On Tuesday, July 28th, we finally switched from fun-for-adults historical sightseeing to something the kids would REALLY enjoy: Sesame Place!
I mean, the kids did really great with all the other sightseeing, and seemed to enjoy themselves. But come on. If you are under five years old, nothing can compare to Elmo, live and in the flesh (fur?). So get ready for a picture-heavy post here, folks, because cute kids having the time of their lives tend to photograph well.
We were really excited about this day, and got up early that Tuesday to make the half-hour drive from Philadelphia to Sesame Place. That week was the 35th birthday celebration for the park, and actually Eric and I were just barely too young for a major perk of the birthday party: that week, anyone born the same year as the park (1980) could get in for free. Unfortunately, us '82-ers were just a little shy of that date! But, I was able to get a free pass via Pampers Rewards Points and Eric was an all-star with finding deals for both our theme parks on this trip, so we made do!
We arrived at the park prior to opening because we had 8:45 a.m. reservations for Breakfast With Elmo & Friends. As soon as we arrived, the kids went nuts at the sight of so many Sesame Street favorites just wandering around the dining hall.
E.J.'s little pointer finger got quite a workout!
Before we found our table, we stopped to take a picture with Elmo. What a perfect way to kick off the day!
Ellie was SO EXCITED.
Then we found our table and got some food. The buffet was decent—nothing groundbreaking, but some good staples (cereal, eggs, tater tots, yogurt, French toast, etc.). We learned that E.J. loves him some tater tots. (This actually kicked off a new phase where he basically only wants to eat what we're eating, all the time, and he will grunt at you until you give him your food. It's very elegant.)
As you eat, the characters come around to your table. Cookie Monster was first to stop by to see us, and E.J. EXPLODED WITH JOY.
I mean, come on. Back that up and look at that face again.
This may be the happiest he has ever been, and he is the happiest baby on the planet, so that's saying A LOT.
Of course, then E.J. remembered he still had tot-in-hand and that got him refocused on what is most important.
Nice chatting with you, Cookie, but, you know....TOTS.
We were also visited by The Count, Zoe and Abby Cadabby. Ellie loved them all, and E.J. kept trying to feed them.
Eric and the Count! (We were each dressed like our favorite characters!)
Girl talk with Zoe
Here, Abby. Have this entire yogurt.
We had also bought an autograph book and made sure to have all the Sesame Street friends sign a page for us. It was far less of a big "thing" than it is at Disney, but it still made for a fun souvenir for sure!
Eric went back to get Elmo's autograph!
This breakfast was probably my most favorite part of the entire trip. The kids just loved it so much! We knew they would, but to actually see the joy on their faces was really special.
But the day didn't end there! We still had lots of fun ahead of us!
A perk of having breakfast reservations so early is that you get early access to a selection of attractions, before the park is even open. Unfortunately, the only part of the park you actually get access to is the water park portion, and we didn't want to start off being wet right away so we didn't take advantage. It was still nice to be in the park early, however, because as soon as it officially opened we were able to dash back to the Sesame Street stoop to take a picture while it was still pretty empty!
Sitting on the stoop!
We also checked out the rest of "Sesame Street":
We found our way to Sesame Street!
Grouch-in-training? (If so, he's not doing very well.)
The residence of one B.Bird
Cute people manning the fire truck
After that we stopped to meet Rosita and Bert and Ernie, and rode the carousel.
Ellie and Rosita
These crazy guys!
That's a pretty fun carousel!
Ready to ride! (Notice the pigeon and worm on the bench! So cute.)
Then we continued on, exploring the park and stopping for rides, shopping and photo ops as we saw fit.
Elmo loves you!
E.J. rocking his Cookie Monster carrier slipcover I made for the occasion!
Ellie and Eric riding Elmo's flying fish
Singing an ode to Rubber Ducky with Ernie
This kid seriously had THE BEST day.
I have to pause to mention the heat. This summer has been brutal in Florida; I haven't even wanted to leave the house because it has been so suffocatingly hot. I was really looking forward to our little road trip up north and hoped that our northern destinations would bring at least a slight relief from the heat. Unfortunately, we hit D.C./Philly/Sesame Place/Pittsburgh in the middle of a heat wave and it was really pretty unpleasant. Sesame Place Day was the worst, and when watching the news that night we learned it was actually hotter there than it was back here in Jacksonville. Needless to say, we drank a lot of water, made use of cooling towels and stopped into air-conditioned gift shops with some regularity.
Ellie trying to cool off
I was thankful that Sesame Place offered an air-conditioned nursing station when E.J. needed to eat. It was little more than a glorified single-occupant bathroom with a chair in it, but it was cool and private and I was appreciative when the time came.
After a nursing break for E.J., we played at a little kids area for a bit, then went off in search of more characters: Grover and Oscar the Grouch!
Ellie loved this sandpail slide in the kids' play area!
E.J. just HAD to go under this bar. HAD TO.
Grover! My favorite!
Oscar the Grouch!
We really wanted to catch one of the Elmo shows that day, and after our Oscar encounter we knew we were about 10 minutes early for the "Elmo: The Musical" show nearby. We went over and got in line, only to be told within a few minutes that the theater was full and nobody else would be allowed in, but we could wait for the next show in an hour. Needless to say, we abandoned our dreams of seeing a show because we were not about to try to keep those kids entertained in line for an hour. Shucks!
So, we decided to get lunch instead. Elmo's Eatery was right next door and the Sesame Place app was offering a coupon for a free birthday cupcake there, so we were sold. It felt nice to get in out of the heat and sit for a while! Ellie didn't eat much (she really didn't eat very well on the trip as a whole), but E.J. chowed down. In addition to food we brought for him, he ate Eric's steamed veggies side dish, plus tried his first pulled pork sandwich and French fries. He loved it!
Look at this little southern boy and his pulled pork sandwich!
After lunch we got changed and made our way over to the water area. The kids had a blast there! There was a big pool that only went up to about a foot and a half deep, and on either side of it were smaller pools with some fountain features to play in. Ellie loved swimming around and E.J. loved the fountains!
Eric, Ellie, E.J....and one heck of an Ernie photobomb.
As we played in the water, we heard the 3:00 parade passing by on the street near us, so we hopped out of the pools and went out to watch what was left of it. It was a pretty fun little parade!
Get it, Grover!
Ellie was bummed this was all we saw of Murray. She wanted to actually meet him!
Cookie, rocking a hat
Elmo (and Dorothy) float at the end of the parade
After the parade I took Ellie back in the water for a few minutes while Eric got E.J. dried off and changed. It was sort of a sad mom moment for me: I was so excited that she and I would have some one-on-one time to play in the water together, but as I "swam" around with her, I realized she actually wanted to leave me to go off and play with other kids. I mean, I know that means I'm doing my job right but it just felt too soon to have that, "Oh...okay, sweetie. You go play with your friends. Mama will just wait over here all by her lonesome" kind of moment. She's growing up too fast!
Ellie and I swam a little longer then got changed and we did a little more souvenir shopping on our way out. Needless to say, by this point, everyone was spent!
Eric and two tired kids!
Look at this sleepy little meatball! My kids rarely (if ever) sleep in a stroller so you know this was some serious exhaustion right here.
And so, we packed it in and went back to our Philly AirBNB. The kids had dinner and went to bed early, and then Eric ran out to get us some cheesesteaks for dinner (and they were quite excellent!). We did some organizing of our things, because we were heading out to our next destination in the morning, but mostly just tried to relax before calling it a night. What a day!
That's a wrap on Philadelphia and Sesame Place!
To see more pictures from Sesame Place, click here.
Coming up next: Travel to Pittsburgh, with a rest stop at the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, PA.
Enjoy your weekend, everyone!