Opening on December 14, 2003 after a two year delay at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, the Pop Century Resort offers value-priced accommodations themed around 20th century American pop culture and was intended to expand with the creation of the “Legendary Years” dividing the property between the first and second halves of the century. Unfortunately, the reduction in tourism over the years following the 9/11 attacks resulted in the plans being scrapped. It was later redeveloped as the nearby Disney’s Art of Animation in 2012.
Spanning ten buildings, three pool areas, and the “Classic Hall” that houses the front desk, gift shop, an arcade stocked with cool vintage games, and the food court, each of the themed areas of the Pop Century Resort is filled with iconography, memorabilia, and phrases from the particular decade being represented. The theming does not carry through to the interiors of the rooms, which are simple, though kept at Disney standards. We’ve had hotels that were much less comfortable.
We ended up in the 1950’s area, not all that far from the Disney Transport bus stop outside the hall’s main doors, making for relatively quick trips out to the parks. Of the value resorts, only Pop Century and Art of Animation have direct bus routes to the parks and back, without making stops at other resorts along the way. That was one of the reasons we picked Pop Century, and it was appreciated most on the way back in the evenings.
We managed to skip the pools on this trip, but they were busy in the Orlando heat, especially the main pool in the centre of the resort, outside the main hall. The main hall quick-service food court was decent for the two times we ate there, and on a par with most quick-service places on the resorts, though options are geared toward families and kids.
When we stayed at Pop Century, it was filled with families, band kids, and competitive dance teams. This is likely common, so it’s not the resort to stay at if you plan on enjoying some quiet time at the hotel. But if you’re looking for a place to sleep that includes Disney transportation and other benefits of staying on the property, it’s likely your best bet.
Like most Disney resorts, they offer refrigeration services so groceries delivered to the resort will be cold-stored until they are brought up to your room after check-in. (We’ve taken advantage of this when we stayed at Port Orleans Riverside.) Pop Century and the other Value resorts have bar fridges, but no coffee-makers – for that, you’ll have to book a Moderate. While we were at Pop Century, we also noticed that they’ll also hold items delivered by mail to the resort for you, so some might want to ship some of their luggage rather than pay similar fees at the airport. (If you want to have some Amazon purchases delivered too, you wouldn’t be the first.)
Complimentary Wi-Fi is available at all the resorts, and we’ve always found it useful, but it’s even more so with FastPass+ and the online reservation system. And is much more reliable than what’s available in the parks, but it is still under a heavy load – best to limit your downloading plans.