Pop Century Resort Review, December 2009

Dates of Stay:  December 13th - 19th

Who:  2 adults aged 43 and 46, 7 year old boy

Section:  50's


Pop Century is a rather new value resort that opened in December of 2003.  At this time the hotel encompasses the 50's through the 90's and these are called the Classic Years.  There are over 2800 rooms in the Classic Years portion of Pop Century.  In the future Pop Century will debut the Legendary Years with the decades 1900 to 1940.


The 50's are of the Resort has three buildings that have a pool in the courtyard.  One of the buildings has Lady, from Lady and the Tramp gazing over the pool to the building across from her.  Here you will see none other than Tramp gazing back at Lady.  These oversize characters seem garish in pictures, but are perfect for the setting and fit right into the design of this decade.  The third building has a four story red jukebox.  The buildings are pink, yet the Red does not clash, and again seems to fit perfectly.


The very large pool for the 50's decade is shaped as a bowling pin.  Bowling balls can be found at the pool but are much to heavy to play with in the water.  Laundry is located next to the pool in a building that looks as if it houses bowling shoes.  The sizes are all listed, but no shoes are evident.  To our surprise we noted that the pool is open 24 hours a day, and there is a sign asking people to play quietly between the hours of Midnight and 7 in the morning.


The three buildings each have elevators as well as stairs.  The stairs are open air staircases in the shape of a bowling pin. Ice and Coke products can be found near the elevators on each floor.  Snack machines are located on floors 1 and 3, and each of the buildings has just 4 floors.  The elevators were quick and not very crowded during our stay.  Several times we saw a Cast Member cleaning the elevator surfaces.


Rooms here are small, but functional.  You will have either a king sized bed or two double beds.  Our room had two double beds.  We could not open the door and bring in the stroller without opening it all the way, bringing in the stroller and putting it near the table, then shutting the door.  Right inside the door was one of the beds.  We also had a circular table with two chairs and a rather large entertainment center combined with a dresser.  Here there were shelves to the left of the television, and drawers beneath.  There were three large drawers and three small drawers.


To the left of the entertainment center was open space for a few feet before you reach the wall for the 'closet'.  The closet area was also the sink and mirror.  On the closet shelf there was an extra blanket and pillow.  This was also good storage for suit cases.  Also here were an iron and ironing board.  The vanity area was small enough that I tended to keep our overnight bag on the top of a suitcase instead of on the counter.  Plastic cups were provided.


The shower and toilet were in the same room, which was ample sized but not large.  The door could not be shut while sitting on the toilet.  The shower curtain was plastic and had a design on it but the design had nothing to do with Disney or the 50's.  There was also a retractable clothing line inside the shower for drying swim suits.


In the main room the decorations were minimal, yet fanciful.  There was one picture in the room and it was a montage of several things that happened in the 50's.  The walls were simply painted but did have wallpaper at the top.  Here there were poodle skirts, sock hops, and Tinker Bell spreading Pixie Dust.  The bed spreads were also a montage of 50's life.  The Mickey Mouse telephone was one of the best depictions on this spread.


Surprisingly there was not an informational packet in the room about the hotel.  Instead there was a display about room service (you could order a pizza) and the requisite Bible.  Wake up calls are fully automated and very easy to set up.


The lobby area here is absolutely huge with about 4 counters for people who have done online check-in (only one had a Cast Member when we arrived), and at least 10 more counters for people who didn't check in online.  When we arrived the line for online check-in was longer than the standard line.


Also found from the lobby were the Arcade, which was in one room, and the sounds did not invade the lobby.  The Everything Pop gift shop was good sized, but did not have much of a personal shopping area where you could buy water, coke, or beer.  They did have a small selection of over the counter medications and baby supplies such as food, diapers and the like.  Other than that this was primarily a Disney store.  This store did not have a collectible area but had watches, inexpensive jewelry, clothing, plush and other items.  You could also go between the Food Court and this store.


We did find some bottled drinks in the food court.  There is a grab and go area that has a selection of juices, waters, fruit, pastry, and boxed snacks.  Each item has a designation telling you if it is a snack or dessert on the dining plan.  Beer is sold here by the bottle, and is not available on the dining plan.  The gift shop had other alcohol locked up near the counter.  This is there area where you will find yogurt and pudding selections.  Whole fruit and cut fruit in packages to be sold as a snack or as a dessert. Carrot cake or cheesecake for dessert.  There are premade salads, sliced apples with caramel, various types of chips including lays regular, barbecue and cheetoes.  Muffins, danish and cookies can be found in the bakery area of Grab and Go.  There are also snack boxes of cookies, crackers and other items.   Refillable resort mugs can also be picked up here.  If you are on the Quick Service Dining Plan your mug is free.


Dining options for the food court are pizza, specialty, sandwiches, burgers, ice cream and pastry.  The pizza counter had pizza (cheese or pepperoni) and pasta. The specialty counter closed each night at 10pm while the others were open until Midnight and you could get nachos, or Beef and Broccoli, Lo Mein and other Chinese favorites.  A sandwich and salad station had flatbread specialty sandwiches, salads, and a soup of the day.  The Grill served burgers, hot dogs, fries, chili, chicken  and more.  Ice cream concoctions and brownies, cookies and cheesecake can be found at the bakery. 


There were two double sided drink stations.  Each station also had a sink so that you could rinse out your refillable mug.  The fountain drinks are all Coke products.  You can also get iced tea in several flavors (green or black, sweet or unsweetened) and coffee.  At the top of the stations you could also get napkins and straws. In the morning the stations all had breakfast foods.


The grounds were well manicured and kept clean and free of debris.  The pool area was cleaned every morning, as were the pathways throughout the grounds.


This was our first time in a Disney owned Walt Disney World Resort.  Because this was a Disney hotel we qualified for Disney's Magical Express and used that as well.

Finding Disney's Magical Express at the Orlando Airport was very easy to do.  The paperwork we had been sent was informative and told us how to get there.  Disney has this down to a science.  Checking in took no time at all, and within 10 minutes of checking in we were on a bus!  They fill these busses, leaving no open seats if they can help it.  Since we were some of the last people on our bus, the wait was not long at all.  On the way to our hotel we saw a video telling us about Disney's Magical Express, online check-in, Disney Vacation Club, Disney Cruise Lines and more.  This was like the free vacation planning DVD you can order.  Even so, it was fun to watch on the drive.  I had been told to plan on 2 hours to get from the airport to the hotel.  In reality this only took about 45 minutes.


When we got to the hotel we found the online check-in queue to be longer than the standard queue.  Looks like they need to make a change there in their staffing. Even so, it was not a long wait, maybe 10 minutes before it was our turn to check-in.  We picked up our keys and our packet, asked for a refrigerator and were on our way. 


Our room in the 50's section was the farthest possible building from the Lobby and Food Court.  It was even longer since we turned the wrong way out of the main building and ended up touring the whole hotel.  It was a long walk but fun to see all of the building.  The huge big wheel was a big hit with all of us.  We never saw the Play-Doh or other things we had seen in pictures.  Finally we found the 50's section.  Our building was the one with the big juke box.  I am a music lover, so was surprised to see that of all the songs listed on the juke box I was not familiar with any of them!  We took the elevator to the second floor and found our room, 2256.  We could see Hourglass Lake from here and another side of our building but other than that it was just the hotel grounds.  The pool was on the other side.


Walking into our room the first thing we noticed was the size.  It was a tight fit to get into the room, but once in, it was just fine for us.  We don't spend a lot of time in our rooms, so don't need something extravagant.  I fell in love with the bed spreads. They were really nicely done.  I loved the nostalgia being at this hotel created.  And we had been left a towel dog which was adorable.  Later in the week we were left a towel wreath which was my favorite.  It is now hanging on our tree.


Mousekeeping was great.  We were given extra soaps and shampoos each day, and a few times she had found a stray Lego and put it on the desk.  I specifically noticed this with a lid that had fallen.  She put it on the bedside table for us instead of automatically throwing it away.  Each night when we came home our television was set to the hotel channel which was basically another advertising video.  It was fun to watch, and would have been better had it not repeated itself over and over.  Alex used the table for Lego's.  The one night we brought food back to the room we put the trash and the tray on the table.  She left it there.  We figure she thought we put it there to keep something.  No big deal.  Also in the room the biggest trash can is a recycle can.  It tells you what you can put in there.  I thought that was neat.


Our room was clean and comfortable.  It was also very quiet.  After seeing reviews about how loud this hotel is I was a bit concerned.  It was never a problem though.

The Cast Members at the hotel were fantastic.  When we came back to the room our first night and still didn't have luggage or the refrigerator.  I went to the front desk and talked to a wonderful young lady.  She absolutely would not let me pay for the fridge because of the mistake.  It usually costs 10.00 per 24 hours, as does internet.  After talking to her we had that fridge within 30 minutes.  Our luggage had not been delivered because one of our suitcases broke and they wanted to talk to us about that instead of just leaving it in the room.


The food at the Food Court was surprisingly good.  We didn't eat there often but when we did we enjoyed it.  In the evenings we never had trouble finding a seat.  We also rarely had to wait in a line.  The mornings on the other hand, were completely packed.  My favorite part of the food court was the ice cream counter.  Yummy.  The ice cream shakes and sundaes were really good.  I also used a snack on one of their brownies.  The brownie looked wonderful but was horribly dry.  I ended up throwing it away.


Busses at the Pop Century ran very well.  Every 20 minutes you could count on a bus, and sometimes it wasn't even that long.  In the mornings there were usually two busses to the Magic Kingdom.  While 20 minutes is what they tell you, we never waited more than 10 minutes for any bus!  Most of the Pop Century busses played music.  They were a surprising collection of different music from past and present, including popular theme songs such as Mash, the Jetsons and more.


The busses were always full and standing room only.  It makes sense if you think about the 2880 hotel rooms and how many people are in each room.  We were really impressed though because when we were at a park until closing after extra magic hours or a party (the Very Merry Christmas Party) we always had two busses.  And we were the only hotel to have two busses.  We found out later in the week that the top three hotels, the Grand Floridian, Contemporary and Polynesian share a bus, and there were never two busses at the end of the day.  The nice thing about the Pop Century Busses never shared a bus with another hotel.


Having to live with bus service does drive us nuts because we are used to walking from the park to our hotel at Disneyland.  Relying on transportation takes so much extra time.  That being said, we were very happy with the bus service at Pop Century.


The Pop Century is a value hotel that I can definitely recommend.  Really, we had no problems with the hotel and were there for seven days.  The lines to check out seemed horrible, but there was a Cast Member with a computer going through the line to expedite things.  That made a long line pretty short.  We will definitely stay here again.

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