“It’s very far away.”
“Far away” translated in my child’s mind as far as anyone could go, maybe even as far as China. And so for years I thought Sesame Street was in China.
My inner five year old was thrilled to learn that Sesame Street has arrived here in Tampa Bay. Elmo, Big Bird, Burt, Ernie, Grover, Cookie Monster… they’re all part of the new Safari of Fun at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.
This past Thursday, I loaded my youngest into the car and drove down to Busch Gardens for a special media event kicking off the opening of Safari of Fun. After being under construction for some time, I have been dying to see the new updates so we were there and ready to go at 8:30am that morning.
As part of media day, all of those attending were assigned a personal escort for the day. We were lucky enough to meet Rick, a wonderful guide and patient host as my son ran here and there around the grounds of the newly updated Safari of Fun.
So what’s it like?
Safari of Fun is an upgraded make over of the old “Land of the Dragons” area – but with more to offer. The entire area has been adapted to a “Sesame Street” theme for which I give a thunderous round of applause. The age of children visiting this area adore Sesame Street – pairing the two makes a lot of sense. All of the old rides are there still, plus a few more. They have added a new kiddie sized swing ride, an echoing exploration area, a spacious new splash park and the brand new Air Grover – a junior coaster perfect for brave preschoolers and young elementary school aged kids.
There is also a new theater show starring the Sesame Street characters which is presented several times a day, there is a new space for daily Sesame Street character breakfasts, and across the park in Timbuktu there is a new 4D Sesame Street movie now being shown.
But what did my kid really think of it all?
Well, I took video so that you can see his reaction for yourself. He even gave me a little wrap up interview the following day. But in a nutshell, he adored it. Sure he was a little nervous around the characters but he could not get enough of the rides and climbing areas which are perfect for his age. He was too scared to try out Air Grover but my friend Maria was kind enough to share her video experience with her three year old. We can not wait to get back and bring my six year old (who is itching to try out Air Grover). Next time we’ll bring our bathing suits too and try out the new splash park.
I also have to point out how professional the staff there are. Rick was a great help and each staff member assisting children on and off the rides could not have been kinder or more patient. They explained they have a “no cry policy” and will stop the ride in an instant if any child is upset. Thanks to all of the staff for making my child’s experience so much fun.
The only slight disappointment was the 4D movie. While funny and well done, the extra “effects” were a little much for the preschoolers in our group. There are quite a few surprising direct sprays of water which caught the kids off guard. We were fairly soaked by the end of the show and one kid was in tears (mine had his hands over his face asking if it was over yet). Older children might love these surprises, I know my six year old would crack up at them. However, Sesame Street is more appropriate for younger kids so I’m just hoping they tone down the scary water sprays but crank the fun, more gentle effects like bubbles, etc. My three year old doesn’t want to try that again but we’ll be taking my six year old for sure.
Finally, check out the video I made of our day at the Sesame Street Safari of Fun. We truly had a blast and we can’t wait to get back there in a couple weeks.
Here is Maria Melee from Your Mama Reviews riding Air Grover with her three year old son. (By the way, how cool is this set up? Many props to the Busch Gardens folks to bring this video option to all of us on Media Day.)
Oh and don’t forget! Children 5 and under can register here for a free Busch Gardens Tampa Bay pass for the rest of 2010. Please note that your child does need to be a Florida resident to register.