Pop Century Resort Review
Disney’s Pop Century Resort is a value hotel in Walt Disney World, and a top pick for money-saving options. In this review, we’ll share newly-refurbished room photos, offer thoughts on amenities, compare Pop Century to other Value Resorts, and more. (Updated February 8, 2022.)
Pop Century has a reputation among frequent Walt Disney World guests as being the favorite ‘value pick’ for a variety of reasons. It’s always been viewed as a cut above the All Star Resorts, but had slipped a bit in recent years. That was due to the debut of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, which caused Pop Century’s stature among Walt Disney World fans to drop a bit.
In fairness, even after the opening of Art of Animation’s Little Mermaid rooms, Pop Century was a popular choice for frugal travelers. The Little Mermaid rooms are often excluded from promotions, and are generally still slightly more expensive. Additionally, Pop Century is now seeing renewed interest for two other reasons that make the hotel very appealing–arguably worth downgrading to book.
First, a total room redesign was completed at Pop Century a few years ago. While this has been somewhat controversial with nostalgic Walt Disney World fans, the results have been a major crowd-pleaser in terms of both style and substance.
We covered these new rooms extensively in our Photos & Video: Inside Pop Century’s New Rooms post, and recommend taking a look at that if you want a truly comprehensive look at the redesign. We’ve also updated this post with a look at the new rooms in that section of the review.
The second big thing that has further elevated the status of Disney’s Pop Century Resort is the Disney Skyliner gondola station, which the resort shares with Art of Animation Resort. This connects Pop Century to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot via Caribbean Beach, and means access to two parks and several hotels (including the character dining at Riviera Resort) without getting on a bus, which is huge.
Since going into operation, we have used the Skyliner many, many times, and are huge fans. From our perspective, the added value to Pop Century of this non-bus transportation cannot be overstated, which is good…because Walt Disney World has really increased Pop Century’s nightly rates! Read our Skyliner Gondola Review: Walt Disney World’s Most Magical Flight on Earth for more info and commentary.
As we state in our All Star Movies Review and All Star Sports Review, the Value Resorts are quite divisive. Some love them for their convenience and price-points, others hate their design and feel they’re over the top and tacky. Although they’re far from being our favorite hotels, we don’t mind the Value Resorts for what they are. In fact, we’ve stayed at Pop Century many times over the years, and it’s a sentimental favorite for us.
Whether the Value Resorts are right for you comes down to the nature of your visit. If you’re taking a “the room is only for sleeping” type trip during which you want to be in the parks as much as possible, the Value Resorts are great because they’re ~$100 per night with a good Walt Disney World room-only discount, and allow budget-conscious guests to stay on Walt Disney World property. Pop Century is also our top recommendation for the Free Dining promotion at Walt Disney World, when that’s available.
If you’re looking for the pros & cons of the various Value Resorts as compared to Pop Century, check out our Walt Disney World Value Resort Rankings. (Spoiler: Pop Century is #1, but there are compelling reasons to book the others, so your mileage may vary.)
Here, let’s start with a look at the general amenities at Pop Century. As with all on-site Walt Disney World hotels, Pop Century offers the perks of a Disney hotel, such free transportation around Walt Disney World, Early Entry, priority booking of Individual Lightning Lane selections, and the extended Advance Dining Reservation window. Guests staying at Pop Century are not eligible for Extended Evening Hours, as that’s offered to Value and Moderate Resorts.
After those on-site perks, dining is the next most important aspect of a resort for most guests. We consider Pop Century’s Everything Pop food court to be superior to the food courts at the All Stars, with the Tie-Dyed Cheesecake having a bit of a cult following.
They also serve a variety of fun burgers and more ambitious entrees than you’ll find at many other food courts around Walt Disney World. The quality of offerings has really improved here–and really, across the board at food courts–over the last few years.
For many families, the pools are of paramount concern. The feature pool at Pop Century is the Hippy Dippy Pool, which is located directly behind the Classic Hall lobby and food court.
Dedicated to the ‘Flower Children’ from the Summer of Love, the Hippy Dippy Pool is flower-shaped and vibrantly colored. There’s also a water play area for small children with bubbling fountains.
While the Hippy Dippy Pool is larger than Pop Century’s other two pools, it’s also significantly busier. For this reason, we prefer the other two pools at Pop Century: the Bowling Pool and the Computer Pool. The former is designed to look like a bowling alley, featuring bowling ball racks and other fun details. The Computer Pool is shaped like a gigantic laptop PC from the heyday of 1990s AOL dial-up. (You can almost hear the ‘You’ve got mail’ and AIM sounds as you lounge there.)
None of these pools have hot tubs or jacuzzis, which are only found at Moderate Resorts and above. You can find a pool bar, called Petals Pool Bar at the Hippy Dippy Pool. At these pools, you’ll also find self-service laundry facilities.
In terms of other amenities, there are a couple of small playgrounds, none of which are particularly noteworthy. One that is somewhat neat is the Goofy Pop Jet Playground. Realistically, your kids will probably end up playing around the various lawn areas of the resort. There’s also Fast Forward Arcade and a jogging trail that connects to Art of Animation.
Finally, Pop Century offers Walt Disney World’s free Movies Under the Stars program. This is a pretty neat offering for families who don’t stay late in the parks; the resort plays a different (family-friendly) Disney film every night of the week on an outdoor screen. You can find the movie schedule in the hotel’s lobby–it’s usually animated films.
Beyond those amenities, families with kids might find the Value Resorts to be a good option because the themes and larger than life icons of the Value Resorts appeal to kids.
By contrast, if you are on an adults-only trip (such as a honeymoon) and plan on spending a lot of time at your resort, and would like to be able to use a nice pool, eat at nicer restaurants, and enjoy other nice amenities, Pop Century (or any of the Value Resorts) is definitely not a good fit for you.
Up until Art of Animation opened, Pop Century was the popular pick among the Values because it was the newest, nicest, and only Value Resort with a full-time dedicated bus service.
Pop Century does charge a slight (~$10/night) premium over the All Star Resorts, but I think most regulars of Pop Century would agree that this premium is well worth it for dedicated bus service and a nicer resort.
Pop Century is still nicer than the All Star Resorts, but it’s best recommended to people who don’t want to pay the slight premium to stay at the Art of Animation Little Mermaid rooms. If you don’t mind paying the ~$10/night extra to stay at Art of Animation, that should be your pick.
This is especially true if you’re staying at a Value Resort for the sake of your kids, as the Disney animation icons will resonate with kids much more than random pop icons that they probably will not recognize (there are some Disney icons scattered about the grounds of Pop Century, but Art of Animation is ALL Disney icons).
The food court and overall “newness” of Pop Century as compared to the All Star Resorts, plus the dedicated bus, is where the advantage lies. Plus, Art of Animation is only a short walk away, meaning that you have the Landscape of Flavors food court and its bus system at your disposal, too.
On a recent stay at Pop Century, when we were at the park waiting for a bus, Art of Animation showed up before Pop Century, so we just took that and walked across the Generation Gap Bridge; the two resorts are so close together that walking didn’t take any extra time.
Now let’s take a look inside the guest rooms, starting with the redesigned ones…
The biggest change you can expect to see is a new configuration with a regular bed flanked by nightstands, and Murphy bed that doubles as a table. Both of these beds are queen-sized, versus the double beds previously in these rooms.
There’s a lighter color scheme, dominated by white with hints of orange and lime, Mickey Mouse pop art above the queen bed, and Pluto pop art above the Murphy bed.
There’s also more storage space, including a dresser under the television, room for luggage under the bed, and a variety of random cubbies around the room.
You’ll also find tons of USB-charging ports and outlets around the room. If you’re in one of these rooms, there’s no need to bring those USB-charging strips that we recommend in our Packing List for Walt Disney World.
In the corner, there’s a kiosk with drawers, mini-fridge, and a coffee maker! This is somehow a Walt Disney World Value Resort first.
In the bathroom, you have a vessel sink, illuminated bathroom mirror, and make-up mirror. There’s also an actual sliding door separating the bathroom area from the main room (instead of a thin curtain), glass door in the shower, and rainfall shower fixture in addition to the standard one.
All of these things, to us, are upgrades to the Pop Century guest rooms with zero downside. Each individually might be a minor thing, but collectively, they make for a room that is significantly “plussed” over the Value Resort defaults.
Now, let’s take a look at the old guest rooms. All renovations are now finished and these rooms are complete gone–we’re simply sharing for the sake of comparison:
Note that this was shortly before the removal of the comforter, which was replaced by a similar runner at the bottom of the bed. Aside from that, the only thematic touch is the painting on the far wall.
The old rooms at Pop Century aren’t really anything special. They’re your basic cheap hotel/motel rooms that would fetch significantly less in the “real” world. It should also be noted that these rooms are quite small (having the option to fold-up the bed makes a world of difference).
For long weekend, park-centric trips, we love Pop Century. Its price plus the convenience of the Skyliner to access Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios is huge. This means you only have to rely on the bus transportation for getting to Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom.
One thing we should note is that a lot has changed at Walt Disney World since reopening. Gone are Extra Magic Hours, free FastPass+, and the Disney Dining Plan. As such, you might want to give serious thought to staying off-site and renting a car. Read about this in Is Walt Disney World’s On-Site Advantage Disappearing?
At any of the Walt Disney World on-site hotels, you pay a premium for the location and Disney name. For the same amount off-site, you could get a better room.
Whether a Value Resort or off-site is right for you all depends upon your needs and preferences. We strongly prefer staying on-site, but obviously, not everyone is the same way.
Overall, Pop Century is a great option for guests who MUST stay on-site and want something nicer than the All Star Resorts, but still consider where they’re staying “just a room.” It’s one of the resorts where we’ve stayed the most, and we really like it. For quick, weekend trips when we won’t be in our rooms much, Value Resorts are great. For longer or more relaxed trips, we prefer the ambiance and quality of a Moderate or Deluxe Resort.
With that said, it’s tough to argue with the re-imagined guest rooms and Skyliner gondola access offered by Disney’s Pop Century. From a practicality and bang-for-buck perspective, it should be easy to see why Pop Century is once again our #1 Value Resort. Those rooms are incredibly spacious, and Pop Century is perfect for our travel style. While we still prefer the atmosphere of Art of Animation, the overall package and value for money offered by Disney’s Pop Century Resort pushes it over the top.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? If you’re interested in learning more about hotels, our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page is a good place to start. For where to eat, try out our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews page. If you want to save money on tickets or determine which type you should get, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at unconventional things you should take on your trip. Once you arrive at the parks, our Walt Disney World “Ride Guides” are great for determining what to do and when to do it. For overviews of all of these topics and so much more, the best place to start is our comprehensive Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide to make the most of your experience!
Are you a fan of Pop Century? Do you prefer it or the Art of Animation Little Mermaid rooms? Do you not care for the Value Resorts at all? Thoughts on the theme here, or the best section in Pop Century to choose? Do you agree or disagree with our advice? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
Question – do all Value resorts have showers ONLY? For little ones you sometimes need a tub. Asking for Pop and Art of Animation.
We stayed at Pop Century in September and again at Christmas. During both stays the rooms we had had combination bath tub and showers with sliding glass doors which should be fine for bathing little ones.
We stayed at Pop Century during a week-long vacation last month and this review is accurate. We spend most of our time in the parks, so we were looking mostly for a place to sleep and shower, but on Disney property. The Skyliner is convenient and efficient. The longest line we waited in was about 10-15 minutes, in the morning, heading to Epcot. We had really good luck with buses to Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom. It seemed like we never waited more than 5 minutes for a bus either at the parks or the resort. The early entry of 30 minutes doesn’t seem like much, but it does give you a head start as long as you are committed to rope drop. When we went to Hollywood Studios, we were able to ride Slinky Dog (twice!) and Toy Story Mania before the park started to get crowded. The pool area and food court exceeded expectations. Staff are as friendly and helpful as ever. We knew housekeeping would be scaled back, and it really wasn’t an issue for us. Every other day, you’re provided with a 2-day supply of towels, and trash receptacles are emptied. I would advise booking a preferred room near Classic Hall and the Skyliner. For an extra $10-$20 a night, you’ll be saving yourself some steps, which is nice because the footprint of the resort is huge. I would stay here again, and I don’t feel that way about every resort we’ve stayed at in the past.
Happy 50th Anniversary, Disney…”The Not so Happy Place” where you are getting a lot less of everything for a lot more money. We have been going to Disney since the 20th Anniversary and have loved it for many years. We have visited 25 or more times. We will NOT be going back any time soon unless things change. Disney has always been a place where you get great service and service with a smile, not so much anymore. You’re lucky if you can find someone to help you at a park or at your hotel and you have to wait a half hour or more to talk to a person on the phone. Many of Disney’s workers are more like Grumpy than Happy of the seven dwarfs.
We stayed at Disney’s Pop Century Resort because they have the Skyliner to take you to Hollywood studios and Epcot. The resort itself is beautiful and the rooms are very well thought out and comfortable. They also have buses for the other two parks and we thought for Hollywood and Epcot also. We were so surprised when on Monday, January 31, 2022 we waited in line for over an hour to get on Disney Skyliner for Hollywood Studios. The Skyliner takes you to a a switching station where you must get off to switch and wait in another line to get on another Skyliner. The whole ride took one hour and a half which resulted in our being late for the early park opening perk which was the reason we stayed in a Disney Resort in the first place. We had asked if the buses were running since we would rather have taken a bus as they are much quicker, but no, no buses to Hollywood or Epcot. Your only option was to take the Disney Skyliner. After leaving at 7:30 AM, the end result was that we got into Hollywood studios with the general population 9:00 AM thus we had to pay $24 extra along with the $15 extra for the Genie Plus in addition to the regular ticket price just get on Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. The whole experience was very frustrating indeed.
The following day we went to Epcot and we had a similar experience except it took 45 minutes to an hour to get there instead of an hour and a half. but the line was still very, very long. Disney is not doing it right. They should’ve offered buses and Skyliner option. Supposedly there are less crowds at this time. I can’t imagine how long the Skyliner lines will be when it’s at peak season.
So much for Disney transportation. Now onto the topic of Genie plus. Whoever was the Developer of Genie plus, needs to Re-examine the program because it is awful. First of all, you need to buy regular park tickets and pay an additional $15 per person per day for the Genie plus option. Next you can’t ever sleep on your vacation because you need to be up each morning at 6:50 AM to make sure that at Exactly 7:00 AM you open the Disney App and try to get a ride of your choice at the park that you’re going to that day. The most popular rides are an additional charge that you need to pay in order to secure that you get on that ride that day. If you make a mistake in your morning fog and choose a ride that you didn’t want or the time is late in the afternoon, you can’t go back and correct this. The developer did not add the question are you sure you want this? You are stuck with your choice. If you get one of the included rides and could only get a time for 3 o’clock in the afternoon, then that will most likely be the only ride that you will get with your fast pass (Genie plus) because you can’t get another one until the 3 o’clock window passes and you have gone on that ride. Many times by later afternoon there are no fast passes (lightning lanes) left for you to get because they have all been taken. Genie plus is not really worth the money. The old fast pass system worked much better. So much for modern Apps.
Additionally, the 50th celebration is a bust. There are no parades
as pre-Covid, there was a mini parade of two floats going by every once in a while, nothing like it used to be, Even The Lion King is missing the beloved acts of the trampoline monkeys and the flying ballet dancers. They can’t use the excuse of Covid because they continually herd you into small areas with no distance between people as you wait in lines. The bottom line is You are definitely getting much less for much more money, so if I were you, I would skip Disney this year and wait until they start offering the Disney services we all knew and loved before!
Just a small clarification on the Genie+ system. You can get your next lightning lane either after you tap into the ride, or 2 hours after you booked the last lightning lane (the timer starts at park opening). At HS many people will end up with 3-4 rides with LL for late afternoon/evening. I DON’T prefer the system, but also don’t want someone to not be able to use it to its fullest (although lacking) potential.
I did not like staying at Pop Century AT ALL! I am disabled, and I made sure they knew that but it didn’t make any difference at all to anyone at Disney. So, I strongly suggest that if your disabled, DON’T stay there. They put me in a room that was completly to the back of the property, and the most difficult to get to. The rooms are obviously cheap… I could hear everything through the thin walls next door on either side. The app don’t work, so good luck making reservations to eat, then I was trapped at Animal Kingdome Lodge after going to Boma for dinner, had an absolutely miserable time getting back to my room, & in a horrible amount of pain! This whole experience made well aware that I will never want to go to Disney again, Very Sad.
Don’t even bother with pop century is having a clean towel or your garbages dumped more often than very 4 or 5 days is important to you. Let alone the floor cleaned or sheets changed
I stayed here mid-May 2021 and early June 2021 for a long weekend separately with my son and daughter. We loved it! The rooms were perfect for us, and we’re actually going to book it again in May 2022 for our family of 4 trip. The price can’t be beat and having the sky liner right there was so convenient. The new set up of the rooms give you so much storage space. The food court was great and had a lot of gluten free options for my daughter, which was a plus. She said she had the best burger ever there. We’ve stayed at all levels of the resorts, and I think we definitely have a new favorite, POP!
Notice there are no recent comments on this hotel. Doubt it would be recommended by anyone who had stayed there recently. First problem – we got our Magic Bands via the hotel and they were all wrong, causing a huge delay for us at the airport (we clearly stated that even though four people were in the room, only two were flying in; of course they then mistakenly assigned the Magic Express tickets to those who were driving in whether than flying, even after four phone calls clarifying who was coming where. The hotel is SEVERELY short staffed on housekeeping, so rooms are only cleaned every other day. However, don’t assume that cleaning includes changing the beds. They only do a “modified cleaning” (emptying garbage and changing towels) on cleaning days. The refreshed towels supposedly supplied are a lie – we had someone in the room get injured, resulting in blood on a towel – on “towel refresh day” we found that we had not gotten new towels but that the bloody towel had just been folded up and put back on the shelf. We had to go to the pool to get a bunch of fresh towels instead. We had to request that our sheets PLEASE be changed during our six-day trip, as the temp was in the 90s, as was the humidity, and the air barely worked, so we were sleeping hot and sweaty every night. We had heard if you do not request new sheets, they will never be changed during your trip, no matter how long it is. After this request, the hotel told us that hotel staff could not change the sheets during our visit due to COVID, but they could provide us with clean sheets to put on ourselves. Unfortunately, they left the sheets outside the door and it rained before we came back from the parks, so the “clean” sheets were soaked. A (non-housekeeping) staff member offered to get new sheets and make the beds for :$20; we happily paid that bribe to not sleep another night in sweaty, stinky beds. Also be aware that as a discount hotel, this place is full of student groups (we saw at least 11 buses of teens, mostly unmasked, unload and scatter throughout our century’s buildings), who crowd the pools and the walkways with no respect for social distancing. Speaking of the pools, they were full of bugs and leaves and were obviously not tended well (lifeguards where the only visible staff around them)l. I would never stay in this dirty hotel again, especially if I had anyone in my party who could not be vaccinated for any reason.
Is the Pop resort also affected by Pop Warner like the all-star resorts during early December?
Tom, can you update this article to include where you recommend we request a room?
For coming to Disney for the first time I am very upset. From start to finish, I had to wait five hours for my room when I put in a request and paid for it to have it ready early. The room key was also not working for another hour, had to wait outside the door. The towels were very dirty when we have not used them yet, when inspecting the bed I had found stains everywhere, I also had garbage laying around the room. This was an upsetting stay, I will probably not stay here again.
I hope that you talked to Pop Century about this. We have stayed there numerous times. We have had a couple of instances where the rooms were dirty but housekeeping was quickly alerted and they did a thorough cleaning or gave us another room. We have had mostly good experiences at Pop.
What would be your recommendation on deciding between Pop Century and Swan/Dolphin? We normally stay at Pop and enjoy it but with the AP discount being offered at Swolphin. It’s not that much more. The main reason we’re contemplating is the number of restaurants within walking distance of the Swolphin. We tend to eat in the lounges and bars of table service restaurants so we don’t make reservations and are wondering if we will be able to do this with all the new rules in place?
The missus and I love Pop Century. Great place for the long days in the parks. Skyliner will make it a special treat for us next time we go as it should make the bus queues so much shorter.