Are you planning a trip to Disney World this year?
If you are, you’re probably starting to think about what hotel you want to stay at. Let’s say you’ve got it narrowed down to Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort or Disney’s Pop Century Resort. Which one is right for you? Well, let’s find out!
Each of these hotels comes with its own merits and drawbacks, and with the All-Star Resorts being a little less expensive than Pop Century, that could sway you more in that direction. But hear us out before you make your final decision!
- Common Ground
We’re going to compare these two resorts o see where they stand to help you make the best decision on where to stay for your Disney World trip!
Both of these hotels fall under Disney’s value resorts category, which means they’re the most budget-friendly hotel category on Disney World property. Both hotels also have similar rooms, room sizes, and amenities, and both have strong theming: All-Star Sports is based on…well…sports. And Pop Century is based around pop culture throughout the decades. You’ll find HUGE icons around both resorts with those themes, including around their pools. Both hotels also allow guests to have access to Early Theme Park Entry.
Each of these resorts is also divided into separate areas with specific names that come in handy when navigating around the resort (and they are HUGE). Because of their kid-friendly design (bright vibrant colors and fun theming), these resorts are also very kid-friendly, meaning that it’s likely you’ll see a lot of families with children at them.
You’ll also find the single shop at each resort very similar, although you may find some resort-exclusive merchandise, too.
However, the key difference is that Pop Century’s shop is actually combined with its food court (which we’ll get to in a bit). However, you’ll find very similar merchandise there.
At All-Star Sports, the rate for Standard Rooms starts at around $128 per night — these rates can be found at the times of the year when the parks aren’t so busy and rooms are cheaper. The most expensive room rate runs around $289 per night — that’s for a Preferred room during Christmas Week, when the parks are busier. Both room types can sleep up to four adults.
A standard room at Pop Century runs around $182 per night during the cheapest part of the year. The most expensive room during the most expensive part of the year can run $381 per night — again, that’s for Christmas week in Disney World. So there’s a bit of a price difference to look at when you’re considering these two hotels.
Although these are both value resorts and MOST of the value resorts have the same room themes, there are some differences between these two hotels, at least for the time being.
All-Star Sports has not yet had its rooms completely refurbished, so you might just end up with one of the older rooms. These rooms, though, are VERY SPACIOUS. There’s plenty of room for people AND their stuff. You’ll only find two room types here, though: Standard and Preferred Room.
ALL rooms at All-Star Sports have two double beds, which means that the beds here are smaller than the beds in the Pop Century rooms. Because many of these rooms are still awaiting refurbishment, they also feel very outdated and even a little dingy. However, you will find some Disney characters among the old decor.
We also think these rooms feel a little dark — they certainly don’t have the updated lighting that we’ve seen in the other All-Star Resort refurbished rooms.
The theming here is also over the top, and it’s all sports-themed. You’ll find all kinds of icons related to various sports, so if you have a favorite, you might want to request a specific room area.
Overall, the theming would be appreciated by those guests who are sports fans!
So the rooms at Pop Century were recently renovated to match those at the All-Star Resorts, so if you’ve stayed at All-Star Movies or All-Star Music, you’ll know what to expect. Even the basic design is the same. You can choose from a variety of room categories, though: may reserve a Standard Room, a Standard Pool View Room, a Preferred Room, or a Preferred Pool View Room.
All room types at Pop Century are suitable for up to four people (any more than that, and things might feel cramped). Each room has a queen-size table bed (it’s a Murphy bed that folds up into the wall and becomes a table) and a queen bed or a king bed.
Outside, you’ll have a theme that covers the 50s, 60s, 70s, or 80s.
The decor here is SO much fun that you’ll want to wander around and see it all. You’ll find a giant yo-yo, nods to specific Disney movies, a giant Rubik’s Cube, and more!
For now, the winner is Pop Century. Although both hotels have fun theming throughout their exteriors, inside, there’s a real difference. The rooms at Pop Century are newer and include great uses of space, plenty of places to store your stuff, good lighting, and lots of outlets, including USB plug-ins. Once the rooms at All-Star Sports are completely refurbished, though, the rooms will be the same. We also think Pop Century would appeal to a broader variety of people because not everyone loves sports.
If you love the theming of these hotels, wait until you see their pools! We’re going to start with the two pools available at All-Star Sports.
The main pool at All-Star Sports is Surfboard Bay, which was designed to make guests feel like they’re catching waves on the beach! The buildings around the pool have waves on them with giant surfboards. Plus the pool itself has a shape that resembles a beach on the ocean. You’ll find loads of chairs available here to catch some rays, too.
Goofy is the star of the Grand Slam Pool, where he’s on the pitcher’s mound with a water cannon aimed right at the swimmers. This pool also has a sundeck that looks like an outfield. There are also giant baseball bats around the pool. It is ALL about theming here!
The Grand Slam Pool does tend to be quieter, so if you’re looking for that, you’ll know where to go!
Okay, so Pop Century has gone all out for theming with its pools, too, starting with the groovy Hippy Dippy Pool. This far-out body of water has flower-shaped water jets and is themed around the 1960s. It’s also HUGE (and hugely popular). The buildings around it are also themed to the 60s. Can you dig it? There’s also a kiddie pool nearby.
You can celebrate the 1950s at the Bowling Pool, which is a smaller pool shaped like a bowling pin.
There’s also the Computer Pool, which is themed to the 1990s and is shaped like a computer, complete with a giant floppy disc (remember those?) and a keypad.
Both pools tend to be less chaotic than Hippy Dippy, so you’ll have two to choose from if you’re looking for some quiet time.
Again, we’re going to have to declare Pop Century the winner here. With THREE pools to choose from plus the VERY cool and fun Hippy Dippy Pool, Pop Century just offers a little more, including two pools that are good for those seeking out a more quiet pool experience.
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Both All-Star Resorts and Pop Century have food courts, but like we previously mentioned the food court at Pop Century is combined with its shop. But which food court reigns supreme? Let’s take a look.
All-Star Sports has the End Zone Food Court, which pretty much offers standard food court fare. Each section in the food court, though, is themed to a different sport, just like the rest of the resort. You’ll also find plenty of indoor seating here. Mobile Order is also available here.
Most menu items here are $15 and under and you can get breakfast (including Mickey waffles), lunch, and dinner. The options are basic food court options: burgers, fries, sandwiches, salads, etc. There is a signature burger here, though, the Bases Loaded Burger, which comes with bacon, cheddar, lettuce, and tomato. We’ve also seen grab-and-go options here.
There’s also a resort-exclusive cupcake, the MVP Cupcake, which is a Yellow Cupcake with Apple Pie Filling, Buttercream Baseball, and Caramel Popcorn-Peanut Crunch.
If you’re lounging by the pool and need a drink or snack, you can visit Grandstand Spirits near the Surfboard Bay pool. You’ll find specialty cocktails, beer, wine, and even frosé! You can also order up some snacks like a Mickey Pretzel, as well as a salad or sandwich.
Everything POP! is both a shopping and dining destination at Pop Century, but the food part of the area is also a typical Disney hotel food court. You’ll find plenty of seating available PLUS you can use Mobile Order here, too. You’ll be able to grab breakfast, lunch, and dinner here.
The menu here is almost identical to the menu at End Zone Food Court. You’ll find Mickey waffles and other breakfast items in the mornings, and burgers and sandwiches for lunch and dinner. However, there is a SIGNATURE dessert here that guests rave about: the Tie Dye Cheesecake.
If you’re hanging out at the pool and craving a fun specialty drink, head on over to Petals Pool Bar, which is probably the MOST fun-looking pool bar at Disney World! This pool bar is also one of our favorites and has some of the best bartenders in Disney World.
This bar is always coming up with fun seasonal concoctions, too.
This one is a little tougher to nail down: both food courts are very similar, although if we had to choose by the signature snack, we’re going to always go for that Tie Dye Cheesecake at Everything POP! We also love Petals Pool Bar, and it’s genuinely one of the best bars in Disney World! So, it’s a narrow win for Pop Century!
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Okay, so transportation is where these two resorts REALLY differ, and we’re going to tell you why.
Disney bus transportation will take you anywhere you need to go to and from All-Star Sports. Bus stops are just outside the main hotel entrance. However, buses are the only Disney World transportation option here.
It is very convenient, but you might find yourself having to wait a little while for buses occasionally. It’s also not the most GLAMOROUS of transportation options in Disney World.
Now here’s the real reason Pop Century probably costs more than All-Star Sports. Disney’s newest form of transportation, the Skyliner, has a station between Disney’s Pop Century and Art of Animation Resorts. So you can hop on the Skyliner and visit a few other hotels, as well as Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT.
The Skyliner is probably one of the most efficient transportation systems at Disney World, and it’s almost like an attraction itself. There are issues when it goes down, though (like in bad weather), so keep that in mind. For all other destinations, Disney buses are available.
Having access to buses AND the Skyliner makes Pop Century a much more attractive choice when it comes to Disney transportation.
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Okay, it’s time to figure out exactly which hotel has come out on top. Although there are a lot of similarities between these two properties, we do think that Pop Century has certain features that make it stand out just a bit more. The rooms are better (again, that will change once All-Star Sports’ rooms have been refurbished) PLUS you have the Skyliner station nearby.
However, we will say that if price is a factor, book that room at All-Star Sports and save your money for more important things…like food. In the end, it’s up to you to decide which hotel features are more amenable to you and your group.
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Have you stayed at either of these resorts? Which do you prefer? Let us know in the comments!
The post All-Star Sports vs. Pop Century Disney World Resort Guide 2023 first appeared on the disney food blog.