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(2012 - Spring Issue)


We are on the lookout for something special to do with our 3½-year-old granddaughter when lo and behold I spy an eye-catching flyer on my desk.

Intrigued, I begin reading and learn about Sesame Place, a theme park based entirely on the renowned TV show, Sesame Street. Why hadn’t we ever heard of it before? Our friends too, are completely unaware of Sesame Place but become curious and interested when we mention it.

Sesame Place Unwrapped

Located in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, just 48 kilometres north of Philadelphia, Sesame Place is much closer to our home of Toronto, than are Florida and California’s theme parks, and best of all, Sesame Place is uniquely geared to young children and preschoolers. Could this be the very answer we’re seeking?

Now, weeks later, my husband, daughter, granddaughter and I are travelling to the park. Sesame Street connects our three generations; we the grandparents saw our children gently nurtured by this groundbreaking show; our daughter remembers it fondly and now her daughter enjoys the same lovable characters, learning situations and songs.

Eagerly we enter through the gate featuring Big Bird on the top and follow the Sesame characters’ “footprints” in the park. Splashes of vibrant flowers bordered by whimsical plant sculptures, map posts that spray cool water as well as orient us, and a kaleidoscope of lively colours on signs, shops, restaurants and attractions greet us as we amble along the streets. We notice how spanking clean the park is and how safe it feels with the many friendly staff members monitoring the areas and ready to help in any way.

Peals of Laughter

Our granddaughter, Zoe, rushes along the main street, excitedly recognizing the replica of the Sesame Street TV set, complete with the frontage of old familiar buildings. “Look, there’s Bert and Ernie’s house,” she exclaims gleefully. Next door, Zoe checks out Mr. MacIntosh’s Fruit Stand and the Sesame Street Engine House No.1, its red fire engine “inviting” her to climb aboard.  

We appreciate the compact size of this park, which is really very manageable—not too large or overwhelming for small children, yet filled with an abundance of attractions to explore. 

The rides are all named for the various characters; we hear their recorded voices and songs and see their pictures as we approach the rides, all contributing to a lively and happy atmosphere.

For the very young, Big Bird’s Court is ideal, with its pit-like enclosed vinyl padded area and large soft blocks, as well as its climbing section.

Most of the rides suit Zoe’s age group, but she amazes us by choosing first to go on the Vapor Trail Roller Coaster, probably more appropriate for older children. We are hesitant but she knows exactly what she wants and since she falls within the qualified height restriction, she and her mom venture on and are subsequently thrilled.

Big Bird’s Balloon Race brings Zoe and her mom joyfully gliding to the top; Nets ’n’ Climbs proves to be a challenge for me but she manages well, climbing, crawling and walking to new heights and back down again. Grover’s World Twirl giant cups spin her and her grandfather while she and her mom love flying high in Elmo’s Flyin’ Fish ride. Elmo’s side-to-side Peek-A-Bug ride and the Sunny Day Carousel round out the action-packed morning. The new ride, Elmo’s Cloud Chaser, looks enticing but since Zoe is too young to sit alone in the soaring individual planes we opt for sampling that another time.

Wet Wonders and Stomping Shows

We cool off in a tranquil tube ride along Big Bird’s Rambling River gently floating through Sesame Island, past waterfalls, palm trees, spraying geysers and bubbling water.

Incredible water slides beckon. Just beyond is the enchanting Count’s Splash Castle, a multi-level interactive water play area for slightly older children. The Count calls out a countdown every so often, after which a huge bucket atop the castle tilts and empties its vast amount of water splashing everyone below.

Playing on the sandy “beach” area gives Zoe and us time to relax before we attend one of the many shows offered, Elmo Rocks! This is Zoe’s favourite part of Sesame Place. Finally the characters talk and sing on stage (roaming characters she meets don’t talk) and she claps and sings along with them, delighting in the performance. High energy, humour and fun, and best of all, the Sesame character Zoe is part of the show!

 Sesame characters stroll around and are accessible throughout the grounds. No lines or formality, Zoe simply runs and gives Ernie a great big hug, as he walks along the street. We meet, hug and high-five characters at a special “Meet and Greet,” and also at an “Up-Close Dining” lunch where characters come by the tables to spend time with the children. Our Zoe looks right up into Abby Cadabby’s eyes, locked in a moment she’s cherishing. Soon she’s laughing heartily at Cookie Monster’s big embrace. During the buffet meal, the characters perform their upbeat, rousing songs further captivating the audience.

A little later the Neighborhood Street Party parade begins with its many dazzling colourful floats, Sesame characters, singers and dancers; swept up in the dynamic vibe we all clap and sway to the pulsing music.

Sparking the child in all of us, we heartily sing along to the catchy refrain, Meet me on Sesame Street.

When it’s time to return home, we’re still humming that tune, laughing together as we reminisce. And prompted by Zoe we are already planning to meet once again at this enchanting treasure, Sesame Place.

Travel Planner

For more information, visit sesameplace.com.

Day and season passes are available for Sesame Place, some of which include special meet-and-greet opportunities offered just before the street parades.

Character meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) cost extra and should be booked ahead.

There are many hotels in the area. We stayed at the kid-friendly, lovely Homewood Suites by Hilton Newtown (a 15-minute drive to Sesame Place); complimentary full breakfast buffets were included and the suites were equipped with kitchens. Visit homewoodsuites.hilton.com.

Best Western
Fort Myers
Crane's Beach House
San Antonio
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