Sesame Place adds lively twist to the timeless show

If you grew up watching TV in the ‘70s or ‘80s, chances are that Big Bird, Oscar and the whole Sesame Street gang were a significant part of your childhood. But unlike The Jetsons, Sesame Street isn’t simply a relic of the past—today’s kids are just as likely (if not more) to know Elmo as they are Doc McStuffins.

If you go…

Where: 100 Sesame Road, Langhorne, Pa.

Cost: for adults, free for kids 23 months and younger, for parking

Hours: Open daily from May 22-Sept. 7

Website: sesameplace.com

Perhaps it’s that longevity that contributes to the popularity of Sesame Place, an amusement park in Langhorne, Pa., that’s devoted to everything Sesame Street. Just like the show, Sesame Place is best enjoyed by kids 7 and under. The park, itself created in the early 1980s, is a popular destination for families, thanks to its proximity to Philadelphia (30 minutes north).

Having grown up in that area, I had memories of visiting Sesame Place as a child, but taking my nephews there made me realize how much things have changed. For instance, back in 1989, Prairie Dawn was the only girl on Sesame Street, and now you can take pictures with Abby Cadabby and Zoe in the Sesame Street Neighborhood (don’t worry, classic characters still make the rounds, too).

All of the expected amusement park rides make an appearance, but with a Sesame Street twist. So you can ride the Monster Mix-Up or Honker Dinger Derby, rather than the teacups or the scrambler. Strangely, my nephews seemed to gravitate toward the lowest-tech rides, like Snuffy’s Slides (pretty much your basic tube slides) and the Monster Clubhouse (a three-story net climb), both of which have been there since the park’s inception.

If you prefer waterpark fun, there are nine water attractions. Or, take a break at one of the fun musical shows—we liked “Elmo Rocks” and mystery-themed “Elmo the Musical,” both starring favorite characters. Much like its counterpart in Orlando, Sesame Place takes a lot of pride in its production values, so you know the shows will be high-quality (and parents, keep your eyes peeled for some fun nods throughout the park).

The one can’t-miss is Sesame Place’s daily parade, an extravaganza celebrating all the characters and places you love, from the Honkers to Hooper’s Store (and Big Bird, of course). Arrive early to get a seat on the curb, or you’ll have a hard time getting your little ones to cooperate.

Like at any amusement park, there are challenges, from bad weather to long lines. If you have a smartphone, download the free app to help you plan your day. And if it rains for at least an hour, there’s a Sunny Day Guarantee that lets you return when the sun is shining again.

As for food, it’s expensive, and outside food is not permitted. I’d recommend bringing lunch and eating in one of the picnic areas, taking advantage of the hand stamps that allow for re-admittance to the park.

If you’re not sure if your kiddos are quite ready for the full Magic Kingdom experience—or if they’re just really enthusiastic Elmo devotees—Sesame Place is a great place to start. It’s got all the flash of a big amusement park, but on a level that’s more manageable for parents of young kids. And that’s pretty much a guarantee that there are sunny days ahead, indeed.

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