I recently had the pleasure of staying at Disney’s Pop Century resort in Florida. I was there for work, but, as always, I judged my experience through the lens of a mom and thought about how a family with small kids might enjoy the experience.
Would I recommend a family with small kids stay at Pop Century? Absolutely! Provided you are okay with a few details.
Read on for my honest review of the Pop Century Hotel, why I think it’s a great option for young families, and who I wouldn’t recommend it for.
Value Pricing, Big Theming
Pop Century is a value level resort, meaning it is on the lower end of the Disney pricing scale.
But you still get all the big Disney perks of staying on property: discounted MagicBands, ability to participate in magic hours, free transportation to and from the airport, free transportation around the Disney World resort, and the ability to participate in the Disney Dining Plan.
If you are on a tight budget but still want to live in the Disney bubble with all the perks that come with it, this could be the hotel for you.
The hotel has fun, larger than life theming. Each area of the resort is themed after a different decade and there are HUGE statues, sculptures and other items related to that decade surrounding the building. I’m talking music from that decade being played, building décor modeled after that decade, the pools nearby were themed to match, and more.
I stayed in the 50’s wing and there were GIGANTIC statues of Lady and the Trump at the front of the area. I mean HUGE. Taller than the buildings themselves. They were quite impressive, and they were only two of the many there at the hotel.
Not only that but the pool was the shape of a bowling ball and the nearby laundry mat was themed after what you might find in a bowling alley as well. So cool!
Small but Clean and Recently Updated Rooms
To be honest with you, the rooms at this resort were rather small. However, it is designed to allow you to create the maximum amount of space while you are occupying the room but not ready to go to bed. And they were recently updated so everything is clean, fresh, and sleek looking.
You can get a room with 2 Queen beds or 1 King sized bed.
I was in a room with two Queen size beds, but one is a murphy bed that can easily fold up into the wall when you are not using it to allow for more floor space. When the bed is up, there is a small table and chairs available for use.
The beds were VERY comfortable and there were a ton of pillows available to use. I had no trouble falling asleep and staying comfortable.
Stroller Advice: Because there isn’t a ton of space to move around in the room, especially when both beds are down, I recommend folding up your stroller to give you more space.
I noticed some people even kept them out on the walkway. No one has a private balcony so anyone would be able to walk by and access your stroller, so I would advise against that.
Bathrooms also smaller but have sink/shower split
Again, the bathrooms were on the smaller side and in proportion to the overall size of the room. However, it was organized efficiently to allow more than one person to get ready at the same time.
The shower and toilet were separate from the sink and mirror with a pocket door in between. One person could be in the shower while others are brushing their teeth or doing their hair, allowing for quicker time to get ready in the morning.
Big fan of the separate bathroom areas.
There are also a lot of organizational cubbies and drawers, making it easy to organize your things so they are quick and easy to access when you need them, and out of the way when you don’t.
Kid Friendly Activities Throughout
There are tons of things to do around the resort to keep the little ones busy. So even if you are not heading into the parks that day, you can still get them good and tired.
There are fun activities sprinkled throughout, including a large Twister board and spinner that’s built into the ground, a small play structure the youngest kids can climb on, and an arcade in the lobby for the older kids. And of course, a few different pools with varying themes and fun activities surrounding them.
You won’t be searching for something the family can do for long.
Easy Access to Parks
Transportation to and from this hotel was super easy and seamless.
The primary mode of transportation to anywhere around the Disney World Resort from this hotel is the bus. However, starting in the Fall of 2019 it will be one of the resorts the new Skyliner will service. You will soon be able to take the bus or a gondola in the sky to Hollywood Studios and Epcot from this hotel.
The Skyliner was still in the testing phase when I was there, but the cars looked gorgeous and like a fun way to get around. I can’t wait to go back and give them a try.
2020 Update: I have been back since the Skyliner opened and it is fantastic! So easy and convenient to get around. It is now my preferred method of Disney transportation.
But for this trip the bus was my only option and honestly, I found it incredibly easy to navigate around. All the bus stops were clearly marked, easy to find, and the times to the next bus were clearly displayed so you knew how long of a wait you had.
Because this is one of the larger resorts, the busses only served Pop Century and you didn’t have to waste time going to another resort to pick up more people before heading to your destination.
This also meant that the busses were crowded at peak travel times. I got lucky and they brought a second bus by when there was a particularly large group of us heading to Hollywood Studios one morning. I couldn’t say for sure that was the norm, but it was a nice surprise and was clearly something they do on occasion.
Strollers and the Bus
One thing to keep in mind is that because you are taking a bus, strollers had to be folded before boarding. I am not going to sugarcoat this for you, taking a single stroller on and off a bus is a PAIN. Don’t get me started on the double strollers!
You have to take all your things out, get the child out, fold the stroller, carry it up the stairs onto the sometimes very crowded bus, hang on to it while the bus is in motion, then do it all again in reverse when you get there. And if the child is asleep? That adds another level of complications to the mix!
There are ways to get around dealing with strollers on the bus, but they all cost money. You can rent one of Disney’s strollers at the park you are going to that day. Those are just for use at the park and don’t ever leave the front gates. But those strollers are hard plastic and I’m not a huge fan of them, not to mention the added cost.
You could take a Minnie Van or Uber to where you are going, however then you must deal with car seats. The Minnie Vans do have car seats you can use, but they are more money than your typical Uber or Lyft.
Or stay at a higher end resort where taking the monorail or boat to at least some of the parks is an option. But of course, that will cost you quite a bit more than a room at Pop Century would.
The Skyliner may solve this problem when you are heading to Hollywood Studios or Epcot. It remains to be seen, but it’s possible you won’t have to fold your stroller to get on those. I will be sure to update this blog when I learn more. December 2019 Update: You can roll your strollers right on to the Skyliner! No folding necessary, at least for the singles.
For now, while it is a bit of a nuisance to get your stroller on and off the bus, it’s not impossible and you only have to do it a few times during your trip. I would recommend saving your money and just dealing with it if you can.
Great Food Options
The food court at Pop Century is awesome. Lots of great choices and there are quick, grab and go type food available as well. It was also super easy and convenient to fill up your refillable mug if you have the dining plan or purchased them separately.
Too tired to head to the food court to grab dinner? They got you covered.
In-room pizza delivery service was available to resort guests. Not a recommended use of your dining plan credits, but still a viable option if you just feel like kicking your feet up in your room and don’t mind forking over the cash.
Not for Everyone
As you can see, there are many positive reasons to stay there. Why wouldn’t you want to stay at Pop Century?
If you are a family of 5 or more this hotel would not be an option for you. Each room only holds up to 4 people. You could get multiple rooms that are adjoining, however getting adjoining rooms is not always guaranteed. And for less you could probably get a room at one of the moderate hotels that sleep 5 people.
Also, if you have older kids who take up more space, you may wish to stay at a moderate hotel where the hotel rooms are a little bit larger to give yourselves more room to move around.
But then again, if you are spending all your time at the parks or in the pool and the room is just a place to sleep at night, it wouldn’t much matter.
Overall, I think Pop Century is an excellent hotel choice for young families and I would absolutely stay there again.
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