SAN DIEGO (AP) – The first Sesame Street theme park on the West Coast is set to open next month, offering a boost to San Diego’s tourism market as it bounces back from the pandemic’s hit to the industry and restrictions are eased, officials announced on Wednesday.
Featuring Big Bird’s Beach, Oscar’s Rotten Rafts, and Cookie-Monster towers, the year-round, 17-acre Sesame Place San Diego theme park will open on March 26 to season pass holders in Chula Vista, just south of the city of San Diego.
The first Sesame Place theme park opened more than 40 years ago outside Philadelphia.
Sesame Place San Diego is the first theme park in nine years opened by SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, which has a longstanding relationship with Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organisation behind the popular educational show that airs in more than 150 countries.
The park is the latest step by the Orlando, Florida-based SeaWorld to move away from live animal shows, which had drawn worldwide criticism over its impact on whales, and prompted profits to plunge, especially at its San Diego park. SeaWorld’s Orlando park opened a Sesame Street section in 2019.
And the San Diego park couldn’t be opening at a better time with people emerging from pandemic boredom and itching for a new experience, said Dennis Speigel, owner of International Theme Park Services Inc, a global consultant on the industry.
“2021 was an incredible bounce back year for the theme parks,” he said. “People came back in droves.” Sesame Street is also seeing a revival in its popularity among families, Speigel said.