No Matter How Many Theme Parks I Visit, I'm Convinced Sesame Place Is the Most Underrated—Here's Why

It's a toddler's paradise

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sesame place opens 1 2 3 playground in 2024
Sesame Place

Long before I became a mom of two, my vacations often revolved around amusement parks. Maybe it's because I grew up in Disney's backyard, in a state riddled with roadside attractions, that I gravitate toward them. Hersheypark, Walt Disney World, Gatorland—I've never met a park I didn't want to visit. But no matter how many I check off my list, when people ask where to take a child with sensory sensitivities—or where to ease into the world of roller coasters and sugar-fueled days in the sun—I point them toward Sesame Place in Langhorne, PA. Here's why.

How to Do a 'Sesame Street' Cameo for Your Kids

sesame place's new 1 2 3 playground
sesame place

1. Each Ride Includes a Sensory Guide

As the world's first autism-certified theme park, Sesame Place has worked with the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education to ensure it can allow kids to have fun without overstimulating them. To that end, at least 80 percent of the staff is trained in sensory and emotional awareness, as well as communication skills, so they can assist families with special needs. There are also quiet rooms and low-sensory areas, in case you need a break from the crowds, parades and whirring rides.

Best of all, though, is that when you visit the Sesame Place website, you can easily check to see which rides are open, as well as a brief description of each and—at the bottom of the page—a sensory guide that lists how stimulating it is on a scale of one to ten, so you can plan accordingly. (For example, Elmo's Cloud Chaser, a spinning swing ride, is rated a four out of ten for how noisy it is, a one out of ten for smell and a 3.5 out of ten for sight. The carousel, by comparison, is a three for sound, a one for smell and a 1.5 for sight.)

And, if you're bringing a baby, there's an asterisk on every ride where handheld—as in, non-walking—little ones aren't allowed. That makes it easy to see at a glance which rides the whole family can join in on, and which ones my husband and I need to trade off taking our 5-year-old (while the other entertains our 10-month-old).

sesame place review rides
katherine frey/The Washington Post/Getty Images

2. It's Relatively Affordable

In a world where an adult ticket to the aquarium costs $49—and Instagram paradises, which typically offer only a few hours' entertainment, can cost upwards of $50 a person (ahem, Museum of Ice Cream)—spending $52 a person* to attend Sesame Place feels downright reasonable. Especially when you compare it to other theme parks: One day at Walt Disney World, if you're over 10, will cost at least $110. A day at Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure? That starts at $119. Busch Gardens? $65 (if you hit the Memorial Day sale).

Right now, you can snag a season pass to Sesame Place for as low as $110, offering unlimited visits through January 6, 2025, though some blackout dates apply.

*While the full retail price of an adult ticket to Sesame Place is $102, I've never paid that much. (In fact, in the fall, I've bought tickets for under $45 a person, but that's because the water park section was closed.)

big bird meet and greet at sesame place
candace davison

3. There Are Plenty of Wait-Free Ways to Have Fun

Like any theme park, weekends tend to be the most crowded, so I'd recommend going on a weekday during the summer. That said, it still doesn't feel nearly as crowded as the bigger parks during the peak season, and if you're really concerned about waiting around, you can purchase Magic Queue—which essentially lets you beeline it to the front of the line on most rides—for $40 a person.

There are also plenty of distractions that don't involve waiting in line. I, for example, could spend all afternoon floating along Big Bird's Rambling Lazy River, and there's both a baby-friendly splash pad and the bigger-kid-appropriate The Count's Splash Castle that keeps the under-10 crowd entertained.

For kids who aren't into water play, there's a faux beach to build sandcastles in, shows and parades to watch and the newly opened 1, 2, 3 Playground—a well-shaded play place for kids to climb, jump and burn energy with plenty of seating—to occupy them when they can't stand in a line any longer. I love being able to mix in those "breaks" to keep kids from short-circuiting during the day.

That said, there is one feature I'd skip: character dining. There are character meet and greets throughout the day, as well as opportunities to glimpse the whole Sesame Street crew during its theater shows and parades. The food is, well, typical theme park pizza and nuggets, so you'd be better off taking advantage of the park's re-entry policy and grabbing lunch at a fast-casual chain nearby. (Plus, it's another opportunity for small kids to unwind before returning to All! The! Excitement!)

sesame place review playground elmo pretzel

The Bottom Line:

If you have young children—particularly those under 8—Sesame Place makes for a great adventure, especially in the summertime. It's a way to introduce them to theme park rides without overwhelming them, and it's affordable enough not to strain parents' purse strings. (Because I've heard too many tales of families shelling out four figures on a first trip like this, only to turn around and go home in a blaze of frustration three hours in.)

Sesame Place Is Best For:

  • toddlers/young kids
  • children with sensory sensitivities
  • Sesame Street super fans

Sesame Place Is Not for You If:

  • You love thrill rides and rollercoasters
  • You visit theme parks for the food and food alone

candace davison bio

VP of editorial, recipe developer, cookbook author

Candace Davison oversees PureWow's food and home content, as well as its franchises, like the PureWow100 review series and the Happy Kid Awards. She’s covered all things lifestyle...