SeaWorld launches the super cute Sesame Place for the pre-tween set

The super-cute Sesame Square waterpark/theme park hybrid, which opens this weekend, shines in a rainbow of Crayola colors from Elmo red and Oscar Grouch green to Grover blue and Big Bird yellow, which is the Should appeal to pre-tween demographics and their parents.

SeaWorld San Diego hosted a media preview of the new Sesame Square on Friday, March 25 prior to the new park’s grand opening. Sesame Place San Diego debuts Saturday, March 26 at the former Aquatica water park in Chula Vista, about 20 miles from SeaWorld San Diego marine park in Mission Bay.

Super Grover’s Box Car Derby at SeaWorld’s Sesame Place. (Brady MacDonald / Orange County Registry)

SeaWorld officials said the redesigned park has “something for all ages,” but the truth is that Sesame Place is laser-focused on the 2- to 8-year-old age group who are watching Sesame Street and their strollers. rolling parents. Tweens, teens and 20-year-olds and literally everyone else are unlikely to set foot in the children’s playground — and that should work out well for SeaWorld, given its Legoland demographics.

A faithful replica of the Sesame Street TV, complete with the famous 123 Staircase on the right and Mr. Hooper’s store on the left, greets visitors as they pass through the front gates.

The interactive elements along the streetscape are the park’s best thematic elements. A digital Elmo teaches kids how to walk like a penguin as visitors walk past a window hidden by Staircase 123 around the corner. Oscar grumbles from a trash can outside as children ring the bell under a sign that reads “Don’t ring the doorbell!” The front-loading washing machines in the laundromat are filled with digital bubbles that kids and parents can burst. The motion sensor trike challenge in the bike shop window has players earn points by hopping left and right while dodging banana peels.

The funniest items for sale in Mr. Hooper’s store? The $30 slippers that look like Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Elmo, and Abby Cadabby’s fluffy feet.

SEE ALSO: What to expect at SeaWorld’s Sesame Place, the combined theme park and water park

The simply delightful Sunny Day Carousel stands front and center just inside the front gate with a giant funnel slide floating over the entire scene as a holdover from the Aquatica water park reinvented with a Sesame Street theme. The laughing carousel horses in vibrant shades of orange, pink and yellow – along with a couple of purple striped zebras – serve as an enticing entrance centerpiece as well as a quality bar for what visitors can expect throughout the new park.

The giant funnel slide towering overhead has been redesigned as Cookie’s Monster Mixer in honor of the furry blue Cookie Devil, who joins a series of about a dozen water attractions that have received a “Sesame Street” makeover.

SeaWorld has done a masterful job of combining the existing “Splashy Slides” with the new “Whirly Rides” and making the water/theme park appear as a seamless wet/dry whole.

The Cookie Climb tower ride — also themed Cookie Monster — offers panoramic views of the 17-acre park and a bicep workout while riders pull and pull on a rope to go up and down.

Elmo’s Rockin’ Rockets — think Disneyland’s Dumbo ride — works in a counterintuitive way, with riders pushing a lever up to go down and down to go up. So much for teaching kids about gravity.

The Sesame Street characters’ familiar voices can be heard on each of their rides, encouraging kids to jump on board and follow the rules. God bless the poor Sesame Place employee who has to work all day on the Elmo ride listening to the furry red monster’s maniacal falsetto voice.

Abby’s Fairy Flight is the perfect size for little ones – big enough to feel like a big kid’s ride, with just enough thrills for preschoolers, but not so small that their parents feel ridiculous while riding the wave swing .

Super Grover’s Box Car Derby is a great little ride that perfectly fits the bill of every kid’s “first roller coaster”. SeaWorld could have gone a lot smaller with this coaster, like most theme park kids’ rides, but wisely decided to upgrade to a slightly sturdier model. Box Car Derby has just enough height, speed and thrills to get little ones wanting to get their hands in the air on the lifthill before holding on during the pink knuckle ride’s helix turns.

The Earl’s Splash Castle at SeaWorld’s Sesame Square. (Brady MacDonald / Orange County Registry)

Most of the towering waterslides that remain from Aquatica line the back of the new park.

Bert and Ernie Topsy Twisty Tunnels’ tube slides pick up on the color scheme of the roommates’ shirts – something you don’t immediately notice until you spot the plush dolls in Mr. Hooper’s store. This level of creativity enhances the storytelling in the park and adds to the levels of Sesame Street theme that visitors can discover on repeat visits.

The Rub A Dub Sub puts Ernie in a bathtub in the setting of the classic Crazy Bus ride found in virtually every theme park kid’s land – this time as a submarine with a giant rubber ducky on top. The simple backstory speaks volumes for the target audience, who see bath time as a big part of their daily routine.

Rub A Dub Sub also serves as a perfect example of the “just enough” thematic approach SeaWorld took when revamping Aquatica to transform the former water park into a Sesame Street theme park. The seven new cheap off-the-shelf carnival rides would be at home at any carnival without the Sesame Street characters.

The new “Welcome To Our Street” stars five life-size Sesame Street characters who boast some seriously impressive dance moves that instantly make their fur fly during a stage show that sizzles with the signature zany energy of the long-running PBS children’s program.

Rosita plays a mean guitar solo, Cookie Monster rages for the ubiquitous smartphone cameras in the audience, and Elmo dances himself into a frenzy befitting his enthusiastic personality. Children clap and stomp along with the show while their parents sit back with a smile and marvel at the sheer madness of this totally over the top performance. The show is a perfect reminder for young and old why they still love “Sesame Street” after more than 50 years.

The Sesame Street theater burns in the midday sun and the shadowless aluminum stadium seats transform the outdoor arena into a reflective mirror ball of blinding terror. During the media preview, viewers of the show tried in vain to protect themselves from the blinding heat by throwing towels over their heads. SeaWorld needs to know this is an issue — given the number of outdoor arena shows at Mission Bay Marine Park — and will hopefully put a shade canopy over the seating area to improve visitor views.

Last but not least, the Sesame Street Theater should be a good spot to dry off after enjoying the wave pool, lazy river and water slides. The hybrid park encourages visitors to hop between wet and dry rides without drying off in between. Children and parents can hop on all dry rides in their bathing suits provided they wear shoes, aqua socks or flip flops.

SEE ALSO: The Emperor Coaster at SeaWorld San Diego is worth the 2 year wait

The huge wave pool features gentle undulating breaks by water park standards. Beach chairs on sandy beaches surround the sides of the wave pool with a wide strip of artificial grass in between, covered with Adirondack chairs, picnic tables, and high spikes amidst scattered young palm trees that don’t provide much shade yet. Cabanas are available for rent at the back of the park – great for moms to work on their tans while the kids take an afternoon nap.

The Count’s Splash Castle and Elmo’s Silly Sand Slides are anchored on the island in the middle of the Lazy River. The water play tower gets the kids squealing every few minutes as the mega tipping bucket unleashes its watery fury.

Sesame Place has yet to finalize its year-round schedule, but the park is expected to be open seasonally during the fall and winter without many of the water attractions operating. The wave pool and lazy river are heated, but the park will wait and see if visitors want to take a dip when temperatures turn cool by Southern California standards.

Outside of the entrance scene featuring the famous Sesame Street scenery, there isn’t much theming in the new theme park. Much of the storytelling is accomplished through this Crayola color box that appears to have exploded throughout the park.

Sesame Place is meant to be an exploration of a single intellectual property – but Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge or the Wizarding World of Harry Potter isn’t. It’s more comparable to the Simpsons themed land at Universal Studios Hollywood.

That’s probably more than enough thematic immersion for an average 6-year-old looking to spend a day of fun with Big Bird, Abby Cadabby, and Rosita. Discerning parents may notice sub-Disney and Universal standards, but they’ll likely give SeaWorld’s effort a pass as long as their kids are having a good time.

It’s not fair to compare SeaWorld to Disney, but the comparisons are inevitable. Sesame Place alone should please the park’s core demographics and their parents looking for a day of “splashy slides” and “swirling rides” with a healthy dose of Elmo, Big Bird, and Cookie Monster.

The introductory price is pretty amazing as season passes sell for $129 with unlimited access and free parking. A trial pass seems like a no-brainer for any family with a preschooler or elementary school kid who loves “Sesame Street.”

Sesame Place also makes sense for SeaWorld pass holders with young children and Legoland loyalists who will already be in the San Diego area and want to turn a family trip into a long weekend.

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