After having tackled Disney World solo with my 4- and 6-year-old, I thought we were ready for any theme park. Turns out, I shouldn’t have assumed all theme parks were ready for us. If you are thinking of heading to Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, solo with kids, you might want to think again. Here are my survival tips and recommendations that every single or solo traveling parent should consider before heading to Sesame Place.
I learned an important solo lesson at Sesame Place. Before heading to any theme park, check the height restrictions on the majority of the rides. I made an assumption that since Sesame Place was clearly aimed at younger children, the height restrictions would make it possible for my older son to ride alone. To be fair, this was the norm at Disneyland, Disney World and Canada’s Wonderland.
I was very wrong.
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At Sesame Place, a majority of the rides require a child to be 48 inches tall to ride alone. That’s the average height for a 7- or 8-year-old. I can tell you, there weren’t a lot of kids over 7 at Sesame Place on the day we visited. Instead, like me, most parents were visiting with kids aged 0-6. The height restriction did not only seriously affect our solo mom visit but the visit of any 2 adult family with two children and a pregnant mother or the visit of any family with more than 2 kids.
I spoke to staff at Sesame Place about the restrictions and the issue seems to be that the rides do not have the same restraint systems as other parks and rely heavily on parents to ensure their children to not unbuckle the simple-to-open restraints.
My recommendation for anyone trying to visit Sesame Place solo with kids: Don’t go unless your oldest child is 48 inches tall and your youngest is at least 42 inches tall. Otherwise many rides at the amusement park–including water slides–will be inaccessible to you. Additionally, only 2 rides at Sesame Place accommodate more than 2 people in a ride car at a time. Unlike other parks where you will find 3 people easily fit in a majority of the kids’ rides.
There are other things to do at Sesame Place besides the rides and watersides. That being said, I am not sure they justify paying the cost of admission. Sesame Place cost $63 dollars a day per person. You do get a second day free but if you are solo, you are likely not going to need it. I was given free admission for the purposes of this review but paid for both my children to enter the park. Once I realized how much we could not do at the park, I felt that my money was wasted. Sesame Place does not offer any sort of grounds pass or cheaper ticket if you just want to see the shows and meet the characters.
With the assistance of a very kind Sesame Place employee named Bobby, the end of our day went a lot better than the first 3 hours. Bobby, who is the games manager, listened to my concerns and complaints and took a break from his position to take us around the park and offer helpful suggestions. He even got on the rides that we couldn’t experience alone.
That being said, I wouldn’t recommend planning ahead by just seeking out Bobby. Instead, sit down with your kids and explain that there are certain rides and slides that will be inaccessible to you as a family. A big part of the disappointment, when we arrived, was walking up to rides and realizing our family was not the right fit to be able to ride the rides. Prep your kids for this or your day may not be happy.
Steer Your Kids Toward Other Activities
These are the activities we highly enjoyed at Sesame Place that are suitable for any size family:
- Sky Splash: Sky Splash is a rubber duckie family raft slide. You need 3 people to be in a raft; if you are only 2, they will pair you up with another family. Up to 6 people can ride in the rafts at a time. We spent a majority of our afternoon going up and down this slide.
- Live shows: Sesame Place offers a number of live shows. We saw Elmo the Musical and enjoyed it. My kids didn’t want to see any more of the shows but there were 3 other shows that we could have checked out.
- Meet the characters: Sesame Place makes it incredibly easy to meet the characters. Your favorites line the streets and also have designated meet and greet locations.
- The Count’s Splash Castle: Dangerously close to a lot of rides that you can’t go on is the Count’s Splash Castle. This splash pad is cool enough that your kids probably won’t notice what they are missing. The slides in the splash pad are fairly large and accessible to anyone that can sit up. Just be warned all children must ride alone.
Character Dining: For an additional cost, there are a variety of character dining options at Sesame Place. I found for the cost of the food elsewhere in the park, the character dining wasn’t over priced. Dinner was $15 per child and $27 for me but in the end it was a fairly large buffet and dinner was the most fun part of the day. The characters not only visit your table but participate in a show and dance party with all the kids.
- Neighborhood Street Party Parade: Twice daily, 3 and 9pm, this parade is a lot of fun. Try to sit near the mid-point of the parade. That’s where the parade stops so the characters can perform a 5-minute show. Be warned, during this portion each of the characters pick one child to dance with and any other children that try to participate are turned away. I found this portion slightly unnecessary as it led to quite a few tears around us. I have never seen that sort of thing at any other amusement park parade.
Pick the Right Hotel
If you do tackle Sesame Place alone or with another adult in tow, you will want to pick a nearby hotel. We stayed at the Springhill Suites in Langhorne, Pennsylvania which is literally a 3-minute walk from the park. At the end of the day, it was such a relief to stay at a hotel that was closer than most of the parking lots. I actually watched the line of traffic as we crawled into bed.
The Springhill Suites is not only close, it is clean and extremely child friendly. All the rooms are suites and when your children are passed out dreaming of their favourite characters, you will be happy to have a separate sitting space to unwind from the day. The staff understand the proximity to the park and treat children extremely well. They have extra staff on hand when the park opens and closes to help families easily get to the park and to bed.
In the morning, the Springhill Suites offers complimentary hot breakfast. This was a life saver for both families trying to get into the park and those hitting the road. We enjoyed yogurt, fresh fruit and eggs and then were able to drive straight to our next destination without worrying about finding food on the road.
I highly recommend this hotel to anyone visiting Sesame Place. Don’t forget to tell them that Traveling Mom sent you.
Should you go?
In the end, we had a great day at Sesame Place but the frustration we felt earlier in the day was enough for me to know that we would not return. What particularly broke my heart was the looks on my kids faces as they realized for the first time that we were different. I am married but travel extensively without my husband and this day was the first to actually take a toll on my kids. I can imagine if we were in any other situation that the effect on my kids would have been even greater and want to save you from that disappointment.
Sesame Place does wonderful things in the community for children with special needs and disadvantaged kids. It is a great place but not one that easily fits a family that isn’t made of 2 adults and 2 children. The decision is ultimately up to you and your family but by following my recommendations above, the day will hopefully got smoother than ours did.