Disney's Pop Century Resort
A Fun Disney World Resort
In January 2012, my family and I stayed at Disney's Pop Century Resort. As one of Disney's on-site properties, it offers great customer service, free transportation to the parks, free delivery of your in-park purchases to your room, and more excitement than your average hotel. But as one of the value category hotels, it also offers an affordable price. Pop Century is currently one of America's largest hotels. One of its ten guest room buildings is about the same size as some complete hotels. You might need a map to get to the buses or the food court. If you are considering a trip to see The Mouse and are interested in my family's personal experience at this hotel, please read on!Photo credit: Perrin Conrad
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CHECK-IN - at the Pop Century
Let me begin by reiterating what a large hotel this is. With almost 3,000 rooms, it is one of the biggest hotels in the country. It is really more like its own city! We arrived in our own car, and followed the signs to check-in parking. Be aware that unless you are handicapped or arriving on one of the chartered buses from the airport, you are not permitted to pull up under the portico at the front door while checking in. There is a large parking lot up front dedicated only to check-in parking. In short, be prepared to do some walking if you stay at the Pop Century!Our check-in went very smoothly and quickly. The lobby is a long hallway with many helpful Disney employees waiting to check you in. Let the roped-off serpentine line fun begin! If you have never been to Disney before, this will be the first of many serpentine lines you will enjoy over the course of your visit. You will stand in them to board buses, to eat, to get on rides, to see shows, to make purchases, and more. By the end of your trip, you and your family may be forming a serpentine line in front of the sink to brush your teeth, out of sheer habit. I think we waited less than a minute to be helped by a desk clerk. She was very efficient and friendly. We were given a map of the property to show us how to get to our room, which was in the 70’s Building. Each building has a theme that correlates to a decade in the last century. There is also designated parking for each building. Our parking lot for the 70’s building was a good 5 minute walk from our room. It seems longer when you are toting all your bags. You can ask for bellman assistance, but you are still in for a trek. Because we went in the off-season and not as many patrons were in hotel, we were told by check-in staff that we could park in the 80’s parking lot, which was much closer to our building. We gladly moved the car to the 80’s lot. If you go during one of the busier times of year, though, the parking lot security may actually check the parking pass displayed in your car to ensure that you are in the correct lot.
If you are driving to Disney World . . . - Rolling Coolers for your room
For the wallet-conscious traveler, one way to hold down expenses is to pack snacks, breakfast, water and other drinks into a cooler. We did this on our trip, and refreshed the ice each day from the ice machine on our floor. If your cooler has wheels, it will be much easier for you to get it from the car to your room and back!
Pop Century is in the “Value” category, which is Disney’s bottom rung of the ladder in price point. My husband and I are generally budget-minded people. Our idea in travelling to Walt Disney World was to enjoy the parks with our son. High-end, luxury accommodations were not on our list of priorities. Considering that we paid about $90 per night for the room, we could not have asked for better lodging. The room was small, with two double beds. The television had only a few channels available, but then, who goes to Disney World to watch television? Not us. There was also a small table with two chairs, an in-room safe, hairdryer, and iron. Items NOT present in the room were refrigerator, microwave, or coffee pot. Those items may be available upon request. The bathroom was small, but functional. The sink, however, was too high for our small son to be able to brush his teeth or wash his hands without being lifted or standing on a chair. This was a surprise to me, since Disney is generally a children’s destination. The room was totally adequate for the price, though.Since we sprang for the “Preferred” room, we were among the closest rooms to the bus transportation, food court and pool. We thought this was well worth the few extra dollars spent per day. Being on the end next to the staircase, though, meant that we heard everyone on our floor who returned from the late fireworks shows. We didn’t think the rooms were very well-insulated from outside sounds, but then many hotels are not. This was one of the things that prompted my husband and me to shrug our shoulders and say, “You get what you pay for.” The housekeeping staff did leave us a washcloth folded into a cute little animal, though, and the only other time I have seen that done was on a cruise ship.
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Gear Up For Your Trip - Fanny Packs
Go ahead and laugh . . . but this is one time when you might want one. I believe in traveling as light as possible. I personally carried a purse that I wore across my body instead just over the shoulder. But men and women alike can appreciate the versatility of the fanny pack. Your money will not fall out of it on rides (unless you forget to zip it). It's big enough for the granola bars and raisins you're packing for snacks. Your hands are free, my friend, freeeeeeeee!!!!!! It just makes sense. So let go of your inhibitions and give in to the utility of the fanny pack.
Or carry a backpack . . .
The fanny pack may not even be big enough for you. Maybe you are even more budget-minded than I am, and you refuse to pay $10 per person for lunch. Pack your lunch, wallet, and all other essentials for the day in one of these backpacks. We saw plenty of people carrying backpacks!
STARSTRUCK - The Wow Factor
When we arrived at Pop Century, our four-year-old was so impressed with the large statues of characters that he thought the hotel itself was all there was to Disney World. I believe he could have been totally happy staying right there and never entering the parks! Mr. and Mrs. PotatoHead greeted us as we arrived at our building for the first time. As you will see from the pictures, Mickey, Goofy and others loom over pools, courtyards and walkways at every turn! Since our building was themed for the 70’s, it had giant 8-track tapes adorning the sides. The 80s building had giant Rubik’s Cubes on the ends. The outside of each building displays other images and catch phrases appropriate to the decades. Ours said things like, “Hot Pants,” “Polyester,” and “Get Down.”
Amenities and Activities
Enjoy the resort, even when you're not at the parks.
In case you’re not getting enough exercise on your vacation, Pop Century is equipped with its own jogging trail. It wraps around an attractive lake and also gives a view of the new Art of Animation Resort, due to open in 2012. When you are tired and hungry at the end of the day, don’t fret about where to eat or getting dressed to go back out. A casual food court inside the resort offers some great options like pizza, Mexican food, salads, sandwiches and more. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. Room service is available, but with a very limited menu. As expected, travelers on the meal plan can redeem their meals in the food court. You might guess that there is a nice-sized gift shop attached to the eatery, as well. The video arcade is directly across the hall, adjacent to the lobby. There is also a poolside bar for unwinding while the children take a swim in one of the three pools on site. And if your youngsters still have energy to expend at the end of the day, a playground is located near the 70’s building, not far from the bus stops. Movies are shown on the lawn nightly, if the weather allows. “The Fox and the Hound 2” and “Toy Story” were some of the selections showing while we were there.
If you’re wishing upon a star on a shoestring budget, Pop Century Resort is all you need and more. If your needs are something more than simple, consider another category of hotel. But for a value resort, this one has fantastic style and personality.