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Sesame Street Land at Sea World and More
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Sesame Street Land opened as planned in the spring of 2019 at SeaWorld Orlando. Unlike the much-delayed Infinity Falls attraction in 2018, this immersive land welcomed Big Bird and friends right on time.

The land features full-sized buildings to honor life-size – and some larger than life – characters. Currently under construction, a media tour of the site in just the last week revealed that one building had a giant cutout marking a door site that would be large enough for even Big Bird to walk through.
 
The land features a daily parade, which is a first for SeaWorld Orlando, with eight floats planned. The parade is scheduled to run once a day, and last thirty minutes, although more frequent run times could be added during busy periods according to a park spokesperson. The conception should be similar to the Sesame Street parade that is popular in SeaWorld San Antonio. 

Amanda Trauger, relates that the parade is themed so that characters will climb on and off floats. The goal: starting a “street party” to get children dancing. In fact, interactive elements are a main part of the land’s development.

Big Bird himself will continue the interactive elements of the land. Rather than an animatronic figure, he’ll be portrayed by a costumed human actor, but one utilizing a recorded voice. He’ll host a story time for kids. Like the parade, that reading time will occur once a day, with the possibility of other times added during busy periods at the park. Both story time and the parade are free with park admission.

Built close to Shamu Stadium, all in all, the land consists of six acres with 22 building facades and some of those buildings, such as Mr. Hooper’s store, built so park guests can enter them. There will be a wet and dry play area for children, as well as six children’s rides rebranded to the Sesame Street theme. Attractions like Mr. Hooper’s will offer photo opportunities and merchandise. Familiar beloved landmarks such as Abby Cadabby’s garden, Big Bird’s nest, and the 123 stoop will be a part of the land, as well as Mr. Hooper’s store. And, characters including including Elmo and Cookie Monster as well as Big Bird, will all be on hand for the kids to enjoy.

Most of the plans for the land will follow the design of the iconic television show set as well as including its characters. Those that are not, such as various brownstone buildings and a theater, were created with the guidance of Sesame Workshop in terms of their conception, Trauger attests.

Cost for the attraction? SeaWorld has not provided a direct answer, but project final costs to be in the millions of dollars.

The rides to be re-themed were previously themed for Shamu’s Happy Harbor. Shamu Express, Flying Fiddler, Jazzy Jellies, and Ocean Commotion are the existing ride systems to be kept and rebranded. New logos and names have been released, such as: Elmo’s Choo Choo Train, Cookie Drop, Abby’s Flower Tower, Super Grover’s Box Car Derby, Big Bird’s Twirl ‘n’ Whirl, and Slimey’s Slider. 

The park has not confirmed which rides will be re-themed with those names, but industry speculation based upon the park’s blueprints speculates that the Shamu Express family coaster will be updated as Super Grover’s Box Car Derby; the existing Jazzy Jellies swing tower turned into Abby’s Flower Tower; the Flying Fiddler kiddie drop tower re-themed as the Cookie Drop. Elmo’s Choo Choo Train appears to be an updated version of Shamu’s Happy Harbor train. Big Bird’s Twirl n’ Whirl may become Swishie Fishies, but that has not been confirmed by park insiders. Lastly, the Sea Carousel location will feature a ride, but whether that will be an updated version of the classic carousel or a new attraction is not known. Rumored: an additional attraction, a dark ride, may be under consideration for Sesame Street Land.

Outside of Sesame Street Land, park visitors can expect to see several other new events at SeaWorld Orlando. In Aquatica, the new KareKare Curl, similar to the 70-foot-tall Colossal Curl ride found at Tampa’s Adventure Island and Virginia’s Water Country USA, is expected to be a strong draw. Those rides debuted in 2014 and 2015 at the parks, and have found widespread popular acclaim. 

2019 will also bring expansions of the Seven Seas Food and Wine Festival and the Electric Ocean summer event to Sea World. New festivals such as the SeaWorld Craft Beer Festival, are also being tested at the park, which means a special event coming just about every weekend throughout the 2019 year.  

Perhaps the best news of all for park visitors is a significantly dropped price at SeaWorld Orlando, with the goal of attracting more attention from locals. Annual passes for Florida residents are $9.99 a month. 

The drive for more regular, local visitors was begun in 2016 by then CEO Joel Manby, and is a successful one for the Sea World chain. Current interim CEO John T. Reilly has kept these plans in place, and also announced details on adding major new attractions to every park every single year. Most recently, internal memos surfaced that showed the chain’s plan to add new roller coasters to most parks by the end of 2020, continuing the shift away from animal shows to ride-based attractions.

SeaWorld Orlando has proof of the success of this plan with the new Infinity Falls, added to the park in 2018. Despite delays in opening the ride, which missed some of the biggest summer crowds, attendance number are nonetheless improving; in fact, park spokesmen say crowds have been record breaking. With the opening of Sesame Street less than a year after the addition of Infinity Falls, SeaWorld Orlando will be well-positioned for fully recovering from years of dropping attendance. 
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