My military family loves visiting Walt Disney World! After long deployments or TDYs, a vacation filled with creating fun family memories together is a great way to feel reconnected again as a family. But, let’s face it, a trip to the Mouse’s House can get expensive quickly. Luckily, there are many discounts and savings offered at Walt Disney World that are exclusively for military personnel. Here are a few of my favorite money saving tips for military families visiting Walt Disney World!
Theme Park Tickets
Here’s where you can save some big money, folks. Each year Disney offers a huge discount exclusively to military personnel on their theme park tickets. For 2017, Disney is offering the 4-day Park Hopper ticket for $209 (reg. $425) and the 5-day Park Hopper ticket for $224 (reg. $445). Each military member, or their spouse, may purchase up to 6 tickets from the ticket office at their local military base or at Walt Disney World.
Don’t forget that the tickets will be tax free if purchased at a ticket office on base or, if you need to purchase them once you get to Walt Disney World, the ticket office at Shades of Green is tax free too. More on that below!
Do you sometimes get back from a family trip and wonder if you were even there because you aren’t in any of the photos? Well, not at Walt Disney World. You’ll find photographers scattered throughout all the parks just waiting to take photos of you and your family. Instead of having to purchase those photos individually, Disney offers Memory Maker, which includes unlimited downloads of photos taken throughout the park, at Character meals, and on attractions all for one price.
Yep, that means you can share that photo of your family in front of Cinderella Castle and the one of you screaming like crazy on Space Mountain with all your Facebook friends! The 2017 Memory Maker price for military personnel is $84, which is a steal compared to the regular price of $149.
Shades of Green
Did you know there is a resort exclusively for military families on Walt Disney World property? Shades of Green (SoG) is the highly rated Armed Forces Recreation Center (AFRC) resort located near Magic Kingdom. The resort is open to Active Duty, Reserve, and National Guard service members, retirees, and more. Room rates are based on the service member’s rank, but the resort often offers special seasonal rates.
We stayed at Shades of Green recently and enjoyed the extra-large rooms and proximity to the monorail. Rather than use the bus service, we frequently chose to take the 10 to 15 minute walk from SoG to Disney’s Polynesian resort to use the monorail or to the Transportation Center. Plus, the room rate at SoG was significantly cheaper than a comparable room at one of Disney’s resorts.
Since SoG resort isn’t owned by Disney, guests don’t get identical benefits as Disney resort guests, but some benefits are the same, such as getting access to Extra Magic Hours (where you get access to the park before or after standard park hours). Shades of Green also has a spa, free yoga classes, two large pools, a gym, a food court, a breakfast and dinner buffet and even an Exchange! Yep, you can buy souvenirs, food and more completely tax free and frequently cheaper than inside Disney Parks.
There’s also a full service ticket sales office inside SoG that sells discounted, tax free tickets to Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, Sea World, Legoland, and other area attractions.
Walt Disney World Resort Hotels
When we don’t stay at Shades of Green, we usually always stay at one of the 25+ resorts on Walt Disney World property. Disney offers a great military discount on their resort rooms to Active Duty service members and retirees. The discount varies wildly depending on time of year, room availability, etc. It’s worth a phone call to their reservation line to find out the specific military discount that is available during your vacation dates.
There are numerous benefits to staying on property that help make your vacation easy breezy, including early access to schedule your FastPass+ reservations, free transportation to and from the airport on the Magical Express, bus service from your hotel to and from the parks, Extra Magic Hours and more! Which, let’s face it, stepping onto a bus and letting someone else drive is so much more enjoyable than trying to find your car in a gigantic parking lot and then wrangling the kids into their car seats after a long day at the park.
Plus, have you seen how awesome the theming is at their resorts? I miss our time being stationed in Hawaii, so the Polynesian Resort definitely gets my vote for best theming, with Animal Kingdom Lodge coming in at a close second.
Blue Star Deals
While planning your family trip, make sure to check out our exclusive Blue Star Deals, you might discover a serious discount on rental cars or restaurants in the area.
Authored by: Katherine Clark, Blue Star Families’ Salesforce Administrator