Looking for some East Coast fun for your family? Sesame Place, an amusement park geared toward the younger set, is located in Langhorne, PA (approximately 30 minutes from the Philadelphia area). If you have youngsters in your house, you are no doubt familiar with the PBS children’s television series, Sesame Street. Sesame Place is based on the show and it’s a great place to take your family for a day of fun in the sun.
Admission. The price of admission is not cheap by any means, so be prepared. Besides the $39.95 per person admission charge (children under two are free, be prepared for a minimum $10.00 parking fee. If you are planning a vacation to the Philadelphia area, you can purchase a 2-day “Elmo’s Passport” ticket for the same price as the single day admission (sort of a buy one get one free deal). There are also discounted group rates and birthday packages available as well as reduced admission prices if you go during the evening hours. Look for discount coupons ahead of time, especially if you have a large family.
Planning Ahead. It is very important to plan ahead for your visit to Sesame Place, especially if you are only going for a one day visit. First and foremost, make sure to bring bathing suits for your entire family. There are many water attractions and wading pools throughout the park, so you will be getting wet. If by some chance you forget to bring bathing suits, they can be purchased at one of the Sesame Place gift shops. As for strollers, they are a must-have so be sure to bring one along if you have toddlers in tow. Stroller and locker rentals are also available. Also, be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen to protect your family, as you will be outdoors most of the day.
When you first enter Sesame Place, you will be given a map of the park which includes the locations of all of the attractions, dining spots as well as show times for the various performances. This map is your lifeline to get you through the park. The park is a little confusing to maneuver, so study the map ahead of time to plan out your day. If you plan to see a show (which is highly recommended) make sure you know what time the shows start and where you need to be– you will definitely want to plan your activities around the show times.
Not to be missed. Because the admission price to Sesame Place is rather steep, you will want to pack in as much as you can to get your money’s worth. The stage shows, located in a few pavilions within the park, are a must-see. You should try to fit in at least one show during your visit to Sesame Place. “Big Bird’s Beach Party” is a very popular show and it is performed in an indoor auditorium. A word of advice– this show gets crowded so get there early if you want to get a good seat. A good show for slightly older kids? Try “Oscar’s Big Game Show”, where contestants (kids picked from the audience) compete in a hilarious game show. The “Rock Around the Block Birthday Parade” is a great way to see lots of the Sesame Street characters– and your kids will love the music and dancing. The parade usually runs two times daily.
The Best Attractions. There’s a lot to do at Sesame Place, but the key is to hit the best attractions early on before the lines get too long. One of the most popular water attractions is “Big Bird’s Rambling River Ride”– kids and adults can float along a rambling river in big inner tubes (young children can share a tube with an adult). “Little Bird’s Rapids” is a smaller version of the river ride. For the littlest children,” Little Bird’s Birdbath” is a small wading area complete with fountains that gently sprinkle water. “The Big Slipper” is a water flume ride designed for bigger kids and adults (you must be art least 42′ tall to ride). If needed, you can ask for life vests for some of the water attractions. Keep in mind, also, that even some of the wading pools have a limit on the number of children that can be in them at one time– expect a wait if you visit the park on a busy day.
If water isn’t your thing, there are some dry attractions as well. Some favorites include” Big Bird’s Balloon Race”(a ride that lifts you 40 feet high) , “Cookie Mountain” (a slippery yet climbable “mountain” that your kids can climb and then slide down) and “Grover’s World Twirl” (you ride in spinning teacups emblazoned with you child’s favorite characters). The “Nets ‘n Climbs” attraction is a giant table of nets and tunnels for climbing and crawling– it may be overwhelming for younger kids, but the older ones love it. For some great photo ops, check out the “Sesame Neighborhood”, a real life replica of everybody’s favorite street.
For the youngest toddlers, there are a few baby-friendly attractions as well. A park-style jungle gym is available, as is a pavilion filled with giant, soft building blocks. The “Monster Maze” is a fun maze full of punching bags and sand that little ones can wander through. “Twiddlebugland” is another cute area, full of oversized props and fun water attractions.
Dining. While there are several dining spots located throughout the park, be warned that they get quite crowded and they are very expensive. A bottle of spring water cost $2.75 on our recent visit, and the food selections consisted of typical kiddie fare– hotdogs, burgers and French fries. We did order a carved turkey sandwich that came with a heaping plate full of fries, and it actually wasn’t half bad, but it cost about $7.00 and we had to wait in a long line to order it. Add the $3.00 drink (lemonade that was very watered down) and you’ve got a meal that costs about 10 bucks per person. Even the kid’s meals are pricey at about 6 dollars each for a hotdog and fries (not including a drink), although they do come in a keepsake plastic Elmo container. Because outside food and beverages are not permitted inside the park, it is highly recommended that you pack a cooler full of food and drinks to keep in your car. There is a picnic area just outside the park so you can always leave the park for lunch (just be sure to get your hand stamped for re-admittance).
Final thoughts. If you’re going to Sesame Place so your kids can have a chance to “meet” the show’s characters, you may be disappointed. During our recent visit, the characters walking through the park were few and far between (we caught a glimpse of Cookie Monster and Baby Bear from afar). Sure, you can see several characters if you attend one of the shows or watch the parade, but if you’re looking for tons of photo opportunities with the characters you may want to take advantage of the onsite meet and greet photo studio or go to the breakfast or dinner with ” Big Bird and Friends”– a buffet style meal where a few of your favorite characters will happily pose for pictures with your family (of course there is a hefty additional charge for the meal, and a ticket to the park is also required for admittance). During our visit, we lucked out and ran into Sesame Street character Zoe on the way out of the park, so we did get a picture with her.
Other things to know. Because all of the rides and attractions are outside, you will want to go to Sesame Place on a nice, sunny day. If you have made special plans ahead of time to come to the area to visit Sesame Place, and the weather doesn’t cooperate, keep in mind that Sesame Place does have what they call a “sunny day guarantee”. That is, if it rains continuously for one hour or more on the day of your visit, you will receive a ticket to come back for free on another day.
Planning to go? The park is open from May through October (weekends only after mid- September). Park hours vary throughout the season but are generally 10 Am to 8 PM during the peak summer months. For more information, contact Sesame Place at (215) 752-7070. The address is 100 Sesame Road Langhorne, PA 19047-1868.