LANGHORNE, PA. —
Never in their lives have my children been so happy.
Not even a plate filled with their favorite delicacies — hot dog, macaroni and cheese, apple, yogurt — could hold their attention, not with their favorite fuzzy heroes circumnavigating the dining room.
As we took part in the character lunch at Sesame Place, located near the Pennsylvania/New Jersey border on the Keystone State side of the dividing line, Penny and Rigby squealed in delight every time one of the “Sesame Street” characters came within eyesight. Penny spent more time hugging Cookie Monster and dancing with Bert and Ernie than sitting at the table, while Rigby flat-out refused a single morsel of food in favor of mingling with monsters.
Yeah, Sesame Place is a great place for families with youngsters.
We’d been thinking about making the seven-hour drive east for a couple years before finally opting to do so earlier this summer. The main point against doing so: making the seven-hour drive with two toddlers. But the drive went quite well (which was probably due to our bringing a portable DVD player — a must-have accessory for any parents out there — so that they could pass the time with some movies).
The drive, of course, precludes a one-day stop, but there are plenty of hotels affiliated with the park that offer shuttle service to the grounds (we stayed about 20 minutes away in Princeton, N.J., for a far less expensive nightly rate).
The only thing we couldn’t prevent during our trip up was Penny thinking that we were going to visit the park that day at that minute. But the extra day proved worth the wait, as both she and Rigby were enthralled from the first Big Bird sighting (his image adorns the main sign at the front of the park).
Although we went armed with bathing suits, we were still surprised by the vast array of water-related attractions. Nearly half of the rides at Sesame Place require the participant to get wet, which is certainly a treat on a hot day but can prove cumbersome at certain times.
The Count’s Splash Castle, a multi-hued conglomeration of slides, stairs and spigots, was our main water attraction. The centerpiece is a behemoth bucket that dumps its many gallons of water every few minutes, and Penny got a real charge out of sitting on the opposite side of splashdown and laughing at the people who got drenched (schadenfreude or not, funny is funny).
The kids also enjoyed several dry attractions, including a playground, balloon ride and on-stage adaptation of “Elmo’s World” complete with Dorothy and Mr. Noodle. But the far and away highlight was meeting the characters.
The management team has clearly taken the 30 years that the park’s been open to finely craft its offerings in order to maximize enjoyment. Costumed characters can randomly be seen walking through the park to greet little ones. There’s also a character parade several times a day, photo sessions at a designated station all day long and character meals (we opted for lunch, but you can eat any meal of the day with the characters).
Youngsters are far more likely to remember such encounters than any ride they went on (and parents have ample photo opportunities). And when you add in the cheap concession options (one stand offered all of its souvenirs for $10 or less) and the relative ease of getting around (at only 14 acres, parents’ feet can easily handle the day there), Sesame Place makes for quite an attractive vacation option.
Just be sure to bring an extra set of camera batteries.
IF YOU GO
• WHAT: Sesame Place
• WHERE: 100 Sesame Road, Langhorne, Pa (about a seven-hour drive from Niagara County, 30 minutes north of Philadelphia and 90 minutes south of New York City)
• WHEN: The park is open daily through Sept. 6, then weekends through Oct. 31
• MORE INFORMATION: Call 1-866-464-3566 or visit sesameplace.com