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Everything's A-OK

Sesame Place is costly, but the kids' enjoyment makes for a worthwhile investment

Sesame Place is costly, but the kids' enjoyment makes for a worthwhile investment

June 22, 2003|by BILL KOHLER

billk@herald-mail.com

"On my way ... chasing the clouds away."

Well, we didn't chase the clouds away, but we certainly gave the doldrums a good shooing in May when my family made its first visit to Sesame Place.

Sesame Place, about 15 miles north of Philadelphia in Langhorne, Pa., is a three-hour drive from the Tri-State area and provides a good haven for kids 2 and older to get face to face with all kinds of fuzzy monsters - red, blue and green.

The theme park, which is owned by Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc., offers plenty to see and do and squeezes a lot of opportunities and attractions into a comfortably confined area.

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The price for admission is high ($36.95 for ages 2 and older), but on a sunny day on Sesame Street, the laughter and smiles of your kids make it worth the money.

First impressions


The drive was tolerable (about 200 miles from Waynesboro, Pa.), and the park was relatively easy to find. Directions to the park can be found on the Web site, www.sesameplace.com.

Our first impression of Sesame Place - big signs of Elmo, Big Bird and Cookie Monster - was met with squeals of delight from my 2-year-old daughter, Madison.

Our second impression - $8 to park in the lot - was met with groans from me. Since we were there in May and the weather was dreary, we parked within a stone's throw of the park. On warm summer mornings, however, I could envision a long walk from the back of the gargantuan lot.

After a wait in line at the guest relations window to pick up our tickets, we marched through the gates (and security bag-searchers) and headed for the fun.

I was a little disappointed that I had to ask several people at the front gate for a map. Those should be available as you get your tickets or as you enter the park.

Cool stuff


The best thing about the park is its layout and quaintness.

Everything was nearby, and each attraction was a short walk away. We went from one end of the park to the other and were not exhausted.

There is very little wasted space as children's rides and play areas are next to each other or stacked on top of one another. In fact, the kids play area has a rope-crawling maze that spans the entire area so kids can really play at many different levels.

There are places for parents to sit while kids play with giant stuffed blocks and slide on massive sliding boards in the shape of a giant tipped watering can. Or, mom and dad can slip off their shoes and get right in there and play, too. Madison enjoyed crashing into the big, soft blocks after my wife stacked them up for her.

Staff members were friendly and helpful. If someone didn't know an answer, they found someone who did. After all, it's Sesame Street, for Gordon's sake. People are supposed to be nice on Sesame Street; Oscar the Grouch excluded, of course.

Young kids, particularly those between ages 4 and 7, will not be bored at Sesame Street. The attractions and rides seem to be most appealing to those not thunderstruck by the sight of a 5-foot walking and waving Elmo or water shooting out of a giant watering can or people screaming as they zoom around on the park's lone roller coaster.

- Twice a day, the Sesame Street parade comes marching past Hooper's Store. It features music, dancing and all the cool characters. Kids were literally dancing and high-fiving in the street with Elmo, Cookie and Ernie. It was a 3-year-old's dream. (The music was kind of catchy, too.)

Elmo rocks


The popular red monster is everywhere. He's on signs, shirts, buttons, rides and, of course, in the park's gift stores.

The highlight of the day was a visit to see Elmo's World Live in a small, theater-in-the-round setting. My daughter was a little terrified at first to see "Street!" come to life and the things she's seen inside a 27-inch TV become actual size.

After the initial shock, she was singing along and, by the end, was wanting to go on stage and dance with her fuzzy buddy and a host of other pint-sized fanatics.

The performance was a bit raw (it was the first week for the park), but all that mattered was the kids loved it.

In addition to Elmo's world, about a half-dozen music shows are presented at two other theaters in the park.

Price restraints


As with most parks this size, they are expensive to run, staff and maintain.

The best deal is to plan a weekend or short vacation. Then, go for the Elmo's passport deal in which you get two days for the price of one. There are plenty of restaurants, hotels and shopping nearby. Check the Web site, www.sesameplace.com, for links to nearby options.

The food was about what I expected. Carry-ins are not allowed, so bring your Visa card. For lunch, we had a mini pizza and fries, hot dog and fries, an Elmo cupcake and one soda. The cost was $13.50.

Pictures of your loved ones with Elmo or Big Bird are available for $13.

The day was worth it. Madison, all of 29 months, still babbles about it and likes to look at the pictures from our trip.

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