Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Sesame Place: An Honest Review

Our almost-three-year-old has been a devoted follower of the furry red menace known as Elmo ever since she was old enough to be allowed to watch TV (her first birthday).  As such, friends of ours in the DC area encouraged us to try out Sesame Place, a small theme park owned by Sea World, located in Langhorne, PA.  It just so happened that Mr. Geek's employer was offering a discount ticket package that included a free meal and a free second visit, so we took advantage and visited on two separate occasions.

Spoiler alert: we (and especially the aforementioned almost-three-year-old) had a LOT of fun.  But I would be a bad blogger if I didn't offer you, dear reader, a look inside the good, the bad, and the slightly ugly of this little theme park.  And so, without further ado, I offer you this honest review.

The Good

The rides are pre-school-sized.  At exactly 36" in height, our not-quite-three-year-old was juuuust tall enough to ride almost everything in the park, so long as Mommy or Daddy was with her.  The only rides she was too short for were things she was too timid to approach anyway- the roller coaster and a mix-up ride called the Honker Dinger Derby.

The carousel and swings were her favorite!
...but they're not too squished for Mom and Dad!  We were able to enjoy the rides together without feeling like we were squeezed into some little kiddie ride.  I was hoping Miss Chief would be tall enough to ride the coaster, but alas, we'll have to save that for next time.

The rides are very high-quality.  I don't know, I guess I was half-expecting carnival-quality rides, or something, but these are sturdy, safe theme park rides.  (I guess Sea World can do something right...)

The parade at the end of the night was fantastic!  The music, the characters, the choreography- it was great!

The Bad

The character meets were hit-or-miss.  The first time we went, Miss Chief was rather nervous around the costumed characters- and the nerves outweighed her awe at the furry incarnations of her on-screen idols.  Some, like Elmo, Zoe, Cookie Monster, and Abby, coaxed her out of the nerves with a hug and a high five, but others just sort of stood by or, at the character dinner we attended, just walked on to the next kid.  It seems these meets were more about how many kids they could crank through the line rather than genuine interactions.

The costumes themselves were a bit shabby.  It seems that the same costumes are used in both the silent meet-and-greets as well as the shows and parades- meaning Big Bird here is designed to be able to move his mouth, even though he doesn't do so when you meet him up close.  For many theme park characters, this is accomplished through a mechanism in the costume's gloves- the actor squeezes his hand and the mouth moves.  I can only assume Big Bird works that way, as you could see the wire running from his head to his hands, running on the outside, for whatever reason.  When we met The Count, you could see how his seams were fraying, and the snaps holding his hands together were clearly visible.  The Elmo in Elmo the Musical: Live! was straining to fit into his costume, so you could tell that the legs were worn as separate pieces from the body.  And in one of the more dance-heavy shows, it seems Abby was in a rush to get dressed- the place where the mask tucked into the body was hanging out and flapping around on her back.

The Ugly

(no photos of these, cause it's gross)

By the end of the day, the bathrooms were filthy.  Stalls were missing toilet paper, many toilets were clogged and out of order, and the floor was covered in...well, it's a theme park for 3-year-olds, I'll let you use your imagination.  Twice we saw an employee in the restroom at the same time we were, but both times they were just emptying trash bins and re-filling the paper towel dispensers, but not tending to the rest of the mess.

The food was overpriced and just plain not good.  I know what you're thinking- well duh, it's a theme park.  I guess we're just spoiled by Disney, where the food is overpriced but tasty- and there's a variety!  Every restaurant at Sesame Place served the same thing- hot dogs, chicken fingers, and pizza- aside from an outdoor barbecue buffet and a taco truck called Grover's Eats on the Streets (which was actually quite tasty, and therefore the exception to the rule).  We probably should have just brought our own food, but the official food policy on the website says this:

Soft-sided coolers 10"x10"x12" or smaller are permitted in the park for storage of baby formula, baby food and medically necessary items.  Sealed non-alcoholic beverages and small single-serve snack sized items such as chips, pretzels, cookies, whole fruit, and pre-made sandwiches are also allowed.  All other outside food is not permitted in the park.  Picnic areas and vending machines are available outside of the park in our General and Preferred Parking Lots.  For food allergy concerns, please contact for accommodations.  Glass items including bottles and containers are not permitted in the park. From the FAQ's
Of course, plenty of people ignored this rule and chomped down on huge feasts from home on the sidewalk, so maybe we should have ignored it, too?

The character dinner was hugely entertaining, but messy and gross.  I don't think any of the kids in that room ate anything as they chased their favorite characters around the room, and then everyone was quickly ushered out the front doors as soon as the music stopped.  The dinner was a buffet, and the buffet was dirty and cold.  Food was all over the floor around the service station, everything was comingled (would you like your chicken splattered with mac'n'cheese?), and once again, the bathrooms were out of toilet paper.

All in all, we had a great time and will probably go back again- our little one is still talking about what she's going to do next time!  Nothing compares to Disney's magic, I guess- so if you go to Sesame Place, try not to compare the two ;)

Have you ever been to Sesame Place?  What's your favorite theme park?

Much love,
The Geeks


  1. What a creative idea for a theme park! Hopefully they can fix the gross stuff, because that part sounds super lame. And it's weird that the costumes would be shabby, since it seems obvious (at least to me) that a character should look presentable. Glad that you all had a good time!

    1. My husband joked that it was proof that Sea World is out of money after all that legal action ;) But it really is a great park for pre schoolers and we'll probably be back several more times since we live so close