Pop Century is this site’s “most recommended” Disney World Value Resort, though the distinction between it and the All-Stars is becoming blurrier with the recent refurbishments of All Star Sports, Music, and now Movies. Once All-Star Movies’ refurbishment is complete, Pop Century will lose one of its biggest advantages – higher quality, updated room furnishings. However, Pop Century still has a lot going for it, including dedicated bus transportation, the largest and most diverse food court of any Disney World resort, and a more condensed layout. Once the Art of Animation Resort opens across the bridge in 2012, it may add additional amenities.
Here we are arriving at Pop Century. One of Pop Century’s greatest assets is its dedicated bus service with a single stop in front of the resort’s main entrance. The organized queues are also nice and offer added order to the craziness that can be a Disney bus arrival. Anyone who has ever stayed at Port Orleans Riverside knows how frustrating it can be to arrive in plenty of time to get on a bus, only to have people just arriving cut in front because there’s no organized loading procedure. The lack of additional stops also reduces transit time. Pop Century is one of only five resorts that offers bus transportation to ESPN Wide World of Sports, though it’s only offered from 5pm to 11pm Thursday through Monday. The other resorts that offer bus transportation to ESPN Wide World of Sports are All Star Movies, Sports, and Music as well as Caribbean Beach Resort.
Quite the vast check-in area. There’s the “concierge” for questions, dining reservations, etc. to the far right, “regular” registration in the middle, and online check-in on the far left. Like a good boy, I went through online check-in prior to arrival. I should have been able to arrive and pick up my packet of goodies and room key within a matter of a couple of minutes. I arrived and there was only one person in front of me, so things were looking good. There was one person working the online check-in area and one woman being helped. I waited for about ten minutes. Apparently there was a problem. The woman waiting in front of me finally marched up to the desk. Turns out she only needed a towel. I continued to wait. While I was waiting, about ten groups cycled through the regular registration line, including eight or so that arrived after me. Finally, after 17 minutes of waiting for one person, I was helped by a new agent that popped out of the back. Within three minutes I was on my way. Not a very “magical” way to start my vacation!!!!!!!! But hey, that was more bloggable than a smooth check-in right?
To add insult to injury during my 20 minute wait, there were five or six people working in the background doing something that I couldn’t figure out. They didn’t seem too concerned that I had been standing there for 15+ minutes with no one in front of me. I don’t even think they noticed.
Here she is. Your standard Disney Value room, currently $130/night with tax and Annual Passholder Discount. Come Christmas, this little slice of heaven will run you $180/night with tax.
The “Bounce Back” offer was intact.
Disney sets their thermostats at a comfortable 74 degrees. At home, mine is set to a balmy 81 degrees.
Here’s the view from outside the room. I’m not sure why Disney doesn’t consider this a “garden view” room and charge extra for it. There is, after all, an overgrown plant right in front of us.
The Art of Animation Resort across the water. It’s sort of weird that they basically just started back up where they left off in 2001. I guess we can assume they cleaned up what I would imagine would be some pretty nasty interiors after sitting out in Florida weather for nearly a decade.
Just in case you’re not in the Disney mood upon arrival, Disney will remind you of natural and man-made disasters that occured throughout the mid-20th century.
A lot of oversized yo-yos about.
The basic structure of all the buildings look like this. There are elevator banks and stairs to get to floors two, three, and four.
The Bowling Pin Pool (shaped like a bowling pin)
Tramp (no offense, bro).
Hippy Dippy Pool.
A “life size” Foosball game and Big Wheel.
Rubik’s Cube that Disney has already “won.” Very rude.
Roger Rabbit, a keyboard, and a lot of loungers. We’re about 10 minutes away from a heavy downpour, which is probably why more people aren’t out and about.
Pop Century has a large arcade in the main building, across from Everything Pop, the store and food court.
A look around the Everything Pop Store. They have a variety of apparel, vinylmation, and other Disney merchandise. You’ll also find a large variety of toiletries that you may have forgotten at home, liquor, and Disney cds, movies, and video games. I tried to ignore Vagistat and whatever else is going on in that left section. With that, on to dinner.
A look at the Everything Pop food court stations, menus (for lunch and dinner), and seating areas.
I opted for the “Mom’s Night Out” special, which is served in this cute sectioned tin tray. Tonight’s offering was meatloaf, served complete with mashed potatoes, green beans, and corn bread. While this did not get rave reviews based on the picture on my Twitter feed, it was actually pretty good and a lot of food for the money. There’s a third slice of meat loaf underneath the cornbread. The fact that Everything Pop takes the Tables in Wonderland discount is also nice (it’s also accepted at the food courts at the other Value Resorts). I’ve seen reviews where people say they would go out of their way to eat at the Pop Century Food Court, even if they were staying elsewhere, but I’m not sure I would go that far. It isn’t like someone other than Disney is in charge of food service here. It’s “good,” but I certainly wouldn’t drive over to eat their hamburger over someone else’s hamburger.
Here we are skipping right ahead to breakfast. There are a ton of options.
I opted for the “Bounty Platter.” As you can see, it consists of eggs, french toast sticks, bacon, sausage, potatoes, and a biscuit. This wasn’t particularly good. We’re talking powdered eggs, limp bacon, and flavorless potatoes. The biscuit was nice and flaky and the french toast sticks had a reasonable amount of cinnamon flavor, but it was disappointing considering all of the rave reviews I’ve heard about Pop Century Food Court. A liberal amount of salt and pepper may have helped, but my brain wasn’t functioning this early. Remember, I had been up for evening Extra Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom until 3am and was up for morning Extra Magic Hour at Hollywood Studios at 6:30am. I’m also not a “big” breakfast person. The size of this breakfast doesn’t exactly scream, “I’ll be riding Tower of Terror in an hour.”
As much as I hate to say it, as I look at pricing and amenities at the Disney resorts, it just becomes more and more difficult to justify the prices. I live about seven miles south of Disney World. You could stay here in the same complex for $99 a night, every night of the year. That would get you a 1,300 square foot townhouse with three bedrooms/2.5 baths, full kitchen with full-size refrigerator/freezer, oven, stove, washer, dryer, digital cable, high-speed internet, two couches, dining room table/chairs, and a whole lot more. The complex also has a 24/7 guard with gated access, a pool, and fitness center. That’s 1,000+ more square feet for less money than the cheapest Disney resort. It’s also a five minute walk to Sam’s Club, Wendy’s, and Applebees, which one might argue has food on par or better than Disney World for less money. I’m not advocating an off-site stay necessarily, I’m just saying that there’s a lot of world out there.