Florida, Orlando: Walt Disney World Pop Century Resort

Disney's Pop Century Resort

1050 Century Drive
Kissimmee, FL 32830
(407) 934-7639

a Walt Disney World Value Resort

Friction Factor = LOW FRICTION

We stayed at the Pop Century Resort in January 2016, a great time to visit Disney World if you don't like standing in long lines and do not mind cool weather. The Pop Century Resort is themed around the culture of five decades in the U.S., the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's, and 90's. Our assigned room was in the section for the 50's, appropriate since that is when we were born.

Needing to call the hotel periodically with questions, I quickly realized the value of getting the resort's direct phone number. When calling the main switchboard at WDW, there is a lengthy automated security interrogation to help ensure you really are who you claim to be. After a couple of calls this becomes a frustrating experience.

This was the first time we had driven to Florida and GPS guided us right into the resort. Each of the Disney World resorts are huge, so you do not simply drive up to a hotel entrance and check in. At Pop Century there is a very large parking lot dedicated to new drive-in arrivals. Upon walking across the parking lot and entering the main building, named "Classic Hall," I looked around to find the check-in desk. Not finding a sign to direct me I stepped further  into the main hall and discovered a check-in counter to the right that seemed hundreds of feet long. I walked into a roped off line where nobody was waiting and a few "cast members" were right there to help, directing me to what turned out to be the Concierge Desk next to the actual check-in areas. Since nobody was in line (an advantage we came to love by coming on a week day in January), the concierge attendant kindly took me under wing to get our room.

Armed with a small package of information and our RFID wrist bands (MagicBands), I made my way back to our car to find our way to our room. That turned out to be an unexpected challenge. Even though I had a map, and the concierge even drew a line to follow, it was unclear in the driving reality. Buildings were identified by color and theme name. Actual building numbers were difficult to see and our building was behind others, so it was not clear where to park. The parking lots are massive, but fortunately this time of year they were mostly empty and there was very little traffic. I thought I was turned around and ended up driving way over to what turned out to be the 90's section, then back to resume our search. We eventually discovered our room was in the "Tramp" building (based on a theme of The Lady and the Tramp). By accident I parked in what turned out to be the best parking location. As we meandered with our luggage down the walkways, a cast member pointed us to our building. I later discovered that a path along a beautiful lake leads directly from our parking lot to our room.

This was our first time staying in a value resort at Disney World. While there is a significant difference between, Value,  Moderate, and Deluxe Resorts at Disney World, the reliable Disney quality is reflected in them all. Our ground floor room was conveniently located with a pretty view of the lake. 

A storm had passed through central Florida the day before, leaving the day of our visit calm and sunny. Looking for our room at noon (early check-in yet another wonderful advantage of a January visit), we passed by the large resort swimming pool where a fair number of people were sunning and some even swimming.

Our room was smaller and not as nicely appointed as at the higher-end resorts, but we were very pleased to see that everything we needed was covered and the room was very clean. The rooms must be well insulated because we were not able to hear people in neighboring rooms during our stay and I think we did have neighbors at least to one side.

We enjoyed a good night's rest on comfortable beds. We missed a king bed since value resorts come with two double beds, but at least they were comfortable. Our room had notably good lighting. The vanity space is quite small but there was only two of us and we managed fine.

If you've read my other reviews you know that having convenient access to power outlets from the bed side and at the desk is important to me. Many hotels now provide lamps with at least one power outlet in the base. Not so here. There was a power outlet on the wall near one bed and one about 6 feet away for the other bed.

A desk for rooms in this resort come as a small table with a regular chair. The power outlet is on the wall behind the table. It is simply one of the distinctions of a "value" resort reflected in the lower cost. And we managed just fine.

The bathroom is very small. We enjoyed strong water pressure. I was pleased to have a bright light positioned over the shower curtain so that the bath area is well lit, making it easier to shave while showering.
A minor friction factor: we kept hearing long high frequency squeals. I tracked it down to the fridge compressor. The maintenance manager came out promptly and the unit was replaced within a few hours. Meanwhile, I simply pulled out the large cabinet to get to where it was plugged in and unplugged the fridge.

Another distinction of a value resort is having meals at a food court instead of a restaurant. But I was pleased to see the same thoughtfulness go into the "Everything Pop" food court as with all else Disney does. The food court is in Classic Hall, the main building. There is limited variety to help lines move fast, but each of the four food ordering stations offered a different specialty. For breakfast one or two items differed from one station to another (e.g., pancakes vs. waffles). All accessories (napkins, plasticware, condiments, etc.), including drink fountains, are replicated and spread out to accommodate a large number of diners.

The impressive MagicBands make it fast and easy to charge purchases to your account.

With one exception, the food  we ate was decent and a surprisingly good value if you can stay away from the "accessory" purchases like $4 individual cartons of milk. The exception was at our first lunch. My hamburger, obviously precooked and sitting for an unknown period of time, was cold and dry. The fries, however, were hot, good, and (too) plentiful. Breakfast the next morning was high carb for a coming big day. 

Walking past the swimming pool one evening on our way to Classic Hall to eat, we were amused at the two lifeguards who are obviously required to be there, one overlooking the pool from the life guard station and one walking around the pool attentively….even when nobody is in the pool (it being quite cool in the evenings).

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay here. The cast members were always helpful. The whole area was clean and attractive. Even the weather cooperated beautifully for the time of year…but then, it's Florida. Late September is still my favorite time to come to Disney World, when it's still warm for night swimming and stunningly nice weather and smaller than normal crowds. Now we have discovered that January is also a great time to be here, a massive relief against huge crowds.