After the strong success of the All Star Resorts, it became clear to Disney management that more "value level" resort capacity at Walt Disney World would be a good investment. Having more inexpensive rooms on-site would bring more customers through the gates to stay for longer duration visits, rather than staying off site at the chain motels on the 192 and International Drive strips.
Construction for the new Pop Century Resort, began in late 1999 and continued at a steady, if not breakneck, pace for almost two years.
The Pop Century Resort was a long time in coming. Photo by Brian Bennett.
Located just South of Caribbean Beach Resort off of Victory Way, the new resort was expected to be the perfect place for sports teams to stay while competing at various tournaments at the nearby Wide World of Sports. The influx of amateur softball and baseball teams, cheerleading and dance squads, and fans of the Atlanta Braves (who make Wide World of Sports their Spring training home base) would certainly fill this new resort's rooms as soon as it was built.
Then came the tragedy of 9/11. As our nation mourned the loss of heros and innocent civilians to the dastardly attacks on New York and Washington (not forgetting the patriots on the flight that "failed" it's mission when it crashed in Pennsylvania), going on vacation to visit Mickey Mouse became much less important. More families stayed home or took shorter, local trips for vacation in the two years or so that followed.
Without the need for the extra capacity, construction on the Pop Century Resort buildings was put on hold and the buildings were mothballed. It wasn't until late 2003, just in time for the Christmas holiday week in fact, that the Classic Years (depicting the 1950s, '60s, '70s, '80s, and '90s) half of the resort opened. The Legendary Years (depicting the decades from 1900 through 1940) remains incomplete and unopened with no published plans for completion.
The Classic Years side of the resort has its own check-in area, buffeteria restaurant, store, arcade, and a couple of pools all contained in "Classic Hall."
This photo of Classic Hall was taken around Christmas time. Photo by Brian Bennett.
The various fonts used for the decade numbers really do bring back memories. Photo by Brian Bennett.
Automatic doors at Classic Hall facilitate entering into the building. Photo by Brian Bennett.
Similar to the bus stop area at the All Star Resorts, transportation to all WDW destinations can be found. Photo by Brian Bennett.
The check-in area is very tastefully decorated with lots of memorabilia. Photo by Brian Bennett.
If you visit Pop Century Resort at Christmas time, you'll be treated to beautiful decorations like this tree in Classic Hall's rotunda. Photo by Brian Bennett.
There's no doubt as to which resort you're at when you look at Classic Hall from the courtyard. Photo by Brian Bennett.
The resort's Fast Forward Arcade is one of the largest on Walt Disney World property. In fact, in my opinion only the Food 'n' Fun Center at the Contemporary Resort is bigger.
Fast Forward Arcade is located in Classic Hall right across from the Everything Pop store. Photo by Brian Bennett.
Sports games, video games, and rides for the little ones are all available at Fast Forward Arcade. Photo by Brian Bennett.
The arcade features a great selection of prizes for those folks that play long enough to gather up those points. Photo by Brian Bennett.
In the southeastern end of Classic Hall you'll find the Everything Pop shopping and dining area.
The resort's shop is well-named, as we'll soon see. Photo by Brian Bennett.
The shop offers the same Disney merchandise that you can find in any other resort shop. Photo by Brian Bennett.
Unlike many of Disney's resorts, though, Pop Century boasts quite a large number of themed items like this "Pool Shark" shirt. Photo by Brian Bennett.
Mickey and Goofy get into the game, as does Jessica Rabbit. Photo by Brian Bennett.
Goofy's ode to gutterballs makes this shirt unusual. Photo by Brian Bennett.
Pop Century logo merchandise is readily available, too. Photo by Brian Bennett.
These character-themed bowling balls can be yours for just $129 (plus $10 for domestic shipping). Photo by Brian Bennett.
Everything Pop has a bakery that produces baked goods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Photo by Brian Bennett.
The food court employ's Disney's familiar set-up in which various types of food are available at different stations. This might be efficient and cost-effective for Disney, but it's a royal pain for a family with young kids.
The food court. Photo by Brian Bennett.
The check-out area. Photo by Brian Bennett.
Beverage options are much the same as at any other Disney resort. Photo by Brian Bennett.
The ever-popular (no pun intended) refillable mugs can be purchased by resort guests for use during the duration of their stay for $11.99... a bargain even if you only fill up four or five times!
The refillable "Grab-a-Mug" sign spells out the rules. Photo by Brian Bennett.
Seating is plentiful, if a bit tightly spaced. Photo by Brian Bennett.
Petals Bar, named according to the '60s Flower Power theme, is located just outside of Classic Hall.
Petals Bar. Photo by Brian Bennett.
[In our next installment of this two-part series, Brian presents more photos from Pop Century.]
(Send an email to Brian Bennett)
One of the original editors at MousePlanet, Brian Bennett has written an encyclopedia's worth of online resources on Walt Disney World. Enduring freezing winters in Michigan with thoughts of trips to Orlando and staying at Disney Vacation Club resorts, Brian had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to move to Orlando with his wife and sons.