- I took my 9 year old son to the Cartoon Network Hotel in Lancaster, PA and he loved it.
- Our standard $150 room was bare bones, but had playful elements and a theme that my kid liked.
- Although the hotel was aimed at a younger crowd, I still had a great time there.
My husband and I took our son to the Cartoon Network Hotel during our trip through the Northeast.
Traveling with a tween can be tricky. My once predictable 9 year old is suddenly harder to gauge and labels many activities as “curling”.
When planning a family vacation to the Philadelphia area, I wanted to find something exciting to distract my son from the otherwise educational aspects of our trip.
So I booked a room at the Cartoon Network Hotel, a family-friendly resort managed by Palace Entertainment, for $150 a night.
The property is located in an unlikely location: Pennsylvania Dutch Country.
Our trip through Lancaster, Pennsylvania, gave my Florida family a glimpse of a quieter life. Next to the horse-drawn carriages and charming farmhouses, we found the Cartoon Network Hotel.
The multicolored building stands out from the surrounding landscape for its bold design, which features towering statues of “Adventure Time” characters Finn and Jake atop the entrance.
Even from a distance the building looked like pure fun. I just had to find out if my tween agreed.
I think Cartoon Network’s shows are great for kids who aren’t quite teenagers yet.
My fourth grader has recently slipped into middle territory, which usually spans between 9 and 12 years old.
He’s still phasing out animated TV shows as he moves toward age-appropriate YouTube videos and reality content. With a target audience between 6 and 12 years old, Cartoon Network is a fun station for him to watch in these years.
My son enjoys some of the network’s tween-oriented shows. As a parent, I find a ton of subtle humor in the shows and can enjoy them as well.
So I was excited to see what the theme hotel had in store for us.
The Cartoon Network themed lobby was whimsical and bright when we entered.
Cartoon Network’s programming is mostly light-hearted, and that feeling carried over to the hotel when we arrived.
The decor is far from muted. Sketches of characters from the channel’s popular programs adorn almost every accessible room inside and outside the building.
The hotel’s lively design elements distracted me from the layout, which has long corridors and exterior entrances that reminded me of a motel.
Our room was themed around “The Amazing World of Gumball”, one of my son’s favorite shows.
Each room is themed around one of six popular Cartoon Network shows: “Adventure Time,” “The Amazing World of Gumball,” “We Bare Bears,” “Steven Universe,” “The Powerpuff Girls” and “Ben 10.”
When we booked our stay at the hotel, we could choose the room type, but not the room theme. My son had certain preferences, so I was worried we would end up in a room with a theme he didn’t like.
Fortunately, we stayed in a standard room with two double beds that was centered around “The Amazing World of Gumball,” a show he likes. The theme was quite minimal, with cushions and matching covers designed to look like the show’s characters.
It was a suitable setting for my tween, who didn’t seem to find it shrinking.
Our room was simple but offered fun elements for my tween to enjoy.
Coming from our home in Orlando, my family is no stranger to lavish themed hotels.
We routinely pass properties that resemble a tropical Hawaiian oasis, a Victorian spa retreat, and a mid-century beach resort. Our room at the Cartoon Network Hotel was a bit utilitarian in comparison.
However, the simplicity of the accommodation was combined with playful accents, like a squishy beanbag chair that my son loved.
At just under $150 a night, the room was a bargain compared to many other themed hotels I’ve visited.
We had the most fun with the hotel facilities and lobby area.
The hotel’s common areas surpassed our room during our stay.
When we stepped outside our door, we found numerous fire pits, indoor and outdoor pools, an outdoor movie viewing area, and more.
The hotel lobby was also full of character. The elevator featured animated Cartoon Network stars dancing as we made our way between floors.
My son was drawn to the arcade, which offered a variety of games and virtual reality experiences.
In addition to the arcade, the property also features simple amusements, such as scavenger hunts, grain pits, character meet-and-greet opportunities, and of course, a gift shop full of tempting souvenirs.
Framed sketches and concept art are also on display, which I thought was a tasteful touch that allowed us to see how a cartoon character takes shape over time.
The hotel restaurant was surprisingly nice, even for adults.
We ate at Cartoon Kitchen, the on-site restaurant, which was unexpectedly delightful.
I’ll admit my expectations were low, but our dishes – which were named after talking bears, dogs and other creatures – were super tasty and well prepared.
There was entertainment here too, as screens placed throughout the room showed animated Cartoon Network characters cooking their own dishes.
The bar offers specialty coffee in the morning and cocktails in the evening. We were also able to order Instagrammable snacks which my inner child enjoyed.
We enjoyed ourselves at the nearby amusement park, which was within walking distance of the hotel.
When it was time to leave the hotel each day, we had plenty to do in the surrounding area.
We participated in hands-on activities, such as making pretzels, and tasted ice cream at Turkey Hill. We were most excited to visit an amusement park called Dutch Wonderland.
It has some small roller coasters that offer manageable thrills for tweens who want to make their way up to more intense theme park attractions.
The park is owned by the same company as the Cartoon Network Hotel, and it’s an easy walk between the two properties.
Our visit happened to coincide with Dutch Winter Wonderland, a seasonal event with thousands of lights. Our whole family enjoyed the celebration together.
At the end of the day, the Cartoon Network Hotel offered the perfect place for my tween to unwind.
After days of making memories and enjoying quality time together, I felt it was okay to give my son time to reconnect and have fun.
The Cartoon Network Hotel was the perfect place to do just that. This carefree setting helped bridge the sometimes awkward gap between childhood and adolescence.
Admittedly, some of the hotel offerings were a bit small for my son, and I’m not sure he would find this setting as suitable in a couple of years.
However, I didn’t see a single eye roll or hear the word “shrink” escape his lips. I would count that as a big win.