Picture it. Summer of 1994. I was a young, carefree teenager spending my summers having fun—I mean, working—at Sesame Place, meeting new people (some of which are still good friends of mine to this day), and going to “Sky Splash parties” after park hours. I would high five Elmo or Cookie Monster on my way to lunch and Big Bird (a.k.a. my older brother) would wave to me while dancing in the parade. I still have the cute employee memory book that they gave out to employees. Back then, it was the most popular place to work if you were a teenager living in Bucks County, and it still is today!
Now picture this. Fast forward 24 years to 2018. I am a mother of two amazing children spending my summers visiting my old stomping grounds: Sesame Place! The first time I visited as a parent was a little surreal as I hadn’t been back probably since I had worked there, but it was just as I remembered it: fun, colorful, and filled with the familiar faces of those lovable Sesame Street characters. Adding to what makes Sesame Place so fun and special is a brand new roller coaster called Oscar’s Wacky Taxi AND in early April 2018, Sesame Place became the first theme park in the world to be designated as a Certified Autism Center (CAC)! (Read more about this new certification in Tip #10!) The fun factor and energy level there is still high and now, I get to see the park with a whole new perspective: a parent’s. And as a parent, I am here to offer my fellow parents some helpful tips from my experience when visiting Sesame Place!
Tip #1: Don’t Pass on the Season Pass
If you plan on going for more than one summer, get the season pass! Every summer in late July, Sesame Place starts selling their season passes for the following year. If you buy them in late July, you get the rest of that year PLUS the entire following year! It’s completely worth the money if you plan on going more than once. And the season pass gets you 25% off of food and merchandise! There are different season pass levels, but all levels include unlimited trips to Sesame Place as well as admission to two seasonal events: “The Count’s Halloween Spooktacular,” and “A Very Furry Christmas.” The passes also allow you to buy a single-day guest pass at 50% off, early entrance to select shows, AND there are exclusive member events. We always went with the Big Bird level season pass because it includes more items that I care about such as free parking, a 25% discount on character dining experiences, special character meet and greets prior to the parade, and more! If you don’t plan on doing a character dining experience, then you could buy one Big Bird level season pass to qualify for the free parking but then buy the Cookie Monster season pass, which costs less, for the remaining family members since you only need one Big Bird level pass to get the free parking! (If you want to do the character dining experience, keep in mind that all attendees need to have either the Big Bird level or the Super Grover level season pass in order to get the 25% discount.)
Tip #2: Which Count? Discount!
Just looking to go for a day or two? If you just want a single day pass, always check Groupon first to see if Sesame Place is running any offers! If not, head straight to your township’s office or a AAA office and ask if they sell discounted tickets. Or get a group of 15 or more to go for significant savings (the amount of savings varies depending on the day of the week and the time of the year)! If you buy one of the Sesame Place package options, it will save you money AND you can go there for two days (doesn’t have to be two consecutive days either). They do offer hotel packages, too, so if you want to spend the night at a local hotel, you can! They partner up with a number of local hotels so you have options there as well. If you are an active Military Member, just present your military ID at Guest Relations and receive a complimentary single day admission for you and up to 3 guests! (This can be redeemed once per year.) If you are a Veteran, present your military ID at Guest Relations to receive 50% off for you and up to 5 guests! Also, thank you so much for your service!
Tip #3: Get Your Toes Wet First
If you’re able to be there when the park opens, do it and go straight to the water slides (especially the Sky Splash) if they’re on your to-do list. Those lines grow large quickly so it’s nice to get them done first and then enjoy time in The Count’s Splash Castle or Teeny Tiny Tidal Wave to keep cool throughout the day! You can even go BEFORE the park opens (yep, you read that right) under either of these two conditions. The first is if you have a season pass level of Big Bird, Transferable, or Super Grover, you can get into the park at 9:30 am and have access to select water attractions. The second is if you book a Breakfast with Elmo & Friends dining experience, you will be able to enter the park at 9:00 am. This is totally worth it, by the way (especially if you bought the Big Bird or the Super grover season pass levels, because you get 25% off of character dining experiences with it but keep in mind that kids 23 months and under are FREE). Not only do you get into the park before it opens, but you get to eat breakfast with the characters, dance with them, get their autographs and avoid the long lines in the park to meet them!
Tip #4: Not a Morning Person? Not a Problem!
If you go around 2:00 pm, you can catch the afternoon parade and it will (usually) start clearing out a little bit when the parade ends. Also, (usually) the heat will start subsiding a little bit, so it should not be as hot as earlier in the day. The park is open until between 8:00 pm and 9:00 pm (it varies depending on the day of the week) during the summer, so you will still have plenty of time to see the park, meet some characters, enjoy some rides, see some shows, and catch the evening parade!
Tip #5: Claim Your Parade Spot
Get your spot on the parade route about 45 minutes early because it gets very crowded! There’s plenty there on Main Street to occupy the little ones while you wait and it is worth doing. Trust me. My husband and I grab snacks for the kids, find the best parade spot (*cough* across the street from the Grover’s Eats on the Street food truck *cough*) and feed the kids until the parade begins. You can walk up and down Main Street while you wait and this spot is not far from two sets of bathrooms, if needed (one is near Sesame Studio and the other is near Slimey’s Chutes). You know how that goes: as soon as you hear the announcement, “The parade will begin in 5 minutes,” it’s like a cue to your child to say, “I have to pee!” (These are pretty much the only times where I miss diapers.)
Tip #6: Water Shoes, Water Shoes, Water Shoes!
Water shoes are recommended to prevent slipping in certain areas (such as in bathrooms) and to protect your child’s feet in other areas. The pavement in some areas there is a bit rough and can hurt your little one’s feet. Just keep in mind that they cannot be worn on the water slides at The Count’s Splash Castle. Oh, and bring your own Puddle Jumper or life vest for your child or else he/she will have to wear one from Sesame Place. If you bring your own, you can be sure that it fits your child and is something your child is comfortable wearing. (Note: It has to be Coast Guard Approved Type II or Type III.)
Tip #7: Keep Your Valuables Safe
Never leave valuables in an unattended stroller! As much as I swore I’d never buy a fanny pack, I did because women’s shorts NEVER have pockets and also because they’re just plain convenient. (I gave up caring about looking cool the day I bought a minivan.) It allows me to carry the essentials on me without worrying about them falling out of my pockets, which I don’t have anyway so even more reason to get a fanny pack. If you plan on going in the water, I recommend investing in a waterproof case to carry items around. Better yet, go to Guest Services and you can link your credit card information to a bracelet to pay for food or merchandise so if you’re keeping your valuables in a locker for safety, you don’t have to run back and forth to the locker each time you need money. Brilliant!
Tip #8: Snack Time
Sesame Place provides picnic tables in select areas of the parking lot for outside food consumption. (No grills!) If you want to pack a cooler with food, go for it but plan on eating outside of the park because sandwiches and picnic lunches are not permitted in the park. They do allow snack-sized items such as chips, pretzels, cookies, and fruit, and they do offer exceptions for guests with special dietary needs (e.g., food allergies and baby food/formula). The Park Security team checks all bags at the entrance to make sure all guests are abiding by the rules.
Tip #9: Raining on Your Parade?
Sesame Place will issue a FREE ticket if it rains or sleets continuously for one hour while you’re there. Note: You MUST go to Guest Relations upon leaving the park to exchange your admission ticket prior to leaving. If you don’t, you will forfeit this offer. I repeat, you will forfeit this offer. However, if you are a season pass holder, you are eligible for a 25% discount on an Ultimate, Count’s, or Island Cabana to protect you from the rain (or the sun, if the weather is nice).
Tip #10: Something for Everyone!
In my personal opinion, almost any age is a “good” age to visit Sesame Place! (Just not on the weekends, if you can avoid it!) Keep in mind that kids ages two and under are FREE so you won’t feel like it was a waste if you take your one year old and he/she falls asleep for a couple of hours. I see this question often and I feel that Sesame Place has a lot to offer children at different stages in their lives and to children with special needs!
In early April 2018, Sesame Place partnered with The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), a global leader in online training and certification programs, to become the first theme park in the world to be designated as a Certified Autism Center (CAC). In keeping with their goal of providing every family with an enjoyable and memorable visit, Sesame Place now offers specialized services to guests with autism and other special needs. There is even a brand new character at the park named Julia, who is a Muppet with autism. Sesame Place Team Members receive specialized training to give them the knowledge, skills, temperament, and expertise they need to cater to all children, including those with special needs. Some of the options they offer include a Ride Accessibility Program, quiet rooms, noise-canceling headphones, low sensory areas, low sensory parade viewing, and dining options.
There is something for everyone: shows, the lazy river, a big sandbox, shallow wading pool for very small kids, fast water slides, and a roller coaster for bigger kids! And besides, you’re never too old to spend the day with Big Bird and friends!
And that’s ten! Ten terrific tips! Ah-ah-ah! (cue lightning and thunder)
(All photos © MoShotz)