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An emphasis on nostalgia and functionality: Why I prefer to stay at Disney’s Pop Century Resort

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Get ready to travel back in time and experience all the great pop culture references of yesteryear at Walt Disney World‘s Pop Century Resort. Situated just a few miles from Disney’s Epcot and Hollywood Studios theme parks, this Disney Value resort features functional guest rooms, three swimming pools (and one kiddie pool), day and night family-friendly resort activities, and eye-catching design details that will transport you back to the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s — depending on which decade-themed building you’ve checked in to.

When planning your trip to visit Mickey Mouse and friends, the Pop Century Resort may be a great budget-friendly alternative compared to Moderate or Deluxe Disney resort properties. But is the Pop Century the most magical Value hotel you can book on Disney property? Here’s what you need to know about this resort — including if I’d choose Pop Century over other Value hotels, such as Disney’s All-Star resorts.

What is Disney’s Pop Century Resort?


Inspired by popular cultural references from iconic decades, the Pop Century Resort features decade-themed buildings and decor to transport guests to another time. When you walk past the giant POP entrance sign and into the lobby of this resort, you’ll notice period-specific photos, such as black-and-white prints from the 1950s, as well as modern cultural artifacts, like a Power Ranger figurine and a Nintendo Game Boy from the 1990s, in display cases along the walls.


The Pop Century Resort is not meant to be a subtle nod to the past but rather leans into a playful and caricature-esque look. While strolling the property, you’ll see sock-hop dancers as the backdrop for the 1950s-themed buildings.

For the ’60s- and ’70s-themed buildings, you’ll see colorful flowers and huge Duncan Imperial yo-yos. As for the ’80s and ’90s, Sony’s Walkman and the computer take center stage as the outside decor.

With visual references to the past at every turn — and fun pop culture facts adorning the walkways — the Pop Century Resort is a time capsule for families and guests of any age to uncover during their stay.

Related: What’s in my bag: The ultimate Disney World packing guide from a theme park pro

How to book Disney’s Pop Century Resort

If you’re planning a stay at Disney’s Pop Century Resort, as with other Disney properties, we recommend booking directly with Disney. You can book this hotel on Disney’s website, over the phone or with an authorized Disney vacation planner. I booked a two-night stay through Disney’s website and paid $521.15 (after taxes and fees) for a standard room, which means the views are of the hotel or parking areas. If you want a view of the pool or courtyard, or to be closer to the main pool, shopping and dining area, room rates can increase by $20-$50 per night.

The prices of the Pop Century Resort fluctuate depending on the season. For example, since I booked my stay during spring break, which is considered peak season, the standard room rate was about $240 per night. If I booked a standard room at the Pop Century in late January 2025, a standard room would be about $195 per night (before taxes and fees). Typically, weekend dates (Friday, Saturday or Sunday) will cost more than weekday room rates — about $50 extra per night.


For those looking to cut the cost of a Disney vacation, certain Capital One credit cards will allow you to redeem miles to cover the cost of travel expenses. With the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, you can cover some (if not all) of the cost of your Disney hotel stay by redeeming Capital One miles at a rate of 1 cent per mile in the form of a statement credit.

Related: A magical guide for how to plan a trip to Disney World this year

Easy check-in and checkout process

As with any Disney hotel, you can check in and check out using the My Disney Experience app. When pulling up to the resort, I checked in on my mobile device and was told that I would receive a notification when my room was ready. If you want to head to the parks, you can drop your luggage off at the luggage desk at Classic Hall (free of charge).


Though my room was not supposed to be ready until 3 p.m., I was notified via text at 1:30 p.m. that I could access it. The app will tell you your room number as well as provide you with a digital key. Yes, you no longer have to worry about carrying around a room key. However, when my phone battery was almost dead, I opted to go to the front desk to get a key. Note that you may have to stand in line at the lobby counter, and it can be a long line. I waited in line for about 10 minutes and was asked to provide my name and ID before being given my room key.

When leaving the resort, you’ll automatically be checked out at 11 a.m.; you can also sign in to the app and manually check yourself out. I really like the ease of the check-in and checkout process that Disney offers; however, if you do need to talk to someone at the front desk, it may take a bit if the line is long.

Resort rooms emphasize functionality

Though the communal spaces at the Pop Century Resort feature a heavy dose of nostalgia, the rooms are anything but dated. In 2018, Disney’s Pop Century underwent a massive renovation of its rooms, adding a queen-size Murphy bed, hardwood floors and tons of storage space.

During my stay at Pop Century, I was pleasantly surprised by the functionality and efficiency of the room design. I booked a room that had two queen beds; I could have opted for a room with one king bed.

When you walk in, you’ll immediately notice a more sleek and minimalist style — a departure from the flashy decor just outside — with wood floors, a small wooden table and two chairs, and a coffee bar area, which features an in-room refrigerator and Cuisinart. Other notable in-room amenities include an Amazon Echo device, a safe, an iron and ironing board, an open closet with hangers, and Disney toiletries (shampoo, conditioner and body wash).


While the rooms may be on the smaller side at less than 300 square feet, the addition of a Murphy bed is a great option for those with multiple people in their party, specifically families with kids. No longer do guests have to eat breakfast or late-night snacks in bed or worry about cleaning up accidental spills; the Murphy bed easily collapses down into a bed, or you can push it up to be a table. It’s lightweight and super easy to use; therefore, you don’t have to worry about young kids grabbing at the bars and getting hurt when the bed folds down.

Aside from the two queen beds, the room features 16 electric outlets and 10 USB outlets, plus two electric plugs in the bathroom, which is, again, especially good for those traveling in groups (just note that there is a maximum of four people allowed per room), as there are more than enough outlets to plug in everyone’s devices.

The bathroom features a large vanity shelf and numerous storage cubbies for guests to easily keep track of their toiletries. I also appreciated that there was a door that separated the toilet and shower from the vanity area. Again, this creates a more functional space for several people occupying the small room.

However, one space that did seem a little cramped was the shower. For those on the taller side, you may feel like the shower nozzle is right at your face. For example, I’m 5-foot-3 and even I felt like the shower could have been a bit wider and taller to comfortably accommodate guests of all sizes.

The functional design of Pop Century’s room made it easy to store my personal items, making the room feel bigger. I think this is a solid option for those wanting to spend less on a Disney hotel room and more on their park experience.

Related: These are the best times to visit Disney World

Take the bus or Skyliner to Disney parks

As with planning any Disney vacation, one of the most important things to consider is how efficiently I can get to the parks. If you stay at a Disney resort, the properties offer a bus transportation system, which can take you to all four parks, the water parks and Disney Springs. While Epcot and Hollywood Studios are less than 5 miles from the Pop Century Resort, Magic Kingdom is the furthest park from the hotel. Luckily, when taking the bus, each bus took less than 10 minutes to arrive at the hotel, and it only took 17 minutes to get to Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Therefore, if you’re worried about staying at a resort that’s not within walking distance of Magic Kingdom, I wouldn’t be.


Aside from the bus system, what makes Pop Century really stand out is the Disney Skyliner, which connects you to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Skip the usual car traffic and soar above Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort — no pixie dust required — as you take to the skies in a gondola. Unlike the usual “rides” at Disney, I only had to wait (at most) five minutes to board the lift, and it took me approximately 20 minutes to get from the resort to the back entrance gate at Epcot.

Though taking the Skyliner may take a few extra minutes compared to hopping on the bus, I preferred to take the more scenic route. Plus, with Disney known for its massive crowds, it’s comforting to know that I didn’t have to rely just on the bus system as my only mode of transportation to and from the parks.

Related: Colorful, convenient and charming: Review of Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

Family-friendly activities

When staying on Disney property, there is no shortage of daily activities that are great for guests of all ages. Like other Disney resorts, Pop Century features recreational activities such as a nightly campfire to build s’mores (kits are available to purchase at about $6) and “Movies Under the Stars,” which shows a classic Disney movie every night at 8:30 p.m. by the main pool area.

And that’s not all — here are some other notable recreational highlights while staying at the Pop Century Resort.

Enjoy 3 pools (plus a kiddie pool) and poolside activities


Whether you choose to slip back into the 1960s at the groovy Hippy Dippy Pool (the main pool at the resort), listen to popular songs from the ’90s at the Computer Pool or strike a pose in front of the ’50s-inspired Bowling Pool (shaped like a bowling pin), the Pop Century has three glimmering pools that are open to its guests — no matter which decade you’ve checked in to.


During my stay, my room was in the ’90s building, so I spent my time at the Computer Pool, which I preferred over the other two. The Computer Pool was less crowded compared to the Hippy Dippy Pool, which is in front of Classic Hall, the main building at the Pop Century Resort that has the check-in desk, arcade and dining and shopping areas. Since Disney loves to stay on theme, the Computer Pool played classic songs from the ’90s, which created fun throwback moments to enjoy while poolside.


However, if you want to participate in poolside activities, you’ll have to head to the Hippy Dippy Pool. Starting at 12:30 p.m., a cast member orchestrates games, such as a hula hoop competition, bingo and more. This is a notable perk because if you decide to skip the park and spend the day at the pool, your kids can still experience a bit of Disney magic and be entertained with poolside games.

During my stay, the pools were open from 10 a.m. until 11 p.m. daily, though keep in mind that pool hours can vary depending on the season.

Arcade and decade-themed games

Speaking of games, inside the Classic Hall, you’ll find the Fast Forward Arcade, which, of course, features video games from different eras. To play the games, you must purchase an arcade card and points; however, the cost of the points was reasonable: $1 will buy you 50 points. This arcade is a great option as a post-park activity or if there is inclement weather preventing you from enjoying the pool.

While folks can enjoy the arcade, there are also decade-themed games you can play in the courtyards and by the pools of each building. When you stroll past the ’70s building, you’ll see Twister, while the ’50s pool area has life-size checkers.

Related: The best Disney World hotels for your 2024 stay

Good food for a decent price

Unlike at Moderate or Deluxe Disney properties, you won’t find table-service restaurants at the Pop Century. Value hotels have a food court-style dining area that essentially looks and feels like a cafeteria, and tray tables are included. At Everything Pop Dining, you’ll find seven service stations with food items ranging from pizza and burgers to salmon on a bed of orzo. Plus, there is a grab-and-go section that includes items like salads, sandwiches, fruit, pretzels with hummus, ice cream bars, wine and more.

While there are definitely some hit-or-miss food items, for the most part, the food was pretty good, especially for the prices and portions. My favorite menu item was a sweet and tangy barbecue pork sandwich with a side of fries ($10.79 before tax). Though you will find similar menu items at other Value hotels (i.e., All-Star resorts and Art of Animation), the Pop Century has a few notable desserts that can only be found at this resort.

Social media seems to rave about the Tie-Dye Cheesecake. Unfortunately, if you’re envisioning a New York City-style cheesecake, you may need to adjust your expectations. This dessert was definitely colorful, but it was a bit dense and lacked a creamy and flavorful consistency. At best, it was an average dessert; therefore, I wouldn’t reach for it again. For me, the Flashback Oatmeal Creme Pie took center stage as the must-get dessert at Pop Century.

Though I liked the convenience of having a plethora of food and snack items to choose from, lunch and dinner menu items did not change day-to-day, and the specials did not rotate daily either. During my next stay at the Pop Century, I would skip breakfast and instead opt for a quick grab-and-go yogurt and fruit or just eat at the parks. The hefty breakfast platters, which feature a limited menu of items like Mickey-shaped waffles or pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and tater tots, were a bit bland and pricey (around $13 before tax). I’d much rather grab a cinnamon roll at Gaston’s Tavern in Magic Kingdom.


The dining area is open from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. daily, so even if you return from the parks hungry, you can always opt to grab a late-night snack or ice cream sundae. Therefore, the cafeteria-style dining area is all about convenience; it’s not an elevated dining experience by any means, but it gets the job done.


As with all Disney resorts, Pop Century has accessible rooms that guests can request when booking; be sure to click on “Accessible Rooms” when booking your hotel stay on Disney’s website.

Accessible rooms feature grab bars at the toilet, an open bed frame, lower toilet height and an available portable raised toilet seat. A wheelchair-accessible room also comes with grab bars in the shower. All accessible rooms have optional communication features for guests with hearing disabilities, including a visual alarm, visual door knock/doorbell alert and telephone with volume control.


Aside from the rooms, Pop Century’s walking paths and public areas are wheelchair-accessible, and wheelchair-friendly elevators are available around the property. There are also self-service lifts at each of the three pools.

Related: Tips for visiting Disney World in 2024: 19 ways to save money and have more fun

Why Disney’s Pop Century Resort may not be for you

While Disney’s Pop Century Resort may emphasize functionality, the resort is massive, which means it may require you to do a bit of walking to get from your room to the dining area and other facilities. Since I paid for a standard room, my room in the ’90s-themed building overlooked the parking area. I was at one of the furthest points from Classic Hall; it was about a 10- to 12-minute walk from my room to the dining area and Hippy Dippy Pool.


If you want to be close to Skyliner or amenity areas, as I mentioned, you’re going to have to pay more money for a “preferred” room. When booking your hotel stay, remember that the prime decade — at the center of the action — is the ’60s-themed buildings.

The Pop Century Resort definitely seems to prioritize fun and kid-friendly activities; therefore, a lot of families and kids stay at this hotel. If you’re looking for a more relaxing and quiet Disney experience, a place to escape the crowded parks, staying at this resort may not be for you. Plus, this resort (as well as the All-Star resorts) is a popular hotel option for high school field trips and sports competitions (due to its proximity to ESPN’s Wide World of Sports).

If you want more amenities and bigger rooms, as well as table-service restaurants and lounges — and don’t mind spending about $40 extra per night — Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is a great Moderate alternative.

Disney’s Pop Century Resort vs. All-Star Resorts

After Pop Century underwent its 2018 renovation, this Value resort used to be favored heavily over the All-Star resorts (i.e., Sports, Music and Movies). However, the All-Star resorts went through a refurbishment in the past couple of years and have a similar in-room design style. When comparing the prices of the All-Star resorts with Pop Century, the latter is about $50 more expensive per night for a standard room. If you want to save money on your Disney hotel room, you may prefer the All-Star resorts.


I prefer the Pop Century over the All-Star resorts because of the multiple modes of transportation (bus and Disney Skyliner) to the parks, as well as the fact that I don’t have to share a bus and make stops at all three All-Star properties. Overall, I continue to value the efficiency of Pop Century more than the All-Star resorts.

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