The massive upper-middle-range Holiday Inn Resort Orlando Suites - Waterpark is one of Orlando's best options for families outside of a theme park. Its 777 stylish suites, all with kitchens or kitchenettes, are spacious and well designed to sleep families. Even better, there's a huge range of kid-pleasing features including two water parks, an enormous arcade, and a "4D Experience" theater, making this resort an attraction onto itself. While the resort provides plenty of entertainment on-site, it also offers shuttles to Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld, though -- unlike Disney's Pop Century Resort -- it doesn't provide any park perks.
Kid-focused resort with theme park facilities and raucous, family-friendly vibe
Formerly the Nickelodeon Suites Resort, this property reopened in summer 2016 as Holiday Inn Resort Orlando Suites-Waterpark following a major $30 million renovation. While the signature Nickelodeon orange has been replaced with the less garish ocean blue, and SpongeBob SquarePants is no longer a fixture, it's still a sprawling super family-friendly complex and kid heaven. Check-in still takes place in the submarine-shaped building before guests are transported in safari carts to one of two guest-room blocks spread across the property's 24 acres. At 777 suites, the hotel is certainly huge, though still more manageable than some of Orlando's massive 2,000-plus resorts. It is also totally geared towards vacationing families encompassing most of the fun-focused facilities you'd find in a theme park including waterslides, a state-of-the-art movie theater, and an enormous video arcade. For this reason, it's a great option for those who don't necessarily want their vacation to revolve around one of the nearby themed resorts -- though it also makes the grounds more raucous than most. For around the same price as Disney's "Value" resorts -- Disney's All-Star Movies and Pop Century Resort, for example -- this Holiday Inn offers far more on-site features and dining. (The Disney Value resorts typically offer little more than a pool and a single cafeteria.) On the other hand, guests here will miss out on the special park privileges Disney offers.
A 10-minute drive to Walt Disney World and 25 minutes from downtown Orlando
This hotel is located a 10-minute drive away from the entrance of Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, an area 25 minutes south of downtown Orlando. It's difficult to get around this area without a car -- there are no restaurants or attractions within walking distance -- and the nearest strip mall is a five-minute drive. Thankfully for those that don't want to drive, the hotel operates a free shuttle service to and from Orlando theme parks, including Walt Disney World, Universal, and SeaWorld. It's also 10- to 15-minute drive to International Drive, a 15-mile road parallel to Interstate 4 that's full of hotels, strip malls, outlet shops, and restaurants; the middle of this stretch is the Orange County Convention Center. Orlando International Airport is around a 20-minute drive away.
Spacious updated suites with cooking facilities and separate living rooms
The hotel's family-oriented appeal extends to its 777 suites that come in one-, two-, and three-bedroom layouts. Thanks to a 2016 revamp, interiors are modern and cheery, with streamlined furnishings, wood-veneer floors, and splashes of highlighter yellow, cherry red, or bright teal colors against a tasteful backdrop of muted neutrals. Suites are spacious, starting at 475 square feet (44 square meters) with separate living rooms with lounge areas and kitchenettes equipped with microwaves, fridge-freezers, electric hobs, coffee machines, and cookware. Other amenities include 42-inch HD TVs (with pay-per-view and cable) in lounges and bedrooms, plus Wi-Fi is free of charge, though it can be slow and spotty. The extra bedrooms have bunk beds, and bathrooms are fairly modern with shower/tub combos, plug-in hairdryers, and chain-brand toiletries. Alas, some past guests complain that bathrooms can be less than sparkling. Another downside: Some rooms are also prone to noise due to thin walls and windows that face the building's exterior corridors.
Two waterparks, a huge video arcade, and a good range of dining options
A wealth of on-site facilities at this Holiday Inn Resort are designed to keep kids busy day and night, and they do a great job of it. With multiple waterslides and splash features, the water parks are the highlight, with each also including large saltwater swimming pools -- one lagoon-style zero-depth entry, and the other Olympic sized. Daily poolside entertainment includes wacky games and competitions, too. While some of the activities require additional fees, the pools and waterparks are all free for guests.
Inside the resort's "Marketplace" fun-focused facilities such as Batman Laser Challenge, a 4-D theater, and 3,000 square foot arcade can be found. In terms of dining, there are five restaurants on-site providing no shortage of eating options either. Most are also located in the "Marketplace" including a pizzeria, a deli, a coffee shop (serving Starbucks coffee), and a cafe offering all-you-can-eat breakfast buffets (for a fee); there's also a poolside bar-grill eatery. Food is a little pricier than average, though quality is generally good and food-court areas are clean, bright, and modern. Other features include a fitness center with modern equipment, free Wi-Fi, and ample free parking on the grounds.
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