CHULA VISTA, Calif. — This weekend marks the opening of San Diego County’s new theme park, the much-anticipated Sesame Place, and new photos provide a closer look at the rides and other activities it will offer for families.
The new attraction, which SeaWorld built at the site of their old Aquatica water park in Chula Vista, hosted a grand opening celebration Saturday. That bash featured photo opportunities with Elmo, Big Bird and other characters from the beloved Sesame Street program, along with music, performances and a ribbon-cutting.
Day One visitors had to many of the park’s offerings, a spokesperson told FOX 5, including all but one of the 18 Sesame-themed rides. That included a rollercoaster and a collection of other attractions on firm ground, like a merry-go-round and swings. The final ride will open in May, the spokesperson said.
Some of Sesame Place’s water park offerings were available from the jump, too, including the lazy river and 500,000-gallon wave pool. Park officials previously said they plan to open all of its water attractions Memorial Day weekend each summer.
Crews started construction on Sesame Place back in 2019, and residents have been especially eager for a glimpse at the park since SeaWorld released renderings of their plans in November of last year. The park sent new photos of the completed attractions to FOX 5 Wednesday, plus some test ride promotional images featuring riders. Check them out in the photo gallery above.
Sesame Place will employ a team of about 900 people, according to Tracy Spahr, who works in the park’s public relations department. SeaWorld is still recruiting staff, and Spahr put out the call to anyone who might be interested.
“The park is seeking enthusiastic, dedicated, and hard-working individuals for a variety of roles with part-time and full-time options available,” she wrote by email. “Job postings include ride operators, technicians, culinary staff and supervisors, plus talented singers, dancers, performers, and much more.”
Interested applicants can apply for the jobs through Sesame Place’s website.
In addition to traditional theme park rides, the park features an interactive Sesame Street neighborhood, built to resemble sets from the iconic educational TV show. Kids can play with different displays, meet characters and sit down for story time with Big Bird.
The company says the park will be an attraction for “all ages,” but online reviews for the original Sesame Place in Philadelphia suggest the style of rides and theming will probably be most popular with kids ages 2 through 9 or 10.
SeaWorld has also touted Sesame Place’s unique accreditation as a Certified Autism Center.
“Staff-wide autism sensitivity and awareness training will be completed prior to the park’s debut, and robust pre-visit planning resources, including a park-specific sensory guide will be featured on its website, making it easier for parents to plan activities that satisfy their child’s specific needs and accommodations,” SeaWorld explained. “Designated quiet spaces with comfortable seating will be incorporated into the park’s design.”
The Pennsylvania Sesame Place was the first theme park in the world to achieve that autism designation, according to SeaWorld.
The company’s first Sesame Place park on the West Coast is part of a broader pivot away from live animal shows and toward other forms of family entertainment. Last month marked the opening of SeaWorld San Diego’s new Emperor roller coaster, a key attraction in that push.
Robert Niles, a “theme park insider” for the Orange County Register, also views the move as positioning SeaWorld to keep up with Legoland in Carlsbad.
“To compete with Legoland, SeaWorld has focused Sesame Place sharply on kids, and not laid up with a pure nostalgia play,” Niles wrote in a recent column. “We will find out in the months ahead whether that was the right call.”