Pop-culture memorabilia rules at this value resort, sitting right across Hourglass Lake from the Art of Animation Resort. Giant jukeboxes, 65-foot-tall bowling pins, an oversize Big Wheel, a Rubik's Cube, yo-yos and other icons are scattered throughout the 10 buildings of this huge lodging. Items from mood rings to eight-track tapes are incorporated into the architecture; wall-mounted shadow boxes display toys, fashions, and fads from each decade since the 1950s. Rooms are small but are fine for basic sleeping and showering. A big food court serves reasonably priced fare. And of course, the attraction in this, and all Disney value resorts is that you get the same perks as the pricey resorts: free transportation, Extra Magic Hours and Magical Express
Disney began renovating the resort's guestrooms in 2017 and those in several buildings are complete. Renovations on the rest of the rooms should be finished in spring, 2018. The standard rooms, which used to contain two double beds, now have a queen bed and a fold-down bed that converts to a table during the day. Spartan but pleasant furniture includes a dresser with large, flat screen TV, chairs, and a mini-fridge. But the biggest miracle is the presence of a coffee maker, with Disney-provided Joffrey coffee, creamer and sugars. This is a huge change for Disney's value resorts, which have had no coffee makers, making for a long early morning walk to the food court for those in need of a little caffeine to get started.
A pocket door separates the bathroom from the bedroom, a step up from most value resorts, which use a curtain. Also, the tub/toilet area is separated from the vanity (one sink, but sufficient counter space for toiletries) by a sliding door, meaning more than one person can use the facilities, particularly helpful when trying to get out of the room and onto a bus and into a park.
The lobby, Classic Hall, is similar to the All-Star resorts lobbies, long, and home to the check in counters, a few places to sit, and the entrance to the food court and shops, along with a half-century time-line of pop icon photos on the walls.
Three pools offer plenty of choice for a cooling dip in this huge resort. The biggest is Hippy Dippy Pool, shaped like a flower, naturally, with decor straight out of Laugh In. Adjacent to the Classic Hall lobby, the pool features 60s music, lots of activities for the kids -- including a kiddie pool for toddlers -- and Petals Pool Bar for those 21 or older. Of particular interest to the multitasker in the group whose hobby is saving time, the laundry facilities are nearby. The other pools, Bowling and Computer, are at opposite ends of the resort, ensuring no one has to walk too far to have a swim. Towels are provided, and lifeguards are often on duty.
No fitness center, but there are bikes available for rent, and a jogging trail for those who must have their cardio workout.
Pop Century's Everything POP Shopping and Dining hall combines those two great American pastimes, eating and shopping. The souvenir stands have been combined with seven food stations that offer fast food options including hamburgers, pizza, sandwiches, salads, flatbreads, and desserts. Seating is a series of booths positioned around the brightly colored hall. If the food hall seems too crowded, or you get the munchies late at night, there's always the Disney Resors Pizza Delivery.
Petals Pool Bar, next to the Hippy Dippy Pool, offers cocktails, beer and wine in a flower-power setting.
As an on-property guest at Disney World, the transportation system is free. But, this resort sits about 5 miles south of the Magic Kingdom, and what would be a 15 minute drive can turn into a half-hour or more on the bus. In order to get to the Boardwalk, the closest place for dining and drinking, you have to take two buses. So a ride-sharing service or a taxi would be a more efficient way to get around. A car would be most efficient, and wouldn't cost any more than the price of gas, as parking at resorts and theme parks is free for on-property guests.
Disney's Boardwalk (10-minute car ride) is the nearest "neighborhood" to this rather remote park. While it takes two buses to get there, it offers some upscale dining, on the Boardwalk itself, where Flying Fish features seafood, and ESPN Club features sports, burgers and beer. In the adjacent Swan and Dolphin resorts, you can dine at celebrity eateries Shula’s Steak House or Todd English’s bluezoo. Phins, in the lobby, offers casual American fare in a beautiful setting.
Disney's Boardwalk (10-minute car ride) is home to several drinking spots. Big River Grille & Brewing Works offers craft beers and more; Shula's and bluezoo have lounges attached, and Phins in the lobby offers a wide array of libations.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Pop Century offers much to a family or couple on a budget, as you get all the perks of the big, glitzy Disney resorts, for a fraction of the price. Now that most of the rooms have been refurbished, and have coffeemakers, it could be the most popular value resort on Disney property.