SunSpree Resort Offers Guest 'CyberArcade'

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LAKE BUENA VISTA -- Our family started downstairs for a quick breakfast on a recent family visit to the Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort Lake Buena Vista.

But we didn't get to the restaurant for more than an hour.

The reason: a new, fascinating play area at the hotel called the CyberArcade.

Attracted by the bell-ringing, music-playing pinball and video machines, my kids, ages 12 and 9, pulled my husband and me into the noisy space, begging for quarters.

What I didn't expect was that the impromptu excursion would prove not only fun but also educational.

In the center of the CyberArcade, amid the games and attached to a colorful, cylindrical "brain," are eight computer terminals.

For $9.95 an hour, or $5 a half-hour, hotel guests can gain access to the Internet or use the computers to play any of more than 30 computer games.

After exhausting our supply of quarters on the more traditional game-room offerings, our family signed up at a computer terminal for 30 minutes.

While the kids discussed which sites to visit, I got a chance to check my E-mail. The CyberArcade offers access to America Online, CompuServe and Prodigy.

My kids tooled around on the Net for a time and then decided to test out some of the games.

The excursion proved a perfect time for a test drive of recent releases.

The concept was created for the hotel by Kids Unlimited Inc., a firm in Mount Dora, Fla.

The Holiday Inn SunSpree is the first hotel to get such an area, but the firm also has created computer-education sites at other venues and is looking to expand.

A key to the site here is staffing. The hotel has found employees with Internet and computer knowledge to offer advice on sites and host free sessions to introduce nontechies to the Web.

The CyberArcade uses monitoring software to restrict access to inappropriate Internet sites.

In addition to families with kids, business travelers also will find the computer bank in the CyberArcade an attraction.

For those with work to do, there are printers on hand, and computer disks can be purchased for downloading.

However, the noise in the arcade might preclude use by those not accustomed to working around kids.

The atmosphere here is clearly geared toward play and fun.

The hotel has developed E-mail postcards that guests can send to friends back home and also has created its own site and a Web club for kids called Max Cyber Club.

The club offers a monthly E-mail newsletter with information on Orlando as well as hot sites and game offerings.

For hotel rates, call (800) HOLIDAY.

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