Pop Goes the Webmaster: The Pop Century Resort Review Part II

by Deb Wills
AllEars® Editor-in-Chief

Feature Article

This article appeared in the January 27, 2004 Issue #227 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)

Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.

Deb Wills recently returned from three nights at the Pop Century Resort. Part I of her in-depth look at the newest Walt Disney World resort (ALL EARS?® Issue #225) dealt with the overall theming, the front desk, and Everything Pop Shopping and Dining. This article covers transportation (parking and buses), the rooms, and special tips for your stay at Pop Century. Additionally, AllEars® columnist Anita Answer recently stayed at Pop Century, too, and adds her comments.

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Set up much the same as the All-Star resorts, Pop Century has well-marked bus stops in the front of the main building, Classic Hall. However, one thing that Pop Century has done differently is to make "chutes," similar to the queue areas you find at the theme park bus stops. This helps greatly during peak times, such as park openings, when there are lots of folks waiting for buses. People seem to be more patient knowing there is one and only one line available!

We used the Disney bus system about half of the time during our stay and found it to be very efficient. A couple of times we even saw the bus we wanted pull away, only to have another one pull up less than five minutes later. We did not use the bus system at any park closing, but we've included comments at the end of this article from a reader who did.

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Parking your vehicle at Pop Century is another matter altogether. When you check in at the front desk, the Cast Member will direct you to the parking area that corresponds to your building assignment ('60s, '70s, etc.). However, depending on the exact location of your room, this may NOT always be the most convenient place for you to park. We checked in at 10 p.m., so didn't have the energy or the luxury of light to drive around looking for the best spot. We quickly found out that where we had parked was far from ideal.

The biggest issue that I observed with parking was with the "preferred location" of the 1960s buildings. While these buildings are closest to Classic Hall and most all facilities, there is no adjacent parking lot. Any steps you may have saved yourself by paying the extra $10 for the preferred location will be negated if you have a vehicle in the parking lot. However, if you do not have a vehicle, and want a convenient location, the '60s are for you!

Anita Answer adds: We were staying in the '70s building, but the '80s parking lot was actually much closer and more convenient. Also, the main parking lot at Classic Hall seemed to be always full. Some of the lots are even tiny!

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Each building at Pop Century has an elevator in the middle of the building. Like all rooms in the value (and moderate) resorts at WDW, the rooms at Pop Century open to outdoors. The rooms measure 260 square feet (the same size as the All-Stars) and come with two double beds or one king, a small table with two chairs, an in-room wall safe, a vanity area with sink, a bathroom, and voice mail. Each room with two double beds will accommodate four plus one child under 3 in a crib.

The rooms are simply adorned, yet very functional. No matter what section your room is in, it will be identical to all other rooms with the exception of two things: each "decade" has its own wallpaper border at the ceiling and its own framed photo of memorabilia from that decade.

The rooms come equipped with a full-size ironing board and iron, as opposed to the All-Stars where you must request the iron and the ironing board isusually the miniature version without legs. You may also request a hair dryer from Housekeeping to use during your stay. One thing you won't be able to get, though, is a coffee maker. At this time, Housekeeping is joined with Caribbean Beach Housekeeping, and Dispatch may even be located there. While items that we requested arrived, nothing arrived quickly. It should be noted that the General Manager of Pop Century is also the GM at Caribbean Beach. (Anita adds: Speaking of Housekeeping, our biggest complaint was the constant stream of golf carts carrying Housekeeping staff, zooming all over the area on pedestrian walkways. One morning we had to stop four times to let them pass as we walked to our car! Ridiculous!)

The TVs at Pop Century are much larger than those at other value resorts — 27 inches! This makes for much easier TV viewing around the room!

Be VERY careful when using the safe. It is located right next to the clothes rack and both of us knocked our heads on the rack on more than one occasion. As Anita observed, the wall safes are larger than in other resorts, but you still can't fit much in them. They are very tall, but still only a couple of inches deep.

You will find that more than half of the rooms here designed to be connecting, an increase over the number of connecting rooms available at the All-Stars. This makes it much easier for families who want to spread out and book two connecting rooms — just don't look for connecting rooms with king beds.

A nice enhancement for the rooms is the curtain design. The left and right side of the curtains run on separate overlapping tracks, thereby allowing almost no light whatsoever into the room. This is especially nice for sleeping in, naps, and privacy in first floor rooms.

We also found a couple of annoying quirks, like the faucet. It seems to now have a "water saver" feature that makes the water spray out rather than flow in the more traditional stream. Rinsing off a toothbrush was near impossible!

Without motion in the room fairly regularly, the thermostat will default to a "shut off" position. The room becomes warmer than you'd like overnight, and you won't find a nice, cool, air-conditioned room upon returning from the parks on a hot day. Perhaps this feature can be disabled, though, Anita notes, as her room's air conditioning seemed to stay on all the time. Unfortunately, she adds, the thermostat will not go below 65, and her room always seemed much warmer.

Overall, the rooms are quite functional, with room to move around for two adults and two children. I do think four adults, or two adults and two larger kids, will find the maneuvering rather tight. Also, there will not be enough storage space for a family of four staying for a week. And as Anita points out, the bed frame is solid, so you can't store luggage underneath the beds.

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There are three pools to enjoy and each is themed to the decade in which it is located: Hippy Dippy Pool ('60s), Bowling Pin Pool ('50s) and Computer Pool ('80s). There is a small playground on the grounds, and the arcade, located in Classic Hall, has games of all kinds. A walkway, currently only partially open, surrounds Hourglass Lake. You may find yourself reminiscing while you stroll, assigns for each decade have been placed along the lake — the odd years on your clockwise journey, and the even years on the counterclockwise route. The path to the bridge, which will eventually connect to the Legendary Years (first half of the 20th century), is actually quite pleasant and has benches and plants along the way.

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While the remote control for the room TV does not have a "sleep" or timer option, the TV does come with one. At the bottom of the front of the TV you will find a button labeled "menu." Press this, use the channel up and down buttons to find the sleep timer, and then follow the directions. Worked like a charm!

It's fun to walk around and see the window displays that some guests have created for themselves. Sometimes Housekeeping has a hand in this. You'll see all kinds of amusing things, from plush arrangements to towel animals and more.

To avoid much of the traffic noise, request a room on the third or fourth floor. Anita adds that if you have a room on the perimeter of the property, you'll hear a lot of noise from those Housekeeping golf carts and the pizza delivery truck.

When outside, take a look at the colors of each building. They go from lighter to darker as your eyes move from the first floor to the fourth floor.

If you plan to use the pool, remember to call Housekeeping for extra towels at least an hour in advance! There are no towels at the pools themselves.

Use common sense in scouting out a parking space. The parking area labeled to correspond with your building may not be the closest space. If you don't want to pay extra for a preferred room, Anita suggests that you try the '70s buildings. They're close to parking, two pools and the food court.

We found that it was great fun to wander around the resort during both the day and night. The nighttime lighting is brighter and softer than that at All-Stars, which makes for pleasant after-dark strolls.

The outside stairwells each have a small cover, but only the Rubik's Cube stairwells were "covered" along the sides. During rainstorms, you might get wet walking up and down the staircases. At the All-Star resorts, the icons cover all sides of the stairwell and offer better protection.

Explore the grounds. You'll find actual games of Twister to play, a great water fountain area (like the ones in Epcot and Downtown Disney) for the kids to splash in, and in the evening, you can even see disco lights!

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About the transportation, *Jonathon* comments: Speaking of buses, this was the big negative of the resort to me. Don't get me wrong, the Disney bus service was every bit as efficient as always. The problem was that with the amount of people at this resort we never had a trip on a bus that wasn't standing room only. We were there during a slow time for WDW in general, but because this is the new resort on the block, combined with the great prices, Pop Century was full the entire trip. To Disney's credit they did try to handle the load with more buses. After the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom on Saturday, there were three buses lined up ready to go for Pop Century.


*Rebecca* shares: We had a king bed room and while I've heard the rooms with two beds lack enough room to move around, this room had plenty of space for the two of us. I thought the furniture was beautiful and I adored the '50s poster on the wall, which had some of my favorite Disney movies, including Peter Pan and Sleeping Beauty. Alas, they do not sell these posters in the gift shop.


*Stark* comments: My wife described the hotel as a "Disney Motel 6." I guess that's a fair observation. The small decorative signs as you drive towards the entrance even hark back to motel advertisements from days gone by: "color TV" and "heated pool" hint at an experience more like vintage Route 66 than Ritz Carlton. The architecture will not win any awards. If there weren't Disney decorations all over the place and the unique paint jobs, it could pass for any other discount motel.


*Samantha S.* advises us: My only real complaint about Pop Century is the parking. Even with a map it took us a few good tries to figure out where it was best to park in order to get to our room. We had a rental car so we didn't take the buses, but the lines looked out of control at every time of day. So if you do plan to stay there, think about renting a car.


Thanks to our ALL EARS?® readers who have filed reports on Pop Century!

For more reader comments on their trips, visit: http://land.allears.net/reviewpost/showproduct.php?product=19&cat=3

For photos of the resort, visit: http://allears.net/acc/g_pop.htm

For menus, visit: http://allears.net/menu/menu_popb.htm – Breakfast
http://allears.net/menu/menu_popct.htm – Dinner


Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.