While we're typically fans of deluxe resorts (particularly Animal Kingdom Lodge and Wilderness Lodge), we were really excited to try our Disney's Pop Century Resort, especially because we know value resorts are one of the best ways to save on your Disney vacation. Here's our review of Pop Century!
Pop Century Resort Basics
Disney's Pop Century Resort is a value resort located near Epcot. Non-discounted room rates start at $126 per night and go up to $263 per night. If you can snag a lower hotel rate, or a discount, Pop Century's slight premium over off-property resorts will be more than made up for by the Disney spirit and convenience, in our opinion.
Pop Century vs. Art of Animation
Disney's Pop Century Resort is across Hourglass Lake from Art of Animation, a similar resort at a similar price point. The biggest differences between these resorts are:
- Theming: Art of Animation celebrates Disney Animation, Pop Century celebrates pop culture in the 1900s
- Rooms: Pop Century has four tiers of rooms varying slightly in size and location. Art of Animation has standard rooms and suites
- Age: Pop Century is older, but most (if not all by the time you read this) of the rooms have been recently refurbished
Polka Dots and Pixie Dust has a good review of Art of Animation. Anyways, back to Pop Century.
Pop Century Resort Review - Food and Drink
Pop Century’s restaurant is the Everything POP! cafeteria. Our choice food was, as per usual, pizza. The pizza was a great deal for two or more people late at night, as you could skip the long line and get a full pizza for for about $15 as opposed to a slice (¼) for $10. The nice thing about food at Pop Century is its array of simple, quick options.
The deluxe resorts have fantastic restaurants, but their quick service offerings can be lacking and unjustifiably expensive. If you don't require a foodie resort, or if you're the sort of picky eater who only eats pizza and hamburgers, Pop Century's food options might be for you.
Pop Century Resort Review - Pool
The pool was big enough for when we were there (usually between 10PM and 11PM), but we could see it getting a little cramped. Like the food, the pools are the value resorts are comparatively simple (especially if you're comparing to Stormalong Bay). You didn’t have to choose which section to be at or pay attention to the jungle gyms the kids were jumping around, it was just a big pool.
Pop Century's only bar is a small, unimpressive poolside bar, Petals. Our go-to recommendation for splitting your time between pool and bar is Wilderness Lodge, with it's great Geyser Point Bar and Grill.
Pop Century Resort Review - Transit (UPDATED)
The biggest downside to the value resorts is the transit situation. You'll be relying entirely on bus transportation or, if you want to spring for them, Minnie Vans or Uber.
During our stay, we were pleasantly surprised by the frequency of the buses. We’ve never found WDW buses to be very great, and while they lived down to those memories, they didn’t impact our experience.
Despite looking like its closer to Epcot, the ride to Hollywood Studios seemed shorter, but both were only about 10 to 15 minutes. Getting to Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom was a bit more time consuming. The lines for Pop Century getting back from the parks were always huge, and multiple times we had to wait for multiple buses, but they always came pretty quickly, especially at park close.
Disney's Pop Century Resort will also be near the Disney Skyliner stop at Art of Animation. We don't know what to expect from this transit option yet, but it could make a huge difference.
Overall, the transportation situation at Pop Century has not been notably bad for us. This is especially when you consider our incredibly bad experience at deluxe resort Wilderness Lodge and the fact that you also rely on buses at another deluxe, Animal Kingdom Lodge. Other deluxe and moderate hotels also share bus routes or require excessive internal transportation. In short, Disney transportation in general is bad but getting better, and that's the story at Pop Century specifically, too.
Pop Century Resort Review - Fitness
If you're the sort of person who cares about fitness, you're bummed that your fitness pickings are slim outside the deluxe resorts. Pop Century Resort is probably one of the better spots for fitness because of the running path around Hourglass Lake
We went for a run one morning on the path between Pop Century and Art of Animation. It’s just over a mile around. There were about 4-5 other runners out there. It’s a decent path around Hourglass Lake. Scenic, but not overwhelming. We prefer running around the Boardwalk, but the path around Hourglass gets the job done comfortably (literally - it’s an incredibly flat path).
Pop Century Resort Review - Rooms (UPDATED)
Looking on the WDW website, it looks like we were in the “Preferred Room” (we didn’t book the hotel) with a courtyard view.
The shower was not as good as at other Disney resorts, and the beds are not as nice as those at the deluxe resorts. This didn’t bother us, but if you’re into really comfy beds and pillows, you might look elsewhere.
The vanity area was curtained off, rather than walled off (as at deluxe resorts). We had four adults in the standard room, and we did just fine.
Pop Century is in the process of refurbishing the rooms. They're looking pretty great:
If you go on Twitter and search "pop century refurbished room" and similar strings, you'll find tips about snagging these news rooms, like this one:
Pop Century Resort Review - Conclusions
Overall, we really enjoyed Pop Century and we’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking to save on the hotel cost. Our daily routine was roughly: wake up, head to a park, park hop all day, head back to resort, swim for an hour, grab a pizza, and relax in the room. A great option is to pair Pop Century with discount tickets to maximize your savings.
If you can do this kind of itinerary (i.e. not coming back to the resort during the day, fine with dining options at parks or Pop Century), then Pop Century is definitely worth a look.
We wouldn't recommend Pop Century if you're planning a Disney World resort day, though. If you're going to be coming back to the room before the end of your day, you'll need to consider how much time you really want to spend in transit, and maybe consider spending on a Minnie Van or Uber to avoid huge delays.