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When families start thinking about planning a vacation, Orlando, Florida is one of the first destinations to come to mind. It's got world-famous theme parks, great weather and plenty to do, both within the city and a short drive away.
It can be tough to find affordable accommodations in the area due to its popularity, which is where Coco Key Water Resort comes in. They pride themselves on being a budget-friendly hotel near the best attractions in Orlando that focuses on making the stay fun for kids.
Coco Key invited my family to experience the resort for ourselves, and while I will say that it wasn't the most elegant place I've stayed, my kids had the time of their lives. Here's what you can expect from your time at Coco Key Water Resort.
If you travel with multiple kids, you know it can be difficult to find hotel rooms large enough to accommodate your family. There's often barely room to store your suitcases and maneuver around the room.
Our room at the CoCo Key Resort is among the most spacious rooms I have stayed in with my family, which meant the kids could be playing in one area of the room while we worked or relaxed in another. The room we stayed in had a king size bed and a pullout couch, a kitchen area with a table and a desk. Even with our baby's portable crib, we still didn't feel cramped.
There was a large storage area that was the perfect spot to stow our suitcases, water wings and cooler throughout our stay. All the extra space and storage in our room almost made us feel like we were staying in a suite.
As with most standard hotel rooms, there is a coffee maker and a mini fridge in the kitchen area. Our room also had a microwave, which was perfect for warming up coffee and leftovers from the restaurant. The Wi-Fi in our room was spotty, but they will be upgrading to improved internet service in the coming months.
Kid-Friendly Dining and Fun
One of the challenges of staying in a hotel with children is figuring out what to feed them. Coco Key has restaurants and a convenience store on property so families can find everything they need without leaving the hotel.
Tradewinds Restaurant offers a hot buffet breakfast with everything from pancakes, bacon and donuts to a healthier yogurt and fruit bar. Kids will love making their own Belgian waffles and decorating them with whatever toppings they want.
You can find quick and easy dinner options at Callaloo Grill, which is also located poolside. You won't find the healthiest choices here, but the kids will have no problem finding food they love, like chicken tenders, quesadillas or pizza.
Don't forget about the arcade that's attached to Callaloo Grill and right next to the waterpark. It's an extensive game room with games that appeal to every age level. Even my toddler found something to do in there, and my older kids were excited to win some prizes.
An Exciting Water Park
Coco Key's crowning glory is, of course, the massive water park. There is a canopy-covered minnow pool, which is like its own separate water park for small children and toddlers. It has 4 small waterslides, unique water fountains for kids to splash in and plenty of tiny lifejackets to go around (though you're welcome to bring your own). It's the perfect spot for parents of young children to park themselves for the day since it's out of the sun.
Walk out from under the canopy and you'll be greeted with a towering structure of fun. There are multiple waterslides that are fun, but still tame enough for my 3- and 5-year-old who both met the height requirements. There are 14 waterslides in total, so everyone, no matter how timid or daring, will find one to enjoy.
We also noticed that the lifeguards on duty were very active and attentive, ensuring the safety of every guest at the waterpark.
Every hotel guests will get 4 free tickets to the waterpark included in their stay, which is a great value for families looking for an inexpensive and fun time in Orlando.
Great Location on International Drive
Another big draw for Coco Key Water Resort is its location on International Drive. As a partner hotel with Universal Orlando, guests can take a free scheduled shuttle to and from the park. You can also request transportation to Disney, so visitors have access to the best theme parks around.
The hotel is also a short drive away from Orlando attractions like I-Drive 360, The Crayola Experience and 3 shopping centers, so you'll find plenty to do during your stay at Coco Key.
Updates Coming Soon
One thing you might notice at Coco Key Water Resort is that the layout resembles that of a motel and the paint color and furnishings are a bit outdated. The property is in the process of getting a facelift under the new general manager Frank Dolley.
The exterior of the hotel will lose the multicolor look in favor of a more sophisticated palette of white with colorful accents. The rooms themselves will also see updated paint jobs along with more elegant flooring, and some will even get new furniture and light fixtures. Finally, the waterpark will be repainted to ensure it stays looking fresh and bright.
Even with its new look, Coco Key Water Resort will remain committed to providing an affordable and fun stay for families vacationing in Orlando.
Emily Krause is a Florida-based writer whose background as a high school Spanish and German teacher has brought her to 10...
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