Tips and Tricks for Visiting Sesame Place: Best Rides, Where to Eat and What to Do

Tips and Tricks for Visiting Sesame Place

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The map of the whole park

Sesame Place is often sited by parents as a great day or weekend trip from Brooklyn.  I’ve always wondered if it was really worth the effort: bathing suits, towels, long car trip, amusement park food…it’s enough to make me stay away. But, this summer I decided to take the plunge.

I didn’t go it alone though. I took my husband with me as I was sure I couldn’t manage it all by myself. (And, I was right). We brought our 3 year old and 5 year olds, both nonswimmers (sadly).  I wouldn’t suggest bringing a child under 2.5 years old, there isn’t a ton for them to do and it ends up being more work than worth it (in my opinion). More on that below.

Parents like Sesame Place and kids love it (get the subtle difference?). After my visit I compiled a list of tips and tricks for you on visiting Sesame Place. Some are my tips, others are reviews and friends’ comments. All of their comments are in quotes and mine are without quotes. (Thanks to tripadvisor.com and Ginger and other local parents for all the reviews).

Big Sky ride where 6 people can ride on 1 raft. We didn't do this, but it seemed to be a popular ride.

Overall:
We loved it and would do it again, but only with two adults for the two children.  I was totally exhausted from the driving, sun and rides- and my kids were too. We all came home a little dehydrated and wiped out.  Next time for our day trip, I won’t even do the dry rides and just focus on the wet rides so we can visit more of them or repeat them. When you go for the day, there is a big time crunch when you factor in lunch, waiting times in line, snacks and bathroom stops. We went during the week and the lines were still fairly long. The line waiting is one of the other reasons that I wouldn’t recommend this park for the under 2.5 years crowd.

How long does it take to get there?
Sesame Place is in Langhorne, Pennsylvania.  It is accessible via car and both NJ Transit. (We have hints about using public transport below).  Via car it is 90 minutes south of New York City.  It took us 1 hour and 45 minutes from Brooklyn with no pit stops.  You can take New Jersey Transit to the Trenton train station and catch a SEPTA bus or a cab to Sesame Place. Sesame Place is located 10 minutes West of Trenton. Please call SEPTA at 215-580-7800 for bus schedule information, and please call New Jersey Transit 1-800-626-RIDE for train schedules.

A day trip or a weekend trip?
Langhorne, PA is located in Bucks County- a great place to do other things (Quakertown, wineries, art galleries, riversports, etc) if you want to make a weekend of it. I adore Bucks County, more for adult activities than anything else.

Ticket Fees:
The daily entrance fee is $53 plus tax for all entrants- though children 23 months and younger are free. You can purchase the Elmo’s ANY Two-Day Ticket that is 2 days for the price of one. These two days do not have to be consecutive and may be used on any regular scheduled operating day during the current season. This is definitely worth it. All tickets can be bought at the front gate, through the kiosks and online. Current ticket deals are listed below.

Now, for some reviews, tips and hints:

Taking the train, worth staying and where to stay:
“Getting there on NJ Transit is not that bad at all–it only takes about an hour to get to Trenton. From there you can grab a cab or take the bus to Sesame Place. I would say door to door the trip from Penn Station should be about 2 hrs or so. The problem with taking public transportation is there it limits where you can stay if you want to spend the night. There is a Sheraton right across the street where we have stayed each time. It is very nice and there is a free shuttle to Sesame but the Sheraton is NOT cheap. I think most of the other hotels that are right there are also fairly expensive.  We always stay two days–the price of a two day ticket is only a few dollars more than a one day ticket so you might as well get the two day one. I find there is enough to do for the second day and it makes for a nice short trip out of the city.  Personally, I don’t think I would be that good for a 20 month old though. The first time I took my son he was three and he was still too little for a lot of things. Plus, it was hard to get him to stand in line. He was 4 last summer, which was great.”

Deals on Ticketing:
“We signed up for the email newsletter and got a deal on season passes that helped us save quite a bit this year and apparently even some hotels in the area offer deals.”

Sesame Place partners with various retail locations at various times throughout the year. Some of their partners include McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, Walgreens and your local AAA office. Discounts are also available if you present a Pepsi can at the ticket booth. Corporate discounts (for companies with 100 or more employees) are available by registering at www.clubsesameplace.com.

Best deals right now:

  • Save $20 on single-day admission to Sesame Place weekdays only, 5/4/12 – 6/29/12. Ticket must be purchased online to receive savings.$37.99 for adults and children 2 years plus.
  • Pay for a single day and get any 2nd day FREE with Elmo’s ANY 2-Day Ticket. The second day is valid any regular operating day during the 2012 season through 10/28/12 and does not have to be used on consecutive days. $57.99 for adults and children 2 years plus.
  • If you think  you will go more than twice, I would suggest the Sesame Season Pass.  Unlimited admission for 2012 season and 30% discount on food and merchandise. $94.99 plus tax.

Other current deals are listed here.

Favorite Things To Do:
“I enjoy the character lunch because it gave the girls a chance to spend more time with the characters. The characters are also walk around the park (but you have to wait in line and then are kinda rushed to get a pic so the next child can have a turn).”

1-2-3 Photos with Characters

We loved the Character Parade. I would put this on your list of top items to do. Then you don’t have to do the Character Lunch or Dinner because your children have seen them. There are spontaneous photo opportunities to have your photo taken with the characters, but you do have to wait in a bit of a line. The parade takes place on the main street. Park yourselves in the middle of the curve to get the best view and also that is where most of the songs and dances take place. We were at the very end of the parade, and we couldn’t see anything for the first half.

Sesame Place Opening Day. Photo courtesy of Mamas Little Helper.

The Silly Sand Slide, Ernie’s Bounce Bed, Big Bird’s Rambling River, Sunny Day Carousel, Teeny Tiny Tidal Wave, Count’s Castle wading pool are great for the littlest ones. They do the bounce bed by age groups so you don’t have to worry about your little ones getting double bounced!

Silly Sand Slide

Ernies Big Bounce Bed

Sunny Day Castle Carousel

Teeny Tiny Tidal Wave wading pool for little ones

The Count’s Castle is a multi-level water attraction that is wonderful for all aged kids. The older ones can do the loopy slides, climb the apparatus, dump water buckets and the youngest can play in the shallow water that surrounds  the entire castle.  The water reaches an adult’s mid-calf.

The Count's Castle

We loved Big Bird’s Balloon Race. Both my 3 year old and 5 year old loved it. It goes high, but doesn’t make you dizzy.

Big Birds Balloon Ride

The kids and I did Big Bird’s Rambling River 4 times. We all loved it. It was mellow but there was just enough excitement bumping into other tubers and paddling out of the way of water fountains. Otherwise we just floated down the river. My 3 year old sat in my lap in the tube and we had a great time. She had a life jacket on as did my 5 year old son. The “river” water level goes up to my chest, so it isn’t terribly deep but you do have to watch nonswimmers.

Big Birds Rambling River

“Slimey Chutes is our favorite wet ride- we went 4 or 5 times. Because there are double tubes you can go with your children.”

Slimey Shutes with the double tubes

Parking:
“We parked at the mall down the road to help save the $15 parking fee both days.”

When to go:
“I would recommend this park to parents but go during the week when the park is less crowded or during off season.”

What to wear:
Be sure you wear a bathing suit too. You will regret it if you don’t! “

“I was also very glad my daughter wore water shoes because some of the attractions have little raised rocks near the entrance and exits. Just know that this is pretty much a water park, everyone in your group should wear their water gear.”

“Most of the kids actually just go in their bathing suits and ride the dry rides first in their bathing suits and then hit the water area right after.”

Everyone is pretty immodest and walks around in their bathing suits with towels wrapped around them or a skort on their bottoms.  I would definitely recommend water shoes for your younger children if they would be unstable in the water.

Have slip on shoes for walking around in the park- like crocs, flip flops or a water-friendly sandal.

Bathing Suits are the uniform for everyone- kids and adults

A little privacy:

Cabana’s can be rented for the day. Cabana’s include a private 10 x 10 cabana near The Count’s Splash Castle, poolside seating for up to 6 people, ceiling fan, mini fridge, 12 bottled beverages, 6 Sesame Place souvenir beach towels, exclusive character interactions and a locked drawer for personal belongings. Max capacity is 6 people which includes adults, children and lap infants.  The cabanas at Count’s Castle are $229.99 a day.

Cabanas

Eating:
“For dinner we did the Dine with Me (buffet dinner with all of the characters.) That was awesome. They put on little shows, my daughter and I got to dance with and take pictures with all of her favorites. The food was actually pretty good too! Even though it may seem a little pricey, it was totally worth it and a great way to end our visit. And children under 2 eat free!”

“One mom told us she leaves to go to the mall across the street at lunchtime; sounds like a brilliant idea from what we saw. Also, the park is small enough that going back out to your car for lunch is pretty easy to do.”

We brought soft-pack coolers with food and drinks. We bought some cute Elmo cupcakes for dessert so we could “legitimately” sit at one of the indoor cafes.  It was a nice treat and at $2.50 each, we didn’t break the bank for food.

Elmo Cupcakes from the park. I should have just bought one for the kids to split since the cakes were so big.

I definitely suggest bringing your own food into the park. Why not? You save money and can eat healthy food and eat quickly at an outside picnic bench.  But “soft-sided coolers no larger than 10″x10″x12″ are permitted.”

Cooler Rules

Changing Rooms:
We came in our street clothes and changed in bathing suits near Count Castle where they have a family changing room (fits stroller, 2 kids and 2 adults) and normal sized changing rooms. Clean, nice. There are other restroom areas with changing rooms too. All of the ones we visited were well-kept.

Getting Around the Park With Ease:
Bring a stroller to carry your food, towels, clothes, sunscreen, hats, shoes and drinks. If you don’t have a stroller, consider something that you can leave outside each ride to keep your stuff in one place: backpack, wagon, etc.  Strollers are also available for rent. Rent a stroller for $16.98. That’s why I suggest bringing something of your own. A lot of families brought wagons, but being from Brooklyn, we generally don’t have those stashed somewhere. Perhaps one cheap umbrella stroller might suffice for you.

Photo courtesy of The Bub in the Belly

You can also rent a large locker for $17.92 a day.

Details:
Sesame Place
100 Sesame Road Langhorne, PA 19047
Tel: 866-GO-4-ELMO
website: http://www.sesameplace.com

Disclosure: I was given a pass to go to Sesame Place in order to review it. All opinions expressed in the review are mine and are honest. The reviews in “quotes” are from readers.

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  14. Hi there,
    I’m a little confused by one thing that you wrote. You stated that the Sheraton that you stay at has complimentary shuttle service to and from Sesame Place. But, then later you went on to say that you parked at a nearby mall to save money on the $15 parking fee. Why didn’t you just take the complimentary shuttle with door to door service to Sesame Place? Does it only run on certain hours that don’t work out well for guests? I know this is an old post, but I’m staying at the Marriott Courtyard which also has a shuttle to Sesame Place. Is there a reason not to take the shuttle?
    Thanks,
    Heather

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  26. I live in Northern Virginia with my husband and children (ages 6-8). My kids LOVE Sesame Place and we have been there twice with a planned trip later this summer. We stay overnight because it takes us 3.5 hours to drive. We’ve gone on Labor Day weekend and during a random weekday before and these are my best tips:

    1. Do the breakfast with the characters. It is a pretty good buffet and it gets you into the park early and before the crowds. This early time allows you a chance to get your fill of the dry rides without the crowds.
    2. Get a locker.
    3. Wear bathing suits under your clothes. Ride the dry rides first and then just do a quick and easy change into swimwear. This will minimize the necessity to use the changing rooms near the ducky ride. I found them to be less than appealing. We wore our swimsuits back to the hotel at the end of the day.
    4. If you can swing it, get a hotel. There are some pretty good deals with partner hotels.
    5. Go on a week day. I could not believe the difference it made in wait times!
    6. If you can’t get there early, then try the half price twilight package that starts at 3 pm.
    7. Don’t miss the sand play area across from Ernie’s Water Works. There are beach chairs under umbrellas for the adults to relax with their feet in the sand, while watching the kids go crazy with beach fun. This provided a good break for the adults!
    8. Many attractions do not have lines. We tried to balance it out by doing a line attraction (like the ducky ride) and then doing a non-line attraction (like the wave pool).
    9. Bring a cooler with ice cold water. The drinks are expensive and you do need to stay hydrated.
    10. If you get too hot, go to Big Bird’s Lazy River with the whole family to recharge your batteries.

    I promise I do not work for Sesame Place or its parent company. It is just that I don’t like being out in the hot sun (I burn) so I put a lot of planning into these trips so that I won’t be miserable. Also, my kids are playing quietly and I actually had time to write down my thoughts.

  27. My friend’s daughter has worked as a character here for two summers and enjoyed it. She kindly gave me and my kids (6 and 9) half-price tickets, and we went there on August 8, 2012. It was a miserable experience for all of us, and a complete rip-off, even at half price.

    The park was very crowded – we arrived about 10am and waited in line to pay $15 for parking. We then waited in line again to pay our $93.27 to get in the park. That would have been double without the special passes. My daughter went on one dry ride, and it became obvious that all the fun is in the wet rides, so we looked for a place to change. My daughter is too old for the men’s room and too young to be unescorted in a public women’s room at a place like this. We asked a staff member and they suggested a rented cabana for $125. We found a breastfeeding room and used it instead. We couldn’t the wet rides with a bag, and it would risk getting stolen unattended, so our only option was a $19 locker rental – but there were long lines for those. We took the risk rather than more waiting.

    After a 45-minute we rode the big raft-flume ride and it was fun.

    Then we went to try the little inner-tube flume ride. The line was long but it looked like it was moving. As we waited in the line it started to move slower and slower. After an hour we were only half way through the line and stopped making any progress. The reason was obvious: people with VIP passes were riding multiple times, and entering the ride ahead of us at such a rate that the non-VIP line stopped moving. Rather that wait indefinitely we exited the line and went to Guest Services to request a refund.

    After another wait at Guest services the attendant told us that we could not get a refund. I describe our poor experience – loudly – and a supervisor came over and offered us VIP/fast/Magic Carpet passes. I declined, and they gave me a card for the “Guest Coordinator” to call.

    Maggie Gray, the Guest Coordinator, took several calls from me and said she had received my email. She offered replacement passes for another visit in the 2012 season, but the weather was cooling and my kids were starting school, and we have a strong negative impression of the place, so I declined.

    I have been told that overcrowding is an ongoing problem, and that Sea World, who owns the park, wants them to close the park when capacity is reached, but that local management wants the extra revenue.

    They ripped me off for $108.27 and have still not refunded it. If you go there without discounts, they’ll rip you off for a whole lot more.

  28. As a breastfeeding mom who also has a three year old, I highly recommend getting a cabana (which were 199, not 159). Expensive, but not only do you get the above-listed amenities, but you can order food to be delivered at a given time (at the same price + $5 delivery fee) so you don’t have to wait in lines and waste time at one of the cafes. Also, you get to meet ALL the characters in the VIP section before the parade, so there’s no need to arrange a character meal. Meeting all the characters was kind of mind-blowing for my daughter. And being able to breastfeed in the cabana (Yes, I brought my special pillow) was perfect. I fed while the hubby and 3 y.o. went out for rides. Lastly, it’s a quiet place – if you can get your kid to nap, you could stay at the park until closing.

    If you get a cabana at Big Bird’s area (not the Count’s Castle) you get unlimited line privileges at the Rambling River.

    The nursing rooms are essentially cinder block rooms with a changing table, sink and rocking chair. Not really warm, and didn’t really feel clean to me. Would rather pull up a deck chair near one of the less popular pools and nurse there.

    There’s also a special pass now where you get two days for the price of one. This was helpful for us, since our daughter was totally overwhelmed the first day (her first amusement park) and only started to warm up to the idea the second day. We did hotwire and got a 4 star hotel, 30 minutes away in Princeton for only 50 bucks. Totally worth it.

  29. Cristina,
    I didn’t know the cabanas gave you so many advantages: nursing, VIP section of parade, food delivery, napping. Sounds downright luxurious! That was so smart of you. Sounds like the cabanas at Big Bird’s are worth it as we went to the Rambling River 4 times and had to wait in those lines each time which cost us about 45 minutes total.

    Great advice.

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