Pop Century’s Legendary Years Resort: Abandoned Hotel At Walt Disney World

In my years of taking vacation after vacation to Walt Disney World, I have continued to find out new things about the resort.  When I was younger, me and my family would always stay at the Pop Century Resort.  This resort was newly built when we first visited and it looked amazing!  The main pool was huge, the oversized props were cool, and transportation between the parks couldn’t be beat.  But something remained unclear to me. “Where was the other half of the century?” They had the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s.  Where was the 40’s, 30’s, 20’s, 10’s, and 00’s? Did they just loose half the century?  I later found out that was not the case.

It all started in the mid 1990’s when Disney decided to build the All Star Resorts.  When the All Star Sports Resort opened in 1994, Disney came to a realization that the value sector resorts were a great money maker for the company.  This is why, after 5 years, they began construction on Pop Century.

All Star Resorts Property: Present Day

The Pop Century Resort Complex was going to be the largest resort on property with over 5760 standard rooms.  The whole theme would be a showcase of the 20th century and would be decorated as the All Star Resorts had been with oversized props and decorations.

Plans Via: Walt Disney Co.

The Complex would include 2 Resorts.  The first Resort was to be called The Classic Years, the second The Legendary Years.  The Classic Years was to be finished sometime in late 2001 and was going to be themed from the 1950’s to the 1990’s.  The Legendary Years was to be finished sometime in 2003 and be themed to the 1900’s to the 1940’s. The two resorts would be connected with a jogging path and a bridge called generation gap bridge going around or across the artificially made hourglass lake.

After two years of construction of the Classic Years and the Legendary Years, Disney had some concerns that the property was incomplete.  In response they delayed the Classic Years opening till March of 2002.  Following that announcement 9/11 occurred. Disney decided to postpone both properties and did not give them an opening date. Soon though, Disney resumed the construction of the Classic Years side of the resort.  The Legendary Years side was left untouched as Walt Disney World didn’t need another 2800 standard rooms with the tourism recession post 2001. 

After two years of construction of the Classic Years and the Legendary Years, Disney had some concerns that the property was incomplete.  In response they delayed the Classic Years opening till March of 2002.  Following that announcement 9/11 occurred. Disney decided to postpone both properties and did not give them an opening date. Soon though, Disney resumed the construction of the Classic Years side of the resort.  The Legendary Years side was left untouched as Walt Disney World didn’t need another 2800 standard rooms with the tourism recession post 2001. 


The Classic Years side finally began taking reservations on April 22, 2003 and people really enjoyed the resort.  However, when the resort opened in 2003, the Legendary Years was still left untouched from the construction that stopped in 2001.  Generation gap bridge went across Hourglass Lake and it led to nowhere. After crossing the bridge to the Legendary Years, you were greeted by trees and fences that made it impossible to see or go on the rest of the property.  The parking lot was also built.  It was used at peak times was used as the ESPN Wide World of Sports overflow parking. They also had three buildings.  Two guest buildings with unfinished interiors, and a community hall for the food court and a store, also unfinished. These buildings were left for years with no public opening date.

Finally in 2007, after 6 years of abandonment, Disney announced they were opening the Legendary Years site.  They planed to continue construction where they left off.  Unfortunately again, that year came and went.  This left many people wondering: “When will this resort finally be completed?”  Three years later in 2010 we finally got our answer.


On May 12, 2010, after 9 years of the site being untouched and abandoned, the Art of Animation Resort was announced.  The resort was going to be themed through classic Disney Animation and themes included: Cars, The Little Mermaid, Finding Nemo, and The Lion King.  The themes would be conveyed again with oversized props and decor, however the difference between other value resorts was the rooms.

Instead of having the same standard size room for all guests, the property has 1120 family suites.  These bigger rooms are for up to 6 people and are 565 square feet.  That’s 305 square feet larger than the standard rooms at all other value resorts. However, it comes with a price tag of $416 to stay in these larger rooms.  With that price you could stay in the Magic Kingdom resort area for the same price.  This will be part of a larger discussion I will have in a future blog post.

Building 7 and 8 on the map include the 576 standard rooms reused from Legendary Years construction. 

To save money on converting the 3 pre-existing buildings built for the Legendary Years, Art of Animation was going to use the 2 guest buildings. This includes 576 of the 864 standard rooms in The Little Mermaid section of the Resort.  Disney’s Art of Animation Resort opened on May 31, 2012 and people loved the resort.  They loved the pool and the food court got fantastic reviews. Fast forward to today, nothing has really changed.  Art of Animation (or the Legendary Years) is still the newest value resort and the resort has had no major altering refurbishments to date.

So in short, when building the Pop Century Resort plans did call for an 100 year century.  However, after 9/11, the reduction of tourism and other factors led to the demise of the Legendary Years.  In my opinion, I would have liked to have seen the property finished.  I think it would have been cool to walk around and to see what the 1920’s and 30’s were like in Disney’s mind.  However, we all know its safe to say that the Pop Century Resort will on have half a century for centuries to come.

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