Looking for a resort that can check off several items on your Walt Disney World checklist without breaking the bank? Consider taking a trip through the decades by booking a stay at Disney’s Pop Century Resort.
Pop Century Resort is currently classified as a value resort at Walt Disney World. Priced just above the All-Star Resorts and just below the moderate level resorts, Pop Century might be one of the most overlooked and underrated hotels on Disney property.
The resort is themed to all things pop culture from the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. You’ll find giant yo-yos, Rubik’s Cubes and other tributes to some of the most memorable items, catchphrases and Disney characters throughout the decades as you walk around the resort.
We didn’t want to pay a fortune for a hotel since we didn’t plan on spending a ton of time at the resort, but we wanted to enjoy the perks that make staying on Disney property worthwhile (more on that here). We chose a Preferred Room as we had heard that some of the buildings were a decent walk from the main lobby, which is home to the food court and the bus transportation area.
Let’s talk about the check-in and arrival experience.
We had a late flight that didn’t bring us into Orlando International Airport until around 11pm. We arrived at Pop Century just after midnight.
Pop Century Lobby and Check-In
We didn’t complete the online check-in process, so we headed for the front desk after walking in the lobby. As the doors to the lobby opened, we were met with one of the best smells in all of Walt Disney World. The smell of the Pop Century lobby is difficult to explain and describe. It just smells good. It’s apparently some kind of mix of cotton candy and kettle corn, but we’re not positive.
The lobby is enormous and is full of all sorts of items from the various decades, from Beatles albums to ’90s computers. It’s obvious that it’s ready to accommodate a huge number of people during peak check-in times. Thankfully, it turns out not too many families want to check in past midnight.
The cast members were kind, friendly and had us all set in a matter of minutes.
Layout & Location
The guest buildings at Pop Century are four stories tall and are motel-style with exterior doors and stairs. Be warned that you may have a lengthy walk and some flights of stairs to climb after returning from a long day in the parks.
We stayed in the ’50s section, which was themed with giant bowling pins and enormous characters from Lady and the Tramp. Our preferred room location placed us on the second floor on the side of the building facing the main lobby.
We found the preferred room location to be perfect. We were a short walk from the main lobby, which was ideal for bus transportation and trips to the food court. We were a two-to-five minute walk from food, transportation to the parks, a pool and more.
Despite our preferred location, we felt that even the furthest buildings wouldn’t have felt that far away from the resort’s core amenities. You probably won’t need to upgrade unless you feel it’s absolutely necessary.
You’ll also notice the Generation Gap Bridge located at the top of the map. This walkway takes guests to the Disney Skyliner station as well to Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. It’s a relatively short walk to visit Disney’s Art of Animation Resort if you’re looking to explore another resort.
Pop Century Rooms
Rooms at Disney’s value resorts are smaller than the ones at the moderate and deluxe resorts. That should be expected as you’re saving money instead of enjoying amenities such as a balcony, a closed interior hallway or extra square footage.
The room can sleep four, but seeing as it was just the two of us, we enjoyed that the second bed could stay folded up and become a small sitting area with a table. This was a nice feature as we ate a couple quick meals in the room.
The bathroom area was on the smaller side, but everything was updated, clean and in good condition. The shower had the option between a rain shower head and a detachable shower head, both of which had good water pressure. It is worth noting that the bathroom did have the mounted refillable shampoo, conditioner and body wash that’s been widely discussed. We didn’t have an issue with it. Counter space is very limited, so be warned you might be fighting over it.
Overall, the room was fairly quiet. You’ll inevitably hear some guests coming and going, and maybe some noise from within the rooms themselves. We’d recommend bringing along ear plugs if a good night’s sleep is imperative, such as before a runDisney race.
Food at Pop Century
Let’s get down to business. Food is critical when you’re talking about a resort. Pop Century has a primary food court location within the main lobby that can accommodate just about any taste. It’s quite large and we never had too long of a wait despite it being very full at peak times.
The food court has several stations that offer different items throughout the day. At breakfast, you’ll find one station with Mickey waffles (a must-have item on any vacation) while another might be serving omelettes. Later in the day, these locations will serve burgers, pizza, pasta and a whole host of tasty options.
There’s also a fairly large grab-and-go area stocked with fruit, pastries, drinks and many other items for those wanting something quick. The Tie-Dye-Cheesecake was an incredible dessert that deserved its own conversation. If something cold is calling your name, the food court also serves up sundaes and ice cream.
There are no table-service restaurants at Disney’s Pop Century Resort or any of the value resorts. We made table-service reservations at the theme parks during our stay, which made it easy to forgive the lack of an option at the resort.
We never had an issue with the food at Pop Century. In fact, we thought everything was pretty good. The food court has enough variety that there’s something for everyone. None of the items are particularly unique or adventurous, but it’s good quality. We think the deluxe Disney resorts are often lacking in good quick-service offerings, which made Pop Century’s food court a welcome change.
Pools at Pop Century
The pools at Pop Century have unique themes such as bowling, a computer and the Hippy Dippy Pool that comes complete with spraying flower fountains.
The heated pools (yes, all Disney World pools are heated!) are large and can accommodate a good number of guests. The one complaint we may have with the pool areas is that shade comes at a premium. Make sure you use that sunscreen!
While the pools here can’t compete with some found at more expensive resorts (we love Stormalong Bay at Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts), they’re still enjoyable.
There aren’t too many activities available at Pop Century compared to the deluxe resorts, but there are a few worth noting. During our stay we noticed a tie-dye t-shirt activity, movie nights (which are hosted either by the pool or in the food court depending on the weather), a playground and a jogging trail that takes you around Hourglass Lake.
Activities vary by day and by season. We recommend asking the front desk for a list of entertainment available during your stay.
Thanks to its convenient location near Disney’s Hollywood Studios, none of the four theme parks are too far away. Pop Century enjoys dedicated bus service to its resort and doesn’t make any stops at other hotels. The Disney Skyliner offers easy and quick access to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
The buses that were running were on time and arrived regularly. We did note that the buses to the Magic Kingdom were very crowded, especially if you’re getting a late start to your day. There’s a reason they often use the articulated buses.
When we wanted to return to Pop Century, such as at park closing, we noted that the crowds were large but were still handled efficiently. We never thought we had too long of a wait, which was a surprise given the masses of people trying to go to the same location.
Note that the bus stop at Pop Century doesn’t have much shade. Or really any shade. We’d love to see Disney put up some awnings to keep guests cool.
Would we stay at Pop Century again? Or would we recommend a different resort?
We would recommend Pop Century for guests who want to stay on Disney property without breaking the bank. Though there are some amenities missing between Pop Century and a moderate or deluxe Disney resort, we’re not sure the difference is worth your money if you’re planning on spending all your time in the parks.
Pop Century does a lot of things right. It has updated rooms, a solid food court, a fun theme and a convenient location that’s enhanced by the Disney Skyliner. It’s well worth considering for your next Walt Disney World stay.
Photos via Disney