but even still, the rooms are usually between the price of a Disney value and a Disney moderate resort. There is Disney transportation to the parks and you are literally across the street from the Poly, so you can walk right over and hop on the monorail, the water taxi, or another bus. You are also considered on Disney property, so you get extra magic hours!!! Also, since it is considered military property, certain things are not taxed (I can't honestly remember if the rooms were taxed, but buying any sundries/souvenirs/food/beverages in the little shops are just like buying on post).

The downsides are that it is not overly themed. It's a nice hotel/resort and there are definitely Disney touches, but it's not like the theming you will find at a Disney resort. I don't believe you are eligible for Disney's Magical Express and you can't use the Disney Dining Plan (there are some on site restaurants that are fairly inexpensive. Food is not 5 star, but it's edible, particularly breakfast!).

There was a nice mix of families and couples without children. I don't remember being over run with kids.

Regardless of whether you stay there or not, you can buy your tickets at SOG for a heck of a deal. We paid $138 for a 4 day park hopper (although the website says the price has gone up to $156 - still that's like 1/2 price!) Check out their website www.shadesofgreen.org.

**Disclaimer: We stayed there to save money with the large group we were traveling with. Although I wouldn't hesitate to stay there again (it was very nice and clean and had everything you can want!) there is just SOMETHING about staying at a Disney resort that adds a little magic. Both the POFQ and the Poly are excellent choices. I don't think you can go wrong!

As a navy wife I have to concur on the SOG review. For me it is just not Disney enough. I love PO French quarter. We stay there every year and we love how quiet it is there. The pool does have a slide but not many kids, not compared to some of the other resorts. I know it is not the best pool that Disney has to offer, but we spend very little time at the resort.

Someplace that is close to the nightlife would be a port orleans resorts. Not only can you take a bus to Downtown Disney you can take a boat. The boat ride is nice. I could go on and on about the french quarter, you would think I am on commission. There is no sit down Restaurant in FQ ,but Port Orleans Riverside is short walk or river boat ride over to their restaurant. We always eat at Epcot, DTD or other resorts. There are so many diverse menus and places to eat we have to think long and hard about which restaurants we choose, do we try a new one or stick to the old favorites. As far as Pubs or taverns you should try Raglan Roads if no one else has suggested it.

The travel agents at some bases are not Disney experts, so be careful who you choose. The first two trips we planned the agents were useless. Also just because we are military and we get discounts doesn't always mean it is the best price. We always book through Disney directly because the promotions are better certain times of the year. We go in Nov or Dec and always take advantage of the free dining that time of year.

That is all I can think of right now, but stand by for more "Oh Yeah" moments. lol laugh muchlove

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Vicky your getting some good pointers here. I was looking at that discounted military 4 day w/park hopper ticket and it is about half price of the regular tickets. You could save around $600 right there. Especially if you don't want to be in the parks everyday. Get 2 - 4 day w/park hopper passes each from the military discount and you would have 8 days of park time and to days off time to relax or do other stuff.

One thing everyone will tell you though is, you will not see and do everything in this one trip. You just can't do it. Look around and make a list of the things you think you really don't want to miss. Take you time and relax, but if your going through the parks and you feel like you want to rush one day, go for it, and try and do a rope drop at the MK! That's when they open the park in the morning and welcome everyone.

We stay at the Poly a lot and the one thing we love to do is get up really early, get a coffee and sit on our balcony and listen to the Magic Kingdom wake up. You can really hear the rides wake up. The train starts whistling , the Haunted Mansion starts howling, Pirates of the Caribbean starts talking about rum! I think either Big Thunder Mt or Splash Mt starts yawning. Yu hear all sorts of noises, it's a blast.

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Angel444 and Mrhub...thanks again for more information...I actually went to Small World Vacations to see if could get a quote on things and see how much they can help me...

I think looking at all the prices (not just the military ones) is the best bet. I find that even here in Oklahoma, you can sometimes get things at a better rate not using a military discount. However, the 4 day hopper pass sounds like a no brainer. I think I'll get them here..since there is no tax. Smile

We are big kids at heart, so we want to do as much as we can without wearing ourselves out too much. I'd love to hear what other fun activities other grown ups (kids at heart) are doing when they visit WDW, that they would recommend to first timers...

My husband is a big gear head/motorcycle guy...I love all things scary....we love movies and having a few cold cocktails to wind down at night....we are huge people watchers too... OR do you all recommend doing all that Disney has to offer the whole time we are there?

Again, so much appreciation to everyone who is taking time to help me out and answer all my questions....

Vicky

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mrhub wrote:

We stay at the Poly a lot and the one thing we love to do is get up really early, get a coffee and sit on our balcony and listen to the Magic Kingdom wake up. You can really hear the rides wake up. The train starts whistling , the Haunted Mansion starts howling, Pirates of the Caribbean starts talking about rum! I think either Big Thunder Mt or Splash Mt starts yawning. Yu hear all sorts of noises, it's a blast.

I had no idea that you could hear MK wake up! I have to do that! I am assuming you can also hear it from BLT and GF? I would like to stay at BLT for the next trip I plan. Or depending on my points and 7 Month availability, the VGF!!

Vicky,

There is so much to do! Sometimes the parks get a little crowded or hot. We like to explore the Monorail resorts, or even the resorts that are between EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. The Monorail resorts are much more fun, because you get to ride the Monorail. wink Or from Downtown Disney we will take a boat to the Port Orleans resort(Drunk, Saratoga Springs or Old Key West and just walk around a little bit, then catch a bus to a park after we are done. We like to take the boat from the Magic Kingdom to Wilderness Lodge, that is such a gorgeous resort! I love to walk around there.

You can take a boat from the Hollywood Studios entrance to the International Gateway (back entrance) of EPCOT. It stops at the resorts along the way. It is nice to take time to hop off the boat at each one and just walk through.

http://www.portorleans.org/riverroost.php Here is a little bit of entertainment at Port Orleans Riverside. While we have never stopped to check this out, I hear it's a hoot and totally worth it.

Touring the resorts is something to do on a non park day actually. You don't need a park ticket to ride the Boat or Monorail, or to go inside the resorts.

I hear that there is all kinds of entertainment on the Boardwalk at the Boardwalk Resort, I am looking forward to checking that out this Fall. I do not have an educated opinion on that yet.

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Hi, I am new to the site as well! AND, future hubby and I are going to be there at the same time as you are for our honeymoon (July 15-22)! We would be staying longer if we weren't shelling out a bunch of money for a cruise before Disney. I really wanted to stay at Port Orleans--it looks awesome. Somehow, though, we ended up choosing two different hotels--neither of which are the Port Orleans! We are staying at Caribbean Beach and Coronado Springs.

The first trip I went to Disney, we were there for 10 days; perfect amount of time in my opinion. DEFINITELY get the Park Hopper. It made us feel much more relaxed, because we weren't forced to stay in one park and we could just meander at our own pleasure. Going for 10 days, there is also less pressure to be in the parks constantly to "get your money's worth." Spend some time in Downtown Disney or, do one of my favorite things from that trip: pool hop. We were staying at Fort Wilderness (I believe) and we took the little boat to several different resorts, sampled their pools/hot tubs, then took the monorail from the Polynesian to a different hotel. We just basically used all forms of transport and went to as many resorts as we could. It was a lazy, but fun day.

I'm not as much of a Disney Vet as some of these people, but if you need help/suggestions, you can message me specifics. It is cool we will be there at the same time! Good luck with the planning--and thank you both for your service.

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July 2010- First Disney trip with my now husband and his family. Campsites at Fort Wilderness
March 2012- 2 day Spring Break trip to Disney ---Royal Plaza (dowtown disney area)
July 2013- week long Disneymoon -- split stay Caribbean Beach and Coronado Springs

December 2014 Christmas Trip- TBD
Summer 2015--Family Trip

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WDWfanatic wrote:
mrhub wrote:

We stay at the Poly a lot and the one thing we love to do is get up really early, get a coffee and sit on our balcony and listen to the Magic Kingdom wake up. You can really hear the rides wake up. The train starts whistling , the Haunted Mansion starts howling, Pirates of the Caribbean starts talking about rum! I think either Big Thunder Mt or Splash Mt starts yawning. You hear all sorts of noises, it's a blast.

I had no idea that you could hear MK wake up! I have to do that! I am assuming you can also hear it from BLT and GF?

We never really heard it before like we did on our last trip in January, but it was totally obvious then. Scrappy gets up first usually and she went out onto our balcony every morning and listened to it. I don't know if it was just something they were trying or what , but it was great!

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My travel agent specializes in WDW and she doesn't charge her clients a single cent! Her company gets paid a commission by disney for booking people's stays. We've used this gal twice now and I highly recommend her. I've emailed her countless times AFTER we've booked trips and she is incredible punctual, detailed, & helpful with her responses. She will even hunt down discounts for you as they become available and apply them to your trip. You can book your entire trip for $200.00 down, and then the rest is due about 45 days before your check in date. Check it out!

tracy@smallworldvacations.com | http://smallworldvacations.com/

She is a recommended agent via mousesavers.com. Please mentioned that I (Drew Rivera) referred you if you contact her. Best of luck!

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Welcome!

My husband just returned from deployment about a month ago after a very long year! We just got back from WDW and the Disney Cruise. As a military spouse, here is my personal advice on traveling to the world:

1. In case you're wondering Disney Cruise Line never offers military discounts. Just thought I'd throw that out there. It was a bummer.

2. Buy your park tickets from your local military post. You can buy the 4 day park hopper for $160ish. If you want to add water parks and more, it's only like $38. That will actually give you 6-8 days at the world because you could visit 4 parks, 2 water parks, Disney quest, Wild world of sports center, and fantasia gardens. If you purchase the extra option, you get ALL of that. It really is an amazing deal.

3. I would avoid Shades of Green like the plague...

4. Military personnel ALWAYS gets a discounts on rooms at WDW. You must call Disney directly though. You will ALWAYS receive 30% off deluxe resorts, 20% off moderate, and 10% off value.

5. If you want romance, avoid all value resorts....it's swarming with undisciplined children!!!!

6. Purchase the dining plan. Period. Most people have to book a package or be DVC owners to purchase, but military option allows you to book room and meals only. It's $55 per day, per person for the 1 snack, 1 quick service, and 1 table service. It's worth it to prepay. Yea, and no discount on the meal plan for military personnel.

7. I would book a deluxe resort OR rent DVC points. Most deluxe resorts Disney has offers romance. My top 3 choices would be: Grand Floridian, Boardwalk, and Polynesian Resort.

Good luck! Let us know if we can help in any way!!!!

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Eeyore wrote:

3. I would avoid Shades of Green like the plague...

rolling
You dear, just made my morning.

(Long back story, but glad to hear you say that)

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date So glad that you are planning a great way to celebrate his leave time. You will probably want to spend a lot of "down" time, not racing around in the parks. I would suggest early risings to beat the crowds-then plenty of quiet time during the heat of the day-lounge at the pool, in your room....then go back for a nice Table Service (TS) dinner and stay late. You may want to look into the Tables in Wonderland TIW card for such a long stay. I love the Beach Club and would love Wilderness Lodge. If you are wanting all of the bells and whistles-stay at concierge level in WL or AKL-refreshments throughout the day.
IF you are big on dining-start booking your meals now!
Definitely stay on site! My daughter is deployed and my DH and I are guardians of her son. We are making two trips this year and probably will do another when she returns.
Thanks to you and your husband-I know what a sacrifice the whole family makes. My daughter is off-site in Afghanistan, but currently in Khandahar.

ALSO-call and book at least one meal by phone and speak to a Disney CM/agent. Tell them that you are celebrating his leave time- and you will/should get special notes/treatment during meals. You can also have gifts delivered to your room as a surprise when you are out different days. There are personal shoppers who will arrange that and Disney does too. stars

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Kristen K. wrote:
Eeyore wrote:

3. I would avoid Shades of Green like the plague...

rolling
You dear, just made my morning.

(Long back story, but glad to hear you say that)

Oh, no-we are heading there in July! It was either SoG or a Value and with 5 people counting a 2yo., the Values would be a higher cost.

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6sixgees wrote:
Kristen K. wrote:
Eeyore wrote:

3. I would avoid Shades of Green like the plague...

rolling
You dear, just made my morning.

(Long back story, but glad to hear you say that)

Oh, no-we are heading there in July! It was either SoG or a Value and with 5 people counting a 2yo., the Values would be a higher cost.

I'd be interested in knowing why. I've stayed there, and thought it was okay, MUCH nicer rooms than the value resorts. It's not Disney, but it certainly wasn't bad, as far as the accommodations. Now the FOOD on the other hand....

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JMUDukz wrote:
6sixgees wrote:
Kristen K. wrote:
Eeyore wrote:

3. I would avoid Shades of Green like the plague...

rolling
You dear, just made my morning.

(Long back story, but glad to hear you say that)

Oh, no-we are heading there in July! It was either SoG or a Value and with 5 people counting a 2yo., the Values would be a higher cost.

I'd be interested in knowing why. I've stayed there, and thought it was okay, MUCH nicer rooms than the value resorts. It's not Disney, but it certainly wasn't bad, as far as the accommodations. Now the FOOD on the other hand....

This is my personal opinion:

1. It wasn't clean like other resorts
2. It does not feel "Disney" at all....I am all about the entire experience when I visit the world.
3. Food sucks
4. It's old and is not refurbished as often as the other Disney resorts
5. It DEF. doesn't scream romance people! lol

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I agree with 2, 3, and 5. Especially 3!! But I thought it was as clean and in better condition the AS Movies, which was in a total state of disrepair when I was there. But I respect your opinion! I wouldn't stay there again, bc for what we paid (based on rank) we could have stayed at a value or even a moderate.

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JMUDukz wrote:
I agree with 2, 3, and 5. Especially 3!! But I thought it was as clean and in better condition the AS Movies, which was in a total state of disrepair when I was there. But I respect your opinion! I wouldn't stay there again, bc for what we paid (based on rank) we could have stayed at a value or even a moderate.

Yea, another reason not to stay. The higher rank, the more you pay. I think the value resorts are hit or miss. I've stayed at all three and at times it's been really clean and other times I was grossed out a little.