When in Southern California you’re looking for activities that are budget-savvy and family friendly, especially for very young children. Bonus points for warm-weather fun that helps you stay cool in the San Diego sunshine. Sesame Place San Diego theme park and water park is sure to check all the boxes – with enough entertainment for an entire day’s worth of play!
I received complimentary admission for my family to experience Sesame Place. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Sesame Place San Diego
Sesame Place opened to guests on MARCH 26th 2022. This new theme park takes the place of the Aquatica San Diego water park. In the rebranding, some of the water play areas that were there have remained and new additions have been made. This includes toddler and preschool friendly amusement park rides.
Sesame Place San Diego is only the second Sesame Place in the nation. Sesame Place Philadelphia opened in 1980.
Keep reading my family travel guide and find out out what there is to do at Sesame Place San Diego theme park, best time saving tips and how to get discounted tickets.
Sesame Street Bay of Play at SeaWorld
Is Sesame Place inside SeaWorld San Diego? No. The two theme parks are in completely separate locations.
Sesame Street Bay of Play has been a longstanding area at SeaWorld San Diego. This enjoyable section is a highlight for toddlers and preschoolers with play structures, character greetings and kid-friendly rides.
“Can you tell me how to get to…Sesame Place”? The new Sesame Place San Diego is owned by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, but let me clear up a little confusion.
While the Sesame Place San Diego theme park and water park is owned and operated by SeaWorld San Diego, the Sesame Place water park is not located in or near SeaWorld.
- SeaWorld San Diego is in Mission Bay area (near the beach) and about 10 minutes drive north from downtown.
- Sesame Place is located in Chula Vista, about 20 minutes drive south from downtown. Address of the new theme park: Sesame Place San Diego – 2052 Entertainment Circle, Chula Vista, CA 91911
Sesame Place San Diego Tickets
Purchase discounted tickets ahead of time from my partners at Get Away Today. A single day pass discounted Sesame Place San Diego ticket is a very low $59 per person (ages 2+ require a ticket). A Season Pass is something to consider if you plan to visit more than once in a year.
General parking is a cost of $30 per vehicle and $35 for up-close parking.
Southern California Discount Travel
My travel partners at Get Away Today offer both discounted theme park tickets and SoCal-area hotels to fit any budget! Many hotels include exclusive discounts like free parking, complimentary breakfast or even free nights, just for booking through Get Away Today.
When you’re ready to book your Southern California vacation, my friends at Get Away Today are ready to help! Mention code REWRITTEN to receive an extra discount off your SoCal vacation package of two or more days.
When is Sesame Place San Diego Open?
Sesame Place San Diego celebrated a grand opening, March 26th, 2022 with amusement park attractions and water park rides. None of the other San Diego water parks are open year-round, generally opening in late spring and closing early fall. It’s assumed that Sesame Place water park areas will not operate year round, but I’ll update if I hear more details.
Park hours upon opening appear to be 10 am to 5 pm on weekdays. Hours are 10 am to 6 pm on Saturday and Sunday (with an extension to 7 pm beginning in the summer months). There are some block out days during the “off-season” so be sure to check the park calendar online before your visit.
Can’t Miss Rides at Sesame Place San Diego
Sesame Place San Diego is combination theme park and water park. There’s a healthy mix of both rides and water attractions designed for a variety of ages. These 7 “dry rides” are brand new to the amusement park.
Dry rides are mixed in around the park near the water park attractions. Shoes, bottoms and tops must be worn while on these “dry” rides (ie: no swimsuits).
Pay note to the height requirements for each attraction. Ride companions must be 14+ years old. With the exception of the carousel, hand-held infants are not permitted to ride any of these attractions. There is signage at the front entrance with height restrictions for all rides.
Sesame Place Dry Rides
- Abby’s Fairy Flight – Spinning swing chairs –36″ height requirement to ride with companion, 42″ to ride alone
- Cookie Climb – Self-powered tower climb – 38″ height requirement to ride with companion, 48″ to ride alone
- Elmo’s Rockin’ Rockets – Circling rocket that moved up and down – No height requirement, 48″ to ride alone
- Rub-A-Dub Sub – Submarine swings up and around- No height requirement, 36″ to ride alone
- Sesame Street Soar and Spin – Spinning “hot air” balloons- No height requirement, 42″ to ride alone
- Sunny Day Carousel – Classic merry-go-round with ponies- No height requirement, 42″ to ride alone
- Super Grover’s Box Car Derby – Steel roller coaster with mild dips and turns- 38″ height requirement to ride with companion, 42″ to ride alone
Sesame Place Water Rides
There are some thrilling water slides at Sesame Place water park! If your older children balk about going to a Sesame Street-themed amusement park, these daring water rides will change their mind!
Many of the rides offer options for open or enclosed slides. I’ve included the height requirements next to each attraction. There are height measurements at the entrance to each attraction.
In addition, many rides have requirements for life jackets. Guests under certain heights may be required to wear a life vest when taking part in these attractions.
- Bert’s Topsy Turvy Tunnels (formerly Kiwi Curl) – Single tube water slide. 42″ requirement; Guests under 48″ are required to wear a life vest
- Ernie’s Twisty Turny Tunnels (formerly Woohoo Falls) – Choose a single tube or double raft then ride down one of three 60-foot slides, two enclosed and one open-air. 42″ height requirement; Guests under 48″ are required to wear a life vest
- Cookie’s Monster Mixer (formerly Tassie’s Twister) – Sits up to four in a clover-leaf style raft on a twisting slide that is six feet tall with a dramatic funnel ending. 48″ requirement
- Honker Dinger Dash (formerly Taumata Racer) – Guests lay on their stomachs, holding a mat in a high speed race to the finish line. 42″ requirement
- Oscar’s Rotten Rafts (formerly Walhalla Wave) – Family-style raft with long twists and turns. 42″ requirement
- Snuffy’s Spaghetti Slides (formerly Whanau Way) – This series of body slides each offer a different ride and include 4 enclosed and two open slides. 42″ requirement; Guests under 48″ are required to wear a life vest
More Sesame Place San Diego Water Park Attractions
The Count’s Splash Castle (formerly Walkabout Waters) – This four-story interactive play area features splash pad areas with short slides (for guests 42″ and up). Kids will enjoy the bubbling water features and small sprays for all ages.
There’s also a 500-gallon bucket that fills up and dumps on everyone beneath it. My kiddo enjoyed splashing in the water but refused to go inside the play area for fear of the downpour.
Elmo’s Silly Sand Slides (formerly Slippity Dippity) – The short slides here have a maximum height of 48″ (ie: no grown ups). This means kids need to climb stairs and slide down by themselves, while parents wait at the bottom. Or bring two adults and have one at the top with the child and another to catch at the bottom of the slide.
Big Bird’s Beach (formerly Big Surf Shores) – Swells can build in this giant wave pool but the water near the shoreline is tame enough for babies and toddlers to stand and splash in. Anyone under 48″ needs to wear a life jacket and be accompanied by an adult in the water.
Big Bird’s Rambling River (formerly Loggerhead Lane) – This lazy river is perfect for little ones. Float along next to your child in a double-inner tube. One side has a hole and the other has a seat in the middle (perfect for the youngest kids).
Shade is next to nothing so lather up with sunscreen and bring baby a hat. There is one section of overhead waterfall that can be avoided. – Guests under 42″ should wear a life vest
Best Height for Sesame Place Water Rides?
Guests who are taller than 42″ will be able to take advantage of almost all attractions inside the Sesame Place water park. Some attractions require guests who meet the 42″ requirement but are shorter than 48″ to wear a life vest.
Anyone 48″ or taller can ride everything and do not need a life jacket.
Visiting Sesame Place San Diego with Babies & Toddlers
You might wonder what there is to do at Sesame Place San Diego with babies or toddlers? While many of the water park’s attractions are geared for older kids, there are still plenty of areas at Sesame Place for smaller children to get wet and have fun!
Strollers & Wagons: Sesame Place San Diego is stroller accessible and there are rentals available.
Does Sesame Place allow wagons? Yes. Wagons must have locking wheels and the ability to be pushed are permitted.
Swim Safety Tip: There are Coast Guard type life jackets in a variety of sizes located all around the water park. Life jackets are available for complimentary use. Lifeguards are stationed in every water area but stay within arms reach of children at all times.
Family Care Center: Take an indoor break at the Family Care Center, located next to Cookie’s Café. This space includes four private nursing areas, bottle warmers, and diaper changing stations.
Sesame Place Water Park Tip: Swim diapers are a must-have. Bring plenty and change your child only inside the restrooms (and not on a lounge chair!). If you forget the diapers or run out, they are available for purchase.
More Things at Sesame Place with Kids
It wouldn’t be Sesame Place without everyone’s favorite Sesame Street characters! This kid-friendly theme park has lots of opportunities for kids to engage with Elmo, Bert & Ernie, Big Bird, Cookie Monster and the Grouch!
Sesame Street Party Parade – Floats carrying fan favorite characters make their way through the streets, alongside energetic dancers and vibrant music. Gather behind the ropes along the parade route for a great view of this street-party style show.
This colorful presentation is really a can’t miss. I loved the diversity represented during the show in all the energetic dancers. This parade is also a great way for kids to see and wave to their favorite Sesame Street characters.
Floats make their way along the route then stop for several songs and dances. Kids are encouraged to clap and dance along behind the ropes. Any place along the route offers great viewing of the show. On busy days, consider purchasing reserved parade viewing for the Sesame Street Party Parade.
Live Character Show – Welcome to Our Street – Check out this whimsical music-filled presentations in the outdoor Sesame Street Theater.
More Sesame Place San Diego Entertainment
Storytime with Big Bird – A sweet, interactive experience featuring the big yellow bird. Big Bird reads a story from his nest for the surrounding audience in the neighborhood area.
Kids are encouraged to sit on the blankets in front of Big Bird and engage in the presentation. The story is short and sweet and there’s a character greeting for photos with Big Bird after the show.
Character Photo Ops – Catch favorite characters for a once-in-a-lifetime meet n’ greet opportunity. Characters may include Elmo, Cookie Monster, Abby Cadabby, Oscar the Grouch, Zoe, Grover, Bert & Ernie, Count von Count, Telly and Rosita.
During our visit we found characters greeting outdoors as well as indoors against a green screen. Characters were interacting with kids, hugging and giving high-fives. The photographs can be printed and purchased in any of the photo shops.
Interactive Play Areas
For toddlers and preschoolers that need to escape the stroller and just play, these are the best spots at Sesame Place. Even my 10 year old was delighted to stand on the famous stoop and next to the signature lamp post for a photo op! For those of us who have grown up with Sesame Street, there were many adults in awe, posing in this recognizable area.
Sesame Street Neighborhood – The iconic block from the television series has been recreated here, with interactive play areas for families. This is the perfect place for lots of photos.
Kids can ring Bert & Ernie’s doorbell, use the apartment intercom to hear conversations from characters, knock on Oscar’s trashcan and more!
Rosita’s Harmony Hills – Outdoor play area recommended for kids under 5 years old. Ample opportunity to run on the grassy field and make music. Parents may join on this soft play area or sit around the outer berm.
Interactive Light Up Bubble Wand – For more interaction around Sesame Place, consider purchasing one of the interactive bubble wands.
There are locations around the theme park to tap the wand and experience extra fun. Look for the “Star Symbol” to unlock surprises around the park.
Cabanas and Lounge Chairs
For the ultimate water park day, opt for a Sesame Place San Diego cabana rental. Having a cabana for a day at the pool is a great way to rest and recharge in a private, shaded space. Choose from a variety of options including cabanas that hold up to 12 guests.
- Located near Big Bird’s Beach Wave Pool
- Private cabana for up to 8 guests including children & infants
- Exclusive access to Abby’s Paradise Pool
- Access to private entrance to Big Bird’s Rambling River
- In-Cabana Food & Beverage Service available for an additional fee
- Includes free Wi-Fi
Sesame Place San Diego Dining
All that water play and activity under the sun is going to work up an appetite. Outside food is not permitted inside the theme park, however there are some good (albeit pricey) options.
Sesame Place San Diego water park only offers quick service dining and snack carts. There are no indoor or full service restaurants available. Restaurants are all outdoor counter service and seating is all outdoors.
Does Sesame Place San Diego sell alcohol? Yes, there are alcoholic beverage options for guests 21+ including bottled beer, draft beer, and frozen cocktails.
Walk up dining is centrally located and there are ample patio tables nearby. Additional food service, including a coffee cart, is found around the rest of the park.
Look for allergy-friendly meals offered at dining locations, including gluten-free selections. For details about the allergy friendly meals, stop by Guest Services, or any dining location, for an allergen card with food options for those with allergies.
- Grover’s Grill – Grilled burgers, chicken sandwiches and meatless options.
- Oscar’s Grouchy Grub – Wrap sandwiches, salads, parfaits and fruit cups.
- Telly’s Trattoria – Pizza and salads.
- Monster Snacks – Serving salads, chicken tenders, fries, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
- Eats on the Street – Hot dogs, packaged snacks and popcorn.
- Wavepool Market – Wraps, salads and healthy snacks.
Sesame Place Tip: Consider using the Quick Pay cashless wrist band if you plan on making purchases throughout the day. At the ticket window before entering the park, connect a payment method to a special wristband. Then you can safely leave your credit card in a locker.
Changing Rooms vs. Restroom
There are rental lockers at Sesame Place San Diego where guests can store items until needed. Changing rooms are at a minimum here and are especially busy in the hour before closing time. To save time, I recommend that families wear their bathing suits under their clothes to the water park.
There are outdoor showers and rinsing stations to wash off chlorine. Restroom stalls are extremely tiny and not appropriate for changing clothes.
What to Bring with You to Sesame Place San Diego Water Park
- Guests must bring their own towels from home. If you forget a towel, there are some available for purchase in the gift shop.
- If you’re going to spend a lot of time in the lazy river or wave pool, bring a large sun hat to cover your face and neck. There’s no shade protection in either spot.
- Sunscreen is a definite MUST. Under the SoCal sunshine, I’d recommend reapplying several times throughout the day. Try using a sunscreen that can be applied to damp skin, like Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Spray.
- Bring a Waterproof Tote Bag. I use my water proof bag to hold a dry change of clothing and then to place our wet suits in after changing.
- You’ll need a pair of flip-flops for every family member. The concrete and sand are in direct sun so the ground gets extremely hot.
- Protect kid’s skin with a rash guard. My kids’ swimwear is from Primary – Get 20% off your first order at Primary.com with code AFF20PCT. Choose brightly colored swim suits to spot your kids quickly in a crowd!
- Drinking water is another must-have to stay hydrated. Guest are permitted to bring in bottled water.
- If you’ll have your electronics out, bring protective gear for cells phones like the Submariner Waterproof Phone Pouch.
- Sesame Place has Fuel Rod, interchangeable phone charging stations to swap out portable cell chargers. I recommend purchasing a Fuel Rod ahead of time then taking them with you to swap as needed.
What NOT to Bring with You
- Swim clothing that has metal zippers or rivets.
- No alcohol or glass.
- Remove valuable jewelry before coming to the water park.
Time Saving Tips for Sesame Street San Diego Water Parks
Sesame Place San Diego offers a “front-of-the-line” pass called Magic Queue. This quick queue option is definitely a good option for those who don’t want to wait as long.
There are three Magic Queue choices to purchase. Each version offers priority access through a separate line outside of the stand-by line. Simply look for the Magic Queue signage and enter through that line.
- Magic Queue-Dry Rides allows one-time access to each of the 7 rides.
- Magic Queue-Water Rides allows one-time access to Cookie’s Monster Mixer and Oscar’s Rotten Rafts and unlimited access to the other 4 water slides.
- Unlimited Magic Queue offers unlimited access to all dry rides and water rides.
Is Unlimited Magic Queue worth it at Sesame Place? For families that don’t like waiting in long lines, yes for sure. The additional cost of Magic Queue will save time and allow you to experience everything at the theme park in a single day.
There is also an option to purchase reserved viewing areas and save time waiting for shows. Consider purchasing reserved viewing for Welcome to Our Street at the Sesame Street Theater or reserved parade viewing for the Sesame Street Party Parade.
Maximize Time at Sesame Place San Diego Water Park
On a budget and don’t want to splurge on the line skipping wristband? Try these time-saving tips! Wait times right after the park opens and in the hour before closing are much lower. Plan to get to the park early to park and enter through security. You’ll want to grab a chair quickly and get to the rides right away.
Upon park opening, head straight for the two most popular water rides, Cookie’s Monster Mixer and Oscar’s Rotten Rafts. Then grab a tube and float around the lazy river.
Mid-day, when the park is busiest take the time to snack in the shade then enjoy the larger attractions including the wave pool and The Count’s Splash Castle. In the hour before closing, my son and I were able to enjoy 5 attractions with minimal wait time. This is the best time to hit all the rest of the water slides!
If the dry rides are your priority, head to the farthest areas of the park first, bypassing the carousel at the entrance. Enjoy Super Grover’s Box Car Derby, Abby’s Fairy Flight and Rub-a-Dub-Sub first. After water play in the afternoon, change back into play clothes and visit the other attractions that are closer to the exit just before closing.
Other Must Know Tips for Sesame Place San Diego
Water park tube rides – Some rides require you to carry your tube to the top, while others have conveyor belts that bring the tubes back up. There are some attractions with long, wet flights of stairs.
If you have a child that has trouble handling both the stairs and an inner tube, you may be carrying both your tube and theirs!
Water Shoes – Water shoes are not allowed on rides. But with all the hot concrete, you’ll need to wear flip-flops for walking between attractions. There are cubbies to place your shoes inside at each ride.
Ride Safety – Remind kids to hold on tightly to the tubes, rafts and mats. Once the ride starts, if a hand slips off it can be almost impossible to regain balance. Hold on tight!
Water Ride Accessibility – Accessibility to slides is very limited. Guests are expected to be able to climb long stairs and stand in line. There is no wheelchair access for slides. Those with health issues may find walking on concrete and climbing stairs to be a challenge.
Sunny Day Guarantee Policy – Did bad weather affect your day? Don’t be grouchy! Visit Guest Services to exchange your ticket for a Sunny Day ticket. The voucher is valid for a return visit any operating day one year from the date issued.
What’s the Sesame Place San Diego weather? I highly recommend checking the forecast on the day of your visit. This way you’ll be able to decide what to wear and whether it’s warm enough for the water park activities.
Is the water heated at Sesame Place San Diego? Some of the pools do have warmer water temperatures. You’ll find heated water at Big Bird’s Beach, Big Bird’s Rambling River, The Count’s Splash Castle, Elmo’s Silly Sand Slides, and Abby’s Paradise Pool.
Certified Autism Center
Sesame Place San Diego is a designated “Certified Autism Center”. What does that mean for families traveling with a special needs child? Here are a few need-to-know bits of information:
As per the website, Sesame Place employees have received “specialized training to ensure they have the requisite knowledge, skills, temperament, and expertise to cater to all children, including those with special needs. Training focuses include: sensory awareness, motor skills, autism overview, program development, social skills, communication, environment, and emotional awareness”.
Families may acquire a Special Access Pass. This provides guests with priority boarding up to six times on any of the dry rides and three of the wet rides at Sesame Place San Diego.
Noise-cancelling headphones are provided for guests upon request. WhispEars™ are provided by KidCo. Available on a first come, first served basis at either The Family Care Center or The Welcome Center.
Service animals are permitted within the park.
Need quiet time from sensory stimulation? There are two designated Quiet Rooms with adjustable lighting and comfy seating. Each room is locked and guests may access by requesting the code at the welcome center.
Sesame Place Shopping
As to be expected, there are ample spots for families to purchase coveted Sesame Street merchandise! Check out Hooper’s Store and Sesame Souvenirs to buy in the park. 123 Trade With Me is the place to purchase souvenir pins for trading.
Consider buying ahead to save both time and money. These are a few buy-ahead souvenirs to purchase and bring into the theme park.
- Dress kids in comfortable clothing like these Sesame Street t-shirts.
- A Sesame Street beach towel is a must-have for the water park rides.
- Plush toys are a perfect kid-friendly pick, like this Gund Abby Cadabby doll.
Seasonal Celebrations at Sesame Place San Diego
The Count’s Halloween Spooktacular – weekends September 17th – October 30th, 2022. Guests will be treated to Halloween-themed shows, Sesame Place friends dressed in costumes, interactive Scarecrow Scavenger Hunt and trick-or-treating around the park.
A Very Furry Christmas Celebration – select dates November 12th – December 31st, 2022.
More Water Park Family Fun
Looking for more water park fun in San Diego county? The LEGOLAND water park in Carlsbad (north San Diego) is a part of the popular theme park.
Purchase discount LEGOLAND California tickets ahead of time that are bundled with the theme park.
If you find yourself on the opposite coast at Walt Disney World, a visit to either Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach is a Disney vacation must-do! These Disney water parks are intensely themed and great for all ages.
San Diego Travel Tips
If you’re planning to vacation in the Southern California area for several days, these are the things to know about visiting Sesame Place San Diego.
Should I Plan on 2 Days at Sesame Place? This theme park is great for a multi-day visit, especially for kids in the younger age bracket who will most appreciate the dry rides.
While you can experience it all in a single day, you’ll need to purchase Magic Queue to bypass the long lines and maximize your time.
What Hotels are Best for San Diego Travel? I recommend choosing one of the centrally located hotels in San Diego, near Mission Bay or Mission Valley. This area will put you close to SeaWorld San Diego, the San Diego Zoo and beach destinations.
Driving from Mission Bay, LEGOLAND California is about 30 minutes north and Sesame Place San Diego is about 30 minutes south.
This article originally published August 12th, 2019 about Aquatica Water Park and has been updated and republished with a new date to reflect the theme park switch to Sesame Place.