Disney's Pop Century Resort vs. Art of Animation Resort

Art of Animation and Pop Century are two value resorts operated by Disney at Walt Disney World. These two hotels are priced similarly—just above the All-Star resorts but below the moderate resorts.

Because they are located near each other (they’re separated by a bridge of about 200 feet), and priced similarly, people often wonder what the differences between these two resorts are. In this post, we cover minor differences, major differences, and choosing between Pop Century and Art of Animation.

If you haven’t already, you’ll also want to check out our reviews, which have plenty more photos, as well as videos of the rooms (links open in new tabs):

You also want to read our ranking of the Disney World value resorts. We also have a guide to all the hotels of Walt Disney World.

Minor Differences Between Pop Century and Art of Animation

Right off the bat, it makes sense to clarify some things about Art of Animation and Pop Century that won’t be used to distinguish the resorts.

Perks. Regardless of which you choose, you’ll get all the perks associated with staying at a Disney hotel. These include, Disney’s Magical Express airport shuttle service, the ability to book FastPass+ 60 days in advance, and access to Extra Magic Hours at the parks.

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Location. These resorts also have near identical location. They’re separated by a small lake, and you can easily walk across a 200-foot bridge between them.

Transportation. Until the Skyliner opens September 29, both resorts rely solely on bus transportation to get to and from the parks and Disney Springs. Once the Skyliner opens, it will sit between the two resorts, connecting them to Epcot and Hollywood Studios.

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Next let’s cover a few things that are mostly the same but slightly different about the resorts. These don’t influence our analysis, but they’re worth knowing.

Pools. The big one—and maybe a significant enough difference for some people—is the swimming pools. Basically, these are both value resort pools, and kids are going to be kids and enjoy them as much as any pool. The real difference between the two is that The Big Blue Pool at Art of Animation plays Disney music underwater.

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This is a really cool feature, sure, but in our opinion it’s not enough to really factor into decision-making between the two resorts.

Food Courts. Art of Animations Landscape of Flavors food court is definitely the best food court of any value resort. But you can easily walk there from Pop Century, and we usually do when at Pop. Indeed, as we discuss more below, some Pop Century rooms are closer to the Art of Animation’s food court than some Art of Animation rooms.

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Merchandise. Another small thing—as of February 2019, Disney is rolling out merchandise at the value resorts, and so far only Art of Animation has branded gear like t-shirts. We would love for Pop Century to get this, but so far we haven’t seen any.

Major Differences Between Pop Century and Art of Animation

Now let’s cover the major differences between Pop Century and Art of Animation—the rooms and pricing. We’ll go over choosing between the two resorts in the next section.

Art of Animation Family Suites

This is the biggest difference between the two resorts—full stop. Art of Animation offers “family suites” themed to Finding Nemo, The Lion King, and Cars. In fact, most of the rooms at Art of Animation are family suites. Pop Century has no such rooms, and all of its rooms are essentially identical. So if your family is interested in booking a suite at a value resort, they’ll need to book at Art of Animation or All-Star Music. Smart Mouse Travel has a review of the Art of Animation suites.

Rooms at Pop Century and Art of Animation

There are several differences to note between the rooms at Pop Century and the standard rooms at Art of Animation. We’re going to compare three sets of rooms: the standard rooms at Art of Animation, the standard rooms at Pop Century, and the preferred rooms at Pop Century.

A room at Pop Century with the Murphy bed up

A room at Pop Century with the Murphy bed up

Price. In 2019, standard rooms at Art of Animation start at $153 per night. Standard rooms at Pop Century start at $130 per night. Preferred rooms at Pop Century start at $145 per night. Most nights you’ll be able to get a preferred room at Pop Century for less than a standard room at Art of Animation.

Theme. The standard rooms at Art of Animation are “The Little Mermaid” rooms. They are themed to…The Little Mermaid!

A Little Mermaid room at Art of Animation

A Little Mermaid room at Art of Animation

The Pop Century rooms all have pretty plain theming.

A room at Pop Century with the Murphy bed down

A room at Pop Century with the Murphy bed down

Space. According to the DIS, the standard rooms in Art of Animation are 17 square feet bigger than the rooms in Pop Century. While we love the Pop Century rooms, we do find the space difference noticeable. With the Murphy bed down, the Pop Century rooms get very cramped.

Quality. It’s not a stretch to say that the Pop Century rooms are higher quality than The Little Mermaid rooms. Yes—some people find the design of the new rooms off putting, but that’s more of a “theme” issue than a quality issue. When it comes to quality, the Pop Century rooms—with their better use of space, more prevalent outlets, bigger vanity areas, and bigger televisions—are clearly better.

Location. This is an interesting one. The Little Mermaid rooms are the worst location at Art of Animation, about seven minutes from Animation Hall. There are standard rooms at Pop Century that are that far away from Classic Hall. However, preferred rooms are much closer (2 to 3 minutes walking) and some preferred Pop Century rooms are closer to Animation Hall (at Art of Animation) than The Little Mermaid rooms.

Choosing Between Art of Animation and Pop Century

Many guests—particularly first timers—will be looking to choose between Art of Animation and Pop Century. It’s common to ignore the All-Star Resorts because they’re “too” value. While we think this is wrong (we’re fans of the refurbished All-Star Movies rooms), once the Skyliner opens September 29, Art of Animation and Pop Century will have a clear advantage over the All-Star resorts.

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Obviously, if you’re interested in a family suite, you’ll want to book Art of Animation. There’s no comparable option at Pop Century.

The real difficulty comes in choosing between The Little Mermaid rooms and Pop Century. All the discourse above can be boiled down to three points: theme, space, and quality.

Space is a tricky one. There’s no couches in either of these rooms. If you’re in them, you’ll either be sitting at a desk or on your bed. When the Murphy beds are open at Pop Century, you lose your desk, but you’ll still have enough surface space around the room for storing things like maps and personal accessories. To us, space just isn’t a huge factor in deciding between these two rooms.

Theme is straightforward. The photos above (and many more in our review) show what to expect from The Little Mermaid rooms. If that’s what you’re looking for, then go for it. Here are a few more:

For us, it comes down to room quality. The hardwood floors, the increased vanity space (and larger mirror), the larger television, and the numerous outlets set the Pop Century rooms apart. Since you can pay for a preferred room and get great location, we just don’t see the justification for Disney’s pricing at Art of Animation.

All Your Other Disney World Planning Questions Answered

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