Children can sleep among their favorite Nickelodeon characters at Nickelodeon Hotel. // © 2015 Nickelodeon Suites Resort
Feature image (above): Young fans of Despicable Me will love this themed room at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel. // © 2015 Universal Studios™
Whether kids are into fairy princesses, superheroes or comical cartoon creatures, they usually clamor about wanting to see their favorite characters. Taking a family vacation to an amusement park is the obvious way to indulge kids’ (and even parents’) fantasies. However, there also are places where you can satisfy the clan’s fandom: in a themed hotel room.
Children can slumber in a missile-shaped bed in a room fit for Minions or go on an in-room scavenger hunt in a Lego-themed oasis — there’s no limit to the fun families can have in these hotels when they use their imaginations.
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
Disney has made a science out of branding its characters, so it’s no surprise that it has integrated them into park hotels. One of the best examples is Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, a relatively recent addition to Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. Featuring family suites and standard rooms, the resort is themed around four films: “Finding Nemo,” “The Lion King,” “The Little Mermaid” and “Cars” — but the decor is far nicer than Radiator Springs’ Cozy Cone Motel. From undersea style to jungle motifs, the design of the rooms will make families feel like they’re living in these films. Guests can even buy some of the in-room pieces in the gift shop.
The Georgian House
Not all character-themed rooms are tied to amusement parks. Harry Potter aficionados will want to apparate at The Georgian House for a stay in the central London hotel’s Wizard Chambers. While not an exact replica of Hogwarts’ lodging, these accomodations do evoke the magical, gothic-style vibe of J.K. Rowling’s books. (One room is a large double, and the other is sized for families of up to five.) The Wizard Chambers have proven so popular in the last year that the hotel has added two smaller Enchanted Chambers, which are designed more for couples.
Young Jedi Knights don’t have to dream about traveling to a galaxy far, far away to spend a night on an interstellar spacecraft. They can travel to Hotel Pelirocco in Brighton, England’s Regency Square to stay in its Lord Vader’s Quarters room. Designed by a local “Star Wars”-loving artist, this bunk-bed room features accoutrements inspired by the famous films, including a Darth Vader costume and light saber. While most of the hotel’s themed rooms are geared for adults, this one is more family-friendly, particularly for a father and his own Luke Skywalker or Princess Leia.
You can make a trip to a Legoland — whether in the U.S. (Carlsbad, Calif., and Winter Haven, Fla.) or around the world (England, Germany, Denmark, Malaysia and soon Dubai, United Arab Emirates) — into a 24-hour experience by staying at a Legoland hotel. Featuring a variety of room themes — such as Pirate, Adventure and Kingdom — these properties provide kids with a Lego wonderland, as rooms are stocked with Lego models and a treasure chest that lets children go on an in-room scavenger hunt.
Loews Portofino Bay Hotel
After a day of running around at Orlando’s Universal Studios Florida, families can keep the fun going by staying in the Despicable Me Kids’ Suites in the adjacent Loews Portofino Bay Hotel. These newly renovated “Despicable Me”-inspired suites, which feature a master bedroom for parents and a connected bedroom for children, offer the chance to experience life as a Minion. The kids’ room comes complete with missile-shaped beds (sorry, grown-ups) so that they can imagine they’re concocting secret plans in Gru’s laboratory.
Nickelodeon Suites Resort
Orlando, the epicenter of family entertainment, is also home to Nickelodeon Suites Resort. At this hotel, comprised of one-, two- and three-bedroom suites, families can spend a night surrounded by SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer and other Nick faves (the hotel’s newest themed room is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). The resort also offers lots of on-site entertainment options — including encouraging guests to get slimed.
If simply staying in a room isn’t enough to satisfy your family’s fandom, how about an entire house? The five-floor, six-bedroom Wonderland House in Brighton allows up to 24 guests to travel down the rabbit hole and into the world of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.” Touches and references from the book fill this house, which has themed bedrooms including “The Queen of Hearts,” “The Tweedles,” “Mirror, Mirror” and, of course, “Alice’s Room.” There’s even a dining room with an extra-long table set up for a mad-hatter’s tea party. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the fantastical novel, and this vacation house provides families the opportunity to have their own Wonderland-style adventure.