Century Resort, Walt Disney World's newest value
Text and photos by Sue Holland , staff writer
Walt Disney World Resort opened its most recent value resort to guests
in December. When completed, Pop Century will contain 5,000 rooms between two
distinct resorts. Pop Century Classic Years opened on December 14, 2003, and represents
the 1950s through 1990s.
In approximately four years the other section
will open, featuring the 1900s through 1940s. The two resorts are built around
Hourglass Lake, and the Generation Gap Bridge connects the center of one to the
Pop Century is the second value resort complex at WDW. The first
in this category is the three All-Star Resorts (Sports, Music and Movies), which
combined have approximately 6,000 rooms. These resorts were a big hit with young
families for whom the cost of a deluxe Disney resort would be too much of a strain
on the vacation budget. They are designed to compete with the off-site hotels
in terms of price, but with Disney theming and some limited amenities.
With so many rooms, checking in at Pop Century can be a headache. Photo by Sue
Upon entering the lobby, it is hard not to notice that the lines
to check in may be even worse than at the All-Stars. While the All-Stars have
a front desk to service 2,000 rooms, at Pop Century the front desk handles 2,500
rooms. They do have more stations, but if you happen to hit a day with a large
number of people arriving, the wait can be fairly long.
For whatever reason,
the children's movie area is off to the side, which makes is hard for families
with youngsters who obviously are not comfortable letting them be out of sight.
On the day I arrived, there were three families ahead of me in line, which I thought
was not bad at all. However, by the time it was my turn, I had easily another
dozen families backed up behind me.
While in the lobby, if one member of
the party stays in line, the other can pass the time looking at the memorabilia
from the different decades in the shadow boxes. Overall, I found the lobby much
more attractive than any at the All-Stars, which was a pleasant surprise.
Everything Pop is a combination retail store and food court. Photo by Sue Holland.
Pop Century, Disney combined the shop and food court area, calling it Everything
Pop. It is bright, attractive and spacious, with a more upscale feel than at the
All-Star Resorts. In addition to the usual Disney merchandise, sundries and Pop
Century logo items, shoppers can create and buy their own Mr. Potato Head figure.
This is mostbut not allof the large food court. Photo by Sue Holland.
food court has all of the usual stands, along with ample seating for a very large
crowd. It can get quite hectic during the breakfast hours, so it is better to
eat as early as possible. They have the electronic menu displays that show a picture
of each item on a screen, which is a very nice feature. The entire area is very
bright and attractive, and I was quite impressed with the place.
to the regular menu items (sandwiches, salads, pizza, pasta, burgers, baked goods)
there is a Mom's Night Out dinner special available daily. When staying
at another resort, it can still be worth a trip to come over for lunch or an early
dinner to experience this terrific food court.
The first indoor bar at a value resort. Photo by Sue Holland.
For the first
time, Disney has added an indoor cocktail and coffee lounge to the amenities at
the value resort level. Classic Concoctions opens during the afternoon and evening,
and features a full bar. Appetizers are available as well, and television sets
make it possible to keep up with whatever game is important to you.
Fast Forward Arcade. Photo by Sue Holland.
Across from the entrance to Everything
Pop is the resort's arcade, featuring a large room full of video games to delight
children and adults. It never appeared overly crowded during my visits, and if
your children are old enough to be trusted out of your sight, this could be a
good place for them to spend time if you have a long line at check-in.
Exterior view of the 1960s section. Photo by Sue Holland.
containing the guest rooms are very similar to those found at the All-Star Resorts,
except for having four floors rather than three. Otherwise, the layout is identical.
Each staircase is enclosed in a giant icon representing that decade (bowling pin
in the '50s, yo-yo in the '60s) and the center of each building is a large statue
or other icon.
Baby boomers in particular would enjoy walking through the
resort and seeing giant replicas of their favorite childhood toys. Exterior music
is themed to each decade, and I could not hear it at all when my door was closed.
A standard room at Pop Century. Photo by Sue Holland.
The guest rooms are
all 260 square feet and laid out identically to the ones at the All-Stars. Except
for some handicapped-accessible rooms with a king bed, they have two double beds,
a table and two chairs, and a much nicer piece of furniture that serves as both
dresser and armoire.
The furniture at Pop Century is much improved compared to All-Stars. Photo by
An iron and ironing board are included in each room, although
coffee makers and hair dryers are not included. Those items can be requested from
housekeeping, subject to availability, of course. Plumbing noise was evident during
my staywhen someone flushes, everyone knows it.
A small but functional bathroom. Photo by Sue Holland.
Pop Century has the
heating and cooling system set up to prevent a guest from setting the room temperature
below 68 degrees. While I was perfectly comfortable and would probably be chilly
at that temperature, other recent guests were not pleased. The air also seems
to shut off when the room is empty, to save energy. It will be interesting to
see if this becomes a sore point during the hot summer months. Overall, I found
the room adequate for my needs and nicer than expected, based on previous stays
at the three All-Star Resorts.
The Hippy Dippy Pool in the 1960s. Photo by Sue Holland.
As at any value
resort, your recreational activities consist of swimming, jogging, or walking
around. The resort has three swimming pools, which are open to guests staying
in all sections. The main pool is the Hippy Dippy Pool, shaped like a flower and
located in the center of the resort. There is a smaller kiddie pool located behind
this one, as well.
The Bowling Pool in the 1950s. Photo by Sue Holland.
The Bowling and Computer
pools are considered quiet pools, but lifeguards are on duty. Pools are open from
7:00 a.m. until midnight, with lifeguards working from 10:00 a.m. until 10:00
p.m. as of mid-January. Life vests are available from the bar near the Hippy Dippy
Pool, and all three pools appeared to have an abundance of lounge chairs for sunning.
The Computer Pool in the '80s-'90s. Photo by Sue Holland.
There is a map
of a jogging trail available upon request from any cast member at the front desk.
The current trail is either 1.1 or 1.38 miles long, depending on your starting
and ending points. Most of it is along Memory Lane, the paved path at the edge
of the lake. Once the other Pop Century opens up, joggers and walkers should be
able to make the complete loop. Along the way, Disney has placed a sign for every
year, highlighting something significant that happened during that year.
The Petals Pool Bar. Photo by Sue Holland.
Located next to the Hippy Dippy
Pool is the resort's outside pool bar, Petals Pool Bar. Here, people can enjoy
a frozen tropical drink or any alcoholic beverage of their choice. It's not attached
to the main building and food court like at the All-Stars, but rather is a free-standing
building next to the pool.
A bus stop at Pop Century. Photo by Sue Holland.
A separate bus stop for
each of the parks is located at the front of Classic Hall, with queue areas set
up at each to handle the crowds in a more orderly fashion. It was not uncommon
to see more guests than would fit on a single empty bus standing in line at any
one time, which is a bit discouraging.
What did work very well was that
following Wishes fireworks at the Magic Kingdom when the queue for the
Pop Century bus was overflowing, Disney brought in three empty buses at the same
time, filled them up, and immediately brought in two more. They will need to watch
this resort carefully, since with so many guests lines can back up almost in the
blink of an eye. I was very happy with Disney's handling of the buses at Magic
Kingdom that evening, though.
As is to be expected, the bus stops will be
the furthest (or almost furthest) away. Generally, the thinking seems to be that
the guests paying the premium prices get the shorter walks, which makes sense.
A foosball game is located in the 1970s. Photo by Sue Holland.
several whimsical touches at Disney's Pop Century Resort, including a giant foosball
game between the two 1970s buildings. The figures do not move, and off to one
side is a giant Big Wheel tricycle with a recommended child's weight
limit of 877 pounds.
Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head create a popular photo spot in the 1980s. Photo by Sue
Seemingly at every turn there is something to see, whether it's
a memory from your past or the excitement of your children as they see these larger-than-life
Visitors can stop for an impromptu game of Twister at a number of locations within
the resort. Photo by Sue Holland.
I was very pleased with my stay at Pop
Century and look forward to future visits. There were only a couple of negative
issues, with the most significant one being a serious lack of available parking.
If you are visiting without a car, this won't be a problem for you. If you are,
however, consider using Disney transportation at night; otherwise you may not
find a parking space when you return. I've been told Disney is looking for a solution,
so hopefully more parking will be added somewhere, and hopefully they don't open
the second section with the same shortcoming.
The other issue is more a
matter of personal tastethose phrases and words they have along the top
of each building strike me as tacky, particularly where they have the word Duh
included. This is visible from the main road and caused friends of mine to dub
Pop Century the Duh Motel. Did any parents who lived through the duh
years actually enjoy hearing that word?
What were they thinking? Photo by Sue Holland.
Thankfully, Pop Century is
much nicer than a Duh Motel would be, and if you're looking for a
good place to stay for not a lot of money, definitely give it your consideration.