We recently stayed at Disney’s Pop Century resort for the very first time and we were excited because all of our previous stays at Disney’s Value Resorts have been at the All-Stars. Needless to say, we were really looking forward to our stay here as we’ve heard from many Disney fans who call Pop Century their favourite value resort. To add to the excitement, we were eager to check out their newly refurbished rooms (they’re in the home stretch to finishing them all).
The first thing that jumps out at you when you visit Pop Century is the resort theming. Pop Century’s theming focuses on past decades and the pop culture that goes with each respective era. Featured decades include the nifty 50’s all the way up to the “advanced technology” of the 90’s. The 90’s building features a giant cell phone, giant Yo-Yo’s for the 60’s, Walkman for the 70’s and Rubik’s cubes for the 80’s.
We found ourselves settled in the 50’s buildings, which had large bowling pins at the staircases and giant Lady and the Tramp statues in between. Other larger than life character statues include Baloo and Mowgli and a giant classic Mickey Mouse phone, along with other large nostalgic statues scattered throughout the resort.
The main pool is the Hippy Dippy Pool sandwiched between the 60’s themed buildings near the main building, “Classic Hall”. There are two smaller pools as well, the 50’s Bowling Pool and the 90’s Computer Pool. There is also a kiddie pool located behind the Hippy Dippy Pool. While the pools have elements of theming, they are very much in line with what you would expect at a value resort, they are basic pools without slides, but with plenty of seating and lounge chairs, and the main pool has a bar called the Petals Pool Bar.
The Everything POP Shopping & Dining is pretty self-explanatory. The two areas are more of one large, shared area. If you enter the shop from the lobby, you can access the dining area directly since the two flow seamlessly into one another. The dining area is quick service and has regular American fare throughout the day, including Mickey waffles in the morning. On a side note, one of the huge draws for us at Pop Century is the fact that they have Dole Whips at the quick service cafeteria.
Hidden Mickey Alert! There’s one on the floor near the queue at one of the quick service counters.
We had a preferred room, which put us in building 3 of the 50’s buildings. We were very close to the Hippy Dippy pool, the Bowling Pool and the main building. When we do stay in the preferred room category I always appreciate being so close to the buses in the morning and at night, and a short walk to the dining area when we want an early and quick breakfast. That being said, Pop Century is a fairly compact resort so even the standard rooms are a 4-minute walk from the main building and buses.
We weren’t sure if we would get placed in a refurbished room or not, as we knew they were still making their way through the preferred rooms, but we were thrilled when we found out we did indeed get one.
The new rooms may seem sparse or boring at first glace given the ‘IKEA’ style of the new furniture, but once we got settled in and had our own things strewn about the room, we felt very comfortable and the room didn’t feel bland at all. At first I wasn’t sure how I would like the removal of the carpets in the rooms, as I think that gives a sense of comfort and warmth, but the new floors are definitely cleaner and once settled in the room, I didn’t even notice the difference.
I’ve heard that some people find the new rooms to be lacking in Disney touches, but the Mickey and Pluto pop art above the beds brought enough Disney into the room for us. After all, we spend our times in the parks where there’s plenty of Disney, so we can be forgiving of fewer Disney touches in the rooms.
Our friend Jaclyn joined us on our trip, which meant three of us in the room at Pop Century, so we had both beds pulled down and in use during the entirety of our stay. I noticed it’s quite a tight squeeze between the two beds, but it didn’t really affect our comfort level and it wasn’t a burden. One thing we did notice was that the outlet on the far side of the murphy bed wouldn’t work when the light above the bed was turned off. We’re not sure if that’s how all the rooms are, or if it was just a glitch in ours. Also, the light switch for the murphy bed side of the room was also located closer to the other bed, making it a bit of a reach for the guest in the murphy bed, but a small inconvenience which went unnoticed soon after.
A highlight of the refurbishment is the bathroom and shower area. The shower features a sliding door and rainfall shower-head, which is a big step up from the previous showers. Separated from the shower/toilet area is the sink and storage area, which is great when you have multiple people getting ready in the morning. This set up was the same as the previous room arrangement, so we’re glad to see they kept it the same.
The entire bathroom area is separated from the sleeping area by a heavy sliding door, as opposed to the curtain that we’ve seen in the other value resort rooms. We much prefer the sliding door as it creates more of a separation and increased privacy. The one drawback I noticed was the lack of air movement in the bathroom. There wasn’t an AC vent, and the fan seemed to somewhat randomly turn on and off in the shower. Though we thought it was activated by movement, our flailing arms proved that it didn’t seem to be the case. We’re still not sure how or when that fan goes on, but it would have been nice to have some control over it. Because we couldn’t turn the fan on when we wanted, it did make for a stuffy area when getting ready after a shower especially if the sliding door was closed between the sleeping area.
There was plenty of storage area in the room. There’s space under the bed for luggage, drawers, and plenty of shelves in the bathroom, plus a few hangers. We didn’t make use of it, but there is a coffeemaker now in the room, and a very small fridge, but a suitable size for the few items we kept in it. Another enhancement is the amount of outlets in the rooms, which really is essential now.
We did notice a bit less space in the room between the beds and dresser. I would guess the lack of space here is due to the switch from double beds to queen beds, which we appreciated (and is worth giving up a little bit of space for, in our opinion). If you only need one bed in the room, you would have much more space, plus the table and chairs (which you lose when you pull down the murphy bed.) But even with the two beds down, and with three adults in the room, we didn’t feel as if we were overly crowded or had a real lack of space. Plus, we spent most of our time in the parks, not in the room.
Crowds and Transportation
We did find the resort to be very busy during our stay in early May and noticed this especially in the mornings around 7:30-8:30am in the dining area, as well as when it came to catching buses in the morning and from the parks at night. Typically, in the past we’ve eaten early or left early enough to miss the big crowds, but even when we did, we noticed larger crowds. This probably has nothing to do with Pop Century itself, and more to do with the increased number of resort guests in general at Disney World.
I will say even though we had to wait longer than we are used to at the end of the night, they did make an effort to send extra buses at park closing. We even got to take a Disney Cruise Line bus one night! Disney is well-aware of the increased need for buses at peak times and they were making an effort to accommodate guests, although we did still feel as if we waited quite a while at times.
Knowing your Disney geography can come in handy if there are particularly crowded bus lines. One of our nights at Epcot, the line for the bus would have easily filled three buses ahead of us, so we took a look at the line for the Art of Animation Resort. The line was shorter there, so we hopped on a bus to Art of Animation and walked through the main building, past the main pool and over the bridge that connects Art of Animation and Pop Century. While this probably isn’t a realistic option for families with small children, for three adults it was a breeze. The walk through both resorts took about 10-15 minutes and it gave us a chance to see the theming at the Art of Animation.
One thing we really liked about Pop Century is that the quick service location here accepts the Tables in Wonderland card, which is available for an extra cost to annual passholders and DVC members. The card gives you 20% off here, and it’s one of the few quick service locations that accepts this card. We made use of this in the mornings for breakfast, a late night meal and on snacks such as cupcakes and best of all, Dole Whips! I don’t think it gets much better than discounted Dole Whips!
We loved the newly refurbished rooms, probably more than the resort as a whole. We felt like Pop Century had been built up quite a bit for us in a way that led us to expect something different here from the other value resorts. I’ll admit that expectation was something we came to on our own, and really wasn’t grounded in anything other than the love some Disney fans have for Pop over the All-Stars so we jumped to the conclusion that there must be some big difference in set-up or amenities. I think it really just comes down to what people have experienced in the past and what they enjoy.
We found Pop Century as a whole to be extremely similar to the All-Star resorts, in terms of the dining options, resort layout and amenities. The one advantage to Pop is that it never shares a bus with another resort as the All-Stars do at times, although with the lengthy waits for the buses on our recent trip, we didn’t notice much difference in bus service between the value resorts.
What it all really comes down to is would we stay here again? And would we recommend someone stay here? Yes and yes. Of course there are multiple factors to consider when choosing a resort, but with the newly refurbished rooms, Pop Century is a great option. And did we mention they have Dole Whips here?!