Hourglass Lake is a picturesque body of water between Disney’s Art of Animation and Disney’s Pop Century Resort. Like its name, the lake is shaped like an hourglass. Below, we’ll take a mostly photo walk around the lake. This is one of our favorite places to enjoy an early morning or sunset walk at Walt Disney World. If you’re staying in the area, we hope you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy a stroll during your visit.
Our other favorite scenic walks are around Crescent Lake in the Epcot Resorts area and Barefoot Bay, between Disney’s Caribbean Beach and Riviera Resorts. All three of these walking paths are accessible via the Disney Skyliner.
Of course, if you visit Walt Disney World regularly, you might already be privy to some of these special areas. Many of the resorts have walkways surrounding large bodies of water. But a stroll around the lake might be in order if you’re new to a resort area or it’s been a while since your last visit. It’s one of the best ways to familiarize yourself with the area.
We will start in the 60s section of Pop Century Resort at Generation Gap Bridge for this walk. This bridge connects Disney’s Pop Century to Art of Animation. The Disney Skyliner station shared between the resorts sits in the center of it.
Since we’re in the center of the 60s, we’ll take a right toward the 50s and work our way around the lake in that direction. It’s a 1.3-mile walk around the lake in its entirety.
Memory Lane is the walkway along Pop Century’s side of the lake.
Memory Lane gets its name because signs on the path represent select years of each decade. For example, this one for 1967 reads, “Thurgood Marshall becomes the first African American appointed to the Supreme Court,” and “Disney’s The Jungle Book swings into theaters.”
For this article, I took a photo of each informational sign for the direction I was headed. So, if you walk around the lake in the opposite direction, you’ll encounter an entirely new set of signs.
We soon reach the outskirts of the 1950s, where Duncan Imperial Yo-Yo Tops that wrap the staircases turn into bowling ball pins. If you’re concerned about the impressive staircases, no worries. Each building at Pop Century (and Art of Animation) has elevators.
At the top of the 50s, we start to curve around the end of the lake toward Disney’s Art of Animation. Here’s a view looking back toward the Skyliner station in the center of the lake.
Here are a few reminders for the 1950s.
This one for 1955 notes when Disneyland first opened.
We’ll soon walk under the Skyliner. These photos were taken during the Skyliner’s yearly refurbishment. It was interesting to see the structure without the gondolas.
Usually, you would hear the consistent creaking as the gondolas come and go overhead. I’m sure the photos would have been more pleasant, too. But we’ve had so much rain lately that I was itching to enjoy the sunshine.
We’re now directly under the Skyliner line.
When we reach Art of Animation, the information signage focuses on the animated films representing the resort. “Did you know…The Little Mermaid was the last Disney animated feature to use traditional inking and painting on cels?”
If you’ve read some of our recent coverage of Disney’s Pop Century Resort, you know that we consider it the best value resort at Disney World. We mainly prefer Pop Century over Art of Animation because of the rooms. However, we enjoy the grounds at Art of Animation a little more. I mention this because if you stay at Pop Century, you can enjoy the best of both worlds if you take the time to explore both resorts.
Since this walk is strictly around the lake, we’re not venturing into the various sections of Art of Animation. However, you can take any path along the walkway that leads into the resort to see larger-than-life characters representing The Little Mermaid, Finding Nemo, The Lion King, and Cars.
Looking back, we can see where we’ve already been across the lake at Pop Century.
At Art of Animation, the signs continue. They represent the section of the resort adjacent to where you’re walking.
Most of the walkway is shaded, especially in the warmer months when the trees are leafed.
Staircases on the Art of Animation side of the resort are wrapped in giant sketchpads that feature the full ink and paint drawing of the character represented on the building.
For example, as we approach the outskirts of The Lion King section, we see Pumbaa featured in sketch art on this building.
Here’s a closer look.
Then, at the end of the building, he’s featured with Timon in full color. If you venture inside this resort area, you will find a lifelike statue of the pair sitting on a long with Simba.
Here’s an example. Each section of the resort celebrates the art of animation, from sketch drawings to lifelike structures.
We pass a few more information signs for The Lion King.
After passing The Little Mermaid and The Lion King sections, we’ve reached Finding Nemo.
Similar to the 60s at Pop Century, the Finding Nemo section is the center of the Art of Animation. It sits on the opposite side of the Generation Gap Bridge.
As you approach the bridge, you might notice a pair of restrooms ahead on the right.
These restrooms are only a few steps from the Skyliner. If you are leaving or returning from either resort, and your child suddenly exclaims last minute that they need to use the restroom, this will be your closest option.
To our left, we can see across the bridge to where we started at Pop Century.
Here is a map. At this point, we’re in the “You Are Here” area of the map. If you wanted, you could cut the walk in half and return to Pop Century by crossing the bridge.
We’re going to continue around the rest of the lake, passing buildings four, three, and two at Art of Animation. Then, we’ll swing through the 80s and 70s section of Pop Century before completing the entire circle.
We see one last fun fact about Finding Nemo. It’s a pretty interesting one.
We’ve made it to the outskirts of Cars as we look back toward the bridge and Pop Century in the distance.
This portion of the resort is too much fun. If you only have time to walk through one area, the Cars section would have to be it. Here are a few more photos.
At the edge of the Cars section, we see Luigis Leaning Tower of Tires wrapped around the staircase.
We begin to curve around the back of the lake.
A little Spanish Moss hangs in the balance.
We’ve made it to the combined 80s and 90s sections of Pop Century.
Remember all the worries over Y2K? These signs spark interesting memories and make for excellent conversation starters.
However, some memories are sad.
Another sign reminds us of how we got here on the World Wide Web.
Wouldn’t this be the find of the century?
Disney fans will appreciate the nods to the theme parks. Did you know that Disney’s Hollywood Studios was originally called Disney MGM Studios?
As we continue through the 80s section of Memory Lane, we look back across the lake to the Cars section of Art of Animation.
Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head sit nearby on the right.
We pass a fun more fun facts for the 80s.
Giant 8-tracks identify that we’ve reached the 70s section of the resort.
We’ve almost made it back to the 1960s.
As always, I saved the best two signs for last. Well, not really. They just happened to fall in this order. First, we have a reminder of 1971, the year the Walt Disney World Resort opened in Orlando, Florida.
Then, in 1969, Neil Armstrong took the first steps on the moon. Given Walt Disney’s interest in space, I thought this was an excellent way to end things.
We’ve made it back to our starting point.
If you’re staying at either Pop Century or Art of Animation, you can enjoy this walk at your leisure. It’s also an excellent place to jog during your vacation.
For more information about Disney’s Pop Century Resort, you might enjoy the following:
- Disney’s Pop Century Review
- Everything Pop Food Court Review
- The Pools at Disney’s Pop Century
- Pop Century Room Photos and Tour
- The Gift Shop at Pop Century
For more information about Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, try these:
- Disney’s Art of Animation Review
- The Little Mermaid Rooms at Art of Animation
- The Pools at Disney’s Art of Animation
- Landscape of Flavors Food Court Review
- The Ink and Paint Gift Shop at Art of Animation
For a side-by-side comparison, try Disney’s Art of Animation vs Pop Century: Which One is the Best?
In the comments:
We hope you enjoyed our tour of Hourglass Lake and found a new place to explore on a future visit! Do you take long walks around the resorts when you visit Disney World? Have you ever enjoyed a stroll around Hourglass Lake? If not, do you enjoy learning about these places at the resorts?