We went to the Sesame Place store yesterday. And wow, were we ever disappointed!
If you’re new to me, my son and my site, here’s a little bit about us. We’ve been going to Sesame Place regularly for 15+ years. He is autistic and Sesame Street, Count von Count and Oscar specifically, are his hyper interest.
I was a Sesame Place Ambassador for 4 years. The years that I was not an ambassador, we’ve been season pass holders. He has a Sesame Street themed bedroom. We are superfans, for sure.
I have been anticipating a really good Sesame Street themed store forever, literally. Every birthday and every holiday, we buy him something from Sesame Street or Sesame Place. And, once you’ve been to Sesame Place a few dozen times like we have, you pretty much own everything that appeals to you.
Throughout the years, as we’ve visited and shopped, I’ve often thought that they should have better Sesame Street merchandise. It’s really the same old same old. And most of it is targeted toward younger children.
Now, before you say, “but it’s Sesame Street! Of course it’s younger children!” let me ask you….ever been to a Disney store? And how much stuff for adults do they have? Exactly.
But back to the new Sesame Place Store. I was thrilled when I saw the announcement that it was opening. When we visited the park in August for Kevin’s birthday, it was exciting to see that the store was coming along nicely.
Sesame Place Store Grand Opening
Then, they announced it–the grand opening! We could hardly wait!
We have season passes and decided to use one of our free guest passes for my MIL, who often attends with us. Kevin uses a wheelchair, so sometimes I need help.
We anticipated large crowds, so we went early. We left our home around 8 and got to the park at 9:30. The park opened at 10 and the grand opening was scheduled for 11.
We get our bearings and head toward the customer service windows. I should add–the night before, I could not get the app nor the website to work for me. I did everything they suggested–as far as clearing my cookies, uninstalling and reinstalling the app, changing my password and more. I could not get it to work.
So, despite the long line, we had to wait at the window in order to get my mother-in-laws ticket printed, and ours, since I could not load them on the app.
The customer service section has 4 or 5 windows, but only one was open and staffed. The woman (customer) at the window like 2-3 people ahead of us, took at least 20 minutes. I don’t know what all of her issues were, but she spent a good minutes asking about a free keychain. They really needed more open windows.
But, we waited and got our tickets and went in. Then, I had to wait in another line, this time for Kevin’s disability access pass. No, I did not need this for the store, but we planned to stay at the park and we had an hour to kill before the grand opening anyway.
Only 2/3 guest services windows were open, which created yet another long line. I get his access armband.
Sesame Place Cash
At this point, I have been face to face with two customer service people. Neither one reminded me nor offered to print me my Sesame Place cash. Now, mind you, this is the first year that we’ve had a pass that offered Sesame place cash. Despite visiting probably 50 times, we’ve never had this.
So, I asked an employee who was walking through the park about it and she said, “oh, you have to get that at guest services.”
The same guest services that now had a line that was at least 50-60 families long. To save $10? No thanks. I guess that’s what they want you to do–forfeit it. Otherwise, they’d make it much easier for you to use it.
At this point, we’re just trying to take up 30 minutes before the store’s grand opening. The lines for the freebie for pass members was at least 100 yards long. Pass.
We go back out front to the store. Waited in another line to go through security, then another line to spin a wheel and get some freebies. Many families were approaching the tables, not bothering to look at their surroundings and see that there was a huge line that they were just butting up to the front of. No employees were there to monitor this.
We spun the wheel and got two notebooks.
The store’s grand opening festivities were mediocre at best. A couple of songs, a couple of politicians spoke and that was it.
So, we go in. But wait! Another long line!
Finally, we’re in. And I was so excited. Finally we’re going to see some unique, fun, unusual Sesame Street merchandise items that can only be found here. Right? RIGHT?!?!?
Womp, womp. Nope.
Sesame Place Store Prices
The prices were out of control.
One of the first things I saw were these cute felt banners. I thought they’d be perfect for Kevin’s room. They had a Count one and an Oscar one.
Almost simultaneously, I picked up the Count one and my mother-in-law was examining the Oscar one.
We both looked at the banners, the price tag, then at each other with eyes wide open.
Do you want to guess how much they were? C’mon, guess!
They’re felt. They’re approximately 12″ x 24″. And…. $84.99.
Sesame Place Store Merchandise
And honestly, the banners were the most interesting thing that we saw. That was it. There were a few cute water bottles and similar items. But, the tops and straws looked incredibly complex to clean. Even if they were under $20, they looked as if they’d be moldy or mildewy within a matter of weeks, rendering them useless.
The other stuff for sale was just the same old same old stuff that they’ve been selling in their stores for years. Same plush characters. Same shirts.
I’ll stick with Zulily and eBay for our Sesame Street merchandise. There I can at least find unique and sometimes vintage stuff at much better prices.
They bragged about having the biggest stuffed Elmo in the world, but meh. No one cared. A few people stopped to look at it.
In the store, they had every register open. But no one was buying.
The size of the store is…fine. But I expected bigger and better. There’s no “Wow!” factor and we were expecting a WOW FACTOR.
It’s f*cking Sesame Place, y’all! Where it all began! If I can’t be wow’d by Sesame Street merch at Sesame Place….where can I be?
One Small Purchase at the Sesame Place Store
We found one book that Kevin does not yet have, and it was $10.99. My MIL walked right up and was able to pay for it instantly.
Had it not been so difficult to get my Sesame Place cash, Kevin and I each would have had $10 to spend, and we perhaps would have spent more. But it wasn’t worth the effort.
In Mr. Hooper’s store down in the main park, the assortment of stuff is much better. But, the prices are still high. We saw one cool Oscar Halloween t-shirt that I almost bought for Kevin. But, the tags weren’t labelled if they were kid or adult sizes and we couldn’t tell. We chose a M (he wears an adult M) and it was way too small.
So, we thought, ok, kids’ sizes. Let’s grab an XL and see if it will fit. The XL was incredibly wide and really short. The fabric felt like really poor quality. We get a discount with our season pass but still didn’t feel it was worth it.
And that’s that.
One more thing I don’t like about this new store. Now, to exit the park, you are forced to walk through the store. That’s just so eye-roll-worthy I don’t even know where to begin.
I know how many times we’ve been enjoying ourselves and stayed late at the park. Then, on the way out, the kids are tired, I’m tired. We’re often either worn out from the sun or from the cold.
The VERY LAST THING I want to do at that moment in time is argue with my kids about stuff I don’t want to buy.
Like a small felt banner for $85. But I suppose that’s exactly their plan. Your defenses are down, so you’ll spend money just to get out of there.
It’s very Disney-esque and it’s one of the reasons I am just over the moon that my kids never liked anything Disney.
Sesame Place Store Review
I’ll end this review by sharing a conversation I had with my mother-in-law on the ride home.
We talked about how disappointed we were. About how the store and the grand opening event were really over-hyped and did not meet our expectations.
And then I said, “Well, now we know. We know what the store is like. Because, what probably could have happened is that Christmas would be coming up, and in an effort to get Kevin something that he wants, one of us likely would have suggested ‘hey let’s take a ride out to that new Sesame Place store’ and then we would have been extremely disappointed if we made a special trip.”
So, if there is a bright spot, it’s that since the Count is K’s favorite character, we wanted to go to the Halloween Spooktacular anyway. We didn’t make a special trip to visit the Sesame Place store, only to be disappointed.
And now, you don’t have to, either.