Pop into Pop Century!

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Night time shot of a 60's building by Don Sullivan

Like many 20-somethings, I often travel on a budget. Fortunately, Disney provides four value level resorts to pick from for guests trying to keep a cap on their spending. My favorite of these is definitely Pop Century. I’ve stayed in all of the values, but I keep coming back to this resort. There are several reasons I prefer Pop, but price has to be one of the main factors. I usually go, go, go all day long at the parks so I really just need a place to rest my head at night. On most of my trips, I just can’t justify spending a lot on accommodations. Standard rates at this resort start at $82 a night (plus taxes) and top out at $145 for the same room during the holiday season. Annual pass holder discounts are often available so be sure to check them out if you have one. In December I was about to book for approximately $85 dollars a night vs. the $135 during the first holiday season.

In addition to the low price, I think the theming at this resort is adorable. It stars in the lobby with displays of pop culture fads over the years and huge photos behind the desk. Continuing outside, ach group of buildings is assigned a decade from the 50’s through the 90’s and decorated with those years in mind. Larger than life icons look over the courtyards throughout the resort grounds. The bright colors and nostalgia might be a little cheesy, but they are fun. The huge bowling pins, yo-yos, and cell phones decorating the stair cases round out the whimsical décor.

So what are the rooms like? Yes, the rooms here are small. But for two adults it does the job. I’m sure sharing the room with a child wouldn’t be so bad, but I don’t have experience in that area. There are two double beds, a small dining table, a console with the television, and the bathroom area. The sink and closet are in one area and the shower and toilet are closed off to make getting ready in the morning easier. We have all come to expect cleanliness at Disney resorts and Pop has never disappointed me in that regard. If you know you won’t spend much time in the room it’s certainly not a bad place to spend the night.

I like the food court here. It’s by far the largest of the value resort food courts. The size makes it easier to grab breakfast without being shoulder to shoulder with what seems like every guest in the resort. This is also the resort which combines its gift shop and quick service eatery. Everything Pop! makes getting a lunch on the go and picking up sun block easy since they are all in one area. Likewise, the Petals pool bar is my favorite of the value resorts bar options. It’s the largest of the four and the cast members tending bar are fun and friendly.

There are three pools for guests to enjoy. On my last trip I finally took the time to relax and enjoy the pool a bit. Although the pools at value resorts are not as elaborate as those at more expensive accommodations, they provide a nice place to lounge around and cool off. I can’t tell you how much better I felt after lying by the pool and taking a dip or two. Something to keep in mind though is the rooms near the pool can be loud. You may want to request one further away if you like to take mid day naps. Like I said, I don’t often spend a lot of time at my resort to take part in other recreational activities so it doesn’t much matter to me that there are not many other options at the value resorts.

Like all WDW resorts, Pop Century offers free transportation to all of the parks and Downtown Disney. Pop has its own bus service, where the other values share busses. Therefore the busses are less crowded and wait times are generally shorter. I’d still recommend getting a rental car if it’s in your budget; having your own car makes getting WDW much easier and faster.

I definitely think that Pop Century offers the best bang for the Disney resort buck. While everyone has their own priorities when choosing lodging, you can’t argue the price. If saving money is your biggest priority I encourage you to consider Pop.

Next time I’ll report on the day we hit both water parks…

Photo: Night time shot of a 60’s building by Don Sullivan

Kristen Helmstetter

Kristen Helmstetter is an Unofficial Guide researcher who will share her 20-something perspective of all things Walt Disney World with blog readers. Kristen’s email address is khelmstetter05@yahoo.com. You can also follow her on Twitter: @khelmstetter.

28 thoughts on “Pop into Pop Century!

  • August 4, 2009 at 12:08 am

    I could not agree with you more regarding Pop Century. I tried it out myself in Nov 08′ and found it very appealing in terms of decor and price. This time around, the room size will be put to the test when my hubby, myself and two little girls arrive in two weeks and stay for a week. Thanks for a great blog entry.

    • August 4, 2009 at 8:58 am

      We stayed at Pop in 07 for free dining. It was our first time in a value and there were some things I didn’t care for. We paid for a preferred room in the 60’s area, but it was still quite a distance from the main hall, and we were even farther from our parking lot. Plus, groundskeeping could’ve kept the place a little cleaner. For example, someone spilled their dinner on the stairs, and it stayed there for over 24 hours before it was finally cleaned up.

      But on the other hand, you really get a lot for $80/night: outstanding theming, nice pools, a very good food court and since you’re staying on WDW property, you get access to Extra Magic Hours. Plus the bus transportation is only for Pop guests, whereas All Star shares the buses among the various resorts. All in all, “Scopa Towers” really is a good value.

      • August 4, 2009 at 10:26 am

        I feel like you have to go into knowing its not going to be a deluxe resort and then you won’t be disappointed. I’ve been mixing things up the last few stays with nights at deluxe resorts and I’ve become spoiled! But I know that Pop is just a place to sleep and it serves its purpose and I’m glad to have a cheap place on property to sleep.

        • August 4, 2009 at 10:33 am

          I forgot to mention that I never pay for a prefered room here. I recommend requesting to be in either the 50s or 70s because you are fairly close to the main building and close to parking if you have a car. The 50s also has its own quiet pool.

    • August 4, 2009 at 10:26 am

      let us know how it goes with a family of 4 in the room!

  • August 4, 2009 at 9:26 am

    I’m a 20-somathing too.. and I totally agree with you all the way:D Wasn’t abale to decide my self to go or not until I got my room at Pop 😀 Nice post.

  • August 4, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    We have stayed here 3 times over the last 3 years for 2 weeks with our 2 girls (now 11 and 13). Although the room is no Polynesian (which we we split stayed last year between Pop and Poly), they are large enough for the 4 of us and leave us money in our pockets to enjoy other activities throughout WDW. We have also stayed both in the “preferred” buildings and “regular” buildings and still find staying in the 60’s buildings, opposite side to the pools, to be the best location. For us, the 80’s/90’s is a bit out of the way.

    Besides the cost, the theming is great, the pools (even without a slide) are good, the food court offers enough variety for all of us, and the Pop Buses offer better service in our opinion than many of the other resorts (better than Saratoga Springs and the All Stars, were we also have been). I do agree that having a car is sometimes beneficial when you need to get to a dinner reservation or when leaving an Extra Magic Hour evening. However, we don’t rent for the complete 2 weeks as there are many days we don’t need it.

  • August 4, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    We are a family of six and we got adjoining rooms at POP in ’07. We really liked the resort. In May I stayed at All Stars for a few nights and I will never do that again. POP is the way to go for Value. Wish they would finish it 🙁 and I hope the retheming rumors are just that, rumors.

  • August 4, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    Thanks for the great take on POP! My daughter and I are staying there for the first time 11/21 – 11/28 and your review has made me even happier we are trying it out this go around! Thanks!~

    • August 4, 2009 at 8:30 pm

      I’m glad you decided to try it. I hope you have a wonderful time in WDW!

      • August 6, 2009 at 8:12 pm

        Why thank you! I’m even happier now that my crowd levels went from 9’s to 7’s LOL Thanks!

  • August 4, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    I agree with your assessments of Pop Century 100%!
    I recognize there are folks with more money to spent or whom expect more from their resort because they may not be a Park Commando (like my daughter and me). I wish I had more money and time…but like Kristen, I need a place to sleep and that’s about it. Still, on the “day off” of a week-long trip or the rare occasion I make time to enjoy the theming, the pools and a walk around Crescent Lake, I’ve always found Pop Century to be the perfect choice, and far superior to the All Stars for the following reasons: a better-organized bus stop, a lack of sports teams and cheer groups (who enjoy being noisy far into the night), and the simplicity of Everything Pop. It’s our favorite…at least until I win the PowerBall and buy 7,000 points as a year-round Disney Vacation Club member. 😉

    • August 4, 2009 at 8:36 pm

      that’s a good point about teams and such. though i used to be a cheerleader I also understand that they can be a bit much in big groups hehe.

  • August 4, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    My family and I have stayed at the Pop 4 times. We are a family of 4. We have stayed from the Grand Floridan down to the Pop and I just can’t justify spending that kind of money on a room! We stay out late, so it is basically a place to lay our head and clean up. I always find the Pop to be clean. We are going back next march and I was thinking about staying at another Value resort, but with the reading I’ve done, I think I’d be disappointed. I do like the 60’s building for closeness to the transportation. Has anyone noticed besides me that when you go to get in line for you hotel at the parks, the Pops is the last one!! It’s like we have to walk further than anyone else, almost like we are punished for being in their value resorts. I don’t expect it to be the first in the pick up lanes, but last—give me a break!

  • August 4, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    I agree with the comments and thank you for your blog. I have stayed at both moderate and value resorts. Of the value resorts this is the only one that would get my repeat business. What I did find is that the room is small. For my husband and myself or my daughter and myself it was more than adequate, but trying to fit 2 adults and two teens is quite difficult. However, what I do find is that for just slightly more than the cost of the moderate, you can get two rooms which means much more space than a moderate and just a little more when it comes to a full grown family.

  • August 5, 2009 at 8:46 am

    Stayed on a downgrade from AKL to Pop at the end of a trip last year. Originally it was just going to be my husband and myself in the room, but one of our friends also stayed with us for the couple days. Having just left a 2-BR at Jambo House, the room at Pop seemed very small, especially for three people. Next week we’re going down to stay at Pop for Friday/Saturday (just husband and I) and then upgrading to Kidani Village for the rest of the trip with both of our families. I’m going to be curious to see how being just the two of us at the beginning of the vacation changes our impression.

    The other “down side” of our experience was catching a view of the run-down unfinished part of the resort every time we headed back to the room. It is truly an eyesore and, if there’s no plans to complete it, Disney should just eat the cost and level the buildings. At this point, even if they did finish them, I’m not sure I’d feel safe staying in them without a massive (re: expensive) overhaul and lots of inspections of things like the railing and even the foundation.

    That being said, at the open part of Pop, the pool bar was magnificient, the food court was outstanding, the luggage transfer staff were incredible, and we had no problems at all regarding things like finding close parking. For one or two people on a budget, it’s not a bad option. I rate it about equal with the room I stayed at over at Music, and on par with the off-property “Pineapple” hotel by DTD (about the same in price, smaller room, but better food and pool options).

    • August 5, 2009 at 1:02 pm

      I thought about discussing the abandoned “Classic Years” section, but decided to leave it out. Rumors seem to swirl about this area every once in a while, but nothing ever seems to happen. I’m sure you’re right in that they’d pretty much have to start over again given that the structures have been exposed for so long. It looks a mess and I hope one day something happens with it.

  • August 5, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    I too love Pop Century and totally agreed with the great review. We have stayed at moderates and all the values except Sports. We are hopefully done with the All Stars and Pop will be our #1 choice. My husband, myself, and six year old daughter don’t need a bigger room, and my daughter loves the theming. She also prefers the kiddie pool here as she loves the pop up fountains/geysers. We don’t often take breaks during the day and do all of our swimming late at night so we don’t need to pay extra for the nicer hotels. We love having the extra money for fun stuff and souveniers. We love Pop!!! It is perfect for our family of three.

  • August 5, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Thanks for the all the thoughts on traveling with families and staying at Pop! Its nice to hear another perspective on things from folks who travel with kids since I don’t have any yet. I’m glad you’ve all had such good experiences at this resort!

  • August 6, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Love POP,We stayed there for 10 days back in June. It myself, wife and two teens (14-15 yrs.) The rooms are a little tight but managable,My wife would be the first one up and then the two teens would get ready while my wife and I would take a stroll down to get some coffee and danishes to hold us off till lunch and then I would get ready, It worked out perfect every morning.With using the plan from the book and having a car, we were back at our hotel by 3-4 every day for and hour or two to swim or a quick power nap and then back out for our dinner ressies. The money we saved with the 4/3 day promotion and staying at the POP we were able to stay 3 days longer than at a mod. resort for the same price. Plus, we were able to eat at all the resteraunts that we wanted. Love the place and will always go back. I told my daughter that when she has a family one day to make sure she returns the favor and take us every other year or so like we did with her (ha-ha).

  • August 12, 2009 at 12:47 am

    Great review and great time we also had at PC! As 40-somethings on a budget, the money we saved at this value resort allowed us to have that dream dinner (including our favorite wine) at California Grill during the MK fireworks. Having stayed at some of the Moderates (Coronado, Caribbean and Port Orleans-French Quarter) over the years, we loved this visit the best: lively pool bar, fun lobby decor, yummy snacks at the Food Court and of course the uber-friendliness of staff on arrival AND departure (they stored our luggage on the last day after check-out with a smile and wonderful efficiency so we could fit in one more day at the Parks). As fellow first in-last out (no kid) Park Commandos, it was a perfect place to just “crash” without needing any extra amenities at the hotel. Only one negative: too-long wait for check-in. But savvy pool bar bartender took care of that concern with some lovely ‘ritas that first day!

  • August 15, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    Great post!! I completely agree with you. For 2 adults it’s great. Wouldn’t want to stay there with 4 people in the room. Very small. Other than that — I recommend it!

  • November 30, 2010 at 10:34 am

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  • January 21, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    We stayed at Pop Century and thought it was really nice. WE didn’t go to Disney World to stay in a hotel room so it was a nice place to go back to when we were beat. One thing that was difficult was how long we had to wait for the busses. I know Pop Century has it’s own line but does anyone know if the moderates have more busses in the route so you dont’ have to wait as long coming and going? Or is it better to just rent a car. I”m not sure which would end up cheaper.

  • September 11, 2011 at 1:22 am

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