Monday, July 16, 2012

Disney's Pop Century Resort (Our Experience and Disney Travel Tips)

I've shown you a few Disney Crafts and posts since our trip in May, but I realized that I never took the time to post a trip recap. I've had several emails asking how we liked our room at Disney's Pop Century Resort, so I thought today would be a good time to do a little Disney Room Review. I could have taken some shots of the empty room as we were checking out, but I want to show the real room as it is being used by real people!

If you aren't familiar with the Pop Century Resort, it's one of Disney's "value" resorts (ie. the cheaper ones). The decor and themes are inspired from the 1950s to the 1990s. They even have tons of fun memorabilia to look through in the lobby!

I read lots of reviews online before our trip, but couldn't find any posts or sites that showed photos of the rooms taken at more than one angle. I wouldn't call the photos on the Disney site misleading, but they do take great care to not show how close the entry door is to the bed...and it is close!

We had space under the front window (next to the door) for one suitcase and the bag of toys/videos. I kept my laptop and T's ipad locked in the suitcase when we went out for the day. Next to the suitcases was a small two table with two seats. Perfect for the girls to grab a quick breakfast and play with a puzzle while I put my make-up on.

Next, there was a roomy dresser (lots of space in the drawers!), shelves, mini-fridge, and space for another suitcase (if you aren't using the door for connecting rooms). I also liked that Disney utilized the open area on the wall for hooks:

The bathroom had a separate sink/closet area that was divided from the toilet and shower/tub by a door. There was a large curtain that you could pull to separate the room from the sink:

The shelf in the closet area was actually quite roomy! We used it to store a case of water bottles and our breakfast/snack food. There was still plenty of space underneath for more storage, which we didn't use...and we stayed for five nights!

Quick Tip: Bring a small container of dish soap and a sponge from The Dollar Tree. You'll want to bring a couple of cups for the kids, and the resort sells a reusable mug that you'll want to clean during your stay.

Back around the room...more space between the bed and the wall if you're in need of it...and play space on the beds, of course!

As for for the Pop Century Resort itself, we stayed in the "50s" building (the closest one to the lobby), in a room with a standard pool view. We were very happy with it. No long treks to the car or to the lobby. The 50s pool isn't the greatest (no shade), but the 60s pool is a very short walk, and had a great kiddie area and lots of activities.

The lobby is enormous and includes its own souvenir shop and a food court. While pricey, the food court did offer some different options...not always the healthiest, but we were on vacay, after all!

Pop Century Pros:
-Has its own bus line (no waiting as the bus drops other guests off at various Disney resorts)
-Bus line runs regularly to and from the Disney parks
-An affordable option for staying on Disney property
-Mini fridge and wifi are included now!
-Easily housed our family of four
-Great housekeeping service

Pop Century Cons:
-Lighting in the room was dim
-Pool view rooms can be noisy due to late night swimmers (but we were so tired, we just tuned it out and went to sleep)
-Food court was pricey (not a great variety for kids)
-Rooms can be a fair walk from the lobby and bus line
-Beds were not the most comfortable and they were only doubles! (Queens would have been much more comfortable if they room sizes had worked with that)

Best tips for staying at the Pop Century?

1. Take advantage of Disney's park transportation 
It's free for resort guests, and it gets you to the parks much more quickly than if you drive, park, and ride the tram in. In short, free and fast. The bus drivers are so friendly!

2. Ask for a room in a building near the lobby. 
The buses arrive in front of the lobby and the food court is also there. After a long day at the parks, you don't want a long hike back to your room.

3. Try the different pools to see which one you like best.
The 50s pool was closest to us, but the girls and their cousin liked the kiddie pool in the 60s area the best.

4. Use the mini fridge!
Bring some breakfast food, milk/OJ, and water bottles to keep in the room. You'll save a lot of money by eating a quick breakfast in your room at the resort. Save your cash for lunches, dinners, or special treats. We packed muffins, fruit, bread, peanut butter, jelly, paper towels, paper plates, and a few plastic knives/spoons.

The fridge is small, but we were able to pack it in:

5. Bring refillable water bottles
Use the resort ice machines and fill them full of ice before leaving for a park. Fill the bottles at the park water fountain when you arrive.

Our overall experience at the Pop Century was very positive, and I would definitely stay there again. We chose this resort knowing that we wouldn't be spending lots of time in our room. We didn't feel like spending more to have amenities we might not need. I've stayed at Disney Deluxe Resort (that's one of the nicest/priciest), so to compare the two and still be positive about a Value Resort is a big deal to me! The staff was pleasant (although we ran across one very surly lifeguard), the room was clean, and check-in/check-out was a breeze. If your kids don't mind sharing a bed (ours do, but they got over it), you'll be fine.

**2014 UPDATE: I am happy to answer any questions you might have. I do not always have time to respond to comments, but if you email me amandaserenitynow(at)gmail(dot)com, I will do my best to respond there. In return, if you have a moment to Pin or share this post on Facebook, that would be awesome!**

Have you ever vacationed at Disney World? Where does your family love to stay?

If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, I hope you'll click your "Pin It" button to add this post to Pinteresr, or a +1 for Google+.

*This was not a sponsored post. Disney has never heard of my blog, but I sure wish they had!

The girls and I are at Myrtle Beach this week, so expect some really super-fabulous guest posts while I am away--please be sure to leave some comment love!

Linked to Home Stories A to Z


  1. Yes! Me just returned from our fourth trip. I have a lot of Dis landing info on my blog, and I write for Chip & Co, a huge Dis planning site. We don't stay at values for several reasons, but I'm glad your experience was good. We've stayed at Port Orleans Riverside, Coronado Springs (both in the moderate category) and Animal Kingdom Lodge and the Grand Floridian (both in the Deluxe category). So glad you had a wonderful time.

  2. We stayed at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort and we loved it! Great pools, a lake with small beaches, and the room is pretty. :-)

  3. We love WDW! I totally agree about bringing breakfast to save time and money. We've even brought cereal, which we eat from disposable cups.

    I also agree about the double beds. I think you have to stay at a Deluxe resort to get Queen beds.

  4. Love seeing this- it is so hard to pick a resort to stay at unless you 'know' someone who has tried it first. I think you were smart in choosing this hotel. On our first trip we stayed at a big suite. Trouble was, we were never there to enjoy it. We left early in the morning and returned late in the evening. We could have saved some money and chosen a smaller space. Days at Disney are so full of fun. All you really need at night is a comfy bed to crash! Hope you're having fun at the beach! :) Samantha

  5. I have been to WDW many times, but have never stayed at a resort hotel - I've stayed in the Disney Village at one of the "affiliated" hotels, but most of the time, I stay off site, but very close, because I think you get a better quality room for the price.

    It's my dream to stay at either The Wilderness Lodge, or the Grand Floridian - I've visited both places (and eaten at the Grand Floridian) - I don't know that I will ever have the chance too, though - my mother-in-law recently bought a property about 40 miles from Orlando, so there will be free vacations in the future for us :)

  6. High end accomodations are nice (when someone else is paying) but man are they expensive and can double (sometimes triple) the cost of your trip. I like the 50's them of your hotel and the convenience of the bus line. Great review and photos!

  7. Very cool! Looks like you had a lot of fun!!! How nice! May must seem so far away now! but I love it that you took many pictures to keep the memories fresh ;)

    Thanks for sharing!

  8. this is a fantastic review! I will need to book mark this so I can use it when we plan our trip there some day. My kids are a tad too young to remember but its on our bucket list to go! Thanks for all the details!

  9. Great review Amanda. We stayed at Pop Century on our first trip to Disney. It was fine for a family of four, but I knew that when we went back as a family of five it would be too small....that's probably why you can't stay there with 5 people {Eli didn't technically count on our last trip because it was before his 3rd birthday so even though we had 5 people we were still considered a family of 4}. I totally agree that you don't spend enough time in the room to justify spending a ton of money on it, but the moderate and deluxe hotels have some advantages when it comes to location and transportation. We loved that the Wilderness Lodge had the option to use the ferry to the Magic Kingdom instead of the buses!

  10. You're so right about the not spending much time in the room, and choosing it accordingly. We stayed at the All-Star Sports and it was perfect. I think some of the other hotels are gorgeous, but when you're on a budget, Disney is expensive enough! This post makes me want to go sooo badly. It's been too long. :)

  11. Growing up we stayed at the Grand Floridian. I can assure you though that if my husband and I ever take our little girl and future children we will be staying in one of the value hotels. Why pay more when all you need is a bed. I do look forward to taking them some time though.

  12. We LOVE Disney. We've been many times (plus I grew up not far from there). I've stayed in resorts in every level (value, mid and luxury). Out of the value resorts our favorite is the Pop Century. To me, the mid-level resorts just aren't worth it. Depending on the type of trip we either stay at the Pop Century or Polynesian, they are our favorites.

    Great post!

  13. Thanks for the great review, Amanda! Love the retro vibe of the hotel.

  14. Great review! Sounds like fun, fun, fun!

  15. These tips are just superb! Thanks for the heads up.

  16. This looks like a great place to stay at Disney. Even though I don't have kids, I'd like to go someday.

  17. great review & tips, Amanda.

    even though, we are going to the california disney - you gave such great tips for me to think about next week!

    thanks so much!


  18. What a cute resort! I love the theme.

    Great write up, Amanda!! This is definitely some useful information for when we plan our trip in the future.

  19. Great Review! I've stayed at the Caribbean Beach and the room is very similar in layout. No need to spend a bunch if you're there to party with Mickey and Friends!

  20. This was just the info I wanted! I am planning a 'secret' trip to wdw, and have been sneaking around on the internet so my kids don't find out. From what I have read so far Pop Century is the winner for our family. Are there food courts in each building (haven't been able to figure that out) and is there anything close (like a grocery store) to pick up breakfast stuff? We are good walkers and our kids will be 8 and 14 by then. We are coming from Canada, and flying, so no car. I don't think customs will appreciate the suitcase of food my mom use to bring on vacation with us when I was a kid anymore :)
    I may have other questions, but I promise not to become a bother. This trip is a dream for our 8 year old (he said he will sell his ds if it will help pay for a trip to Disney, and wants me to buy lottery tickets all the time).

  21. Stephanie, to answer your question, there is just one large, main food court for the Pop Century Resort...which is why I recommend the 50s building b/c it is close. Disney is basically a large (huge!!) complex/compound...I don't see any way that you'd be able to walk to a grocery from Pop Century. We took our car out once for dinner, but ate the other meals at Disney. We ate breakfast in the room. :)

  22. For guests without a car that want to have their own breakfast foods, you can order online and have groceries delivered to your room, Garden Grocer is one, I'm sure there are others!


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