SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Pop Century Resort

by on September 6, 2014 10 Comments

Filed under: Beyond the Parks, Dining, Merchandise, Resorts, Saturday Six, Walt Disney World (FL)

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This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Pop Century Resort. One of Disney’s Value Resorts, Pop Century has a level of theming that makes it stand out compared to the other lower priced hotel offerings at the All Star resorts while also having dedicated bus transportation to the parks and Downtown Disney.

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The entire resort is themed around pop culture icons from the latter half of the twentieth century, with the wings of the hotel dedicated to the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Each wing has elements from their particular decade throughout the area. If it sounds cheesy, that’s because it is cheesy, but it’s a good kind of cheesy way and one that can bring back a lot of memories for every family. At the very least Pop Century is great for an afternoon of “resort hopping” to see some of the things they offer that you can’t find at any other Disney resort, starting with…

 

# 6 – The Lobby is a Wonderful Trip Back Through Time

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Disney’s Pop Century Resort

 

While the check-in desks inside Classic Hall are the same that you will see in many theme park hotels, the walls opposite check in are filled with shadow boxes containing items from the 1950s through the 1990s. This is a wall that will have various generations of every family seeing an item and instantly remembering where they were in life when that was popular.  Elvis, the Moon landing, Dobie Gillis (with Maynard G Krebs), the Beach Boys, Star Wars, Mork & Mindy, Jane Fonda’s workout book, Trivial Pursuit, He-Man, Go-Bots, Smurfs, and so much more are in this area.

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A “Where’s the Beef?” plate in Disney’s Pop Century Resort. If this isn’t reason enough to at least look around, I don’t know what is.

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The Simpsons, The X-Files, Wayne & Garth from Saturday Night Live and The Sopranos (?!) all at Disney’s Pop Century Resort

 

# 6A – THERE ARE FREE ARCADE GAMES IN THE LOBBY!

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While Mom or Dad check in, everyone else can lounge around in this waiting area. It plays Disney Channel on a TV and has free video games

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If these games were Ms. Pac Man, Spy Hunger, Joust, and Track & Field, I would never leave this room

This is not a drill people. There are free video games inside the Pop Century Lobby. Video games are popular now, more than any time in history, but Pop Century celebrates how big arcade games were in the pre-Nintendo era of household gaming. Set on free play, the two machines inside Classic Hall have two games on each. One has Space Invaders and Qix, the other has Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros. All four of these games were HUGE back in the day and it’s a blast to play them again.

 

# 5 – Fast Forward Arcade

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Fast Forward Arcade at Disney’s Pop Century Resort

 

Speaking of video games, Pop Century also has a world class arcade to have some fun in that has a gigantic cross section of games including your standard arcade games, driving simulators, air hockey, and various games of skill to win tickets (which you can exchange for prizes.)  Highlights include more old school arcade games (including Galaga) along with basketball, football, and baseball games which make it easy to have competitions with your friends and family.

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Carnival style games at Fast Forward Arcade.

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Baseball, football, and basketball games at Fast Forward Arcade.

 

# 4 – The Food and Snacks at Everything Pop!

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The King Cupcake at Disney’s Pop Century Resort

 

Like Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe at the Magic Kingdom, the Everything Pop! food court at Pop Century is split up into several sections, so while one area may have slices of pizza, another one will have burgers. Like the Bayliner Diner at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, along with your standard food options Everything Pop! has several choices to echo the theming of yesteryear. These include “comfort food” entrees such as chicken pot pie, pot roast, and meatloaf. Our favorite? Sloppy Joes! Where Everything Pop! goes above and beyond is in the snack department. Not only are there milkshakes available, but here is where you will find tie-dye cheesecake and the incredible King CupcakeDedicated to the “King” Elvis Presley, this cupcake contains all the elements Elvis used in his favorite sandwich combined with a chocolate cupcake. Inside the cupcake is a dollop of banana custard, while on top of the cupcake is peanut butter icing, candied bacon, and chocolate drizzle. Run, don’t walk, to try this one.

 

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Sloppy Joes!!!!!

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Tie-Dye Cheesecake at Disney’s Pop Century Resort

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A snack via Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC in Disney Springs.

 

# 3 – Larger Than Life Disney Characters

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Roger Rabbit of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? fame.

 

If you enjoy getting pictures of Disney characters, Pop Century just may be the resort for you. Not only is there a great photo-op with Goofy outside of Classic Hall, but you will also find characters such as Roger Rabbit and Baloo the Bear standing at almost four stories tall throughout the resort.

 

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Tramp from Lady and the Tramp

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Mowgli and Baloo from The Jungle Book

 

# 2 – Larger Than Life EVERYTHING

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If you heart skips a beat seeing this Big Wheel, you grew up in the 70s and early 80s

 

You’ve seen the Disney characters, but throughout the resort there are also gigantic versions of various pop culture items from the 20th Century. Foosball players, a Big Wheel, a tub of Play-Doh, and even Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head are among the large icon figures you will discover in each wing. Across each building  you will also find phrases from each era along with various items, such as transistor radios and Pac-Man. The outside stairwells for each building are also covered by four story tall props including bowling pins, 8 track tapes, and yo-yos. The “90s” building has three different types of retro cell phones hiding stairs behind them.

 

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Kids, every time your parents give you grief about “LOL” or “prolly” just remind them of the words they tried to add to the American lexicon that never went anywhere

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The backs of these even have the storage compartments. The devil is in the details.

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Yes, cell phones that couldn’t send emojis actually existed.

 

# 1 – The Walk Around Hour Glass Lake

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Signage around the walkway as you travel through the latter half of the twentieth century

 

Pop Century was originally conceived to have two separate areas. The first section, the Classic Years, was completed and is what we know as Pop today. A second section, the Legendary Years, was going to be built across Hourglass Lake and the two resorts would be connected by Generation Gap Bridge. The Legendary Years would have focused on the 1900s through the 1940s and what I wouldn’t do to see how Disney would have handled the Great Depression and World War II.  As we know, the Legendary Years was never built and instead that area was eventually used for Art of Animation.

One of the strengths of both Pop Century and Art of Animation is being able to take advantage of Hourglass Lake between them and take a gingerly walk (or prepare for a runDisney race) around the entire area via large walkways. On Pop Century’s half of the walkway there are signs along the way that highlight major events of various years. Staying at Pop Century allows you to get a great value when you’re staying on-site at Disney, but it also gives you the ability to easily walk over and enjoy the fantastic Landscape of Flavors food court at Art of Animation along with some of AoA’s outstanding theming including Radiator Springs from the movie Cars.

 

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A walk around Hourglass Lake

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Disney’s Pop Century Resort, as seen from Art of Animation (photo by Brandon Glover)

HONORABLE MENTION: A View of DHS Fireworks

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Frozen Summer Fun Live! Fireworks seen from Disney’s Pop Century Resort. They are exploding behind Art of Animation and reflecting off Hourglass Lake

 

Being able to see the highlights of the Frozen Summer Fun Live! fireworks show from Pop Century was a nice surprise and believe it or not one of the best viewing areas was inside the Computer Pool located by the 1990s wing of the resort. You can also see the fireworks from along the jogging trail bordering Hourglass Lake and from the outdoor breezeways on various buildings facing Art of Animation (the higher up the better.)

UPDATE! Pop Century delivers in a major way when it comes to resort merchandise!

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New Pop Century Resort branded magnet and pin.

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Retro items including Mr. Potato Head, Rubix cubes, and Duncan yo-yos.

One of the weakest areas in all of Disney’s Value Resorts (outside of Art of Animation) has been the lack of resort specific merchandise. Recently Pop Century went from only having one very generic pin design to having a bunch of terrific new pins and magnets along with retro style items including Rubix cubes and Etch-A-Sketches. Pop Century immediately went from one of the most skippable resort gift shops to one of WDW’s best.

 

So there you have it: Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Pop Century ResortSee you next weekend for the latest edition of the SATURDAY SIX, where we are going to take a peek at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. If you had fun, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles, or, for your listening pleasure, check out Pardon the Pixie Dust podcast.

Special thanks to crack staff photographer Brandon Glover for his invaluable assistance in this article.

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Posted on September 6, 2014

10 Responses to “SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Pop Century Resort”

  • by Daffystardust on September 6, 2014, at 8:08 am EST

    I’ll be at Pop in just 14 days!
    As a single park commando on a budget, it seems like the ideal spot for me.

    • You picked the perfect resort for that. Whenever I travel alone or plus one, Pop Century is perfect for just that. I suggest a room on the opposite side of tge 50s jukebox: you can see aforementioned fireworks, the pin pool in rarely crowded or noisy, and the walk to the busses is pleasant.

  • I know this sounds crazy, but my kids prefer Pop Century to every other Disney resort that we’ve stayed at. They actually prefer it to Beach Club (which I think is crazy, but they are 7 & 10)! They love the arcade, they love the food court, and they love the overall energy of the place. We prefer to be in the parks and don’t spend a ton of time at the resort, so Pop Century makes a lot of sense for our type of Disney vacation.

    • It’s our favorite, too! We were happily bumped up once to Saratoga Springs but halfway through our vacation we agreed it wasn’t for us. We’re very comfortable in Pop Century. Then again, we’re park commandos and save our $$ for other stuff. I’ll change my tune maybe once I win the lottery. 😉 Maybe.

  • We will be staying at Pop Century for the first time in November. It was highly recommended by some friends, and it didn’t hurt that this hotel is favorably mentioned in several Disney blogs. As a family with food allergies, I am so excited that we’ll be able to get Babycakes cupcakes. (Thanks for the picture Derek)

    I requested certain room numbers after using Touring Plans room finder. (What a cool option!) Should I call before we arrive to reiterate room requests?

    • I want to do this too! But I’m not sure where to send my request.

      • I just mentioned it to the person I made my reservation with, but I’m sure you could call the Disney number anytime and ask for certain rooms. Just a heads up, it was clear that the lady I spoke to thought I was going a little far with my pre-planning. Of course, all cast members remain polite, even in the face of obsessive vacation planning tendencies.

    • Not only can you get the Babycakes mini-cupcakes at various resorts on Disney property, don’t forget you can call and get almost anything delivered straight to your hotel. We had donuts, regular size cupcakes, and a full size cake delivered to ours. My g/f is a vegan so Babycakes is a big help when the rest of us have a million choices for baked goods at Disney and she has almost none.