#1 Best Value of All Disney World Hotels: REVIEW

There are many Disney World hotels out there…and Disney’s Pop Century Resort is the best value out there!

The Disney Park Nerds are huge proponents of staying “on property” when visiting Disney World. Although the published “benefits” of staying at the Disney World hotels:

  • Extra Magic Hours
  • Early Access to FastPass+ Planning
  • Complimentary Resort Transportation
  • Complimentary Airport Transportation
  • Entertaining Amenities

has been devalued/diminished in recent years and nearly obliterated in the COVID-19 reopening, we remain huge fans. We find Disney World hotels enhance the magical experience of a visit to the #1 tourist destination on Earth.

Much of what appeals to guests about visiting a Disney theme park – a true escape and a choreographed experience – is extended when staying on property. Avoiding International Drive and sticking to the highways and side roads of Disney World is a more pleasant experience. The theming of the hotels keeps this magic alive when you leave Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom.

Location, Location, Location

Yawning and stretching in the early hours of the morning, there is something deeply satisfying about being in the center of the Disney universe. Depending on the park, a commute to a theme park from the Disney World hotels can rival those of “off property” hotels, though there is bound to be at least one theme park just around the corner!

The Tiers of the Disney World Hotels

Disney World hotels come in lots of shapes and sizes and range from affordable (possibly even “inexpensive”) to account-busting. From most expensive to least expensive these include:

  • Deluxe Villas
  • Deluxe Resort Hotels
  • Moderate Resort Hotels
  • Value Resort Hotels
  • Campgrounds

There are great hotels in each category – and some duds. Today, the focus is on value and so, naturally, the Value Resort Hotels.

A Brief History of the Value Resorts

1994 saw the launch of the Value Resorts and the Disney Park Nerds were thrilled! Visiting within a year of opening, we were wildly disappointed. The “big box” sprawling resorts represented much of what people in the ’90s felt had gone wrong with Disney – a decrease in service to make way for milking profits from the masses. The vaunted Disney service waned and the product was sub-par. The rooms, in our experience, were lacking in design and creature comforts. Although still very new, our shower curtain was moldy, faucets leaked and it felt like we were in a cheap International Drive motel instead of being a part of Disney magic.

Since that trip, the Nerds avoided the Value Resorts and were fans of Moderate properties like Disney’s Port Orleans – French Quarter and Riverside. These remained our staples for over a decade with an occasional Deluxe Resort experience like Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (loving the Savannah view!) and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort (one of our favorite properties).

And then Came the Pop Century Remodel

The Disney Park Nerds’ memory still holds a few gems and our Value Resort experience from the 1990s made a strong enough impression that we selected our Disney World hotels carefully each visit and avoided the All-Star Resorts. After a quirky experience at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort with our Nerd mother-in-law that saw us quickly transferred to a suite at Disney’s Art of Animation, we were intrigued by Disney’s Pop Century Resort and drawn to its theming.

Our experience at Disney’s Art of Animation was a huge leap step forward from our previous encounter with a Value resort and during our morning walk, we would pass by the giant yo-yo and signs sharing statistics and information through the decades.

Following this experience, it was announced that Pop Century would be completing a remodel in 2019 and the news coming out of the resort and those reviewing the rooms was extremely positive. Needless to say we were interested. Very interested.

And THEN Came the Disney Skyliner

Disney World Hotels Skyliner

You had us at hello! Talk about sending the Disney Park Nerd inquis-in-ator (a Dr. Doofenshmirtz reference for those Phineas and Ferb fans out there) into overdrive. We high-tailed it to the Disney Pop Century resort and were delighted by what we found. Although the hotel room units are set up “big box” style like so many before it, the rooms were well thought through, they made great use of their minimal space and the extra bed folding out to the table was terrific. The design of the bathroom and allowing for privacy while keeping the space light and airy is pleasant.

Keep in mind, this is still a Value Resort and doesn’t have the space or property amenities of some of other non-Disney and Disney World hotels, but it is a room that feels spacious, is bright, clean and right next to the Disney Skyliner!!

And we love this! The Disney Skyliner has shaped our selection of Disney World hotels since it launched. The ease of using the system, the efficiency of the loading/unloading and the proximity to Disney’s Hollywood Studios – all for well under $200 per night – was too much to pass up.

To be fair, if this was the Hollywood Studios of two years ago, the Skyliner and, by extension, the Disney Pop Century Resort would probably not be the focus of this post. BUT…the Holywood Studios of today with Star Wars: Galaxies Edge including Rise of the Resistance, Slinky Dog Dash, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, etc now make accessing the park a priority.

Just a quick walk to the Skyliner, a short transfer to Epcot or Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and half of the theme parks are within “walking” distance from the room.

Disney’s Pop Century Resort is the best value for those looking for a clean place to sleep that extends the magic of a Disney World vacation beyond the parks. There are certainly better hotels, but this is a solid choice – especially if you are saving up for those Disney souvenirs!