ORLANDO, Fla. >> SeaWorld Orlando’s Sesame Street land will open in spring 2019, the company has announced.
For the first time at SeaWorld Orlando, the park will have a daily parade that features Elmo and other characters. Children can visit recreated sets from the popular television show, including Mr. Hooper’s store, Big Bird’s nest and 123 stoop, as well as wet and dry play areas and go on rides.
“We are excited to transport our guests into the colorful and creative world of Sesame Street through immersive theming, character interactions and interactive play,” SeaWorld Orlando President Jim Dean said in a statement.
The company declined to provide cost estimates for the 6-acre land, an overhaul of Shamu’s Happy Harbor play area on the south end of the park.
The expansion makes sense, especially since “Shamu is not the face of the company anymore,” said Dennis Speigel, president of the Ohio-based International Theme Park Services consulting company.
It will likely go over well with investors, although it’s too early to know what effect Cookie Monster & Co. will have on attendance, he said.
In 2017, the company’s park attendance fell to 20.8 million, a 5.5 percent drop from 2016, the Orlando-based SeaWorld Entertainment reported in February. Last year SeaWorld eliminated 350 positions — many in Orlando — in its efforts to hit $40 million in net savings through 2018.
The opening of Sesame Street land will come amid formidable competition at Orlando’s theme parks that features a lineup of new attractions unprecedented historically, Speigel said.
Walt Disney World will open Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge sometime in 2019 at Hollywood Studios, and Universal Orlando Resort is planning to build a Nintendo- themed attraction in Orlando, although no opening date has been revealed.