I recently returned from a short trip to Walt Disney World and this one was particularly exciting as several of the things we did were new-to-me. (I know, some of these have been around since 2019, but between the pandemic, Disney’s pause on Annual Pass sales, and Maui’s diabetes, I haven’t been able to get to WDW as often as I used to.) Among these firsts was a stay at Disney’s Pop Century Resort, and with it, my first ride on the Disney Skyliner.
Pop Century is easily one of the most popular resorts at Disney World, and it has been for years (even before the opening of the Skyliner made it more exciting than the other value resorts.) While the theming is not necessarily my taste (nor is it at any of Disney’s value resorts) I booked our three-night stay at Pop Century simply because Josh and I took a last-minute trip and would have just reserved the cheapest room on Disney property so we could take advantage of early entry in the parks. (In short, All-Star Sports was not available for our dates.)
Pop Century’s Lobby aka Classic Hall
My first impression of Pop Century was immediately that it was a step up from the All-Star Resorts. I know that’s not surprising, but I wasn’t expecting the lobby to be as nice as it was, at least again by value resort standards. It really isn’t much different than the All-Star lobbies, but Classic Hall is a little bit bigger and brighter, and I enjoyed the exhibit cases with items from each of the decades featured at the resort more than the photos that line the walls of the All-Star lobbies.
Admittedly, the 90s section of the timeline that spans Classic Hall made me feel ancient, but it was still fun to look at things I remember from my childhood along with everything else from the 50s-80s. Everything Pop, which includes both the gift shop and food court for Pop Century was also a slightly nicer-looking version of the All-Star alternatives. I would still stay at an All-Star if it were a considerable price difference and I just wanted the cheapest room, but for a small price difference Pop Century does feel slightly more elevated.
The merchandise side of Everything Pop was mostly filled with standard Disney items you’d find nearly anywhere at Walt Disney World, but there were some resort-specific pieces (even a Minnie ear headband!) plus Skyliner merchandise that you likely would not find outside of the Skyliner resorts. We buy a Christmas ornament on every trip we take, and this time we actually picked up a Skyliner ornament from Everything Pop.
The food court side is your standard Disney resort quick-service setup. I know the tie-dye cheesecake is a staple here, so I’ll have to come back to try it next time I’m in WDW. During this trip, we mostly ate in the theme parks so the food court was really just a place to grab coffee and a light breakfast.
Our room at Pop Century
We booked a standard room that was located on the fourth floor of the resort in building 9, one of the 80s-themed buildings. If you have never stayed at Disney value resort, it should be noted that this theming is really just limited to the outside of the buildings, the rooms are more or less all the same. (The only value resort exception here is Disney’s Art of Animation Resort where the rooms do follow through with the exterior theme.)
Outside, the buildings featured imagery like Pac-Man and Rubik’s Cubes, but inside the rooms are largely unthemed with the exception of some light Disney artwork:
I really liked our room at Pop Century. It’s not the most exciting (or spacious room) but for the price it did feel like a good value to be on Disney property. I imagine it feels more cramped if you pull down the Murphy Bed above the table, but especially for just the two of us it was nice to have more space instead of an extra bed taking up most of the room.
The location of our room was what you would expect for booking a standard room over a preferred room. It wasn’t an unbearably long walk from Classic Hall (and really we barely took this walk where we drove to Animal Kingdom and took the Skyliner to Hollywood Studios), but if you aren’t up for a bit of an extra stroll after taking the buses back from the parks, I’d probably book a preferred room here knowing you’d be closer to Classic Hall.
We only used Disney’s transportation twice during this trip as we had a rental car anyway, but even so the transportation here is certainly a step up from the All-Stars. Of course, having access to the Disney Skyliner is a gamechanger, and that made it so easy to get to Hollywood Studios. If this had been a longer trip, I would have loved to spend some time resort-hopping along the Skyliner route, too.
The only other transportation at Pop Century is buses, which are exactly the same as any other bus transportation around Walt Disney World. I will say though, we left Magic Kingdom right at park close, and while there was a line for the bus, we were probably on our way back to the resort in less than 10 minutes the way the buses just kept coming.
Pools & Recreation
With such a short stay, we did not spend a lot of time at the pool or doing anything else at the resort just because this was such a short stay. I did spend about two hours at the Computer Pool one day though while Josh took a nap and for the smaller pool away from the main section of the resort, it was really nice.
The Hippy Dippy Pool is definitely where I would go if I had more time as it has the Petals Pool Bar and is centrally located to Classic Hall if you wanted to run in and grab lunch, but for a quick dip before going back to the parks, the pool closer to our room did the trick.
Again with such a short trip, we didn’t do any of the other recreational offerings at the resort, but I at least considered doing the running trail. (I had to complete a virtual 5K for runDisney around this time, and thought it would be fun to do it on the running trail between Pop Century and Art of Animation, but a blister on my foot said otherwise so I ran it back at home.)
We did spend some time in the arcade on the final day of our trip, too, where Josh accidentally (and hilariously) bought an hour-long massage on the massage chairs.
Pop Century also has your standard recreation offerings that come with every Disney resort, like campfires and poolside activities. I also noticed a short decades-inspired dance party with Cast Members in the lobby one day, which looked like a lot of fun for the kiddos.
I would definitely stay at Pop Century again, and really after seeing how it compares to the All-Stars, I do think it’s worth the small price increase to stay here instead.
We’ll be back for a longer trip the next time we’re looking for a stay at a Disney value resort, for sure!