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  • Attention! Major Hughes will address the park guests. "At ease. I'm Hughes, Hughes of Green, and I've heard reports of infiltrators in Disney World. Universal spies? Gatorland goobers? We don't know. But we're taking no chances, either. Until further notice, I will be setting up camp at the Shades of Green resort, from which location I will recon the parks weekly to gather intelligence and to investigate suspicious activity. If you see me, ignore me, because I'm on patrol. Questions? Dismissed."

  • Steve Bell is a 30-year (and counting) US Armed Forces Member who has literally been to Walt Disney World more times than he can count. He even worked there for three years! Steve's site, Military Disney Tips, helps military families find great military discounts for affordable Disney vacation. You can follow him on Facebook.

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FROM: Hughes of Green Published Every Other Saturday

Hughes: Reporting for Disney Duty

In comes Hughes, Major Hughes, recently discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces but returned to duty and stationed at Shades of Green by a mysterious but magical agency that requires the Major's services for secret park missions.

For years as a member of the US Special Forces, I've crawled through the underbrush of many of the world's backwaters, spying on the enemy, gathering intel, seeking weaknesses to exploit.

Alas, that is over now, and it's time to move on to the next chapter of my life.

But to what?

I was at a loss.

Hughes Gets an Idea

Then I remembered sitting with my troops in the recreation tent at an air base in Baghdad watching the Super Bowl during my last deployment. As the game ended, a reporter asked the winning quarterback: "You've just won the Super Bowl. What are you going to do now?" To which he replied: "I'm going to Disney World!"

That's it, I thought, I'll tour the famous theme park just like that quarterback. It'll be a victorious celebration to cap off all of my years of service. Then I'll figure out what to do.

As I neared the parking toll booth at Disney World's Magic Kingdom, I was excited to explore all there was to see. So excited, in fact, that when I pulled up to a stop I momentarily flashed back to my years of entering military bases via check points with guard shacks, which resembled the one here, manned not by a soldier but by a parking attendant.

As he leaned towards me, I fumbled for my military ID and stated firmly "Major Hughes to see...". Realizing my error, I finished much less forcefully: "...the Magic Kingdom."

The attendant smiled and said "Oh, a military man. You must be staying at Shades of Green."

Shades of Green Resort

Shades Across the Water

Shades Lobby

Shades from the Rear

"Shades of Green? What's that?"

"Why, it's the military owned and operated resort here on Disney property."

I'd never heard of this resort. I decided to check it out.

"Yes, that's where I want to go", I told the young man.

Hughes Enters Shades

After getting directions and making the short drive to the resort, I pulled into the entrance for Shades of Green and up to a security booth where the guard did want to see my military ID. He told me the resort is exclusively for members of the U.S. military and the Department of Defense.

As I drove closer, I saw the Shades of Green across a small lake, with the American flag and the flags of the U.S. Armed Services flying in the foreground. It was very majestic. I parked and entered the large lobby, which reminded me of a mountain lodge.

I inquired at the front desk if there was a room available. The desk clerk checked and said that she had one left. She seemed surprised. The great rates offered to the military community keep the resort filled to capacity most times.

"Many make reservations a year in advance for our most popular times of the year," she told me.

After squaring away my belongings in my room, I headed out to explore the resort.

Hughes Recons Shades

The views were beautiful, as the resort is surrounded by two of Disney World's golf courses. I found many young families splashing in the two pools, one of which was fashioned in the shape of Mickey Mouse's head and ears!

I stopped by the poolside snack bar for a cold drink and queried the counter person about the Mickey shape of the pool. It turns out that Shades of Green was once a Disney owned resort, which the military purchased in order to have a wonderfully relaxing and affordable place for when their members need a break from their stressful lives.

As I continued to explore the resort, I found all the amenities that you'd expect:

  • Two restaurants (one buffet, one a la carte)
  • Several snack bars
  • A sports Bar
  • Day spa and fitness facilities
  • Two laundry rooms
  • Arcade and console games for the kids
  • And there's even a ticket office where military discounted Disney theme park tickets are sold

After a full day exploring, I relaxed over a fine dinner in Mangino's Italian Bistro. During dinner, I'd overheard the couple at the next table discussing a master of camouflage they'd almost stumbled into at Disney's Animal Kingdom. This theme park ninja appeared to be part of the foliage, almost undetectable.

Now, this I had to see for myself - that is, if I could find him... or her... or it. What I wouldn't have given for that ability just a short time ago.

Over dessert I thought: "What a fantastic place. If the rest of Disney World is this good, why would I ever leave? There is so much to see and explore. I'll use Shades of Green as my base of operations for investigating all that Disney World has to offer, like the camouflage expert or the spaceflight simulator I also heard about.

I also have to stop the habit of calling myself Major. I need something new to go by, something that combines my name and my new base of operations.

Shades of Green by Hughes...

Hughes at Shades of Green...

Wait, I have it: Hughes of Green!

Until two weeks from today, sharp, you'll find me on patrol.

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