On Victory Way near the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Pop Century is the newest Disney Value resort. Itâ€™s to be completed in phases, but the first section, scheduled to open in December 2001, was actually opened in early 2004. Rather than complete the long-planned second phase of Pop Century, Disney elected to use the allocated acreage for a new Value resort called Disneyâ€™s Art of Animation Resort. Scheduled to open in late 2012, the resort will comprise 864 standard rooms and 1,120 six-person suites.
Pop Century is an economy resort; rooms run $82â€“$174 per night. In terms of layout, architecture, and facilities, Pop Century is almost a clone of the All-Star Resorts (that is, four-story, motel-style buildings built around a central pool, food court, and registration area). Decorative touches make the difference. Where the All-Star Resorts display larger-than-life icons from sports, music, and movies, Pop Century draws its icons from decades of the 20th century. Look for such oddities as building-sized Big Wheels, hula hoops, and the like, punctuated by silhouettes of people dancing the decadeâ€™s fad dance.
The public areas at Pop Century are marginally more sophisticated than the ones at the All-Star Resorts, with 20th-century period furniture and decor rolled up in a saccharine, those-were-the-days theme. A food court, a bar, a playground, pools, and so on emulate the All-Star Resorts model in size and location. A Pop Century departure from the All-Star precedent has merchandise retailers thrown in with the fast-food concessions in a combination dining-and-shopping area. This apparently is what happens when a giant corporation tries to combine selling pizza with hawking Goofy hats. (You just know the word synergy was used like cheap cologne in those design meetings.) As at the All-Star Resorts, thereâ€™s no full-service restaurant. The resort is connected to the rest of Walt Disney World by bus, but because of the limited dining options, we recommend having a car.
Guest rooms at Pop Century are small at 260 square feet. The decor is upbeat, with print bedspreads and wall art depicting pop memorabilia from decades past. Light-finish wood-inlaid furniture and dark, patterned carpet provide an upscale touch, but these are not rooms youâ€™d want to spend a lot of time in. Bathrooms are tiny, and counter space is a scarce commodity. Worst of all, weâ€™ve received many complaints from readers to the effect that the soundproofing between rooms is inadequate. A lake separating the resortâ€™s two halves offers water views not available at the All-Star Resorts.
A reader from Dublin, Georgia, thinks weâ€™re underrating the Pop Century Resort:
I am a Disney fanatic from Georgia. I have stayed in all the resort hotels except BoardWalk and canâ€™t believe you donâ€™t like Pop Century. Itâ€™s now my favorite. (1) Itâ€™s far superior to the All-Stars but the same price. (2) Thereâ€™s a lake at a Value resort and a view of fireworks. (3) The courtyards have Twister games, neat pools, and a Goofy â€œsurprise fountainâ€ for little children. (4) The memorabilia is interesting to us over 18 years old. (5) I love the gift shop, food court, and bar combo. (6) There are frozen Cokes in the refillable-mug section. (7) Bus transportation is better than anywhere else, including Grand Floridian! (8)You can rent surrey bikes. (9) The rooms have real soap instead of the All-Starsâ€™ yucky, globby stuff. (10) The layout is more convenient to the food court. (11) I never hear construction noise, and the noise from neighbors is not worse than anywhere else. (12) Where else do the cast members do the shag to oldies? Also, the shrimp lo mein is the best bargain and among the best food anywhere.
Donâ€™t know what it is about Pop Century fans, but they seem to have a propensity for making listsâ€”take this Waukee, Iowa, family:
We loved Pop Century Resort; it was perfect for our family: (1) It was cheap enough that we had plenty of money left over for other fun things at Disney. (2) The shrimp lo mein was one of the most awesome fast-food items weâ€™ve had at Disney. (3) Although the rooms are a little small and the lighting isnâ€™t the best, the resort is affordable enough that without tax two rooms at the Pop Century are in the same price range as one room at other resorts. (4) Itâ€™s not far from any park at Disney, nor from Downtown Disney. (5) The combo food courtâ€“shopping area really works: my grandparents (seniors ages 66 and 64) can eat breakfast in the food court while my brother, sister, parents, and I shop. (6) Food is actually pretty affordable for Disney. (7) Great pools that are not too far from our rooms; plus, thereâ€™s lots of room so that parents and grandparents can watch the kids swim. (8) You can request a room on the first floor, near the parking lot. They were really accommodating when we explained that I had to have a rather heavy oxygen tank brought to our room, so it would be easier on us to stay on the first floor. (9) Check-in takes probably the least amount of time that I have ever seen at a Disney resort. (Weâ€™ve stayed at Port O rleans French Quarter, Port O rleans Bayou, Caribbean Beach Resort, All-Star Movies, and a hotel outside the World.)
A young couple from Montreal gives Pop Century a thumbs-up:
We stayed at the Pop Century Resort and we absolutely loved it! We donâ€™t have children yet, but we became kids ourselves when we saw the huge icons representing Disneyâ€™s characters, like Lady and the Tramp. The food court was great; we always had many choices, at decent prices, especially for breakfast: waffles, pancakes, buns, eggs, fruits. . . . I also found many gifts for my family at the resortâ€™s store, which had a large selection of WDW souvenirs.
A group of four adults from Tigard, Oregon, offers this:
We stayed at the Pop Century Resort, and while the rooms were small and noisy, the AC worked well and the bus transportation was fantastic. We never waited longer than 10 minutes for a bus.
But a mom from St. Louis gave the Pop Century a mixed review:
The Pop Century hotel was nice but very crowded. Also, the room was noisy. We stayed in the 1990s complex and could hear loud noise coming from the pool until midnight each night we stayed. O verall, the food court was very good, stocked with lots of different food options. The dining area was clean, with lots of room and vibrant colors. Bus service was great; we rarely waited for a bus to the parks at all. Even despite the loud noises at night, I would stay at the Pop Century again because of the charming decor and fun atmosphere, the convenient large food court, and great bus service to the theme parks. You cannot beat the value.
From a Kentucky mom of three:
We stayed at All-Star Movies two years ago and had a much better experience than at Pop Century. Even though the rooms are the same size, I think they used even less soundproofing for the Pop Century rooms.
A dad from Ajax, Ontario, offers this:
I was pleased with Pop overall, but the smaller room (compared to, say, Port O rleans or Coronado) makes a big differenceâ€”particularly if you have children.
A multigenerational family from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, liked Pop Century, with one exception:
Because we were traveling with our grandson, we thought staying at Pop Century would be a fun place for him, with the larger-than-life icons and bright colors. I thought the resort was a good value and comfortable, and the rooms were large enough. I had heard that the soundproofing wasnâ€™t very good, but I didnâ€™t think it was too bad. The pools were great. The worst thing about the trip was the food courtâ€”crowds and rude guests were the problems. After a hot day and crowds in the parks, you came back to grab something to eat and found yourself being jostled by the crowd. And the crowds made it impossible for the cast members to keep the tables and drink area anywhere near clean.
A dad from Tonawanda, New York, agrees about the dining:
The Pop Century food court after park closing is an absolute zoo. If you can, avoid eating a late counter-service dinner here and get one in the parks.
Likewise, from a Kentucky family of four:
The Pop Century food court seemed to run out of ice early in the evening, and theyâ€™d shut down drink dispensers early. There were still lots of people up late coming back from the parks, and it created huge bottlenecks for drinks.
A Granite Falls, North Carolina, couple isnâ€™t sweating the small stuff, though:
On this trip, we stayed at Pop Century, which gets a lot of criticism at certain planning Web sites. This was our third stay there, and while itâ€™s small and not as comfortable as the Polynesian (or any other Deluxe hotel), it provides us with a clean place to sleep at night and transportation to the parks, and the price allows us to visit WDW every year! This comment from a Springfield, Massachusetts, family of four: Pop Century Resort was outstanding! We stayed in the 1950s building with an Epcot view. This had to be the best-value room in all of Walt Disney World. For the off-season AAA discount rate of $64.99 per night, we were able to watch the IllumiNations fireworks from our hotel room with Spaceship Earth in the background!
And, finally, a reader named Melanie (who didnâ€™t mention where she was from) had the following experience:
We decided to stay at the Pop Century. I called them directly to ask a few questions so I would be prepared when I called Disney reservations. I told the person who answered that I had heard the hotel was noisy. She said, â€œThe hotel is not noisy, just the kids who stay here.â€ HA!
Blog Posts About Pop Century:
|Hotel||Definitely (+/- since 2010)|
|Disney's Pop Century Resort||76% + (6%)|
|Average for WDW hotels||74% (+3%)|
|Average for off-site hotels||79% (+10%)|
|Average for vacation homes & condos||95% (N/A)|
|Hotel||Definitely (+/- since 2010)|
|Disney's Pop Century Resort||91% (-2%)|
|Average for WDW hotels||90% (+1%)|
|Average for off-site hotels||94% (+5%)|
|Average for vacation homes & condos||100% (N/A)|
Good (and Not-So-Good) Rooms at Disney's Pop Century Resort
Guest rooms donâ€™t have private patios or balconies. If you bring a lawn chair, however, you can sit on the railed walkway that serves as the guestroom access corridor on each floor. The best rooms for both view and convenience are the lake-view rooms in Buildings 4 and 5, representing the 1960s. These rooms are subject to highway noise from neighboring Victory Way and Osceola Parkway; theyâ€™ll also be subject to construction noise from work on the new Art of Animation Resort across the lake. A safer short-term bet, though with a less compelling view, would be east-facing rooms in the same building, that is, rooms facing the registration and food-court building. Next-best choices would be the east-facing rooms of Building 3 in the 1950s, and of Building 6 in the 1970s. Avoid south-facing rooms in 1980s Building 7 and 1990s Building 8. Both are echo chambers for noise from nearby Osceola Parkway .
|Kid-friendly theme||Small guest rooms|
|Low (for Disney) rates||No full-service dining|
|Large swimming pools||Large, confusing layout|
|Food court||No character meals|
|Convenient self-parking||Limited recreation options|
Disney's Pop Century Resort Dining
|Magic Kingdom||9 minutes|
|Animal Kingdom||6 minutes|
|Disney's Hollywood Studios||5 minutes|
|Quietness of Room||C|
|Shuttle to Parks||Yes|