A Visitor's Guide to the New Sesame Place San Diego

March 25, 2022, 11:08 PM · Do you know how to get to Sesame Street? If you live on the west coast, start by heading to San Diego. The west coast's first Sesame Street theme park - Sesame Place San Diego - opens Saturday in Chula Vista.

Taking over the 17-acre former Aquatica water park, Sesame Place adds seven "dry" rides for children and their families, including the park's first roller coaster. But the highlight is Sesame Street itself, brought to life at the park's entrance.

Sesame Street at Sesame Place

Interactive windows provide play opportunities, while Big Bird's Nest becomes a storytime and meet and greet area during the day. Elmo also welcomes fans for a photo op around the corner from the famous 123 Sesame Street stoop.

Sunny Day Carousel

In the middle of the street, you will find the Sunny Day Carousel - one of the new children's rides in the park, which is a Certified Autism Center with staff trained to provide assistance to visitors on the spectrum. Let's take a walking tour of the park.

In addition to the carousel, all-ages "dry" rides in the park include:

Sesame Street Soar & Spin,

Sesame Street Soar & Spin

Elmo's Rockin' Rockets,

Elmo's Rockin' Rockets

Abby's Fairy Flight,

Abby's Fairy Flight

and Rub-A-Dub Sub.

Rub-A-Dub Sub

The park's roller coaster, Super Grover's Box Car Derby, is a Zierer Force family coaster with a 38" height requirement,

Super Grover's Box Car Derby

which is the same height requirement on the Cookie Climb tower.

Cookie Climb

As for the water attractions, you must be under 48 inches to go on the slides at Elmo's Silly Sand Slides.

Elmo's Silly Sand Slides

Otherwise, the following slides have 42-inch minimum requirements: Honker Dinger Dash, Oscar’s Rotten Rafts, and Snuffy’s Spaghetti Slides. The tallest requirement in the park is 48 inches on Cookie's Monster Mixer.

Cookie's Monster Mixer

While the rides will entertain many Sesame Place families, it's the park's entertainment that sets it apart from other amusement parks and family entertainment centers where you can find water slides and kiddie rides. In the Sesame Street neighborhood, you can listen to Storytime With Big Bird.

Storytime With Big Bird

The park's 750-seat outdoor theater is home to a new, 20-minute musical show, Welcome to Our Street, starring Elmo, Abby Cadabby, Rosita, Grover, and Cookie Monster.

You might notice a glitch at the end of the show in our media-preview day video, when you hear Cookie Monster's voice, but the Muppet is not on stage. If you watched closely earlier, you might have noticed that Cookie Monster left the stage after a "costuming issue" with his eye. That's the risk with using a pre-recorded audio track - you can't ad lib when something goes awry. But that's unlikely to be a problem with a majority of performances.

What is a potential ongoing problem here is that almost none of these aluminum seats have any shade. For a park that boasts of sensory awareness with its autism certification, not putting a shade structure over the theater seems a big miss. I don't care whether you are neurotypical or neurodivergent, no one wants to experience the sensation of sitting on hot metal. Bring a towel for the water rides, then sit on it for this show.

That said, the headline act at Sesame Place San Diego is the park's Sesame Street Party Parade, which won awards for its previous installations at SeaWorld Orlando and the original Sesame Place, outside Philadelphia.

The parade runs on a short route at the front of the park, filling the route then stopping for an extended dance party show. It's a great way to see the full cast of Sesame Street characters in action.

As for food, it's stereotypical fare - bacon cheeseburgers, Impossible burgers, chicken sandwiches, chicken tenders, and pizza for $14-17 (sandwiches come with waffle fries), with kids meals of PB&J sandwiches, chicken nuggets, or pizza for $10. The kids meals come with apples slices and a drink.

All together, Sesame Place San Diego offers a nice mix of attractions for families with Sesame Street fans who are looking for a not-too-intense day to relax and spend time with these beloved characters. The Sesame Street IP gives the park a unique element to distinguish Sesame Place from other water parks in the area, though the pricing seems aimed at encouraging repeat visits via some form of annual pass. The park will be open seven days a week during school holidays, then weekends the rest of the year, though entertainment offerings may vary by season.

Single-day tickets are available for $58 - which is $22 off the $80 gate price - on our partner's Sesame Place San Diego tickets page. Discounted 2022 Silver Season Pass also are available for $119 each.

A variety of upgrades, including cabanas starting at $149, are available, though I don't know if crowd levels will justify paying for "Magic Queue" front of line passes or reserved viewing for the parade or shows.

If you would like to learn more about why owner SeaWorld decided to change its Aquatica park into a Sesame Place, and where this park fits within trends in the theme park industry, check with us later Saturday for a follow-up post that will address those issues. Update: And here that is, Why Make the Change to Sesame Place?

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Replies (7)

March 26, 2022 at 12:01 PM

Love it. SeaWorld doesn't have the wealth of IPs that Disney and Universal (or other international parks) have, so it's nice to see them finally go all-in with the one they do have at their disposal.

But we seem to have yet another misstep from them concerning the lack of shade at the theater. For a park that meets CAC requirements, that seems like a big oversight. Also, the lack of music throughout the park is pretty noticeable, but that could be something they're still working on.

March 26, 2022 at 12:22 PM

For media preview days parks often turn off or turn down BGM (background music) so that we can video without copyright issues. I don't know if that is the case here, or the lack of persistent BGM is a sensory accommodation issue. I totally forgot to ask about that.

March 26, 2022 at 3:31 PM

I got a trip planned to check this place out in August. I'm looking forward to it and I'm finally glad they placed a Sesame Place west of the Mississippi. Looks like a fun day out with the little ones.

I will reiterate some of the criticism here though. It is unacceptable to not include shade in certain areas. Absolutely a severe oversight. San Diego has fantastic weather but that abundant sunshine sure does its damage after a few minutes in one place. I also criticized the loading area for Emperor at Sea World SD as well where both guest and employee are going to be subjected to the sun when they don't need to.

March 27, 2022 at 9:22 AM

I can believe that they don't have a little book for big birds nest like they do at SeaWorld Orlando. Do they just expect people to sit in the middle of that walkway in the summer? They have that same carousel at SWO and they don't play any music. SO BORING! Please, even generic music would do.

March 28, 2022 at 8:38 AM

So many conflicting thoughts...

On one hand, it strikes me as weird that you would take an age neutral attraction, like a waterpark, and turn it into an attraction that kids over 8 or 9 aren't going to want to go to because "Sesame Street is for babies" even though those rides (even most of the new ones that we could see) are all ages friendly (I could sit of the fairy flight all day if they'd let me). On the other hand, if Water Parks don't seem to work in the CA market as Robert's indicated elsewhere, and CA of course having plenty of other parks focusing on the other ages, maybe going preschool niche isn't a bad play.

Seeing and being "on the street" would be a special kind of thrill, but there's two things that bother me with the park.

The first isn't limited to this park, but seems to be the case for all real world sesame attractions, and thats the "put a person in the monster suit" way of bringing the characters to life. Big bird looks right, because the height is right, but Elmo, Grover and Friends, that ain't them, they're much too big. I would have kept that to puppets or animatronics at the right scale... If that don't work for your stage show, do Snuffy and Big Bird instead.

The second is the food. Cookie Monster was rapping about how healthy food tastes so good back in the 80's, and I remember a moral panic around the turn of the milenium when some people finally discovered that even Cookie Monster says cookies are a "sometimes" food. This should have been an opportunity to show off good healthy eating choices, and make healthy food exciting, it seems SW and Sea World missed that opportunity.

March 29, 2022 at 1:23 PM

Thee lack of shade, especially at the theater is really unconscionable. I watched one video where guests were having to drape towels over them, to be comfortable to sit and see the signature show. Between this and the horrible lack of shade at Emperor between the queue and the station, it's almost as if Sea World has contempt for their guests' comfort and safety. Ridiculous.

March 30, 2022 at 10:10 AM

Something new about this park that I don’t see mentioned is that Big Bird TALKS during Storytime and Meet & Greets at and around the nest!

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