Edit: Grown In My Heart Felt Wallet Pictures scroll down or click here.
We took the girls to Sesame Place in Pennsylvania last week for Emme's 2nd birthday.
Initially this was going to be a scathing review of Sesame Place. Having had some time to think about our trip I realized that yes there were a lot of things I didn't like about Sesame Place but for the most part the girls enjoyed themselves and there were in fact several attractions at the park I did like.
We happened to go on the one 90 plus degree day we have had this summer with what felt like 90 percent humidity. This made for an overall whiny, irritable, sticky mood. Kids were losing it all around us in the line to get into the theme park. Parents had that - why did we drive all the way here and are about to spend $50 plus dollars per person on tickets for you to be whining - look on their faces. It was there in line that I mentally began writing this blog entry.
I found myself asking the same question all day long. Why are we here torturing ourselves? The girls aren't even going to remember this!
Once inside we made our way to the Sunny Day Carousel. As you can see from the picture Emme's hair was sticking to her head from the heat! The line was very long and again like the entry to the park line not covered or shaded.
It was there in line that my husband and I first commented on the noise level. The background music was blasting coupled with the carousel music and park announcements. All day long we were bombarded by noise. So much so that we were raising our voices to talk to each other. I was stunned that a place like Sesame Place wouldn't be sensitive to the noise issue. Any person who works with children (especially children with special needs) will tell you that loud noise is overstimulating to children and harmful. A poor layout, the crowding of amusements into a small space, and the noise all contributed to an overall sense of chaos we couldn't escape.
I wondered how an organization known for education and children could put their name on a place that was not educational in any sense of the word and felt like they had marginally taken into consideration the needs of the children that would be attending the park.
The water park which is a majority of the park was not suitable for our two girls (ages 2 and almost 4.) They would not even go near the Counts Splash Castle which was packed with screaming kids and they were too little for the water slides. We did do Big Bird's Lazy River which Lulu enjoyed. Emme on the other hand shook in fear the entire time. If you have older children 5 - 10 years old the water features would probably be a big hit with them. My husband and I wished the girls would have been more interested in the water attractions especially since we were melting! In general the girls were in a sensory overload daze the entire time.
I did say that there were positives. Here they are: all of the amusement rides accommodated adults as well as children. The rides were tame and appropriate for toddlers (be prepared to stand in line though.) Elmo's World Show was a big hit with the girls. The parade was cute and the characters played to the crowd shaking hands and giving high fives.
You can pack a small cooler (there is a size restriction.) I highly recommend packing one especially if you want to provide healthy snacks or save money (food is expensive and of poor quality.) We always do because of Lulu's allergies.
Waiting for the parade to start.
Our second day was much better. Second day you may be asking yourself? My dear frugal husband was going to use the "free" second day even if this is what he was greeted with in the parking lot of Sesame Place.
Rain and some skeptical faces.
Luckily for us my husband persevered because we were treated to an empty park, cool weather and no lines! The rain stopped 20 minutes in and we felt like we owned the park!
That is Lulu and Daddy (in the yellow poncho) on the ROLLER COASTER!!
You can wait in line for photo ops with characters. We only saw Zoe (the line was too long - it was on the hot day) and Burt & Ernie during our two days.
Look at Emme's face! A big difference from the first day! So what's the verdict? If your prepared for the cost and the noise and the crowds and seeing people you don't want to see walking around with their shirts off and you know your little ones will just LOVE it regardless...then GO! It just might exceed your expectations. Because even though I asked myself repeatedly Why are we here torturing ourselves? The girls aren't even going to remember this! I know in my heart they enjoyed themselves and will take away a sense of time spent together as a family. For me Sesame Place falls under the category - Thing we do for our kids.
Ultimately our vacation wasn't even about Sesame Place it was about the girls giggling and whispering past their bedtimes, first roller coaster rides, staying in a hotel, swimming in the hotel pool, singing in the car and coming together as a family.