Disney to offer Military great deals at Contemporary

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As reported in the Orlando Sentinel, Shades of Green, the old Disney Inn, and current Military resort, is being completely closed for a quick remodel and expansion. It will close April 1, 2002, and re-open September, 2003. Rumor was that the Army was to take over Port Orleans French Quarter during the closing, but it looks like that will not happen. Disney will be offering comparable rates for Military personnel at the Contemporary. If you happen to be active in the Military, and would normally have access to Shades of Green, this is a great opportunity to stay at one of Disney’s finest resorts, with affordable prices.

Orlando Sentinel Article

265 lose their jobs at resort
By Robert Johnson

[i]About 265 employees of the U.S. Army’s Shades of Green resort at Walt Disney World will be laid off April 1 when construction begins on a $50 million expansion project.

In contrast to workers at some other area hotels, the employees at Shades of Green are victims of their establishment’s success. The 287-room resort, reserved for military personnel and their families, has been turning away guests with its occupancy rates consistently ranging from 90 percent to 99 percent.

Roughly doubling in size to 586 rooms, the expanded Shades of Green is expected to open in September 2003.

“The reason we’re doing this expansion is that we have been such an overwhelming success,” said Pete Isaacs, chief operating officer of the Army’s Community and Family Support Center in Alexandria, Va. The agency owns and operates four military resorts, including Shades of Green. The others are in Germany, Hawaii and South Korea.

Earlier this month, Isaacs said he hoped most of the Shades of Green workers could keep their jobs during construction by temporarily operating some of the 3,500 rooms that Disney World has closed since Sept. 11.

“It just didn’t work out,” Isaacs said Wednesday, blaming unspecified administrative issues and tax complications. One likely problem: Shades of Green workers aren’t Disney employees.

But Disney World spokeswoman Rena Callahan said, “We are reaching out to Shades of Green employees.” She said Disney World has “several hundred” openings in various jobs at its resorts and theme parks. Still, she said, Disney’s top priority is to restore hours of many hourly workers who have had their schedules cut since Sept. 11.

Isaacs said about 60 of the resort’s 325 workers will keep their jobs. Most will be security guards and groundskeepers.

For those being laid off, the job market is relatively uninviting. Orlando’s unemployment rate, 2.8 percent as recently as 2000, rose to 4.8 percent in November.

For military personnel who will miss Shades of Green during its expansion, Disney will offer rooms at its Contemporary Resort. Special discount rates there will be “comparable” to those at Shades of Green, Isaacs said.

And those prices were perhaps the biggest lure of all for Shades of Green patrons: Rooms start at $66 a night for privates and their families.[/i]