Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Water Park at Sesame Place offers family-friendly water rides and attractions within an amusement park complex based on the characters and themes of the Sesame Street public television program. The American educational children’s program Sesame Street debuted on the Public Broadcasting System network in November of 1969, following extensive laboratory research on how best to use television as a positive educational medium.
The program was conceived three years earlier by Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett of the Carnegie Foundation and was produced by the Children’s Television Workshop, in conjunction with the puppetry studios of American puppeteer Jim Henson, best known as the creator of the Muppets. Throughout its five decades of production, the series has become an iconic children’s television program and flagship broadcast of American public television, using educational goals and production techniques reflecting the changing nature of American culture. According to a 1996 survey, nearly 95% of American preschoolers had watched episodes of Sesame Street by the age of three.
Designed as a live-action theme park modeled after the characters and themes of Sesame Street, the Sesame Place amusement park opened in 1980 at a location near Philadelphia’s Oxford Valley Mall and is credited with serving as a catalyst for the area’s commercial revitalization. At its opening, the Philadelphia park encompassed three acres, though it has since expanded to a size of more than 14 acres. In 2007, the park became the first smoke-free theme park in the state of Pennsylvania. Several sister facilities have operated throughout the United States and the world, including the Plaza Sésamo park in Monterrey, Mexico and former park sites in Irving, Texas and Tokyo, Japan.
Today, Sesame Place is owned and operated by SeaWorld Entertainment, which operates a total of 11 amusement park facilities throughout the United States, including SeaWorld Orlando, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, and Discovery Cove. SeaWorld Entertainment operates the park under a special license from the Sesame Workshop and operates a number of Sesame Street-themed children’s areas within other Busch Gardens and SeaWorld parks throughout the country. A variety of water and land rides are offered at the Philadelphia park, along with live shows, restaurants, and interactive children’s play areas.
Nine water rides are offered at the park’s waterpark, including the Sesame Streak twisting chute water slide, which allows parents and young children to experience safe thrills together in single or double rafts. Two intertwining body flume slides are offered at Bert and Ernie’s Slip and Slide, ending in a splash pool area, and four 75-foot slides are part of the Slippery Slopes wet adventure. The Sky Splash slide offers a six-story drop within a raft navigating oversized toys, including an eight-foot-tall rubber duckie. Introductory thrills are also offered for young riders at the Slimey’s Chutes double inner tube slide.
For milder thrills, Big Bird’s Rambling River floats along a 1,000-foot-long waterway, navigating past the geysers, waterfalls, and palm trees of Sesame Island. A 10,000-square-foot wave pool, Ernie’s Teeny Tiny Tidal Wave, offers splashing fun underneath a 16-foot statue of Sesame Street character Ernie, with safe maximum depths of 18 inches. Two water play areas are also offered, including the Count’s Splash Castle multi-level interactive water playplace and Ernie’s Waterworks, which features cascading fountains and water-spraying maze areas.
Rather than being contained as a separate waterpark area, water rides are located throughout the Sesame Place park in a number of attraction areas, including Twiddlebug Land, Sesame Island, and the Count’s Castle Courtyard. Major dry rides at the park include the Vapor Trail family helix roller coaster, the Count Around Ferris wheel, and the midway-style rides of Cookie’s Monster Land, including a pirate ship ride, a teacup ride, and a high tower offering views of the park at 40 feet. A number of shows and parades are featured daily at the park, including Elmo: The Musical! and the Neighborhood Street Party Parade, featuring costumed Sesame Street characters. A number of park areas also offer photo opportunities with Sesame Street characters, including 1-2-3 Smile With Me! and First Stop Photos.
Park dining options include Elmo’s Eatery, Captain Ernie’s Bistro, and the Cookie Cafe, offering family-friendly American fare. A variety of gift shops offer Sesame Street-themed souvenirs, including Mr. Hooper’s Emporium and Finders Keepers. Hotel packages are available for discounted overnight stay, and birthday party packages are offered for children wishing to celebrate their birthday at the park. A number of public special events are offered at the park throughout the year, including the Santa’s Grand Illumination tree lighting and Very Furry Christmas celebration.
100 Sesame Rd, Langhorne, PA 19047, Phone: 215-702-3566