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There are many hotels throughout the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. But Disney’s Pop Century Resort and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort are two hotels that are forever linked in my mind.
This is mainly due to the fact that Art of Animation is actually located on the unfinished half of Disney’s Pop Century Resort. See, the Pop Century Resort is themed to the second half of the century (the 1950s through the 1990s). The other half was supposed to be themed to the early part of the century (the 1900s through the 1940s). Hourglass Lake would have separated the two halves of the hotel and you could get from one to the other via the Generation Gap Bridge.
But the tourism industry decline following the September 11th attacks delayed Disney from completing Pop Century. When they finally did start construction on the second half of the resort, they ended up creating a brand new hotel on the other side of Hourglass Lake. And that resort is Art of Animation!
Art of Animation celebrates Disney animated movies (unlike, say, Disney’s All Star Movies Resort, which celebrates both live-action and animated movies). But it is mostly themed to four specific animated movies: The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Finding Nemo, and Cars.
Both hotels have always been great since opening, but in 2019, they both got a big upgrade when the Disney Skyliner transportation system was created.
After that, you could use the Skyliner to get to Hollywood Studios and Epcot theme parks. And there is a Disney Skyliner station on the Generation Bridge Gap, so it is equally convenient to both Pop Century and Art of Animation. We go over the Disney Skyliner System here.
Because of this, my family loves staying at these two resorts. We’ve stayed at these hotels more than any other hotel this past year.
But this begs the question: which hotel is better? You can figure that out yourself when I go over the advantages and disadvantages of both.
All rooms in the Pop Century Room are just one room. That is the same for rooms in The Little Mermaid section of Art of Animation. These rooms are the exact same size. You can have a king bed or two queen beds depending on your party size.
One difference between these rooms though is if you want multiple beds. Both beds would be queen beds. But in the case of Pop Century, you’d get one queen bed and one pull-down queen bed that also doubles as a table.
At a Little Mermaid room at Art of Animation, both are just queen beds, and then there is a separate table on the side.
Now, there are advantages and disadvantages to both set-ups. The nice thing about the rooms at Pop Century is that when you pull the bed up, you do get more room in the bedroom. But I like how at Art of Animation, there is a separate table so someone would have access to a table even if say everyone else wanted to lie in bed.
But here is the biggest difference between Art of Animation and Pop Century. All the rooms in the three other sections of Art of Animation have suites. They have a living room and a bedroom with one queen bed. The living room has a double-size sleeper sofa and a double-size pull-down bed. So it sleeps up to six people. This is great if you have three or four kids. Or if you want a lot of room for your family.
At any rate, you have way more flexibility with room size at Art of Animation.
And another I like about Art of Animation rooms is that they are more themed. Your room is decorated to whichever section you are staying in, such as the great decor in a Little Mermaid room. Whereas a guest room at Pop Century is decorated the exact same no matter which section you are staying in.
Winner: Art of Animation
Now, obviously, when you book one of those suites, it will be more expensive. You would expect that. And it is significantly more expensive. But you can save money by booking your room here, where rooms
But what about the price of a room in The Little Mermaid section versus the similarly-sized rooms at Pop Century? You might think they would be the same cost, but the rooms at Pop Century are actually a little bit cheaper.
Now, the price you pay often depends on where you book your room. But if you book your room here, you can book a room as low as $184/night, which is good when you think about prices for travel these days and the fact that you get the Skyliner transportation (and sometimes on this website it’s on sale for 10% off that, so you can save even more).
I’ve been booking my recent stays at Art of Animation here for the cheapest prices (their 10% discounts really saves you, especially if you stay multiple days!), but I’ve yet to see a Little Mermaid room under $200/night. So if you are looking for the best deal, Pop Century is the winner.
Winner: Pop Century
So as I said, since they decided to open Art of Animation instead of continuing with the Pop Century theme, the two hotels have completely different themes.
Even so, the hotels are set up very similarly to each other and similarly to the All Star hotels at Disney World. There are fun facts throughout the resort for both. In the case of Pop Century, you can learn about big moments throughout the years, from the 1950s through the 1990s.
In the case of Art of Animation, you’ll learn fun facts about the four movies.
They are decorated throughout the resort with huge larger-than-life colorful icons. In the case of Art of Animation, you’ll see characters and scenes from the four movies I mentioned.
Like Crush from Finding Nemo.
Like Sally and Lightning McQueen from Cars.
Or Ariel and Flounder from The Little Mermaid.
And how about Timon, Pumba, and Simba from The Lion King?
In the case of Pop Century, you get characters from the movies.
Like Lady and the Tramp from Lady and the Tramp in the 1950s section.
Baloo and Mowgli from The Jungle Book in the 1960s section.
And Roger Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? in the 1980s section.
But you also have some neat pop culture items throughout the resort.
Such as the Play-Doh in the 1960s section.
There’s a cute retro Mickey Mouse phone in the 1970s section, so extra points for that one for having a Disney tie-in!
And a Rubix Cube in the 1980s section.
Or the old-school computer in the 1990s section.
The lobbies are both great, too, with Pop Century having great retro items on display from each decade.
And there are beautiful pictures of animation and drawings in the lobby of Art of Animation.
So both have a great theme. But I will say that with the focus being just four movies, Art of Animation is a bit more limited. If you are a big fan of any of the four or all the movies, it is really great. I really love the theme and my whole family loves it.
But it can be bad if anyone in your family isn’t a big fan. Whereas with Pop Century, because the theming is broader, you’re more likely to find something at the resort everyone can like. Seeing oversized things like yo-yos can be fun for kids, while it’s a good walk down memory lane for us adults. So far that reason, I give the edge to Pop Century.
Winner: Pop Century
Both Pop Century and Art of Animation have a food court: Everything POP and the Landscape of Flavors, respectively.
If I had written this blog entry a few years ago, then Art of Animation would have had a huge advantage. They used to have a lot more food options than Pop Century. In fact, Art of Animation had, in my opinion, the best food court in all of the Walt Disney World Resort. When I stayed at Pop Century, I would walk over to Art of Animation for meals.
But that was pre-pandemic. Now, the food offerings are identical. If you go through menus, it’s pretty much the exact same. So there is no real advantage with food and drinks. You might have a themed menu item from time to time, like the I’m Nemo Cheesecake at Art of Animation or the tie-dyed cheesecake at Pop Century.
But otherwise, the food options are the same.
Having said this, though, I still give Art of Animation the edge. Landscape of Flavors is so beautifully decorated. I absolutely love the drawings from the movies up on display.
And it’s not that Everything POP is unattractive, but it is a bit plainer compared to Art of Animation. There’s not the Disney touches you see at Art of Animation.
I will say for Pop Century, though, that the music is a bit more extensive. They play songs from the 1950s through the 1990s. I really love the music art Art of Animation. They play different versions of songs from the four movies. But by the end of your stay, you will be hearing all the songs for like the fifth or sixth time if you visit the food court enough. Which I don’t mind, but you’re more likely to hear a song you haven’t heard yet if you stay at Pop Century.
But even saying that, I still give the edge to Art of Animation.
Winner: Art of Animation
If you want a dip in a fun pool, you will be happy at both resorts. Both have three different pools.
But I would give the nod to the pools at Art of Animation. Let’s start with the main pool, The Big Blue Pool in the Finding Nemo section. It is the single largest pool at all of the Walt Disney World Resort, so you have to give them points for that. Plus, it is a beautiful pool with fun play areas, too.
Now, I do really love the main pool at Pop Century, the Hippy Dippy Pool at the 1960s section.
But it is smaller than the main pool.
And as for the smaller pools, I like the bowling-themed one in the 1950s section. I love how it is shaped like a bowling pin.
I like the concept behind the 1990s computer pool, but I would not call it super themed.
On the other hand, I really love how the pool in the Cars section of Art of Animation is themed like the Cozy Cone Motel in the movie.
The Little Mermaid pool is cute, too.
So the edge isn’t huge, but I would give the edge to Art of Animation.
Winner: Art of Animation
Which hotel you choose is largely based on what you want most out of the hotel.
You should choose Art of Animation if you want:
- Suites with a separate bedroom that sleeps up to 6 people
- Largest pool
- More beautiful food court
- You’re a big fan of one or more than one of the following movies: The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Cars, Finding Nemo
You should choose Pop Century if you want:
- Cheaper prices
- More variety in theme
- You love history
- You’re a big fan of one or more than one of the following movies: Jungle Book, Lady & The Tramp, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
And by the way, if you want to see more of each resort, here are videos we made a while back for each: