The resemblance is not coincidental. In fact, the histories of Pop Century and Art of Animation have been entwined together from the start. Here are a few facts about the two resorts you may not already know.
1. Pop Century was originally planned with two distinct sections
The original idea included two distinct areas, which were separated by a large bridge (called the “Generation Gap”). The section we know and love was termed the “Classic Years,” while the older decades would be the “Legendary Years.”
2. The grand opening of the Classic Years was delayed after 9/11
3. Buildings, utilities and parking lots for the Legendary Years were fully constructed
The second section of the resort was originally set to open in 2003, but the date was pushed back indefinitely.
4. The Legendary Years were abandoned for nearly 10 years
The bridge that was once set to connect the two areas essentially led to nowhere, and guests who strolled across it were met with landscaping and overgrown brush.
5. The abandoned areas affected some critics' reviews
All-in-all, though, Pop Century was immensely popular, and critics’ opinions didn’t sway guests from making reservations at the unique resort. Even with this success, though, the Legendary Years section still sat unfinished, with no plans for a future until 2006.
6. The idea for Art of Animation was first used at All-Star Music as a test run
The suites were a hit with Disney guests, so the company announced that the new Pop Century section would consist of family suites only. Though the announcement was made in 2006, however, the plans were put on hold until 2010, and the section was subsequently rebranded as the Art of Animation resort.
7. Disney used old Pop Century buildings for the new Art of Animation resort
Guests may notice that Little Mermaid rooms are different from other areas at the resort. For one, the building features exterior corridors, while others have a hallway. Also, this is the only building that has standard rooms. Because the rooms and corridors were already constructed, Disney left the building as-is, with the exception of décor and a few upgrades. Other rooms at AoA were built as suites with interior hallways, however.
8. To date, Art of Animation is the only Walt Disney World resort built for larger families
It’s one of the more popular resort ideas at Walt Disney World, so a similar plan may already be in the works, though Disney hasn’t announced anything so far. For now, at least, Art of Animation is the most popular place to stay if you want to keep your family together without paying for extra rooms or deluxe amenities.
9. The name for Art of Animation was borrowed from a traveling attraction, which ran from 1960 to 1966.
Developers decided to use the name for the new resort at Walt Disney World, too, since the focus of the resort was the history of Disney’s animation.
10. Disney has never confirmed why the Legendary Years idea was scrapped
Whatever the reason, both Pop Century and Art of Animation remain hugely popular resorts for Disney World guests. They each have unique appeal, and families on a budget appreciate the pricing. Unfortunately, the mystery of the abandoned Legendary Years will probably never be solved.