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 refurbished rooms.
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”. Tucked in behind the Hippy Dippy Pool is a small kiddie pool as well. In addition to the main pool, there are two smaller leisure pools at Pop Century, the 50’s Bowling Pool and the 90’s Computer 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. The Hippy Dippy Pool has a bar called the Petals Pool Bar, for those who would like a drink during the day (or into the evening).
The Everything POP Shopping & Dining is pretty self-explanatory. The two areas are more like 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 a food court-style quick service location. The menu is your typical 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.
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 discount. We made use of this in the mornings for breakfast, a late night meal and on snacks like cupcakes. Best of all…Dole Whips! I don’t think it gets much better than discounted Dole Whips!
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. Being a short walk to the dining area when we want an early and quick breakfast isn’t so bad either. 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.
The new rooms may seem sparse or boring at first glance given the ‘IKEA’ style of the new furniture. However, once we got settled in and had our own things strewn about the room, we felt very comfortable. To us, the room doesn’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. After setting our bags down 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 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 and toilet is the sink and storage area. This is perfect 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 the layout.
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 old 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 in the room. There’s space under the bed for luggage, there are 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. There is still a very small fridge, but it’s 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. There are even USB charging ports to keep all of your devices charged and ready to go.
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. When the murphy bed is put away, you get access to the table and chairs. 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 Buses
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 the resort early enough to miss the big crowds, but even when we did, we noticed larger crowds.
Pop Century has 2880 rooms at the resort. To compare, that’s almost as many rooms as Disney’s Port Orleans – Riverside. Of course, at Riverside, there is a larger layout at the resort. Pop Century is more compact, which makes it feel busier. That many rooms holds a lot of Disney guests, all vying for the same use of the dining area, the pools and the buses.
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, even if we did still feel as if we waited quite a while at times.
Buses are in high demand, when traveling to the Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom. With so many guests, it should be expected that you will encounter a crowd at the bus stops for those particular parks. The mornings are particularly busy, so while Disney makes an effort to send multiple buses, you may have to wait a little while. Try to factor that time into your plans, especially if you’re hoping to rope drop at Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom.
While there isn’t a lot you can do in the mornings, knowing your Disney geography can come in handy in the evenings. At the end of one of our nights at the park, the line for the Pop Century bus would have easily filled three buses ahead of us. Instead of waiting, we took a look at the line for the Art of Animation Resort buses. The line was shorter there, so we hopped on a bus to Art of Animation. We 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 as well.
One of the more recent perks to staying at Pop Century has been the addition of the Disney Skyliner. This easy to access gondola system can link guests from the resort to Epcot and Hollywood Studios, without having to take a bus. The Skyliner station is located on the bridge between both Pop Century and the Art of Animation Resort.
Guests can take the Skyliner to Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, which is the main Skyliner hub. From there, they can transfer to the Epcot line or the Hollywood Studios line. Each leg of the journey (on average) takes between 4-8 minutes, and because the gondolas are in constant motion, the lines move so quickly. It’s a wonderful way to travel to those two parks. Overall, it’s a much better system than the buses. On top of that, it gives you a wonderful view and a relaxing ride!
At Pop Century, we love the refurbished rooms and access to the Disney Skyliner. The Skyliner might just be the best thing about the resort as a whole. Ryan and I felt like Pop Century (as a resort) had been built up quite a bit for us. I think we were expecting something different here from the other value resorts. I’ll admit, access to the Skyliner is a bit of a game changer. That being said, it does come with an increase in the average price for the rooms, which you have to take into consideration.
We find Pop Century to be quite similar to the All-Star resorts, in terms of the dining options, resort layout and amenities. While the buses at the All-Star Resorts are sometimes shared, in our experience, the higher number of rooms at Pop Century really makes for crowded buses to the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. Prior to the Skyliner, this could have been a deal-breaker for us. Now that the Skyliner is here, it makes the overall transportation experience a little more bearable. We can put up with slightly bigger crowds for buses, when we only need to use them for two of the four Disney parks.
The theming at the resort is still fun. It’s the same whimsical atmosphere you would find at the other Value Resorts, with more visible Disney touches than the ones you would find at a Moderate or Deluxe resort.
If you’re considering a stay at a Value Resort, it really comes down to a simple question. Is access to the Skyliner worth it for you? Both the Art of Animation resort and Pop Century have access to the Skyliner and they have a higher price per night because of it. If the Skyliner is worth the extra cost, then either of those resorts are worth it for you. If not, the All-Star Resorts may be more appealing.
For Ryan and I, would we stay at Pop Century again? And would we recommend someone stay here? The answers are yes and yes. Of course there are multiple factors to consider when choosing a resort, but with the refurbished rooms and the Skyliner, Pop Century is a great option.
Did we mention they have Dole Whips here?! That’s probably the thing that tipped the balance for us.
Have you stayed at Disney’s Pop Century Resort? What was your experience with the crowds? Would you recommend a stay there? Let us know in the comments below!