With just 30 days of annual military leave (vacation) time, and so many people who want you to spend it with them, you must choose who is most important. That’s a stressful, unpleasant, and difficult choice to make. A Walt Disney World® or Disneyland® vacation might be your military family’s perfect solution! Walt Disney World® and Disneyland® frequently help military families connect with family and friends. They offer hotels/resorts to fit every budget, dining plans to address everyone’s needs, attractions for every age, and transportation services. Disney vacations feature everything that a relaxing, enjoyable, and stress-free experience requires.
Resort selection is probably the first and biggest decision that you face when planning a trip to Walt Disney World®. Should you select the Department of Defense’s Shades of Green®, Official Walt Disney World® Hotels, or one of the many Walt Disney World Good Neighbor® Hotels? There are so many options, and each one has unique benefits and special offers. Plus, where you stay impacts the rest of your stay and additional trip requirements. It can be overwhelming, so here are some of the benefits to various resort choices.
Walt Disney World®
Official Walt Disney World® Hotels
- Round trip transportation from and back to the Orlando International Airport.
- Theme park transportation
- Extra magic hours
- Eligible for dining plan add-on–good for most park and resort restaurants
- Disney FastPass+ service 60 days before stay
- Free parking at parks and resorts
- 25 resorts are available to meet your unique needs and budget
- Complimentary MagicBands
- Key to the World Travel® Agents can book and work with you start to finish
- Merchandise delivery to your resort
Use a Key to the World Travel® agent to book the Armed Forces Salute discounted rooms (30-40% off most rooms. Discount is determined by resort category). There is a limited number of rooms allocated for these discounts. Up to 3 rooms can be sponsored by the military member (must be same resort as the military member and he/she must be present at the time of check-in).
Walt Disney World Good Neighbor® Hotels
- Meet the standards and quality that is set by Disney
- Within 2-14 miles of the parks
- Transportation to the theme parks (fee may apply)
- Some allow pets (fees may apply)
- Some offer free complimentary breakfast and evening receptions
- Some offer military discounts on rooms
- Some offer free parking at hotel
- Disney FastPass+ service 30 days before day you will use them
Shades of Green®
- Free Yoga classes
- Spa services–including princess makeovers for 4-12-year old’s
- Golf with military rate offers
- Complimentary Walt Disney World® theme park transportation
- Extra magic hours
- Rates are determined by your military rank or civilian grade at the time of check-in
- A military member can sponsor up to three rooms, and a dependent spouse may also sponsor three rooms
- Disney FastPass+ service 30 days before day you will use them
The 180-day mark allows you to book dining for all your favorite character meals or sit-down meals. If you have selected to stay at an Official Walt Disney World® Hotel, you may add a dining plan to meet your family’s meal requirements. Your Key to the World Travel® agent comes in very handy at this stage. They are up at the crack of dawn to make dining reservations for you, which means you can relax and enjoy the process. Many military spouses find this very helpful during deployment or TDY–just thought I’d throw that out there.
Theme Park Tickets
There are three different military discounted theme park tickets available. Your first option is the Military Salute ticket, which is good for 4- or 5-day park hopper tickets. The military member or spouse can purchase up to 6 of these discounted tickets (limit of 6 per military sponsor, exceptions can be made for larger immediate families). The Military Salute tickets have the best discount that Disney offers. The second ticket option you have is the regular discounted military ticket. These tickets save 4-8% off the regular ticket prices and are great to use once you have reached your limit of Military Salute tickets. They are also ideal for stays longer than 4-5 days, as these tickets can be purchased for vacations between one and ten days. The final option you have is the Stars and Stripes tickets sold by Shades of Green. Available only to people eligible to stay at the Shades of Green® and are staying at Shades of Green® or a Walt Disney World® Hotel. You will need to present a military ID along with a resort ID to purchase the two- through ten-day park hopper tickets with the plus option (not including mini golf) at the Shades of Green®. Other Discounts There are other discounts available to military members and their families which will help to reduce the cost of your family trip. The Memory Maker is offered for a special discounted rate, this can be purchased at the ticket window by the military member and is good for your entire stay. You can link the memory maker to all the rooms in your group which gives you the opportunity to relive the memories of your trip for years to come. Disney SpringsTM is another place to look for discounts. Some of the restaurants offer anywhere from 10-25% discounts for military members and their family. I have also been told about or received discounts at the Orlando Harley Davidson Store, Basin, and Planet Hollywood. It never hurts to ask if a military discount is available.
Disneyland® also has different options available for military members and their families. Your Key to the World Travel® agent can help you in making the decision on what option suits your family the best. Your choices includes; Disneyland® Resort Hotels and multiple Disneyland® Good Neighbor® Hotels. This choice can become very overwhelming with each resort have their good points and options. Here are a few benefits to the various resort selections.
Disneyland® Resort Hotels
- Walking distance to the parks.
- Military member can reserve two rooms
- extra magic morning hour
- 3 resorts to fit most any budget.
- Disney Character wake up calls.
- Preferred access to reservations for meals and unique experiences.
- 24 hour services from dedicated cast members.
- ability to charge food and purchases directly to your room.
- purchases delivered directly to your hotel.
Disneyland® Good Neighbor® Hotels
- 47 available hotels to select from.
- some offer military discounts
- Specials offered for multi night stays for other family members
- later check out times
- distance from parks range from just over a mile to right across the street
- some offer shuttle services to parks (fees may apply)
- breakfast is included at some of the hotels
- some offer a free pin and lanyard
- discount card good at some Downtown Disney shops and restaurants.
Planning a Walt Disney World® vacation can be stressful and hard work. This is especially true when you are faced with daily stress that military life can have on a family. Key to the World Travel® Agents There are so many ways to that your travel agent can help you make your military leave memorable. Here are two examples of the ways I have personally helped plan vacations for military families:
- I worked with clients whose party (traveling from four states) included a veteran with PTSD. I helped them ensure the veteran’s needs were met all seven days and six nights. That included little things like contacting the resort to make special arrangements for a room that was near a pool, but not on a busy path to much more serious concerns like providing detailed instructions for easily getting a medical ID to use while at the parks.
- I made reservations for a family of 16 that stayed at different resorts with different packages. I made sure that the entire party (ages 6 months to 51) had everything needed to make their resort stay spectacular. I also helped them set up and arrange family pictures at the Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
Making sure you receive the most for your money and helping you maintain your sanity while planning a vacation is what we are here for. All Key to the World Travel® planners are experts and offer the highest level of exemplary customer service. Contact your travel planner to book your vacation, or click here to request a quote today!
Contact Tracy today, using the links below!