Sesame Place San Diego, the brand’s first West Coast park, will transport guests to the neighborhood of Cookie Monster and Elmo when it opens Saturday in Chula Vista.
SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, the parent company of Sesame Place and SeaWorld of San Diego, redeveloped the 17-acre property previously operated as Aquatica San Diego. The water park has been transformed into the colorful and fuzzy world of Sesame Street monsters with many additional attractions.
The new Southern California location features 18 rides, including 11 water rides like Elmo’s Silly Sand Slides and seven dry rides like a new roller coaster, Super Grover’s Box Car Derby.
Jackie Edwards, an Escondido park visitor and member of American Coaster Enthusiasts, previewed the park a day before it opens to the public. She has been to the original Sesame Place in Pennsylvania, which opened in 1980, and said she was “absolutely blown away” by the San Diego park.
“It’s really welcoming and it’s not intimidating,” he said. “You can tell they’ve really designed this to be a family place.”
Sesame Place also embodies this welcoming environment for all families as a Certified Autism Center. This certification means that a company has a highly trained staff that helps them better serve people “with cognitive disorders, including autism, sensory disorders, and other sometimes invisible disorders and disabilities,” according to the International Board for Credentials and Standards of Education. Continuing Education.
For example, there are signs in front of Sesame Place attractions that feature a sensory guide to help visitors determine if this will be a right attraction for them. There are also designated “quiet rooms” behind the souvenir shop for visitors to relax with sensory stimulation in the park.
The original Sesame Place was the first theme park in the world to achieve the designation, according to the company’s annual report.
Jim Lake, president of Sesame Place San Diego park, said all park staff are specially trained to understand how to interact with children on the autism spectrum. He said this training is important and is a key and significant differentiator for the park.
“It provides that inclusive environment so everyone can come here and have a good time,” he said.
Plus, he said the park has something for everyone with its dry and water rides, Sesame Street Party Parade and a stage show in a new 770-seat theater. On the neighborhood’s main street, there’s a large nest where guests can listen to “Storytime with Big Bird,” a show making its San Diego debut.
“I grew up watching Sesame Street and when I got here I felt… all these memories come back because it really reflects what you would see on the Sesame Street show,” Lake said.
Marc Swanson, CEO of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, said they gravitated toward the immersive aspect of bringing the TV show to life through an interactive neighborhood at the front of the park.
“As you walk down Sesame Street, the show comes to life here,” Swanson said. “You see it right when you walk in, you see the laundry mat, Porch 123, Mr. Hooper’s store, it’s like you’re in the middle of the show.”
He added that a large part of why the Sesame Street brand is so important is down to the recognition of characters, especially Elmo, spanning generations of people who watched the public broadcast show.
Swanson said she hopes guests will experience a new parade, one not featured in the original East Coast park, and how San Diego’s weather will allow them to host guests year-round. He did not reveal how much the renovated park cost, but said it was in the millions.
“We have 12 parks in the United States … (and) our goal is to have something new every year,” he said.
Sesame Place San Diego opens to the public on Saturday at 10 am The park is located at 2052 Entertainment Circle in Chula Vista.