Back in March, my mother-in-law elected to make her 60th birthday party an event that small children would especially enjoy. She hosted her four grandchildren, their parents and her other son at the Sheraton Northwest Chicago, the principal attraction of which is the CoCo Key Indoor Water Resort.
At the time of the booking, the resort was brand-spanking new, and it was quite nice from a child's perspective. The resort's claim to fame is that is always Florida inside the water park, and my experience was reflective of that, although my initial reaction was that CoCo Key was very much like Great America on a crowded summer day. Despite the steep ticket prices (weekend day passes were $34) and the upscale suburban location (Arlington Heights), the crowd was fairly downscale. Although maybe that's just how everyone looks in Florida.
I will admit that my experiences were largely colored by the fact that I was 8-months pregnant at the time and could not enjoy many of the water park's more adventurous attractions. I was looking forward to a leisurely float down the lazy river, but a man repeatedly pulled the "spray a total stranger 10 feet down the river" chain so that I was blasted on the head with a spray of very chilly water and my enjoyment of the park came to an abrupt halt. He was unresponsive when I pointed out my condition and asked him to stop blasting me. After that, I hung out with The Girl on the edge of the zero-depth entry kiddie pool.
The kiddie pool area was quite nice, with a latched gate cordoning it off from the rest of the park. In addition to the zero-depth entry, the kiddie pool area had two slides, some spraying water elements and a high chlorine content. There was also a large screen playing the Disney channel, which is either a nice amenity or a cheap attempt to market to young children, depending on your perspective. The park had poolside cabanas available for rent; these were located along the kiddie pool and were fairly nicely appointed with TVs, refrigerators, mini-safes, and cushioned loungers and chairs.
The Boy had a fantastic time going down the water slides with his cousins and dad. They had a giant tube that went outside the building and back in again. Mr. C. went down it alone and reported that the tube was pitch black on the inside and fairly scary. Another open-air water slide dumped water on waiting patrons every fifteen minutes or so, given the shrieks that punctuated the air every so often. The Boy and The Girl's cousins tried out the lily pad jumps and water basketball in the activity pool.
Towels at the resort were plentiful, although at the time of our visit, they were also left behind in abundance as well, given the mounds of used, wet towels found behind most of the white plastic pool furniture. Although we rented a cabana on the second day, we were left to duke it out for a limited number of pool chairs and loungers on the first day. The park also featured a full bar, where my childless brother-in-law could be found when he was not going down the slides with the kids, and an A&W Root Beer stand, which served up fried goodness in the form of fried cheese curds and hot dogs, and root beer floats -- quite refreshing when you are tired and hungry and shriveled from too much time spent in water.