‘Are you ready for the ‘slime’ of your life?" asked the bouncy Nickelodeon host, just as I looked up to contemplate the large bucket above me, tied to a string and ready to tip. "Yeeesssss!" screamed my 7 year-old son. Before I could answer, I was covered from head to toe with gooey, green slime.
The fun never ends at the colorful Nickelodeon Family Suites by Holiday Inn (a.k.a. the Nick Hotel)—for parents and kids alike—slime and all. Why do little boys and girls find it so rip-roaringly hilarious to see themselves and their parents covered with green slime?
The popular lime green and orange all-suites hotel, located on 24 acres in the midst of the non-stop kid-excitement that is Orlando, features 13 water slides and flumes, two large pools and a packed schedule of interactive shows. We were in Orlando as guests of the hotel to celebrate my son’s 7th birthday: the "Best Birthday Ever Package" regales families with one free night during a three-night stay. We even held a birthday party in a private room, which included games, music, pizza and ice cream. SpongeBob himself arrived just in time to help blow out the candles!
While we took advantage of the free shuttle services to Disney (less than a mile away) and Universal Studios (less than 12 miles away), the hotel is a destination in and of itself. Most of our days centered around the pool complex. In November, the water was heated to a heavenly 77 degrees. My son climbed the four-story water tower and flew down the giant water slides while I soaked up the sun and caught him at the bottom. The interactive, thrice-daily poolside shows were welcome entertainment for the tweenster crowd. A 400-gallon dunk tank dumped green slime on whomever was interested (that would be every child at the swimming pool) at periodic intervals throughout the afternoon.
We enjoyed poolside crafts and games, played some one-on-one basketball (multiple height hoops mean that all kids can play to win) and miniature golfed. For the smaller set, two mini Diego and Dora-themed wading pool/park/sprinkler areas dot the grounds.
In the evening, we watched (and competed in!) live shows at Studio Nick (the in-house theater), enjoyed a "Dive-In" movie at the Lagoon Pool and played games at the 3,000-square-foot arcade.
Guest rooms and rates
The 777 one-, two- and three-bedroom suites are comfortable, well-organized spaces, decorated with a favorite Nickelodeon character theme. Living rooms each feature a sofa that pulls out to a queen-size bed, a comfy rocking chair (perfect for families with babies), a large television and a small dining table with chairs. The euro-style kitchen corner with its small refrigerator, sink, microwave, cabinet space and coffeemaker is ideal for the family looking to prepare some easy meals. We stayed in one of the popular two-bedroom Kidsuites: My son loved his home away from home bedroom, complete with bunk bed, trundle bed (for kids under 48 inches), mini table and chairs, large television with a Playstation 2 console and Ben 10 mural. I appreciated my master bedroom’s comfy queen-sized bed with fluffy pillows. The bathroom was spacious, with a full-sized tub and shower, fluffy towels and enough hooks to hang up everyone’s swimsuits.
Two-bedroom suites start at $169 a night and can sleep up to six.
Our mini-kitchen allowed us to catch some quick breakfasts and snacks in-suite, a convenient and money-saving perk. We also enjoyed the Character Breakfast at the Nicktoons Café: a grand buffet with personalized omelets, cheese blintzes, waffles, a wide selection of fresh fruit and—the icing on the coffee cake—tableside visits by SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward (my favorite), Dora, Diego and the Rugrats.
The Mall, located at the center of the resort, is complete with a food court offering bites from Subway, Pizza Hut and A&W. We took advantage of the Florida sun and lunched poolside on grilled sandwiches from the Lagoon Bar and Grill. The Nick@Nite Lounge offers frozen drink specialties, after-dinner coffees and a full bar. Excellent evening child programming is also available for parents who wouldn’t mind sneaking out to nearby Downtown Disney or Universal CityWalk for a relaxing, adults-only dinner (try Emeril’s or Wolfgang Puck’s Orlando venues).
n Milk, cereal, Lunchables, juice, pretzels and other quick meals are available for purchase in the Mall.
n Don’t miss an evening performance (raise your hand to participate if you’re feeling brave!) of "Who Knows Best" at Studio Nick. The popular game show, similar to "The Newlywed Game," is a showdown between parents and children, asking such questions as: "What’s your mom’s favorite fast food joint?"
n Delight in a mother/daughter manicure at the small spa located in the Mall.
n Get slimed—whether you want to or not!
Amy Souza is a teacher, mom to son Daniel and has a featured blog, Windy City Mama, at ChicagoParent.com.