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
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
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
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.