Are you planning a Disney World Vacation and trying to decide between Art of Animation and Pop Century?
You may know that you want to stay onsite at a Disney World Value Resort, but do not know which one to choose.
Whilst Art of Animation and Pop Century are both Value Resorts that have a number of similarities, they are also very different from each other.
Here we compare two very different Disney Value Resorts – Pop Century and Art of Animation.
Find out which one will most likely be the best fit for you and your family.
Disney Art of Animation or Pop Century Resort?
The Art of Animation and Pop Century Resort are two unique places to stay in Disney World.
They have certain similar features and benefits, but they offer fundamentally different accommodations.
These two Disney value Resorts are very different from each other.
They are both what is known as Disney Value Resort. They are for people looking to find great, Disney-owned accommodation, but who are on a limited budget.
Most who stay in Pop Century or Art of Animation are families with children. Usually young children.
Don’t go to either Disney Value Resort expecting a quiet place to stay. These are busy resorts with a large number of young children.
Don’t come here expecting a great place for a romantic escape!
These two Disney World Resorts are very popular and on the surface, they may seem to offer very similar things.
However, once you start to look you can see that there are fundamental differences between the two resorts.
After you learn more about each resort you can decide which one will be more tailored to you and your family’s interests.
I will talk about all of the main features that you are looking for in a resort hotel, including the details like reviews and distance from the Disney World parks.
So which of these Disney Value Hotel Resorts should you choose to stay at? Let’s start at the Art of Animation Resort.
Art of Animation Hotel at Disney World
The Art of Animation hotel is themed around four of the most beloved animated Disney movies of recent times.
From the entrance of the resort to the inside of the hotel, you are greeted with sculptures of characters from Cars, The Little Mermaid, Finding Nemo, and Lion King.
These movie themes form the four distinct areas of the Art of Animation Resort.
Art of Animation Little Mermaid Rooms
This is where the major difference is between Art of Animation and Pop Century. The choice of different types of accommodation.
Art of Animation is a unique concept in the world of places to stay onsite at Disney World.
It is classified as a Value Resort, but most of the accommodation here is in Family Suites.
Only the Little Mermaid rooms are the standard Disney Value Resort accommodation.
The rest are family Suites that sleep up to 6 guests.
Let’s start by saying that I love the concept and the reality of the Art of Animation Family Suites (and more of this later).
But I have to get something out of the way first.
The Little Mermaid Rooms at Art of Animation are not something that I feel I can recommend. They are standard small rooms with very limited theming.
This would be fine if these standard rooms offered good value. However, they are consistently priced much higher than any of the other Disney Value Resort rooms.
For example, if you look at the rack rate for a Little Mermaid room for the Weekend in the Fall is $309 per night.
A standard room at Pop Century for the same time frame is $267 a night. A room at All-Star Movie Resort would be $222.
For the same dates, the Fining Nemo Suites are $678 a night.
Little Mermaid rooms are usually excluded from Disney World promotions.
It is unlikely you will ever get a discount deal on an Art of Animation Suite as they are usually excluded, even from the Free Disney Dining offers.
Another problem with the Art of Animation Little Mermaid Rooms is that they are right at the back of the resort.
So if you want to walk anywhere it is a hike.
Not ideal, particularly if you have young children.
Disney Art of Animation Suites
So having said that I am not a fan of the Art of Animation rooms, but I definitely see there is a place for the Art of Animation Family Suites.
They are Suites designed for up to 6 guests.
For years I traveled to Disney World with a family of 5, and it is difficult to find the space and living arrangement that you need without paying for either two rooms or a Suite at a Deluxe Resort.
The Art of Animation Suites filled this gap in the market.
The other theme park hotel which uses this concept brilliantly is Universal Studios Cabana Bay Beach Hotel.
The Suites are 565 square feet – and this space is used incredibly well.
Stay with Simba and Nala in the Lion King Suite, or choose to stay with Dory and Marlin in the Finding Nemo suite. Or bunk in with Lightning McQueen and his friends in a Cars Suite.
You get a queen bed, a double-size table bed, and a sofa bed. There is also a full bathroom and kitchenette.
The kitchenette really can save you a lot of money if you are prepared to have even a few meals in the suite. Breakfast can be pricey anywhere on Disney property. So if you are prepared to eat even just a couple of breakfasts in the Suite you can have saved yourself a lot of cash
What I would say though if you are looking at Art of Animation Suites is that they are a great concept, but just make sure you realize that this is not an inexpensive option.
Rack rates for 2023 range between $459 and $839 for an Art of Animation Family Suite.
Rates do not include taxes.
If we compare that to a One Bedroom VIlla Standard View at $879 to $1,357 rack rate for 2023 at Disney Animal Kingdom Villas you can see that in comparison, accommodation for 6 guests is certainly a “value” option for guests with families.
Disney Art of Animation Amenities
So having said that the Art of Animation Suites is great for families what is so good about the Resort itself?
What amenities does Art of Animation have to offer?
Disney’s Art of Animation has the largest resort pool in all of Disney World.
There are three pools in the resort, but the one that people talk about most is the large Finding Nemo Pool.
This is one of the Best Disney World Resort Pools.
You get to swim in the Big Blue Pool with Dory and her friends in this themed Finding Nemo pool.
Move to the Cozy Cone Pool next and enjoy a Cars-themed swim with Lightning McQueen.
After you’ve enjoyed those two pools the last one to check out is the Flippin Fins Pool. Sing along with Sebastian and his Under the Sea Orchestra in an area that is inspired by The Little Mermaid!
While you are relaxing by the pool, be sure to stop by the Drop Off Pool Bar. They have several great choices of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. If you’re feeling a bit hungry you can grab a snack there too.
This next amenity at the Art of Animation Resort is hands down my favorite thing about this resort. Since you are staying in a Disney World resort, your stay comes with free transportation to and from the park.
When you stay at the Art of Animation you get to ride their Skyliner aerial gondola to the parks.
What is an aerial gondola? It is a Skyliner ride that connects to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and takes you to the International Gateway at Epcot. How fun is that?
You get to ride a Skyliner across the lake from your hotel to the parks. It’s so convenient!
The bus transportation system is also extremely good. It has its own exclusive-use bus system – meaning it doesn’t share with other resorts.
This makes it much more efficient.
There really are some excellent transportation options.
Dining at Art of Animation
Moving on to the dining section of the resort, the Art of Animation has a food court located called the Landscape of Flavors.
This Counter Service location has all of the American-style favorites for you and your family to enjoy.
Usually, you can choose between a dining plan or paying a la carte for meals, however, since Disney World is still in the reopening phases dining plans are temporarily unavailable.
The Landscape of Flavors is one of my favorite Counter Service Resort locations. It even takes the Tables in Wonderland Card for the 20% discount.
The Landscape of Flavors is a huge area with various different dining options around the edge to choose from.
It’s loud. Very loud. If you want somewhere quieter there are tables located outside, or you could just take your food back to your room.
One of my favorite options is The Tandoori/Mongolian Station. I am a huge fan of Indian food, so this is always my first stop.
If you are looking for the usual favorites, they have a Pasta and Pizza Station, a Burger station, and a Sandwich and Salad Station.
There is a good choice of desserts and if you are a fan of gelato this is the place to be!
Overall it is a fun experience dining here. There are plenty of options, even for the picky eaters in your family. There really should be something to make everyone happy here.
Art of Animation Resort Overview
The last thing I want to cover for the Art of Animation resort is the customer experience and proximity to the Disney theme parks.
The Art of Animation has an incredible customer rating, with most reviews complimenting the atmosphere, food, and awesome pools.
If you choose to use the complimentary transportation to the parks or drive yourself it will be a short 6 to 12-minute ride.
The Art of Animation is 3 miles away from Epcot, 4 miles away from Hollywood Studios, 5 miles away from Magic Kingdom, and 3 miles away from Animal Kingdom.
Now that we have covered the Art of Animation Resort, let’s move on to the Pop Century Resort.
Pop Century Resort at Disney World
While we move on to Disney’s Pop Century Resort remember that it is in many ways similar to Art of Animation.
However, the experience of staying in each Resort is very different. And the huge difference is that Pop Century does not offer Family Suites.
If you are looking for that particular type of accommodation then Art of Animation is your best bet.
Let’s explore what Disney’s Pop Century has to offer.
Pop Century has an animation feel to it but, instead of more recent classic Disney favorites, you get to go back in time from the 1950s to the 1990s.
Take yourself back in time and get that nostalgic feeling when you arrive at Pop Century Resort.
With Play-Doh, yo-yo, Rubik’s cubes, and roller skates you’ll be thinking you are back in high school! Inside this hotel, they capture the feel of those decades, the fashion, the music, the dancing. It’s really well done.
The newly refurbished Pop Century Resort is a great choice if you are staying here with toddlers and young children.
It is also rated in our picks of Disney World Hotels for Adults. So that has to be a win-win for everyone!
The relatively recent refurbishment Of Pop Century has made a real difference.
For me, this confirms that Pop Century really should be a top pick in the Disney World Hotel Resort Value Category.
This refurbishment saw an upgrade to the rooms which now have 2 Queen Beds. This is a huge upgrade from the Doubles that they used to have – and which used to put me off even thinking of staying at this resort.
RELATED READING – Best Disney World Hotels for Toddlers
Disney Pop Century Room Choices
When it comes to choosing the rooms, Pop Century doesn’t have a suite option like Art of Animation does.
Disney Pop Century offers standard rooms which sleep up to 4 guests. They can sleep 5 if one guest is under 3 and uses a crib.
They have three different room views you can choose from:
- Preferred Pool View
- Standard Room
- Preferred Room
- Standard Pool View
The rooms are recently refurbished and look great. They are themed for a decade between the 1950s to the 1990s.
I really enjoy the decor of the rooms at Pop Century, particularly now they have a Queen bed and new laminate floors.
Not having a carpet makes a huge difference.
Each room has a standard Queen Bed and a Queen Murphy bed which pulls down from the wall. In the daytime, this converts to a table.
This is a great use of the space.
There is also a refrigerator in the room. Although it is small, it is always useful to have one in your hotel room.
Don’t expect a huge room. At 260 square feet, they are fine for a family with small kids. If you are taking the teens with you it may be more challenging!
The prices at Pop Century compare very favorably with the Art of Animation Little Mermaid Rooms.
For the dates I talked about earlier, the Pop Century Standard View Room is $267 per night.
For a Little Mermaid Room at Art of Animation the room is $309. I would take the Pop Century room and take the savings.
Amenities at Pop Century Resort
When you stay at the Pop Century hotel you get all of the same great amenities found at the Art of Animation. The Skyliner ride, merchandise delivery, transportation, and a retro-themed pool!
With another three styled pools to choose from you get to splashback in time with each one uniquely different.
The first pool is the Hippy Dippy Pool. This has a 1960s look to it, designed with flower power! This theme is such a cute way of bringing back the feel of the 60s.
The next pool is the Bowling Pool. This pool is shaped like a bowling pin with a 1950s attitude!
The last pool in Pop Century is the Computer Pool. Themed around the 1990s, Disney shaped it like an actual computer. They didn’t stop there either, they threw in a keyboard and a floppy disc to really reinforce the technology theme.
Also, don’t forget about the pool bar here as well. This is a groovy-style bar located in the pool area.
Enjoy a nice cocktail or a refreshment while you are having fun with your friends and family. Florida heat is no joke and a nice cold refreshment with a quick snack just hits the spot!
Dining at Pop Century Resort
Inside the main building of Pop Century, you will find an explosion of colors and patterns. The decor is definitely not subtle!
The main building is where you can eat and shop inside the hotel. Pop Century has a huge food court with a lot of Counter Service Dining options.
Called Everything Pop Shopping and Dining they serve a variety of dishes and food items. Whether you are super hungry and want to eat dinner, or just want a small snack you can find it here.
And always make sure you grab a yummy dessert at the end! As I mentioned before, usually you can choose to have a dining plan with your hotel package but as Disney is reopening dining plans are temporarily unavailable.
The customer experience for Pop Century and Art of Animation is very similar. Both Resorts have a majority of positive reviews from past guests who loved their experiences.
How far is Pop Century Resort from the Disney Parks?
Since Pop Century is just over the lake from Art of Animation the distance to the parks remains similar as well, a maximum of 5 miles or less away from each park.
Choose between driving yourself or taking the complimentary park transportation from your hotel!
Pop Century vs. Art of Animation
Both Art of Animation and Pop Century really do benefit from having a dedicated bus transportation system for each Resort.
This makes it so much more efficient than many other more expensive Disney Hotel Resorts.
Should you choose to stay at Art of Animation or Pop Century?
Both are good choices. They are close to the parks with great transportation systems, fabulous theming, good food options, pools, and other amenities.
The difference between Pop Century and Art of Animation really is in the room choices.
Many people think they are similar – but really they have very distinct options and price differences.
I really do think you need to consider carefully if you actually want to stay in a standard room in the Little Mermaid section of Art of Animation Resort. The rooms are expensive for what they offer. If you only need a standard room you really should give a lot of thought to Pop Century instead.
However, if you need accommodation for 5 or 6 people, or just because you want more space, and two bathrooms, an Art of Animation Family Suite can be a great option.
This accommodation type really is unique within what Disney World on-property resorts have to offer.
What do you think? Which will you choose in the Art of Animation vs Pop Century debate?
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