Famille Du Pentium

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Friday, August 4, 2006

Sesame Place Review

It’s Friday about 4:26 PM (EDT), we’re now in Harrisburg, PA.  Yesterday we went to Sesame Place.  I’ll give my review of that first, then possibly a few entries about our travels.  There was good, bad, and ugly at Sesame Park.  Overall, a great experience, but there are some tricks and traps you should know about.

Sesame Place is great.  It’s expensive; not Disney expensive but still, a steep chunk out of your pocket.  We spent ~$400 up front for admission tickets and reservations for the "Breakfast with Elmo" character breakfast, which gets you into the park one hour early and lets you have premium picture taking time with the characters.  We have a family of five, all three children are over their "free line". 

The breakfast food is ho-hum.  In fact, it was terrible.  The eggs were runny, the bagels were stale, about the only thing that tasted right was the orange juice and the sausage.  If you are going to the character breakfast for food, skip it.  It is not worth it at all.  If you’re going to have premium time with the characters, by all means, go – it’s worth it.  One note, they have professional photographers walking around taking pictures (you’re allowed to take your own).  They have a photo ID bracelet that lets you collect all your photos later, but the "Big Bird" photo op at the breakfast doesn’t use this system … and of course, they lost our photos with Big Bird.  Why they don’t include the Big Bird photos with everyone else’s photo ID bracelet system is beyond me, and as suspected they don’t do it right and pictures thus get lost. 

Enough grousing.  The park layout is absolutely fabulous.  There are big rides interspersed amongst wading pools, zero depth pools, and other splash attractions.  Many of the review websites warn this but you just can’t say it enough … be prepared to get and stay wet.  Dress and pack like you’re going to a local pool or water slide park.  I wore shoes, mostly to save packing space on the drive out (no room for my sandals in my bags).  I ended up buying ill-fitting flip-flops at the park.  You cannot go barefoot (no rule against it, but some of the walkways are rough on the bare feet, and very hot) and your shoes will get soaked.  Really, go prepared – sandals or water shoes, wear your swimsuit, put on sunscreen early and often, etc.  We rented one of their double strollers, it was a great tool and there was no place it couldn’t go. 

You’ll still get plenty of opportunities for photos and meeting the Sesame Street characters just walking around the park.  Be aware that around mid-day is the most busy and the lines start forming, and in the heat the characters (which I learned have to wear RUBBER SUITS under their costumes… ACK!) must go in often for cool-down and water.   Either get in line early, or be prepared to wait while the characters have their cool-downs.

I was a bit surprised, having been to Disney where credit cards are swallowed en masse like Lattes in Seattle, that fewer places take credit cards and the clerks don’t seem to know how to process them.  One place kept insisting that all of my credit cards (and oddly all of the patrons around us) were being declined, until a manager was summoned and pointed out that the clerk had not "totalled" the bills prior to running the cards.  They claim that everywhere except their "Kiosks" take credit cards but I was surprised to find what constituted a "Kiosk" … almost every drink and snack shop.    Water bottles are outrageous, more than even Disney – almost $3 a bottle, cash on the barrelhead for each one. 

Overall, we were very happy with our experience.  By 4PM, the kids had done all they could handle and were ready to go back to our hotel.  We covered probably 80% of the park from ~10AM to ~4PM.  If we had stayed until closing time (8PM) we would have done it all, probably at the expense of our kids sanity.  The tickets also allow you a second day’s admission, but we passed on that as we headed out to Philadelphia to visit the Liberty Mall (more later.)

posted by Michael Humphries-Dolnick at 3:25 pm  

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