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Girls (and Boys) Go Wild at Orlando's Nickelodeon Hotel

Love pools, water slides and lots of cable TV? Then, just outside Walt Disney World, there's a hotel for you....

Written by
Published: August 1, 2005 at 1:24 PM

Video: Robert Niles takes you on a short video tour of the Nickelodeon Family Suites by Holiday Inn.

A week at Orlando's new Nickelodeon Hotel is like Spring Break at Padre Island for nine-year-olds.

Okay, these kids are loading up on sugar instead of beer. And they wake up a lot earlier. But these girls.. and boys.. are going just as wild. Imagine booking a hotel room in the middle of a water park, and you've got a rough mental picture of what one finds upon checking in.

Nickelodeon Family Suites by Holiday Inn

The old Holiday Inn Family Suites off Florida 536, across from the Marriott World Center, rethemed itself this spring, licensing the Nickelodeon brand for a complete make-over of the hotel. The suites remain, this time with Nick character murals adorning the kids room walls. Massive Nick toon cutouts keep watch over the arrays of water slides, pools and playgrounds that fill the hotel's two courtyards. A central food court building links the two room complexes, also offering a buffet, a sit-down restaurant, arcade, sundry shops and a karaoke studio to keep the kids fueled up and constantly entertained.

In a solitary act of parental defiance, the central building also offers a Nick at Nite bar for the grown-ups, something more than a few might find tempting after a day or two at this joint.

No, this is not a place for a relaxing break from a parent's hectic lifestyle. It is, instead, a celebration for restless kids bored by theirs. Theme park fans might consider an Orlando vacation without a Disney, Universal or SeaWorld visit heresy, but a family could get away with that here, and never suffer a moment's boredom.

The water slide at the Nickelodeon Family Suites

The Lagoon pool at the Nickelodeon Family Suites

That is, if your kids are into splashing around the pool and water slides all day and immersing themselves in Nickelodeon characters all evening. In addition to the full slate of crafts, movies, games and contests, each room in the hotel's three-room suites includes a television with more than 60 cable channels. The kids' rooms even come with extra TV speakers mounted in the walls next to the kids' beds.

The ghost of Roald Dahl shudders.

Kids' prime opportunity to meet their favorite Nick characters comes at each morning's Character Breakfast – available at an additional fee, though included in some room packages. Kids eat free at the (characterless) buffet, but parents have to shell out $12.95 for a rather ordinary steam-table spread.

The hotel serves a specific niche – families with kids old enough to handle themselves in the pool and on the water slides, but not yet too old that Nick characters have lost their appeal. If your kids are on the younger side of that group, try to opt for the larger Lagoon side, with its walk-in pool where young guests can wade in as far as they are comfortable. But be prepared to don a suit and get wet yourself. The Nick Hotel insists on parents' supervision of kids in the pool areas. (Just, please, for the love of all that is decent, buy a suit that fits before you go.)

Many parents will appreciate the three-room suite layout, which puts the grown-ups behind their own door in their own bedroom. Up to five kids could stay in each suite, with two beds plus a rollaway in the kids' room and a fold-out couch in the living area.

The hotel still needs to work out a few bugs. The free high-speed Internet access gives this hotel a huge plus, but making that access available only via a cable on a sofa end table negates it somewhat. How about a desk? Or wireless access, so a guest can log online from the makeup desk in the parents' bedroom?

Is the Nick Hotel a good choice for your Orlando vacation? Only if your kids love water parks and Nick. If not, why pay a premium when all you are using is the room? You can find nearby plenty of other reasonable places to lay your head.

But young Nick fans will find plenty to satisfy them here. Enough, perhaps, to allow their parents to save a few bucks on their vacation's overall cost by skipping a couple days at the parks. Families looking for an immersive themed vacation don't need to stay on theme park property anymore.

Room information and rates: For more information on the Nickelodeon Family Suites by Holiday Inn, or to check room rates or book a visit, please visit our Nickelodeon Family Suites webpage.

Readers' Opinions

From lou lou on August 1, 2005 at 2:55 PM
Clicking on the video tour link just brought up a whole screen of gobbledegook for me... Is it just me?
From Anthony Murphy on August 1, 2005 at 4:28 PM
Yes, it is just you (sorry). I saw it and it looks very good. I also find it a little convienent that it is right outside Disney's land. Does anybody else find that a little sneaky? Looks great, would have loved to stay there if I was a kid. However, I am older now and hate the current shows. Bring back Clarissa Explains it All, Doug, Pete and Pete, and all the old ones! Sorry, that really has nothing to do with anything. Great review Robert. Also, great Camera work and narration!
From Robert Niles on August 1, 2005 at 4:29 PM
It worked for me in a couple different browsers. It's a Windows Media file, about 3.5 MB.
From lou lou on August 1, 2005 at 4:47 PM
My Media player's been a bit odd lately, would've liked to have seen that though. I agree Anthony, I'm 20 and my favourite shows used to be Sister Sister, Clarissa, and Doug too, amongst others.
It's refreshing to see a hotel like this though, when I was a kid my parents and I were always in one tiny boring room, I would've loved to stay somewhere like this.
Could the opening of this place be related to Nick moving out of USO?
By the way, good call on parents who should be told to wear correctly fitting bathing suits Robert, there's really nothing worse to see when you're sunning yourself on holiday... :0S
From Anthony Murphy on August 1, 2005 at 7:02 PM
Yes, lou lou, I agree with you too that this seems to be the springing of life from the dead studios at Universal Studios. However, there is still a ride there devoted to Jimmy Neutron!
From Bruce Morgan on August 2, 2005 at 3:36 AM
Interesting. I've been seeing some commericials about this hotel and would like to stay there soon. Think my kids would love it!!
From J. Dana on August 3, 2005 at 12:30 PM
I think this is a BRILLIANT extension of the Nick brand. I didn't know anything about this hotel, Robert...thanks for featuring it. I'll be there in about four weeks and I'll make sure to drive by just to check this place out...it looks like a real blast. This really looks like one of the must amazingly themed hotels outside the theme parks (or INSIDE, too, for that matter). Wow. I'm impressed.
From Robert Niles on August 3, 2005 at 1:36 PM
I should note that if you drive by to take a look, all you'll be able to do is drive by. The parking lots are gated and you need a room key to enter. The check-in area is also restricted by a guard gate. Clearly, the management does not want guests from other hotels, or locals, dropping in to use the pools or other entertainment options.
From Derek Potter on August 3, 2005 at 1:56 PM
I wouldn't be surprised to see this hotel duplicated...at Paramounts Kings Island. They have a rather outdated hotel called the Kings Island Resort that is just that, a hotel, and a rather bland one at that.

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