Nick Hotel could be the slime of your life


Published: Wednesday, August 1, 2007 at 8:34 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 1, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

If your children have been within 50 yards of a television lately, they're probably begging to go to the Nick Hotel.

The commercials for the Orlando resort promise an action-packed, cartoon-character-studded free-for-fall, with plenty of green slime poured on top. I'm not kidding: Every day, crowds gather under a gigantic bucket atop the tower of waterslides to be doused in green liquid. It's not the same gooey ooze you see on Nickelodeon (parents who watched "You Can't Do That On Television" in the '80s know just what I'm talking about). The slime is actually just tinted water, but seeing as it flows directly onto the pool deck and waterslides, I'm thinking that's a good thing.

The Nick Hotel (properly called Nickelodeon Family Suites by Holiday Inn) isn't cheap: Character-themed KidSuites, with two bedrooms and a sofa bed, go for about $220 (although Florida-resident specials are often available). With prices like that, you'll want to be sure that the experience will be one your kids never forget. We recently experienced it firsthand (courtesy of Nana and Pops, the coolest grandparents around), and we discovered that, for most kids, the Nick Hotel lives up to the fanfare. If there's a hotel on the planet that is more likely to make your kid's jaw drop in sheer delight, I haven't heard of it. From the character-themed lobby to the live shows to the can't-be-missed pool areas (two of them), the Nick Hotel is a thrill a minute. It is, however, loud, chaotic and crowded: You could walk across the pool on the heads of kids.

Is the Nick Hotel worth the trip? Here are a few insights that will help you decide if the Nick Hotel is right for your family.

Do your kids love Nickelodeon characters? If not, much of the appeal may be lost on them. If they are crazy for NickToons, be sure the room you book is one they'll really like. If you take a 10-year-old boy to a Dora suite, expect to have a mutiny on your hands.

Kids who are strong swimmers and love water - even when it's squirted in their eyes - will have the most fun. While there are several tamer areas made for little kids, the main waterslides can be a bit much for young children and less confident swimmers. Kids gleefully dump buckets of ice-cold water on those below as they wait in line for the waterslides, so expect a thorough dousing whether you like it or not. For the least hectic pool time, go in the morning when most guests are out at the theme parks. The afternoons, while more crowded, are lively and fun, with cruise-ship style poolside games, music and impromptu pool volleyball matches.

Adults are welcome on the slides, but kids can generally stand about a hundred more trips down the slides than your typical grown-up. Your choice is either to follow the kids around the slides or to give up and watch them from below. (A third camp slept in deck chairs and let the lifeguards take over.) Lifeguards are plentiful, but I'm just not comfortable letting my 6-year-old run unattended around so much water. So, if you're like me, expect to get a workout trooping up the stairs to the waterslides again and again.

KidSuites have a kitchenette, but be warned that no utensils, tableware, etc. are included. If you want to make anything beyond sandwiches in the room, you'll need to either upgrade to a kitchen suite or pack bowls, plates, napkins and flatware. Food for sale in the mall area is reasonable, with Subway, Pizza Hut and an A&W stand (and Barnie's for the grown-ups), in addition to a cafe, a sit-down restaurant and a grab-and-go market with healthy options, convenient when catering to picky eaters.

Don't plan on spending all of your time at theme parks. The Nick Hotel is really an attraction unto itself - you're given a "script" when you check in of all the activities for the day. We talked to one family who had been there for a week, planning to hit the Orlando theme parks, but had only left the hotel once. If you are piggybacking a theme-park visit onto your Nick Hotel stay, be sure to leave a day where you have nothing planned but hanging out at the pool. If you arrive at the hotel before check-in time, you can get a wristband that allows you to use the pool until your room is ready, which really makes the most of the day. Line up for early check-in at 11:45 to get the most time at the pool.

PlayStations in the room are a huge benefit when the grown-ups are comatose from a long day at the pool. Games are available to rent for $5.

E-mail Alisson Clark at kidfriendly@gvillesun.com.

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