Now that we have two kids that are old enough to have a full awareness of all things “Elmo,” Sesame Place has officially been added to our yearly road trip destination list. This summer, we made our second annual trip to Langhorne, PA, ready for a long fun day of Big Bird, Bert, Ernie, and the rest of the gang.
Last year, we decided to stay overnight closer to Sesame Place, but this year we thought we’d take a chance and drive there and back from Long Island. Without traffic, it was only about an hour and forty-five minute drive. This particular late July Wednesday, the park did not open until 10 am. We woke the kids up at 7, and were out the door by 7:45. Miraculously, there was no traffic on the usually busy New Jersey Turnpike, and we found ourselves parking at about 9:45, in time to stretch, put on sun screen, and get excited. Here are five tips to help you get the most out of Sesame Place.
Tip #1: There are 3 levels of parking at Sesame Place. VIP, Preferred, and General. All lots can be pre-purchased online before your visit. VIP lot is directly in front of the main gate, and about $9 more than general parking. If you arrive early enough, the general lot is directly across a small street. We opted for the Preferred lot, which was on the same side of the street as the VIP lot, separated by a small grassy area. One of the great things about Sesame Place, is the understanding of travel with little kids. The Park will stamp your hand, and you can go in and out of the park to your car for more supplies if needed.
Once inside the park, you are immediately next to the park’s roller coaster. Nothing crazy, but definitely enough to give adults a little shake. My 2 year old was below the height limit, and I probably would not have taken him on that ride anyways, but my 5 year old easily was high enough. We waited about 20 minutes, as the ride was undergoing a safety check when we first got in line. We assumed this was a good thing, and routine, rather than a repair call. If you are expecting a Six Flags style roller coaster, this was far from it, but then again, Sesame Place is geared for kids, and my 5 year old had a blast on this coaster with me.
We spent the next 2 hours or so, walking around on the “dry” rides. The Roller coaster seemed to be the most extreme of the rides. I think it’s safe to say that older teenagers may be bored with the dry rides, even with the roller coaster.
In the summer months, this park has a very good balance of dry and wet rides. Once the weather is cooler though, this park may not offer a real full day of ride thrills. We managed to ride every single dry ride before lunch time. Had it been cooler, we may have gotten a little bored after lunch.
Tip #2: One thing that Sesame Place offers, which is slowly becoming more common at theme parks, is the number of pre-paid options. One of the best purchase is the pre-paid gaming pass. There are 8 carnival style games in the park, and the pass allows your child a play at each one of them. Best of all, they are guaranteed a prize at each one. In the downtime after lunch, before hitting the wet rides, this is a great time to use those cards, and digest a little. The only downside: carrying around 8 stuffed animal type toys for the rest of the day. (Tip #3: rent a locker! They are located right by the water rides, and easily accessible. Rent online before you leave.)
Tip #4: Be sure to check the website online for specials, discounts, and more! The day we were there, Sesame Place was celebrating their anniversary. With each child ticket bought on the website, there was a voucher for a free cupcake at any dining location. This came in handy later on when we had some time to kill, and we were all ready for an afternoon snack.
The water rides at Sesame Place are a ton of fun! They have definitely kept up the pace with other nearby water parks, like Wild Water Kingdom (Part of Dorney Park). From lazy rivers, to splash mountains, there are about 7 or 8 distinct water rides and slides. The lines move relatively fast, though, they may be longer on weekends. We never waited more than 10-15 minutes on any ride that day. We had so much fun, that we did not even notice that had started to drizzle. It wasn’t until about an hour later, that the park suddenly blasted a siren, and told everyone to seek shelter for a passing lightning storm! It was this opportunity that we took to eat our cupcakes!
The heavy rain and lightning lasted about 10 minutes, and then the sky cleared up, however, the park took about an hour before the rides were re-opened. I inquired about the delay, and we were told that insurance regulations require a certain amount of time to pass since the lightning has left the area, before they are legally allowed to re-open the rides.
Tip #5: Know the rules! A friend had let us know about this before we left, that if the park closes for 1 hour or more on any given day, they have a rainy day (or as it is known in the winter months a “let it snow” day), where the park will give you a complimentary pass to be used any day through the rest of the year. On our way out of the park, we stopped at guest relations, and they handed us 4 passes to return before the end of the year. Now, we just have to find the right day to make a trip there!
The hour delay was not wasted though. The park did proceed with one of the character parades, which we were able to watch. At the conclusion of the parade, we took advantage of the many photo op locations. From fire trucks, to bubble baths, to Sesame Street scenery, they pretty much had it all. We quickly found a few good spots to snap some great (and one day embarrassing) photos.
By 6 pm, we had seen it all and done it all, except for a show! We made it to the last Elmo Rockstar show of the day, and the kids were thrilled to see their favorite characters put on a singing and dance show.The ride home with all our “prizes!”
Our ride home was relatively easy as well, and the kids were home, bathed, and in bed by 9, for a full night’s sleep before camp the next day.
A few last tips:
- Plan, Plan, and Plan. Review every and all options on the website for pre-purchasing. You will receive vouchers that you then hand in at the park. Lockers, Game Passes, and Food, can all be pre-purchased.
- Go for the Quickpay Pass when you get there. Right near the main entrance is a kiosk to buy a Quickpay wristband Pass. They will scan your credit card, and then issue a barcoded wristband to the card holding adult. At any non portable vendor, like the dining halls, gift shops, etc, the cashier can can your wristband, and it will automatically charge your card. There is no need to carry cash or credit cards around, and they should be safe in your locker.
- All meals in the dining halls are served on Elmo or Cookie Monster souvenir plates. We now have an entire set of plates we use at home, to relive the fun trip.
All in all, Sesame Place definitely makes for a great day of fun with kids. Again, older kids and teens may be bored by some of the dry rides, but the wet rides definitely enjoyed by adults as well. If we cannot make it back before the year’s end on our rainy day passes, we’ll definitely be headed back again next summer for more fun.