Thursday, May 18, 2017

SeaWorld Entertainment Plans New Sesame Place Park in the U.S. + Expansion in Orlando

SeaWorld Entertainment has announced that they have extended their existing, 37 year old agreement with Sesame Workshop through the end of 2031 and that it now includes the development of a new Sesame Place theme park in the U.S. and themed expansions at the company's existing parks.

The agreement will continue to have SeaWorld Entertainment as Sesame Workshop's only theme park partner in the U.S., and calls for at least one new Sesame Place park to open by mid-2021.  The location of this park has not yet been disclosed, but more parks are on the table for the future as well.

It was also mentioned in the press release that SeaWorld Orlando will build a new Sesame Street themed land at the park by fall 2022.  To me, it sounds like the dates given for the new park and new land are deadlines, so it's not to say that they will not open earlier.

Sesame Place in Pennsylvania © Google Maps
"We share Sesame's goal of educating and entertaining generations of children, and the extension of our partnership furthers SeaWorld's mission to provide guests with experiences that matter," said Joel Manby, President and Chief Executive Officer of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. "We are thrilled to be able to grow the presence of Sesame Place theme parks in the U.S. and help our company diversify its brand portfolio and expand into new areas." 

As for just where the new park is going, and how extensive the addition at SeaWorld Orlando will be, the Orlando Sentinel has some great hints on both. 

At SeaWorld Orlando it sounds like the Sesame Street land will replace Shamu's Happy Harbor, and will be designed to be more immersive than the lands that went into the two Busch Gardens parks.  The article quotes Mr. Manby as saying there will be Sesame Street itself to walk down, rides, a parade and more.  Honestly, aside from the water slides that just described the existing Sesame Place pretty well!

© Sesame Place
The new park is not going to Orlando, that seems for sure from the story.  Mr. Manby says that there are existing markets in the U.S. that are under served for preschool entertainment, and they will be easier and cost less to build than in the Orlando market.  

My first thought was to give it another go in Texas, as a Sesame Place existed there for only two years starting in 1982.  I'm not sure if the company has enough free land adjacent to SeaWorld San Antonio, but own the land for a new park certainly helps take a bit out of the budget!  Time will tell on this one.