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Nickelodeon and Marriott, Sitting in a Tree

Thomas S. Mulligan reports in the Los Angeles Times that…

Nickelodeon is teaming up with Marriott International Inc. on a chain of kid-friendly resort hotels that will feature elaborate water parks and live entertainment from SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer and other stars of the cable TV channel.

Look’s like Walt’s revolution continues.

The first hotel, set to break ground in January and open in early 2010, will be a 650-room facility with a 100,000-square-foot water park in San Diego’s Liberty Station, former home of the Naval Training Center, Viacom Inc., which owns Nickelodeon, and Marriott said Thursday.

They said they expected to build 20 hotels in the United States and abroad by 2020.

For Nickelodeon, it’s a chance to extend its brands deeper into the resort industry, a process started two years ago with the opening of an Orlando, Fla., hotel, Nickelodeon Family Suites by Holiday Inn.

San Diego is smart.  They are close to Busch’s Sea World, the San Diego Zoo/Wild Animal Park, and not too far from Legoland.

Remember the trial balloons a few months ago about Disney doing this sort of thing by dotting the country with developments that would be much smaller than full-blown theme park developments?  I could see Disney partnering with an established hotel chain, maybe even acquiring one.  After all, Disney currently operates Resort hotels of its own, and Disney has swapped executives with hotel chains.  The important thing about any "location-based entertainment" development would be avoiding the same fates as Disney’s previous forays, such as DisneyQuest, Club Disney, Mickey’s Kitchen, and even The Disney Stores.  I could see something such as a hotel with Disney Vacation Club units, themed pools, a World of Disney store, an ESPNZone, maybe a multiplex cinema, a studio for the local ABC television station and radio stations, and, of course, an area pushing Disney vacation packages to the destination Resorts.  Adventures by Disney and a broadway-style performance venue would be nice, too.