Go Before They Grow” is the slogan of this toddler-centric amusement park, and it couldn’t be truer. Sesame Place is nothing short of magical for children under 6. Featuring gentle rides, choreographed shows, carnival games with a generous prize policy, and a waterpark to splash and slide, it’s a place parents will miss when kids graduate to the more extreme parks.
Season passes are the best deal (wait until August and get the rest of the year free with a 2020 pass), or find a flash sale or Groupon deal for daily tickets. Teachers can apply for a free season pass, and there are discounts for seniors, active military, and pregnant women. The front gate price is $75, but most pay closer to $35.
Some hotels nearby offer packages with park admission. Unless you want a weekend away, we suggest keeping to one day. Langhorne is an easy daytrip, 100 minutes from lower Westchester.
The park opens at 10 a.m. during peak season, but get a head start by making an advance booking for a 9 a.m. Breakfast with Elmo & Friends. Unwind after your drive and fuel up the kids before they ride and splash all day. Children under 2 eat free! You’ll meet many characters, who roam the tables and put on a short dance show. Bring zip-lock bags, there’s so much food at this buffet you’ll want dessert to go. This experience is a great start to the day and beats standing in long lines around the park for a photo with their favorite Muppet.
Sesame Place has a generous food policy. Bring in almost anything except alcohol or large coolers. Bottles, containers, and snacks are just fine. Strollers and wagons are welcome, or you can rent. You’ll have to leave your stroller at some shows, but we still suggest bringing it for a place to hold supplies, snacks, and tired kids. You can rent a locker, but it will cost you a hefty $35. We save money by storing valuables in a waterproof neck pouch and leaving the rest in our stroller while we splash around. With our phone protected we can take photos in the waterpark. We’ve never had trouble leaving snacks and towels behind, but we keep an eye on our stroller. Buy souvenirs on your way out so they’re not left unattended.
The park is divided into a water park and an amusement park. You’ll visit one area at a time, as bathing suits aren’t allowed on the dry side. Most of the attractions are for toddlers and several welcome “handheld infants,” children who cannot take three unassisted steps. Once your child starts walking, they can go on almost every ride with you. At around 42”, they can begin to ride alone. There are two roller coasters for older riders.
Our kids love the attractions where they set their own pace: specifically, the two-story tunnel slides and the Monster Clubhouse, a giant netted area to climb and jump. Other rides include Dumbo-style flying fish, swings, several circular track rides, teacups, and some up-and-down rides. When the water park is closed off-season, four additional rides are set up on the plaza. There’s a small section for toddler-friendly carnival games, several of which hand out prizes just for playing.
The water park is great for all ages. Explore the shallow wading pools and toddler-sized splash area. For more active kids there is a large splash zone with slides of all sizes and a bucket that periodically dumps water on those brave enough to wait underneath. There’s a lazy river and several water rides that require a parent to accompany all but the tallest preschoolers.
Kids can watch their favorite characters sing and dance throughout the day. Most of the shows take place at one of the three indoor and outdoor theaters. Shows last about 30 minutes and feature open bleacher seating, so it’s a great way to test the waters with an antsy toddler. Sit up front for the chance to high-five your favorite Muppets.
Parades are the perfect way to see characters without sitting for a show. They take off once or twice daily from just inside the park entrance and head down the center of the park. You can purchase priority seating, but these are low-key events. We join the back of the crowd as the parade starts and still enjoy a good view. For sale along the route are bubble machines, light-up wands, and other toys that are expensive and tantrum-inducing. Ward off the gimmes by bringing your own bubbles or lollipops.
There are plenty of places to eat. Traditional dining areas offer tableside or self service for a sit-down meal, and snack and treat kiosks throughout the park will ease everyone’s hunger. When it’s crowded we head to the lesser-trafficked upstairs cafeteria at Elmo’s Eatery.
New this season is a renovated Neighborhood area that matches today’s Sesame Street set, with interactive elements such as talking trash cans and photo op spots like Big Bird’s Nest. There’s also a new show called Our Street is Sesame Street that features the same Muppets as on TV (all other shows feature people inside large Muppet costumes).
Sesame Place is open on a limited schedule for holiday events. The water park is closed, but there are activities such as trick-or-treating, egg hunts, train rides, and special characters (we love winter photos with the Abominable Snowman!). Ticket prices are lower and our kids don’t mind that it’s chilly. Speaking of weather, with the Sunny Day Guarantee you can get free return tickets if rides are closed due to weather, making the trip less of a gamble.
Sesame Place offers special experiences such as private meet-and-greets, priority boarding, and photo passes. The Magic Queue for $20-$35 offers priority boarding at certain attractions. We never know what our toddlers will be up for, so unless you’re with an older kid determined to ride everything, we recommend skipping this one. The photo pass at $50 is not for us either. You’ll wait in some of the longest lines in the park to use it at the character meets. And oftentimes your own cellphone pictures are better than the ones from the “professionals” (read: college students). Remind your kids to look at your camera instead of theirs. The VIP Meet-and-Greet with Elmo and Cookie is great for shy kids who need time to warm up to the characters. It’s quick, but the $100 price tag includes up to six guests and a $50 all-day photo pass, so split this with friends, take lots of photos around the park, and it’s a good deal. We had a great time at ours!
Our favorite extra is the Twiddlebug cabana rental. Starting at about $67 per person for up to six guests, everyone receives a souvenir towel, unlimited bottles of soda, water, milk, and juice, a private splash area, character visit, locker rental, and meal. We loved the privacy and security of the cabanas, as they gave us space to change clothes, leave our stuff, and even nap. Plan to spend all day at the park if you indulge. They come with a table and chairs inside and lounge chairs outside.
Sesame Place is a Certified Autism Center. Anyone with sensory needs is encouraged to visit the Quiet Rooms or borrow Noise-Cancelling Headphones. The Ride Accessibility Special Access Program allows priority access on rides.
It may be smaller in size than other parks, but with plenty of fun rides and ample space for snack stops, diaper swaps, swimsuit changes, and stroller naps, it’s an easy outing with a great vibe. Kids are happy, so parents are happy. It’s a Sunny Day every time.
Andrea Worthington owns BabyG
100 Sesame Road, Langhorne, Pa.
Open daily for the summer season starting May 24, hours vary.
Online tickets start at $49.99 (until June 23); then $59.99. Children ages 23 months and younger are free. Parking is $20.