Just a short while ago, less than a month, we ran by the construction site for the all new Coco Key Orlando Waterpark Resort. What we saw less than thrilled us. There was a sign touting an April 15th opening, and quite frankly it didn’t look there was anyway it would make it. Less than a month later, we were given the chance to tour the hotel and waterpark. The waterpark and hotel will open, as scheduled, on April 15th.
“We were pushed back due to permitting and some issues” says Frank Fry General Manager at Coco Key Orlando Resort “but as you can see, we are fully ready to open on April 15th.” Crews are literally working around the clock to get the project ready for this Thursdays opening, with much of the water park finished and operational.
Our tour began in the lobby, where your adventure with the hotel will begin. It boasts a welcomed and unexpected warming environment with many plush chairs, televisions, and a childrens play area. A map of the area also lays out Coco Key as the center of the Orlando area attractions, complete with a picture of their smiling parrot mascot Coco.
“We’re going to have the monitors behind the desk showing off video of the water park” Frank says walking behind the desk “And over here there will be fresh cookies baking so the kids get a treat the second they walk in the door.”
The lobby area is also lined with an array of computers for the business center. ”
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Fun Facts about the hotels history:
Coco Key is actually a renovated hotel. The hotel that used to be occupied was the first hotel to be built on International Drive.
“It was actually built before I-Drive was.” Frank explains “There was a long driveway leading from Sand Lake Rd. to the hotel.”
The pool that is at the hotel is the original pool, and it was designed to look like another Orlando resident.
“The pool is in the shape of Mickey Mouse’s head. We’ve filled it in to it’s current depth but it remains mostly unchanged.” Frank goes onto explain “This hotel was used to train the staff at the Contemporary resort when it first opened. The decision to open Walt Disney World was made right here in this hotel as well.”
The pool has been updated, along with the rest of the hotel to include several cabana areas, a fire pit that will be lit at night, a tiki area that will serve as a couples massage area and will double as a tiki bar during busy seasons.
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In comparison to just a few short weeks ago, the water park has come along in leaps and bounds. Tons of new concrete has been poured, all the parts and fixtures that were in boxes have now found their place. The water park itself is half inside and half out, in comparison to the rest of the chains parks which are completely indoors.
“We wanted to take advantage of the weather that Florida is famous for, and allow people to soak up the sun while also giving an area that keeps them out of the heat”
The park will remain open during the normal afternoon showers that are common during the summer, but anytime there is lightning around, it will close, like all other water parks in the area.
The water park will include an large covered play area, with smaller slides, a Parrots Perch water playground and Boomerango, Surfer Splash and Over the falls- slides designed for the older crowd which will tower around 64 feet.
“You’ll be able to see all of International Drive and Universal Orlando from a top the tower.”
As of the time of the tour the slides had not been completed, but a few days later, the structure was complete and the slides were being installed.
“We literally have crews working 24/7”
In a lot of the water parks one thing you have to worry about is wet money. At Coco Key you’ll be issued wristbands that will charge directly to your account that you set up at time of check in. Lockers will be provided and even they will be accessed through use of the wristband technology. On top of the parents being able to set spending limits on the wristbands for children, it also serves as a ID bracelet of sorts.
“The kids bracelets are linked directly to the parents”
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Dining, shopping and recreation
Frank jokes “My manager doesn’t like me saying this, but this really like a Club Med for kids” as we walk through the arcade “It’s all the luxuries of a cruise ship without ever setting sail.”
The hotel features a state of the arcade complete with a ticket system that families can exchange for prizes, the latest in gaming technology, a half lane bowling alley, and of course…Ms. Pac Man. Also is a huge room for meetings, parties and the hotel even has plans to use the room as well.
“We’re thinking of a Movie night for the whole family”
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“We also want guests to feel like they don’t have to leave the hotel, so we have a full convenience store for just about everything they need.”
The Gator Grab n Go is fully stocked with soda’s, fruit, cereal, and even Coco Key souvenirs. Across the hall from the store are the birthday rooms. Families can enjoy private rooms to celebrate before enjoying the waterpark. Also for those who like to try and stay fit on vacation, there is a state of the art fitness room. For large groups there is a separate check-in area, complete with a complete drivers lounge for weary bus drivers to rest.
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Of course no hotel would be complete without food. Coco Key offers two options, besides the various snack and drink bars that will be scattered throughout the park. The first is a counter service eatery which features the standard family fare of burgers, fries and chicken fingers as well as a Pizza Hut serving personal pan pizzas.
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For families who want a little more of a fine dining experience, Tradewinds offers just that. During breakfast hours the restaurant will feature a breakfast buffet, at night it will offer gourmet entrees and more.
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Want to know what’s exactly on the menu, and how pricey everything is? We just happen to have the full dinner menu available to show you just that.
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The biggest question on my mind, aside from if the waterpark would be ready or not was about the rooms. We were told this was the oldest hotel on I-Drive. Well, that usually means old dillapedated rooms that smell like a mixture of moldy cheese and your grandfathers feet. Really, why build on the foundation of an old building instead of rebuilding from the ground up?
“This hotel has a great foundation. Most of the newer hotels are built with drywall and stucco and you can hear the guest next door.” Frank taps on the wall to reveal nothing but a thud “These walls are solid concrete. Not only are they sturdy, but they’re pretty much soundproof.”
We were shown three separate rooms, The Presidential Suite, the Jr. Suite and the standard rooms. Instead of going on about what we thought of the rooms, here’s the pictures.
The Suite is what you expect, grand and exquisite. They feature one and two bedrooms and include a living room area.The televisions are all true HDTV’s (as they are in all rooms).
“Most families bring their media with them, whether it be portable DVD players or laptop computers.”
One thing that is absent, however, are the pay per view channels.
“Most of the hotel Pay Per View channels are expensive, and a lot feature adult programming that is not family friendly.”
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The Jr. Suites are smaller versions of the Presidentials, many offering one bedroom and separate living area.
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The standard rooms are what you might find at any luxury hotel. Soft pillows, soft beds, great carpet, and even little perks like a light up vanity. Again, the HDTV’s are standard in every room.
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Though the hotel was not 100% finished when we toured it, things changed drastically in the hour that it took us to make the rounds. We saw things painted, and decorations being added instantly. Water effects working that weren’t two minutes ago. Overall, it’s impressive. Just a few weeks ago, the hotel looked as if it would never open, now it’s looking like a world class resort.
Prices for the rooms are going to vary depending on availability and time of year, however the water park will be open to both hotel guests and non guests who just want to experience what’s looking to be a fun little water park.
Florida residents will be just $14.95 while non-Florida residents will be just $19.95. If you stay onsite, the waterpark is included with the price of your room, no matter how long you stay.