Nickelodeon Suites Resort in Orlando

Melissa Kossler Dutton
Double Dare Live show at the resort.

The first time I took my kids to the Orlando theme parks, I did what my parents always did: Call up our Florida relatives and see if they would host us while we played tourist. (As a former Florida resident, I can tell you this is a common approach to visiting the Sunshine State.)

We had a great time. The boys were excited to see their cousin, but I didn't love the pace of the trip. We had to get up early, fight rush-hour traffic and make our way back to our host's house late in the evening.

I decided the next time we were theme-park bound, we would do things differently. I wanted to stay somewhere close to the parks that also offered activities to keep us busy on the days we didn't have an excursion planned.

The Nickelodeon Suites Resort fit the bill. The hotel has a large waterpark, live entertainment and shuttle service to the theme parks.

I was really excited for the boys - Nick, 9, and Alex, 7 - to check out the waterpark. The multilevel structure features slides, flumes and interactive play areas. It also is the site of a daily "Mass Sliming," when 400 gallons of green slime is dumped from a massive bucket.

The kids were thrilled when they saw the waterpark. Unfortunately, the park is outdoors and the day we visited in early November was unseasonably cold. The boys spent more time in the kids' hot tub than in the pool. Enjoyment of the waterpark is very weather-dependent.

All four of us took part in the sliming. The staff did a great job of building excitement around the event. We chanted, "slime, slime, slime," and waited for the green stuff to flow.

The hotel also pays homage to Double Dare, the kids' game show that contributed to the early success of the Nickelodeon network. Double Dare Live is performed nightly in the hotel's Studio Nick. Hotel guests can try out for the show during poolside casting sessions.

We weren't able to make the casting session but thoroughly enjoyed watching the other families answer silly trivia questions and compete in silly physical challenges like catching rings on their heads and racing to transfer water from one glass to another, using only a straw. The show also includes opportunities for audience members to volunteer and Nick and Alex were both chosen to go on stage.

They were especially curious about the hotel's 4-D movie theater. In addition to wearing 3-D glasses, moviegoers experience sensory surprises like mists of water and gusts of air. Nick and Alex were so eager to check out the movies, they opted to leave Universal Studios early. They weren't disappointed. The theater was showing several different 20-minute, 4-D movies and they watched most of them more than once.

We also had a chance to have breakfast with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The spread at the breakfast buffet impressed all of us, but the boys had to be cajoled to interact with the Turtles. Throughout our experience at the hotel, I did feel my boys were at the top of the age range for enjoying the resort - although when the boys saw SpongeBob at the attached mall and food court, they did stand in line to get their picture taken with him.

Overall, we had a great time. We loved our two-room suite, which was comparably priced to other one-room hotels in the area, and the hotel staff was very kid-friendly.