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News, Tips & Bargains : U.S. Army Invades Walt Disney World

January 30, 1994|MIKE CLARY

The U.S. Army's "Shades of Green" may sound like a training film on camouflage application, but it's not. Rather, it is a 288-room hotel just outside Walt Disney World near Orlando, which opens Tuesday as an economical vacation spot for members of the armed forces. Once called the Disney Inn, the hotel was acquired from Disney via a 99-year lease as part of what Army spokesperson Maj. Linda Ritchie says is military downsizing. "More and more personnel are stationed stateside, and having affordable recreational opportunities is necessary for morale," says Ritchie.

The hotel, with a swimming pool, tennis courts and close to the monorail that serves Disney World, is open only to active, retired and reserve members of the armed services, and civilian employees of the military. Rooms will range from $49 to $92 a night, depending on rank, and can accommodate families of four or more.

Although the Army runs similar hotels in South Korea, Germany and Hawaii, Shades of Green is the first such operation in the continental U.S. Staffed by civilians, the hotel will be self-supporting, and cost tax dollars, Ritchie says.

Some Orlando-area hoteliers have objected to the cut-rate competition. "Why is the Army purchasing a hotel instead of having a voucher system to make use of exiting facilities?" asks Cherly Taubensee, executive director of the Central Florida Hotel-Motel Assn., whose members operate the majority of the 82,000 hotel rooms in the Orlando area. "That would be more cost effective."

Nonetheless, Taubensee says her group will work with the military, in part to make sure Shades of Green is not targeting the general tourist population.

Not to worry, says Ritchie. Bookings have been heavy since well before opening, and Easter weekend--April 2-3--is sold out.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday February 6, 1994 Home Edition Travel Part L Page 6 Column 6 Travel Desk 1 inches; 23 words Type of Material: Correction
Army Hotel--A word was dropped in the Jan. 30 story on the new Army hotel near Walt Disney World. The hotel will be self-supporting and will cost no tax dollars.

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