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If you’re planning on traveling to Walt Disney World (WDW) anytime soon and want to know what it’s like staying at one of the reopened resorts, go no further. Here’s what it’s like staying at Disney’s Pop Century Resort right now, you know, during a pandemic.
Even though the WDW resort has implemented many health and safety protocols due to the current environment, there are still many features the value resort has had for awhile that make it appealing, including access to the Disney Skyliner. But, more on that in a bit.
I stayed at Pop Century for six nights in early August, and it was my first time at the resort. Here are some basics to know:
- Type: Value Resort (lower price bracket)
- Location: Wide World of Sports Resort Area
- Dining: Only one main Quick Service location and one pool bar
- Shopping: One gift shop
- Transportation: Access to buses and Skyliner
- Pools: Three pools
- Recreation: Jogging/walking path with beautiful views
Pop Century celebrates the fads from different decades from the 1950s through the 1990s. There are different buildings dedicated to each decade with large, colorful statues celebrating the time periods.
There’s no denying the theming is fun and make for great photo-ops!
Also, I just love Goofy with the surfboard. He’s the best!
There are even fun facts posted along the walking path from each time period that are really interesting. This one reads, “1973: The Sears Tower in Chicago opens as the tallest building in the world.”
Now, first things first, the room
I stayed in a Preferred Room, which costs more, since it’s located in closer proximity to transportation and dining. There are three other types of rooms to book that range in price: Standard Room, Standard Pool View, and Preferred Pool View.
If you don’t want the noise from the pool, I recommend choosing either just the regular Standard Room or Preferred Room. My room was on the opposite side of the pool and was very quiet.
And know that depending on which building you’re in, you may have to walk a bit to the food court, the buses, the Skyliner, or the parking lot.
As for Pop Century’s rooms, they’re pretty standard. That said, they have been updated and are nice.
I also like the laminate hardwood floors and the space underneath the beds for storage. Plus, there is also a dresser (with a safe), a closet in the bathroom, and plenty of shelving in the bathroom.
Speaking of the bathroom, the toilet and shower are separate (with pocket door) from the sink and vanity area. There’s also a door that separates the sink area from the main living space.
There’s even a small kitchenette with a mini-refrigerator and more shelves.
There are also multiple outlets with USB ports, which is great for anyone staying with others. You can all charge your devices at once!
As for the beds, they are extremely comfortable. However, there is a Murphy bed that pulls down from the wall.
Here is the pull-down bed (yes, the Pluto photo is super cute):
As you can see in the first room photo shared above, the Murphy bed pulls down on top of the only table with chairs in the room. You can either close the bed every day, so you have access to the table. Or, you can just leave it down, like we did.
The Murphy bed might bother some guests, especially if you want two beds and access to a table at all times without having to move the bed. Also, the pull-down did make the room feel a little cramped, but nothing horrible. We really did like the room.
As for the Murphy bed, it really didn’t bother us, especially since we pulled the chairs to the side to sit on and had no problem sitting on the beds to eat breakfast (we felt safer eating in the room rather than at the food court, which I discuss further down).
Lastly, if you need parks or resort information, turn on your TV! There are different channels with all kinds of handy information. Plus, the music is amazing.
Oh, and be sure to turn to Ch. 74 between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to watch Happily Ever After, which streams nightly on a loop, since there currently aren’t any nighttime spectaculars.
Let’s talk about housekeeping and the cleaning procedures
Upon first entering your room, you should see a list of “Enhanced Cleaning” procedures telling guests about the cleaning process.
There are certain items that are even wrapped in plastic, so you know they are sanitized and haven’t been touched by previous guests, including the TV remote.
There is plastic also over the nozzles of the shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel, with a sticker that reads, “cleaned.”
As for what Disney is doing specifically, here’s just a few of their enhanced cleaning measures:
- Thorough cleaning of high-touch areas, like TV remotes and door handles
- Housekeeping tools are cleaned between rooms
- Floors are steam cleaned and vacuumed between guests
- There are double-cased pillows and individually-wrapped disposable cups
If you choose to have housekeeping service your room, your room “will receive a light cleaning service every other day,” including:
- Removal of trash and towels
- Vacuuming, if needed
- New towels and amenities
- Wiping and cleaning of the vanity and counters
You can also decline housekeeping services (you can even do it via the My Disney Experience app on your mobile device when checking in), if you don’t feel comfortable having someone enter your room during your stay.
A few things to keep in mind:
- Disney Vacation Club Members using their Membership to stay at DVC resorts will receive service on the 4th and 8th days, unless they decline that service.
- If you choose to decline housekeeping, the selection applies to all rooms on your reservation.
We declined housekeeping, but were still able to have new towels and whatever else we needed delivered to the room. We also set our garbage outside for housekeeping to dispose of. Let me also note that anytime we called for items, the Cast Member always wore a mask and gloves upon delivery. Put on your mask too when answering the door!
Now, of course, you can only rely on someone else so much to make sure your room is clean and that you feel safe. That is why we also took our own cleaning supplies to wipe down every surface (something we even did pre-pandemic).
Here’s what I packed:
- Disinfectant wipes and spray
- Travel-size disinfectant and antibacterial wipes
- Hand sanitizer
- Antibacterial liquid soap
- Paper towels, napkins, paper plates, disposable silverware, and paper straws (you might need extra and I tried to avoid eating with my bare hands as much as possible, in addition to drinking straight from a cup or bottle)
There are other health and safety protocols too
It’s important to remember that, like the parks, there are also health and safety procedures to follow at all WDW resorts.
All guests must wear a mask when outside of their room (even if you’re just walking around) and, of course, maintain a distance of at least six feet.
Where appropriate, there are also social-distancing markers inside Classic Hall (lobby, Everything POP Shopping & Dining, and Fast Forward Arcade) and hand sanitizer readily available, so make sure you’re paying attention.
Just remember to make sure you’re following all of the rules to not only keep yourself safe, but other guests and Cast Members.
There are three pools at Pop Century. They are:
- Hippy Dippy Pool: A ’60s-themed pool with an outdoor bar located near Classic Hall. There’s also a kiddie pool nearby.
- Bowling Pool: Shaped like a bowling pin and celebrates the ’50s.
- Computer Pool: The ’90s-themed pool that is also shaped like a computer featuring a giant floppy disc and keypad.
You don’t have to wear your mask when swimming. And, no matter which pool you’re staying at, keep in mind that feature pools might have reduced hours (leisure pools are open 24 hours a day) and pools are operating with reduced capacity.
Next, there’s dining
Everything POP doesn’t just feature a food court with a variety of selections for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but the gift store is also attached.
Currently, dining works differently across WDW. As for getting food from Everything POP, you must place a Mobile Order via the My Disney Experience app on your phone. You cannot just enter and browse the different counters, like pre-pandemic.
Once you’ve selected, “I’m here, prepare my order,” you’ll wait in the lobby until you’re notified that your order is ready.
Important: you don’t need to stand at the dining and gift shop entrance. I saw way too many guests gather here, and it’s unnecessary. Please practice social distancing. Plus, there are a bunch of benches in the lobby!
If you’d like, you can even ask the Cast Member at the entrance to browse the gift shop while you wait for your order to be prepared, depending on capacity, of course.
Once your order is ready, show the Cast Members (there are two different ones you’ll show) and they’ll allow you to grab your food. You will be given a number via the app. Your food will be placed in a bag (no trays) at the corresponding number and then you’re good to go!
If you order alcohol, wait at the pick-up counter until you’re able to show a Cast Member your ID. They will need to proof of age before handing over any alcohol. (They also place a sticker on your bag reading, “Please see a Cast Member to complete your order.”)
As for fountain drinks, you no longer get your own. There are Cast Members at the machines filling a variety of drinks that they also place on a table for you to take. You can also get water (for free) and drink carriers. Oh, and, don’t take drinks you didn’t pay for.
Once you have your order in hand, you are more than welcome to sit inside or outside (there are a few tables in the shade) to eat. We ate inside our room, because it just made us feel more comfortable.
We ate breakfast here, and it was good. It wasn’t the best meal I’ve ever had. It was your standard Disney breakfast. We also got a pizza one night, which was actually very good and big for a family of four — 8 large pieces! If you want a hotel with more dining options, then you probably want to stay somewhere else.
This might sound complicated and like a hassle, but once you get the hang of it, it’s really quite easy. This is also how most Quick Service locations operate at the parks. Table Service restaurants even use Mobile Dine Check-in.
Plus, Disney is doing everything in its power to reduce crowds and make sure guests and Cast Members are safe.
There are two transportation choices
As for transportation, you have two options: hop on a Disney Bus or use the Disney Skyliner.
Now, the buses will take you to each park and Disney Springs, while the Skyliner takes you to Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort (you will have to transfer here, because it’s the main hub), and Disney’s Riviera Resort.
Pop Century shares a Skyliner station with Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, which is located directly across Hourglass Lake.
And, yes, there are even more health and safety rules for Disney transportation. Capacity for buses is greatly reduced, meaning no more cramming people on top of each other. Buses also have barriers inside and certain seats unavailable to help with physical distancing.
Now, buses always move slow at WDW, but you can also expect delays since they can’t board as many guests now. However, it does seem like they’re running more buses to help with the delays.
As for the Disney Skyliner, it still moves pretty fast, even with them boarding only one group per gondola.
If you don’t feel comfortable using Disney transportation right now, you can rent a car to avoid as many people as possible.
Checking in and checking out
Now more than ever, Disney strongly encourages guests to check-in online or by using the My Disney Experience app. You can still check-in at the front desk, but try to avoid it.
- When checking-in: If you check-in online or via the app, you should receive a notification that your room is ready via text message or from My Disney Experience. You will then use your MagicBand or My Disney Experience’s digital key feature to unlock your door.
- When checking-out: Guests will automatically be checked out of their rooms. If you have unresolved charges to your hotel folio, you’ll need to visit the front desk.
You can also chat virtually with resort Cast Members through My Disney Experience. Of course, you can also use the phone in your room for further assistance.
If you’d like to request a later checkout than the standard 11 a.m., just call and ask. It’s not guaranteed, but we were able to checkout at 12:30 p.m.
Note: Sometimes you won’t receive a room-ready notification. We actually had to call well after the check-in time (3 p.m.) to see if our room was ready. Thankfully, we were at Magic Kingdom, so we had something to do. But, always keep an eye on your app and push notifications.
Despite staying at a WDW resort during an ongoing pandemic, Pop Century still felt like a magical Disney hotel. Yes, it’s different, but it’s also what you make of it.
I would definitely book here again. I liked the pricing, the rooms, and having access to two forms of transportation. Furthermore, health and safety rules were enforced, not to mention the resort was extremely organized when it came to handling Mobile Ordering and transportation.
It’s set up very similar to Disney’s All-Star resorts, but Pop Century is nicer. If you’re looking for a value resort (at the time of publication and my stay, Pop was the only value resort open), you may want to select this one, especially because you have access to the Skyliner, a huge perk.
Also keep in mind that during WDW’s initial reopening, parks have reduced hours so you’ll most likely spend more time at your resort. That’s definitely something to think about when booking a hotel. And, remember, you can also make dining reservations at other resorts, which is another way to fill your time and explore other hotels.
Whether it be pre- or post-pandemic, have you stayed at Pop Century? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!
For more on Walt Disney World’s reopening, be sure to check out my complete guide detailing everything from, dining, to hotels, to transportation, and much more.