Review: Disney’s Pop Century Resort



By Dave Shute

The Value Resorts    Pop Century    Movies    Sports    Music   Art of Animation

OVERVIEW: DISNEY’S POP CENTURY RESORT

Main Pool at Disney's Pop Century ResortAmong my 95 stays (so far!) in Walt Disney World resort hotels, I’ve stayed at Disney’s Pop Century Resort more than half a dozen times, most recently in February 2014.

This last stays confirms that for those who can’t afford a deluxe resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort is the second best place to stay, after Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, and, for families with mobility issues who can’t afford a deluxe, it’s number one.

Mickey Phone at Disney's Pop Century ResortYou can have a wonderful visit at any Walt Disney World resort hotel.

However, this site recommends that first time visitors to Walt Disney World who can afford it should stay at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, a deluxe resort, and that those who can’t should stay at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, a value resort. (See this for more on the value resorts at Walt Disney World.)

(It also suggests that first time visitors should avoid the moderate resorts, while noting that these resorts are wonderful for visits after the first. See this for why.)

Compared to other Walt Disney World owned and operated resorts, the value resorts are distinguished by having the lowest prices and smallest rooms.

Pop Century Floor Plan from yourfirstvisit.netYou likely will never stay in a hotel with smaller rooms.

Like other value resort standard rooms, rooms at Pop Century sleep four in two full-size beds, plus one more, younger than three, in a crib; the crib fits best between the dresser and closet wall.

Bed Side from Bath Disney's Pop Century Resort from yourfirstvisit.net(I could not imagine staying in one of these rooms with five including a crib…but many do!)

However, if your family will fit, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, like the other value resorts, has much more kid appeal than the moderate resorts, the next higher price class (about twice as expensive, but with much bigger rooms and nicer landscaping.)

(See this for much more on resort distinctions by price class–value, moderate, deluxe, etc.)

Compared to staying off-site, the value resorts are distinguished by their higher kid appeal, convenience, and access to certain key perks that off-site hotels can’t provide.

DISNEY’S POP CENTURY RESORT

Resorts are ranked on this site for first time visitors based first on their kid appeal, and then on their convenience.

On this basis, Disney’s Pop Century Resort is the second-best value resort for first time family visitors.

Kid Appeal. Several of the deluxe resorts–notably, the Wilderness LodgeAnimal Kingdom Lodge, and Polynesian Resort–have spectacular kid appeal. None of the moderates do.

All of the value resorts–Disney’s Art of Animation resort, Disney’s All-Star Sports, All-Star Music, and All-Star Movies, and its Pop Century Resort–have terrific kid appeal.

Play-Doh at Disney's Pop Century ResortThis appeal comes from the approach to theming they all share: bright and vibrant exteriors, framing much larger than life objects of interest to kids. These objects reinforce that these resorts were designed for the sake of kids…and not necessarily for adults!

Pop Century’s theme is to recall the later decades of the twentieth century, through enormous statues of toys, games, Disney characters, and other stuff. You’ll find scattered around the resort a Mickey Mouse Telephone, Roger Rabbit, a Big Wheel, bowling pins, Baloo and Mowgli, Lady and the Tramp…all 30 to over 60 feet tall!

Elsewhere you’ll find Play-Doh, Mr. Potato Head, a more than life sized foosball game, a pool designed to look like a bowling alley, a four-story laptop, and more.

Disney's Pop Century Has a Hare More Kid AppealPop is–by a hare–the second most kid-appealing of the values.

Art of Animation has the most kid appeal among the values, with deeply themed sections and rooms evoking the settings and characters of Little Mermaid, Car, the Lion Kings, and Finding Nemo. (Only the Little Mermaid section has standard rooms–the other three sections of Art of Animation have much more expensive family suites.)

All-Star Music and Sports are thin on Disney-specific decor, and can be visually dull except to kids devoted to sports or music. All-Star Movies is more kid-appealing than these two, living more richly in Disney’s visual world.

Toys at Disney's Pop Century ResortPop Century adds to its own strong Disney visual presence lots of fun toys!

Convenience. Disney’s Pop Century Resort is slightly more convenient than the All-Stars, and in general as convenient as Art of Animation.

Compared to the All-Stars, it is more central. Pop Century is quite centrally located.

  • It is just south of Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, nestled in the area between Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
  • It is closer to Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and the Magic Kingdom than the All-Stars are.

Bus Stop at Disney's Pop Century ResortSecond, Pop Century is one of only two resorts at Walt Disney World that has only one bus stop and does not share buses with any other resort. (Art of Animation is the other.)

Each of the All-Star resorts has only one bus stop, but they share most of their buses with one or both of the other All-Stars.

Pop is a little easier to get around than Art of Animation is for those in standard rooms.  The standard rooms at Art of Animation are more distant from the hotel’s central services than most of Pop’s are.

Other distinctive features. Pop and Art of Animation are the only values on a lake; Pop is also (slightly) more graceful, and (slightly) less garish, than the All-Stars.

Best places to stay. This site suggests that first time visitors stay in standard rooms, not preferred rooms (because they won’t be spending much time in their rooms, or going to the main resort food area often.)

The single exception is visitors to the Animal Kingdom Lodge, who should always pay for savanna views.

Map of Disney's Pop Century ResortDisney’s Pop Century Resort is divided into areas named for decades from the second half of the last century–’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s.

Click the map to see the general layout.

Of these, a fourth floor room on the lake side of the ’70s area is the best place to stay.

View from Recommended Location at Disney's Pop Century ResortThe lake view speaks for itself.

The ’70s area is the only one at Pop Century not built around a pool, which makes it quieter.

The fourth floor is also the top floor, which improves the lake views, and makes it quieter as well.

The image above is from just outside the rooms I recommend. Below is the last on-line check in form I used.
Pop Century Online Check in from yourfirstvisit.net

BEST FOR:

Families than cannot afford a deluxe resort, or who are otherwise on a tight budget, who can fit into its small rooms, and don’t wish to, or can’t, stay at Art of Animation.

WORST FOR:

Families who are tall or otherwise won’t fit into full-size beds, or who have more than two adult-sized people, or who will be using a crib.

A PHOTO TOUR OF A STANDARD ROOM AT DISNEY’S POP CENTURY RESORT

This review continues here.

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24 comments

1 Trisha Reeder { 05.29.13 at 8:58 am }

My family of four just stayed at Pop Century in earlier this month and we would stay there again! It was perfect! We stayed in one if the 50′s buildings so we were close to Classic Hall to get breakfast every morning before we would head out for the day. We really liked the fact that the resort does not share shuttle busses with any other resort. It was so easy to get around. I would highly recommend Pop Century to anyone. We rarely spent time in the room and enjoyed the pool a couple of nights. We were gone all day..every day enjoying all of the fun Disney World parks have to offer. Thank You for all of your “insider tips”. We used your spring itinierary and had a wonderful vacation. We could not have had a better week. Great weather and wonderful people who work for Disney. This website is awesome for planning a Disney vacation. I have recommended it to everyone I have talked to :) THANK YOU!

2 Dave { 05.30.13 at 7:00 am }

Hi Trisha, and thanks for both your comments on Pop and kind words!!

Follow yourfirstvisit.net on Facebook!

3 Sara M { 12.14.13 at 12:23 am }

Is there a reason Pop had no towels at any of the pools? I talked to the life guard and she said they never stock them at Pop or AoA.

Also, will they have refrigerators in 2014?

4 Sara M { 12.14.13 at 12:23 am }

P.S

I can’t find our last conversation about going in November or August if you can send me that link! Thanks!

5 Dave { 12.15.13 at 10:12 am }

Sara, typically the values do not provide towels at the pools–you’ll find rebellious exceptions to this sometimes, especially at Music. And the fridges should have been fully replaced by now…

6 Dave { 12.15.13 at 10:13 am }
7 Jennifer { 02.03.14 at 3:23 pm }

Hi we are going to this RESORT in one month and we want to know if its located far away from Port Cañaveral and if the food is expensive in this Resort?
Thank u!

8 Dave { 02.04.14 at 9:23 am }

Jennifer, it’s about 70 miles. All Disney food is expensive…

9 Patty { 03.10.14 at 1:35 pm }

I also would recommend Pop Century. Family has stayed there twice(both times with port-a-crib in room). Rooms are small, but worked. All rooms had fridges now. Walked over bridge to Art of Animation just to get a feel for it. Mermaid rooms were 10 min. walk from the main building(food court, front desk etc). Beautiful outside decor, but would still stay at Pop Cent. on future visits.

10 Dave { 03.11.14 at 7:41 am }

Thanks, Patty!

11 Tim { 03.15.14 at 12:13 pm }

Do Pop Century rooms have coffee makers and if not, can you bring one? We are planning a trip in the first week of May.

12 Dave { 03.16.14 at 8:03 am }

Tim, they don’t. I suspect Disney might fuss if you bring your own–using fire code as the talking point–but it’s hard to imagine that it really matters. Worst case is they ask you to unplug it/remove it, and you are no worse off…

13 Tim { 03.16.14 at 2:38 pm }

Thanks for your insight and also for your knowledge. It has been helpful. Another question if I may, is Pop Century a good choice for us as my wife and I are in our 50′s and our two sons are 22 and 18 ? It seems to be the most convenient to the parks without dropping a lot of cash. We stayed in a cabin at Ft. Wilderness several years ago and getting to the parks left a lot to be desired.

14 Dave { 03.17.14 at 7:33 am }

Tim, the issue with Pop (and the other values) is that the beds are full-sized. Will the boys be OK with a 54″ by 75″ bed?

15 Tim { 03.17.14 at 8:43 am }

Dave, one still sleeps in a twin(his choice) and none of us are over 5’8″. By the way, we were booking two separate rooms. Are there better options for us? Considered a family suite at AA but too much kid appeal decor. I think after full day at the parks, we all could sleep anywhere. We are requesting one king room, are they hard to come by?

16 Dave { 03.17.14 at 4:33 pm }

Oh, Tim, I misunderstood–thought you would all be in one room. Two rooms will work well!! King rooms can be hard to find–there aren’t many, and they go to those with mobility challenges first.

17 Tim { 03.17.14 at 4:58 pm }

Dave, Sorry about not being clear(I confuse myself at times). I just booked us two preferred rooms at Pop and requested 1K, lake views in the 70′s or 60′s buildings and rooms thar adjoin or close on second floor. We’ll just gave to wait and see what we get.

18 Dave { 03.18.14 at 7:15 am }

Great, Tim–and good luck!

19 Beverley { 04.16.14 at 12:32 am }

Hi Dave,
Thank you so much for your wonderful website which is a wealth of information.
Could you perhaps further expand on the difference between a preferred room and a preferred pool room and let me know which you think is the better option? My husband and I will be staying with our two sons who are 11 and 13.

20 Dave { 04.16.14 at 8:06 am }

Beverly, I can’t answer that without knowing what resort you are thinking about… the use of the words varies a bit across the hotels… “Preferred” usually means a shorter walk to the central services, and “Pool” is a view class, usually to be avoided becasue of noise.

21 KEITH { 05.04.14 at 12:44 am }

Hi Dave,
on the basis of time savings/convenience alone, if i had to pick 2 standard rooms at Pop or AoA, which would win? (We have 3 kids)
Thanks

22 Dave { 05.05.14 at 6:46 am }

Keith on that basis there’s no material difference. The odds are that at AofA all your walks will be a minute or two longer–if that matters, then Pop is the better choice.

23 Scott { 05.10.14 at 12:00 pm }

Hi Dave,

In your opinion is Pop or CBR a better choice when it comes to transportation to the parks.

Thanks,

Scott

24 Dave { 05.11.14 at 4:30 pm }

Scott, once the buses have left the resorts, it’s the same, since they are right next to each other. Because CB has SO many stops, it’s likely to be a shorter walk from your room to the bus stops there, but, for the same reasons, you’ll spend more time in the resort with the bus stopping again and again. So all in Pop is better.

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