At the start of the summer, my sister and brother-in-law told me they planned on bringing my nephew Hunter to Sesame Place. He loves Elmo and was finally old enough to handle a fun-filled day at a theme park. The best part? I was invited to go with them! Hunter may have me beat in the Sesame Street fandom department, but let's not forget us adults were once viewers, too. Between the two of us, we managed to make the most of this extremely kid-friendly destination and so can you. It doesn't hurt that the park is very accommodating no matter what tantrum, allergy, or heat exhausted road bump comes along—what more could a parent (or auntie) ask for?
What to bring to the park:
Here’s your itinerary for your kids’ best day ever (I promise you’ll have fun, too!).
Breakfast with Elmo & Friends
If your child is anything like Hunter, all he cared about was getting the chance to meet Elmo. Make sure that happens as soon as you enter the park by scheduling a dining meet and greet. The food is kid friendly—it’s buffet style, so plan to make your little one a plate of scrambled eggs, French toast sticks, and fruit before you head to the waffle station or load up on much-needed caffeine. Hunter asked for every grape in the fruit bowl before being distracted by Abby, who came to the table for a photo opp. The characters greet each table then perform songs and dances in the middle of the room. The kids are expected to get up and dance along with them, they’re not restricted to their chairs in this restaurant! This is the perfect time to capture an adorable video of your little one wiggling to the beat. Make a boomerang of him dancing if you want a good laugh later.
Cost: $25 per adult, $11 per child 2-9
Upgrade: If you don't get to the park in time for breakfast, you can book a lunch or dinner with the characters instead. Lunch costs $32 for adults and $13 for children, while dinner costs $30 for adults and $13 for children. Around Halloween, Sesame Place offers themed character dines. If you will be attending the park in the fall, check the site for more details.
Hit the rides
Since you’re at the park early, get in line for the most popular rides before the crowds form. If you have a toddler, head to Cookie’s Monster Land where you’ll be able to jump through the Monster Clubhouse and spin on the Monster Mix-Up, then take a walk to the Sunny Day Carousel for a ride around on the horses. All kids under 42 inches tall must ride alongside an adult. There’s plenty for older kids to enjoy, too, with the Vapor Trail roller coaster in Sesame Plaza, which requires kids to be at least 7-years-old to ride alone, and the park’s newest coaster, Oscar’s Wacky Taxi, which is a wooden-steel hybrid with a fast first drop. The park has a sensory guide that tells parents if a ride will stimulate their child through touch, taste, sound, smell, or site so families can be prepared before they ride.
Upgrade your day: You can purchase Abby’s Unlimited Magic Queue bracelets to skip the lines and get priority boarding. This came in handy for my family at some rides, like the Sunny Day Carousel when Hunter wanted to ride it twice. We were able to hop right back on without a wait. Bracelets are $32 each, so before you splurge, gauge how crowded the park is and how patient your child is with waiting on a line. Then consider getting the passes for only one adult who will be the designated rider when lines are long.
Showtime: Elmo the Musical Live!
The performances happen several times a day, so check the timing when you arrive at the park and plan to squeeze in an afternoon viewing. The show’s indoors, so it’s a nice air-conditioning break for the adults and a good way to get your children out of the beaming sun for a bit. Arrive early for a front-row seat where Elmo and friends will interact with your little one through high-fives and waves, but there’s no bad seat in the theater. If you’re concerned about your kid’s attention span, don’t worry. The music will have them up and dancing, and if they can’t handle it, no one will blink if your child shouts or you need to leave in the middle of the performance. This is a kid-friendly space!
Upgrade your day: You can participate in a meet & greet with Elmo, Cookie Monster, and the dancing Chickens for $75. Skip this upgrade, especially if you already dined with the characters, and head to the 1-2-3 Smile With Me! tent in Cookie’s Monster Land to meet Elmo, Abby Cadabby, and Big Bird and pose for professional photos you can buy for less later.
It’s Time for Lunch
You’re not far from food options in every neighborhood in the park. My family ate at Elmo’s Eatery, which has a mix of Italian and Asian food, since Hunter wanted a rice dish for lunch. The eateries have indoor and outdoor seating, but if you’re looking for a bite on the go, head to Grover’s Eats on the Street food truck, where you can get the local favorite: Philly cheesesteak. There are also kiosks for drinks, ice cream, and other snacks throughout the park.
Upgrade your day: The park will make accommodations for your family if anyone with you has a special dietary need. Just email the park in advance and a representative will work with you to make sure everyone can eat comfortably during your visit.
Splash at the Waterpark
Now’s the time to bring your toddlers to Ernie’s Waterworks in Sesame Island for interactive water tables and water-spraying fountains. If you have big kids, head to Twiddlebug Land for waterslide adventures. If your family is mixed ages and can’t split up, go to The Count’s Splash Castle in Count’s Court where there are plenty of activities for the little ones to explore alongside you in the splash pool while the big kids can climb the bridges and slide on down to the rest of the family.
Upgrade your day: While lounge chairs are available in the water areas, the open seating fills up fast. I suggest renting a Twiddlebug Cabana if you have young kids who need a shaded area or you're a large family. While it’s on the pricey side (a cabana costs $400 and has a max of 6 people), a rental gives your crew access to a private splash area, a locker, and concierge service, on top of providing you with an exclusive character meet & greet, one meal per person, and unlimited bottled beverages. All worth the price on a hot and crowded day at the park, since lines in air-conditioned eateries can cause long waits for food.
Showtime: Let’s Play Together
Dry off and head to Abby’s Paradise Theater for another performance, this time starring Abby Cadabby, Elmo, Cookie Monster, Grover, Rosita, Bert, and Ernie. The theater is outside, so you won’t have to go in the air conditioning after spending some time in the water.
Neighborhood Street Party Parade
The character parade is a must-see and had Hunter on his feet dancing and grinning from ear to ear. It happens twice a day, but my advice is to skip the 3 p.m. show—everyone else in the park will be heading to the parade so use this time to hit the rides that had a long line earlier. Plus, it’s much better to sit along the main road at 7 p.m. when the sun is not as hot and the disco lights come out. The show is about half an hour long and includes all the characters and some familiar sing-alongs.
Upgrade your day: You can book a spot for your family in the Reserved Parade Viewing Area. For $20 a person, you’re guaranteed a front row seat for extra fun without any wait. I suggest getting to the parade route a little early with a blanket or pool towels and carving out a spot for yourself where you’ll be close to the action. Sit near the food trucks and you’ll be in the middle of the parade route, but the floats stop several times for performances, so no matter where you sit, you’ll have a great view of the show!
If this sounds like too much for your family to take on in one day (you might need to squeeze in an afternoon nap, after all), why not extend your trip an extra day. A two-day pass is only $15 more per person over 2-years-old, and the Sheraton Bucks County Hotel is right across the street and provides shuttles to the park every 30 minutes. Your family can wake up to another day of Elmo fun!