Sesame Place – August 2012
Since I have only been to Sesame Place this one time (two days over one weekend) I am not really in a place to make generalizations or give advice but that’s not really going to stop me. I got a lot of great tips from Kim, who’s an expert, and learned a lot just by being there. My best advice is “Don’t go on what was probably the busiest day at the park ever.” It was REALLY crowded on Friday, which we weren’t expecting (we figured it would be pack Saturday). By the time we got in the gates at 10:15 am there were long lines for everything. So I guess that’s tip number 1 – if you’re going in the crowded summer season, get there a good half hour before the gates open, get in line, use that time to put sunscreen on everyone and give them a morning tantrum-preventing snack.
Luckily the kids were all in a good mood and we managed to get sunscreened up and onto the cool raft waterslide before anyone melted down. But that was the end for Caroline. She DID NOT CARE FOR the water rides and let everyone within a 100 mile radius know it. I wasn’t expecting that – she loves the pool and the lake and the boat. It made chasing Evan through the giant water playground no fun for anyone. Thank goodness he wasn’t the least bit scared…and that the whole place is BUILT for 3 year olds. I think the only thing he needed an adult for was the big (BIG!) roller coaster. Thank God Kim was willing to take Caroline duty so Evan didn’t miss stuff. That’s tip number 2 – Bring one grown up per kid if at all possible. Or have two kids who like doing all the things.
We made poor Caroline do water stuff all morning and then tried to get lunch. Here’s tip number 3 – the food isn’t very good and you are allowed to bring in snacks and small coolers so DO THAT. The line was really long, wrangling trays and strollers is tough, and making hungry kids stand in line is pretty much torture for everyone. Next time we’re going to spring for the character lunch, where at least there isn’t a huge line for food, even if I will have to feed Caroline under the table where Telly Monster won’t scare the crap out of her.
After lunch we ran back to the car to change, grab snacks and pick up our cameras (we left them safe in the car instead of under the stroller during the wet half of the day). Kim’s kids napped, mine sort of napped, we did rides on the dry side and saw the parade twice. (The night version is cooler.) We stayed until they threw us out at 9 pm and stayed in a hotel so we could do it again on Saturday.
OK, so I realize I’m making it sound like we didn’t have a good time, which is totally wrong. We had a GREAT time. Evan had the best time, I had the second best time, Caroline did not die. She wasn’t happy about the water, she didn’t like most of the shows, and she was a little scared of the characters. But she loved Elmo’s World and the parade and her stuffed Elmo and the carousel. I think she’s going to hate it probably one more time and then warm up.
I loved all of it. I can’t imagine someone my age who wouldn’t love it – it’s Sesame Street! I grew up on Cookie Monster and Big Bird. Even though they’ve added new monsters and updated a little bit it is still very classic and I didn’t feel like my childhood was being betrayed in any way (which yes, is something I was genuinely worried about). We will definitely being going back. Soon. Before Halloween, that’s for sure.
Tip number 4 – Buy the season pass. I used my free admission for military dependents on Friday which was nice, because we could see if we liked it. Saturday I bought two season passes – one at the basic level and one at the mid-level, which comes with lots of great benefits (it’s good the rest of 2012 and all of 2013). I put the fancier pass in Evan’s name, since he’s a kid he has to have a grown up come with him so I get the benefits too (Kim recommended it and the lady at the ticket counter confirmed that’s what most people do). Free parking, 30% discount on food and souvenirs, early admission to at least one of the shows, and a chance to go backstage at the parade and meet ALL the characters. All of them. Even on a really busy weekend the backstage thing was super cool and we got to meet and take pictures with every single character.
And the characters are GREAT. They costumes are extremely well done. They were very clean and soft, especially considering it was 90 degrees and their job is to hug dirty, sticky toddlers all day. You can’t see the people inside them at all, even up close, and they are very very very good with the kids. Patient and polite and willing to go above and beyond to help get a good picture. I never felt like they were rushing us to go away so they could get to the next kid. They handled a crying Caroline just as well as they handled an overenthusiastic hugger Evan. The park certainly isn’t Disney-levels of magical or clean but the characters are EVERYTHING you would expect from the Sesame Workshop.
They do special stuff all through October for Halloween and we’re definitely going back. They also decorate for Christmas – I’m told it’s really amazing – but I’d need to upgrade our season passes (although if our next visit goes well I might book Caroline the special birthday package for December). Who’s up for a meet-up in early October?