29 January 2013

A World of Golf Awaits You

It seems like watersports, from fishing to motoring about in miniature powerboats, are the cornerstone of Walt Disney World recreation. However, from the moment the resort flung open its doors, there have been a host of carts lined up to take a swing off of tees of the golf courses around property. If golf was your main drive for coming to the Vacation Kingdom, the opening of the Golf Resort in December of 1973 gave you the perfect place to stay and play.

Early plans for Walt Disney World called for Venetian and Asian resorts to join the Contemporary and Polynesian on the shores of the Seven Seas Lagoon. With the two resorts running at almost one-hundred percent capacity every day of the year, there was a definite need to find more rooms to keep guests on property in the early 1970s. While these planned resorts seemed to be the perfect answer to the room shortage, the next resort to open was 1973’s Golf Resort.

The two story clubhouse that serviced both the Magnolia and Palm courses would gain wings filled with 151 rooms overlooking the wilderness and fairways that comprised the two courses. The luxury accommodations featured 480 square feet rooms that felt more like suites. Well, you had to have somewhere to stash your families’ clubs, right? The Golf Resort, while perfect for golfers, left something to be desired by the park-going vacationing set. Mainly, the fact that the resort was not attached to the monorail loop. The resort also opened in the wake of the oil embargo, which certainly did not help with the number of guests coming to visit not only the Golf Resort, but Walt Disney World as a whole.

Even after guests began returning to Walt Disney World, the company was focusing on other projects, namely EPCOT Center, and not worrying about resort rooms. In fact, Disney’s Caribbean Beach, which opened in October of 1988, would be the next resort that would open on property. As for the Golf Resort, it was rebranded in 1986 with the inclusion of additional rooms and became known as The Disney Inn.

A short eight years later and the resort underwent another shift. The resort became known as Shades of Green in 1994 and was leased to the Department of Defense for the next 100 years. Shades of Green is currently home to 606 rooms for use by active and retired military personnel and their families and is the only Armed Forces Recreation Center (AFRC) in the continental United States.

What started out as a dream of Card Walker has become a welcomed respite for our military families. Shades of Green is still nestled between the two courses that predate the Golf Resort, with the addition of a nine hole walking course. While not as lavish as the Asian or Venetian might have been, I can’t help but think that the Golf Resort would have been a quiet place to stay with some gorgeous views from the rooms’ balconies in those early years.

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