Pop Century has long been my go-to for value resorts at Disney World, and the addition of Skyliner access has made it an even better choice for visitors on a budget. I’ve stayed at each of the Walt Disney World value resorts, and Pop is still my favorite out of them. This Pop Century review has all the info you need to evaluate whether to book this hotel or to plan your stay if you’ve already made the reservations.
Pop Century is themed after the last 5 decades of the 1900s. Each decade has a building or two dedicated to the pop culture it’s most known for. You’ll find giant bowling pins, 4-story tall Rubik’s Cubes, peace signs, computers, and more decorating the different areas. It was originally supposed to have a companion resort across Hourglass Lake that celebrated the first half of the century, but that never came to fruition even though it was partially built. I would’ve loved to see what that looked like – especially the 1920s – but question how much fun the Great Depression years of the ’30s would’ve been. At any rate, that area is now Art of Animation, and it’s a great addition to the value resort group too.
I’ve stayed here many times over the years and it’s still my pick for value resorts at Disney World with its combination of affordability, transportation, and fun. It’s where I chose to stay for my fiance’s first ever trip, and a place I have a ton of great memories from. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I have.
Pop Century rooms
We’ll get started with what’s most important: the Pop Century rooms. When I spent a weekend here two years ago, they were in the process of completely renovating all of the rooms. I was planning on writing a Pop Century review after that trip, but we ended up getting one of the old rooms that hadn’t been redone yet. It was pretty dated and it didn’t seem worthwhile to review a room that was about to be completely changed within a coupe months. However, the room renovations have been finished throughout the resort and on my most recent stay we got to enjoy a new, very sleek looking room. And I loved it.
The rooms at Pop Century have a very retro-modern style with clean lines and lots of light. It’s also the only hotel room I’ve been in that isn’t carpeted, which was good because I’d grabbed a cupcake at the food court on the way in and almost immediately dropped a large chunk of sprinkle cake and fruit filling on the floor. And then as soon as I cleaned that up, I performed an encore by dropping a dollop of frosting and almost catching it, but instead accidentally slapping it 3 feet away onto the floor. So I can confirm that it’s easy to clean up spills on the simulated hard wood in the Pop Century rooms. And in my defense, had I gotten correct information from the Cast Member at the food court who told me there wasn’t any filling in the cupcake, I wouldn’t have been startled when I got an unexpected bite full of red goo.
Another nice feature of the new Pop Century rooms is that one of the beds folds up into the wall. We were initially concerned that we’d accidentally gotten a one-bed room when we walked in, but quickly realized it was a Murphy bed. This trip was a girls weekend with a friend, but had I been with just my fiancé, we could’ve left the bed folded up all weekend and had a super spacious room and a table. If you do plan on spending time relaxing in your hotel room, you’ll love the extra space this feature gives you.
My favorite thing about the renovated rooms though is the outlets. There were so many places to plug in phone chargers and no need to do the awkward fumbling around behind the nightstand thing I’m used to in so many hotels. If you had the max of four people in the room, all could easily charge their phones overnight and have plenty of other open plugs for anything else they needed – like in my case, a Fitbit, camera, and portable battery pack.
The bathroom area, like most Disney hotels, has a separate area for the sink and the toilet/shower. This is nice because when everyone is trying to get ready in the morning, one person can be brushing their teeth while someone else showers.
Speaking of the shower, I loved the glass door on in as opposed to the shower curtains almost every other hotel I go to has. It also has the option to choose between the rain head and the regular sprayer. Shampoo, conditioner, and body soap are all mounted on the wall in pump bottles. The quality of these is pretty good, though I find them a little too heavily-scented for my taste.
Your room will come with a small refrigerator and a mini coffee pot. There isn’t much in the way of Pop Century room amenities, but you do get some coffee packets, a few tea bags, and associated sweeteners and powdered creamers. The room also had a couple disposable travel cups with lids and an ice bucket.
When making your booking, you can choose from Pop Century preferred rooms or standard rooms. The preferred rooms cost a bit more, but are located in the buildings that are closer to the main lobby, food court, and transportation. I typically just go with the cheaper standard rooms, but when I did book a preferred room once, having the shorter walk at the beginning and end of the day was very nice.
Pop Century standard rooms start at $153/night plus tax, which is substantially more than the All Star resorts, which start at $117. However, you do get the added bonus of Skyliner transportation, easy and walkable access to Art of Animation, and newer rooms.
Pop Century pool info
There are three Pop Century pools to choose from when you’re staying there. The largest is the Hippy Dippy Pool right behind the main lobby. This Flower Power themed pool takes its styling from the ’60s buildings surrounding it. It’s a fairly standard pool, and aside from its fun flower shape, there isn’t much special about it.
You’ll also find a smaller bowling pin shaped pool in the ’50s section. My personal favorite though is the computer pool in the ’80s and ’90s section. Even before I found myself with a job and a time-consuming hobby that keep me in front of one most of the time, I loved the oversized keyboard.
Pop Century food options
Like all of the Walt Disney World value resorts, Pop Century doesn’t have a table service option. There is a large food court in the main building that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus snacks, desserts, and drinks. The food is about what you’d expect from a large hotel food court at Disney World. It’s on the expensive side and not necessarily the best, but the portions are large enough that you won’t leave hungry. I rarely eat anything but breakfast at the food court, so I’m perfectly content with my Mickey waffles.
Grown ups can also enjoy the Petals Pool Bar, which serves drinks outside near the Hippy Dippy pool.
Pop Century is connected to the Art of Animation resort by a footbridge over the lake, so if you want a little variety you can check out their food court and pool bar as well. It’s also a great place to wander and take photos if you have some time to kill at the hotel.
Pop Century perks
By staying at a Disney World hotel, you’re entitled to a few great perks. Everyone in your family can pick a Magic Band, which links park tickets, FastPasses, room keys, and even charging privileges if you so choose. You can make your selections ahead of time on the Disney website (open it in incognito mode if it doesn’t work for you – it’s very glitchy) to choose free solid colors or pay an upcharge for a character or park themed one. They’ll be engraved and sent to your home if you order early enough.
You also get an advantage in booking things ahead of time by staying on property. Dining reservations can be made for your entire stay (up to 14 days) beginning 180 days before your trip. This means that you’ll have the best chance to snag hard to get reservations before non-resort guests even have a chance to. The same goes for FastPasses – you can book your entire stay beginning 60 days from check-in. You’ll definitely want to set an early alarm on FastPass morning as they become available at 7am EST and the popular rides will go quickly. You’ll see a noticeable difference in what you can choose even waiting an hour or two. My FastPass guide covers all the top ones you should be booking.
As a Disney resort guest, you’ll also get to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours (EMH) at the parks. On select days, different parks either open an hour early or stay open two hours later exclusively for people staying at Disney hotels. EMH isn’t quite as good as it used to be, but if you happen to have days that align with your schedule, you can get some extra park time.
Other Pop Century amenities
If you’re spending time at the hotel, you’ll also find an arcade onsite, as well as a playground. There are areas around the buildings that are fun to explore like the giant foosball game in the ’70s area. There’s also a built-in Twister game you can play over there too, which was fun even as an adult with friends.
Pop Century transportation
Pop Century saw a great value add with the opening of the Skyliner. These gondola-style cable cars (basically the kind you’d ride at a higher-end ski resort), take off from a station in the middle of Hourglass Lake. The Pop Century/Art of Animation line makes a stop at the Caribbean Beach station, and from there you can make connections to Epcot’s International Gateway entrance or Hollywood Studios. It’s also convenient if you have dining reservations at any of the Boardwalk area hotels or Topolino’s Terrace at the Riviera. The gondolas are wheelchair and stroller accessible. My only complaint about the service is that coming in the back entrance of Epcot is a little disappointing if it’s your first visit. I prefer to come in the front entrance and get the classic picture of my beloved Spaceship Earth first.
Pop Century provides bus transportation to the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach, and Disney Springs. Since the Skyliner opened, bus service to Epcot and Hollywood Studios has been reduced to once an hour, but isn’t regularly scheduled. If you really don’t want to ride the Skyliner and don’t want a potentially long wait for a bus, you could hop one to Animal Kingdom and hop a Studios or Epcot bus from there, but you’re just as likely to make your transit time longer that way.
If you’re planning to rope drop Hollywood Studios to attempt to get a Rise of the Resistance boarding pass, I would recommend self-driving if you have a car (parking at the park is free when you’re staying at a Disney resort) or taking Lyft or Uber. The Skyliner or the first bus of the morning will likely get you into the park in time, but you’ll be so far back in the lines for the top tier attractions that there won’t be much of a point to trying to hop in line for a quick ride. If you’re going to rope drop, you might as well get there early enough to be near the front of the pack waiting for the rides like Smuggler’s Run or Slinky Dog Dash.
Getting to Pop Century
Disney’s Pop Century Resort is located in the Wide World of Sports Resort Area on the south end of property. If you’re driving, follow one of the many purple and red signs around property pointing you toward this area and/or use your GPS. Street names are relatively meaningless once you enter Disney World territory. Note that parking at the resorts is no longer free.
If you’re flying into Orlando McCoy International (MCO) – the largest and closest Orlando airport – you can use the free Magical Express service. If you know your flight information when making your reservation, you can enter it at the time of booking, or you can call in or fill out a webform later on. You do need to register for this ahead of time though. The Magical Express will pick you and your luggage up from MCO and drop you off at Pop Century. If your flight lands before 10 pm, you can even put special tags on your checked bags and they will be grabbed by Disney staff and delivered straight to your room. Note that this takes a couple extra hours, so if you’re planning to hit the pool as soon as you check in, either don’t use the tags and collect your suitcases from the luggage carousel yourself or pack your swimsuits in your carry on.
The Magical Express can make a few stops along the way, so I would plan on arriving at your hotel no sooner than 2 hours after you land. I’ve made it to my hotel relatively quickly the last few times I’ve used it, but my brother and his fiancee got stuck on a bus that made 3 stops before dropping them off once and were riding around for over an hour. Magical Express will also carry you and your luggage back to MCO on your departure day. Pickups are typically around 3-3.5 hours before your flight and a notice with your scheduled time will be delivered to your room the day before you leave. If you don’t receive one, you can always call the front desk to find out what your time is.
How to book Pop Century rooms
You can make Pop Century reservations on the official Disney World website. You’ll need to make a Disney account to book your reservation and have a credit card handy. While you’re booking, you’ll see the different prices for preferred rooms vs. pool view rooms vs. standard rooms (depending on what’s available). Rates here start at $153/night plus tax, which isn’t much more than I pay for run of the mill chain hotels in suburbia on my work travels, so it’s not a horrible deal.
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