Logo by Chris Mercaldo

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Big Bird Bridge

On the first post on this blog I talked about how a memory of Big Bird Bridge inspired me to start archiving Sesame Place's past.

Here is an overview of the, very simple, attraction:
Image from YouTube 

It was a suspension bridge that you entered through Big Bird's mouth.
Image from YouTube 

The bridge would give you spectacular views of the (then) three acre park.

Images from YouTube 

To give you some perspective: the Big Bird head was located at what was the front of the park in 1980. Today it would be the center of the park.

Take a look at the Google Maps image below of the park today. I inserted the early 1980s image on it and numbered a few corresponding locations. Make sure and note the park entrance in both images:
Images from YouTube & Google Maps

As the park expanded the bridge was removed. The Big Bird head remained (with the mouth closed) as a photo spot until it was replaced with the Sunny Day Carousel in 2008.

Images from YouTube & Flickr

Street Performer: Handy Man

I found a Sesame Place YouTube video from July 1994. It shows this man performing in front of Sesame Neighborhood for a group of kids:
Images from YouTube

Sporting an upturned baseball cap, short orange coveralls, a tool belt full of props and a Sesame Place name-tag; he entertained a group of kids on a hot summer day. For lack of an actual name or character, lets just call him Handy Man.

First he performs some slight of hand magic for one of the kids (who is draped in a pretty cool Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles towel):

He then bonks the kids on the head with a toy hammer:

Then when the kid says he 'knows how the magic trick was done', Handy Man changes the subject by doing a little juggling:

I don't think I've ever seen any similar street performers at Sesame Place. Disney has plenty of (what they call) Atmosphere Entertainment at their parks.

I love the idea of it. It can siphon off crowds and gives a real vibrancy to the street.

Have you ever seen any similar performers at Sesame Place? Let me know in the comments.

1988 coupon and advertisment

Image from Vintage_ads

Above is a magazine ad from1988. In addition to giving us the chance to save $3 (from May 7 to July 8, 1988) it mentions many attractions including Sesame Streak water slide and Ernie's Bed Bounce.

It also mentions the debut of Sesame Neighborhood, the outdoor Sesame Street replica set. There was already an indoor one:
Images from YouTube

The indoor replica was part of Sesame Studio, but has since been closed down. 

Also, the ad mentions two new walk-around characters: Prairie Dawn and Grover.
Images from GoPhilla & Blogspot

The ad mentions they join the other characters at the park,: Big Bird, Ernie, Bert, Cookie Monster and The Honkers.

Sesame Place still distributes coupons like this today and you'll save more than $3:

Of course, admission prices were different in 1988:
$14 for children, $12 for adults. Children under 3 are admitted free. Parking is $2.50

Single-Day Admission   $57.99 (plus tax)                    
Children 23 months & younger                                    FREE
Seniors (55+) (single-day admission only)               $52.99 (plus tax)
AAA Walk-Up Discount (with valid card)                     $54.99 (plus tax)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sesame Place Water Tower News Report 2002

Over on YouTube someone posted a news video from 2002 that talks about the vinyl wrapping of the Sesame Place water tower.

The water tower is a familiar icon to residents of the area since it stands over interstate 95 and acts as a billboard for the park.
The video starts with file footage from August of 1993. First we see the water tower in it's blue (pre-Sesame) state. Then we see workers painting the Big Bird, Ernie, Bert & Elmo (and if memory serves, Rubber Duckie) portraits on the water tower.
We are told the process took 4 weeks.

The reporter, Don Polec (who is known for his silly reporting), is then shown "helping out". With trick photography we see that he painted a mustache on Big Bird.
Next, we see the image that will be "wrapped" onto the water tower by the Burton Imaging Group.
This project is taking "three weeks" and is being hung over top of the painted water tower.

The new image is photo realistic and includes Big Bird, Cookie Monster and Elmo (and a Fuji Film logo.) The grid pattern used to hang the sheets "like a jigsaw puzzle" is explained and Don unrolls a sheet containing Cookie Monster's eye.
We are told the tower is approximately 145 feet high and uses close to 20,000 square feet of vinyl. We are also told it's "the largest structure of it's type wrapped anywhere in the world."
The final moments see Don trying to affix a piece of the tower and dropping it off the scaffold.

I'm surprised it took 13 years before the water tower became a "billboard" for the park! It seems like such an obvious idea.
Seeing the "painted" version of the water tower again is wonderful. Pictures of it are really lacking on the internet. Personally, I prefer the painting, but I imagine to young children a large photo on the billboard is more exciting than an artist rendering.
You can watch the video by clicking here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


It seemed appropriate that the above image should kick off this blog.

It shows a group of children, from the New Approach Method day care, breaking ground on what would become Sesame Place.

That was June 27, 1979.
33 years later we have a groundbreaking for this blog.

Well, hackneyed wordplay aside, let me tell you why I am starting this project.

I have lived much of my life close to Langhorne, Pennsylvania. As a kid I visited Sesame Place a few times and created some very vivid memories.

As I grew up I grew out of Sesame Place.

But, I was still interested in it. I would always read the newspaper articles about what was "new this year" and watch the TV commercials carefully looking at what changes I could spot.

On a rare occasion where I could chaperone a younger cousin or a niece I volunteered quickly and enjoyed looking at how the park would evolve over time.When I became a dad, I made sure that my wife and I took our son to Sesame Place before he could even crawl.

This weekend I was riding with my son on the Sunny Day Carousel and I thought about how there used to be a giant Big Bird head where the carousel now stands.

Then I remembered a bridge that you once entered through his mouth.

The bridge had been gone for years, leaving just the giant head (until finally that was replaced by the carousel.)
Image from amusementpic.com

When I got home, I Googled every combination of "big bird bridge sesame place" and found very little info scattered across many different sites.

Now, hopefully the history of Sesame Place can now live on here on this blog. Let me be honest with you, even with the rose colored glasses, I think it's safe to say that Sesame Place has IMPROVED over the years.

The 3 acre 1980 park was not as polished as the 14 acre park that stands today.

Still, it's fun to look backwards.

Do you have memories of Sesame Place you want to share? Maybe you have a picture or video that you want to share or even just a link to something I haven't posted yet.

Please share it. Together we can make use the Big Bird Bridge to link the Sesame Place of the past with the Sesame Place of today. Wow, sorry. No more hackneyed wordplay, I promise.