Disney’s Pop Century Resort in Walt Disney World, Florida, USA was supposed to have 2 identical sections – The Classic Years (1950-1999) and The Legendary Years (1900 – 1949) however due to the September 11th attacks and subsequent slump in tourism, only the first half was finished and The Legendary Years building on the opposite side of the lake was left unfinished and abandoned. It lay derelict for a number of years, unused although visible from certain areas of the park, most notably from The Classic Years part of the resort.
The first accommodation properties at Walt Disney World opened alongside the Magic Kingdom in 1971. These were Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. By the early 1990s, Walt Disney World had expanded its accommodation options and it was decided to build a number of value properties. Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort opened in April 1994, followed by Disney’s All-Star Music Resort in November 1994 and Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort in January 1999. All three, located near Disney’s Animal Kingdom, were massively successful, leading Disney to begin development on a fourth value-priced resort.
Work got underway on Disney’s Pop Century Resort with a scheduled opening date of 2001. Themed around 20th century American pop culture, the resorts two halves were to be located on opposite sides of Hourglass Lake. A bridge called The Generation Gap was to connect the two halves. The original opening date was pushed back to March 2002, however, after the September 11th attacks resulted in a massive tourism slump, it was decided to continue with just The Classic Years. It was hoped that The Legendary Years would be completed at a later date. Disney’s Pop Century Resort opened on December 14th 2003.
Some of the buildings on the Legendary Years side were uncompleted, notably the lobby building. 2,880 rooms were planned for this side of the resort with a configuration identical to the Classic Years side. The parking lot was completed and has been used as overflow parking for ESPN Wide World of Sports. The abandoned buildings were left as they had been when work had halted but where possible, were hidden from guest’s view. Walt Disney World features a number of abandoned properties including Disney’s River Country and Disney’s Discovery Island.
In May 2010, it was announced by Disney Parks & Resorts that the abandoned Legendary Years half of the resort would be opening as Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. Although planned as a value-priced resort, it was decided to create a large number of suites for up to 6 people as well as the standard value rooms. The new resort was designed around four classic Disney and Disney-Pixar animated movies – The Lion King, Cars, The Little Mermaid and Finding Nemo. Construction resumed in the summer of 2010, and the resort opened in May 2012.
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort at Walt Disney World Resort is finally finished and thriving. It boasts spacious family suites, with bright colourful designs and most importantly a working, finished and fun resort. It has the magical touch of Disney, bringing some of their best loved characters to life.