When I think of the recently retired Nickelodeon Suites Resort, I like to imagine what it must have looked like in its heyday; slippery water slides, a bustling mall, popular characters hiding behind every corner, and plenty of sticky, trademark green slime oozing between every crevice.
This is hopefully how countless families remember their stays. I want to believe in this, because Nickelodeon shows defined a large part of my adolescent years.
However, our family’s brief visit wasn’t quite what my inner 9 year-old was hoping for.
Nickelodeon Suits Resort: The Not-So-Good
From the moment we arrived, it became clear the resort’s best days were behind it. The front lobby was unsettlingly bare and quiet. We’d beaten my brother-in-law to our destination, but the victory was short-lived as the reservation was under his name. Denied a room key, we decided to head to one of the resort’s massive pools to pass the time.
My wife and both of my sons ventured into the women’s restroom to change into their swim suits, while I stood guard over our suitcases. Nearly immediately I began to hear shrieks echoing through the porcelain-tiled walls they’d disappeared behind. All three emerged quickly with horrified expressions.
It was a “poop tornado” – which was apparently the most accurate way to describe what they’d encountered, because my wife wouldn’t stop repeating it. There were trails of you-know-what all over the floor and stalls. I quickly ushered the boys into the men’s room (after some quick recon of my own), while my wife went straight up to the first staff member she could find.
Their interaction didn’t go quite as she’d imagined either.
“That’s STILL there? I called maintenance over an hour ago – are you sure? Could you double-check?”
My wife assured the gentleman yes, “that” was in fact, “STILL there.”
We decided to quickly herd the boys into the pool, and attempt to forget what was quietly lurking a hundred feet away from us. That’s when one of the boys spotted a young girl drop trou and empty her tiny bladder on the pool deck.
It was time to go.
Mercifully, my brother-in-law had made it to the resort at this point – along with several of the other relatives we’d made the trip to meet with. All reunited, we were regaled with tales of their own unique experiences throughout the grounds. My favorite was my wife’s aunt finding herself stranded between two floors in one of the elevators. She’d spent 20 minutes yelling and beating on the doors until her husband heard her cries and fetched some help.
However, our stay wasn’t a total disaster.
Nickelodeon Suites Resort: The Not-So-Bad
Much of our time was spent in the central mall, which connects the two large wings of the resort. This housed an arcade, food court, bar, character meet-and-greets, and full-fledged restaurant that hosted the character breakfasts and dinners.
We began the following morning at a breakfast buffet, attended by SpongeBob Squarepants, Patrick Star, and Sandy Cheeks. All made time to come by each and every table for photo ops, and broke out some nifty choreographed songs to boot.
However, it was the Ninja Turtle-hosted dinner that truly made the trip.
From the wait staff to the characters themselves to the spotters that directed them from family to family – everyone seemed to be having genuine fun.
They danced. They sang. They taught everyone ninja moves!
If nothing else, this was clearly something that the resort took seriously – and they nailed it. It was a small glimpse into just how amazing the entire experience would have been, had we not arrived at the very end of the resort’s run.
But here’s the thing: the kids couldn’t have cared less about the faulty elevators or free-range bodily fluids. They were completely unfazed by any of the things we adults had found to be less than ideal.
All they wanted to do was run to the arcade, duck, dip, dodge, and dive over and under the lasers in the Ninja Turtle experience, jump into the pool over and over, and frolic under the massive bucket of slime that tipped over every few hours.
All they really seemed to care about was getting as much time as possible to play with their cousins from across the country that they never get to opportunity to see.
I’m sad we didn’t get to see the Nickelodeon Suites Resort at its full potential. But I’m grateful that it still managed to be the site of an extremely special trip. My hope is that the enthusiasm and customer care we experienced is carried over into the resort’s next life.
And that someone finally cleaned up that poop.