Originally scheduled to open 2021, the theme park based on the “Sesame Street” television show is now slated to launch March 2022, according to SeaWorld San Diego Park President John Dunlap. Located in Chula Vista, in what was formerly Aquatica Park, construction for Sesame Place San Diego kicked off in November 2019. But, the opening date was pushed back due to COVID-19-related construction delays.
Now, Dunlap says the build-out is right on track for its Q1 deadline. The opening of the park, he says, will bring more than 800 jobs to the area as well as boost tourism and economic impact in the region.
“San Diego is a great location in Southern California and a premiere tourist destination on the West Coast - it makes perfect sense to have Sesame Street theme parks on both the West and East coasts, allowing us to bring the laughter and learning of Sesame Street to even more children and families,” said Dunlap. “This park is open year-round which opens the opportunity for more jobs compared to our former park Aquatica, which was open seasonally; it will take more than 800 employees to run Sesame Place, some of those jobs including ride operators, entertainment team (back and forth of the house) and merchandise, among others.
Added Ed Wells, EVP and head of global media and education at Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, “Since 1980, Sesame Place Philadelphia has been a key member of Sesame Workshop’s extended family and an integral part of our mission of helping kids grow smarter, stronger and kinder. San Diego is a premier destination and with the opening of our second standalone theme park, Sesame Place San Diego, we will broaden our reach to kids and families on both coasts.”
Sesame Street Neighborhood
At 17-acres, Sesame Place San Diego will feature seven Sesame Street-themed rides. This includes a family-friendly roller coaster, an interactive musical play area and 11 reimagined water attractions including a 500,000-gallon wave pool - one of the largest in Southern California.
In addition, the park will have an interactive Sesame Street Neighborhood complete with the iconic 123 Stoop, which offers immersive physical and digital character experiences. Guests will also will be able to engage with Sesame Street charactersvia a live character show and a daily parade as well. The park will open with a full lineup of family-friendly events and seasonal celebrations throughout the year.
On the culinary front, Sesame Place San Diego will have four options to choose from, said Dunlap. Cookie Monster’s Foodie Truck, Grovers Grill, Monster Snacks snack shop and Telly’s Trattoria will offer menu items like hamburgers, pizza, ice cream, salads, sandwiches and snacks.
Throughout the park, there will be multiple places to purchase merchandise and photos, added Dunlap. The largest area will be Hooper’s Store, he said, which will feature a variety of unique Sesame Place merchandise like plush characters, apparel and branded souvenirs.
Certified Autism Center
Elsewhere, four total merchandise and photo stands will be where guests can partake in pin trading, said Dunlap.
“Pin trading is offered at all parks under SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and is a fun way to interact with park employees and other guests as families try to build up their very own pin collection,” he said.
Another aspect that will make Sesame Place San Diego special is that it will open as a Certified Autism Center as designated by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards, said Dunlap. Sesame Place San Diego will mirror its sister park in Philadelphia, he said, which was the first theme park in the world to achieve the designation. This means staff will receive autism sensitivity and awareness training and designated quiet spaces will be incorporated into the park’s design, among other accommodations.
Chula Vista is the second largest city within San Diego County. It is located 20 minutes from central San Diego, 2.5 hours from Los Angeles and in very close proximity to Mexico, said Dunlap, which will appeal to the drive-in market. The opening of the new park in this location extends SeaWorld’s commitment to the local community and its residents, including a growing demographic of young families, he said.
Sea World Entertainment Inc.
CEO: Marc Swanson
SAN DIEGO PARK PRESIDENT: John Dunlap
HEADQUARTERS: Orlando, Fla.
BUSINESS: Theme park and accredited zoo and aquarium.
REVENUE: $171.9M in Q1 of 2021, $429.8M in Q2 of 2021
NOTABLE: SeaWorld was founded by four graduates of the University of California, Los Angeles.