For Max’s first birthday, we hosted a pretty big Sesame Street themed birthday bash for our friends and their little ones (for my post about Max’s first birthday, I’ve included the link to that HERE.). This year I wanted to go a little bit more low key and just hang out with family for the day, but we still wanted to do something special for the little man.
Max is still obsessed with Elmo. Momma has George Clooney, daddy has Aaron Rogers, and Max has that furry red monster. Busch Gardens in Tampa has an entire Sesame Street themed area called Sesame Street Safari of Fun, so I started looking into going there for the day.
I discovered that throughout the month of October the Busch Gardens hosts Sesame Street Kids’ Weekends with fall themed activities for the kids. The park is open from 10am through 6pm on the weekends, and the Sesame Street Kids’ Weekend activities run from 11-3:30, with character parades at 11 and 2 each weekend.
We arrived at the park when it opened at 10 am. The Sesame Street Kids’ Weekend activities run from 11-3:30, with a parade of characters kicking things off at 11am. For more on park hours, click HERE.
The Sesame Street Safari of Fun is to the left of the entrance, noted in yellow type below.This area has a ton of cute rides for small children including airplanes, swings, flume, mini-roller coaster, carousel and ferris wheel. Some of the rides allow parents to accompany the children, while a few do not. Be sure to check the requirements and height restrictions before waiting in line. There are rides for every age there though, so don’t worry. There’s also themed area consists of a large splash pad (bring some swim diapers and towels), two large themed playground areas, and character meet and greet areas and theater areas for shows.
Max started off the day with some trick or treating. I’d suggest maybe just packing a cape or mask or something small if your kiddo insists on dressing to help keep them cool.
After the 3rd or 4th station Max started to get a hang of this trick or treat thing and trying to eat all the candy we would let him have (I’m weak – he had a lot.) Just then the music started and Sesame Street characters in Halloween costumes started their parade around the land. Grover, Abby Cadabby, Cookie, Bert, Ernie, Oscar, Big Bird, The Count, Elmo… They walked the loop in the land twice, with Max taking off after them at the tail of the second loop.
We followed the characters into a large grassy area that is usually fenced off and not open to the public. Inside that area was an awesome fall festival with lots of games and crafts, a hay bale maze, and other family activities. At the end of the parade the characters make their way to a large tent where they have a full on dance party with the little kids for about 15 minutes. Max almost lost his mind with joy! This kid loves to dance any day of the week, and watching him surrounded by all of his favorite characters was just an amazing sight to see. He kept taking me to one after the other, and trying to get in to dance with Elmo. He finally got his chance at a hug, and then another, and then another.
(While the Safari of Fun is always at Busch Gardens, the special Kids Weekend activities are as the name suggests only on the weekends and only in October. (I just want to make sure no one goes on a Wednesday expecting to experience all of these awesome activities.)
After the dance party was over we explored the playgrounds, and tried a few rides before lunch.
I bought our family tickets for a special lunch with Elmo and friends, and it was a great value that I’d recommend to anyone. During the lunch, the characters would come visit each table and visit with the children, and Max screamed like a manic as soon as his red friend walked in the door. He was so flippin excited…
I was super happy with the quality of the lunch itself, which included chicken nuggets, salad, spaghetti, chicken breast, fresh fruit, bread sticks, cupcakes, and all you can drink soda, milk and juice.
After lunch was over, all the characters sat down with the kids for story time and Max was creepily stalking Abby Cadabby and Gover the entire time.
After we wrapped up our time in the Sesame Street Safari of Fun, we took a choo choo train ride around the park. The train at Busch Gardens actually goes through portions of the animal safari, so Max had a blast pointing out all the “G-raf”, “zeba” and “elfant”. He also quickly noted a gazelle going to the bathroom, pointed, and yelled “EW! GROSS!!”
Our whole family had a really great time at the park for the day, especially watching how happy Max was. This birthday celebration Max may have had one of the best days in his life. It is a must do at least once if you have a little one who loves Sesame Street.
The park is also roller coaster lover’s paradise and mommy may have snuck off to do just one…
I’ve included the link to buy tickets to for admission to the park and the Elmo lunch here. You have to buy your lunch tickets ahead of time on line, and it will also save you about $15 if you buy your park admission tickets on line as well.