On top of a whole lot of Sesame Street-themed rides, parades, and shows, guests will have access to a variety of autism-inclusive attractions and amenities, like quiet rooms, noise-cancelling headphones, low sensory areas to unwind, and low sensory parade viewing. Not to mention, the trained staff members will be available to make attendees feel comfortable and cared for.
Sesame Place also makes a plethora of planning resources available online, such as travel information, a Ride Accessibility Program, a sensory guide, and more, so that families can make the most of their time at the park by determining which activities work best with their child’s individual needs.
In addition to receiving a comprehensive autism competency exam, staff members are trained in the areas of sensory awareness and environment, along with communication, motor and social skills, program development, and emotional awareness.
“Sesame Place is better equipped to offer families inclusive activities for children with autism and other special needs.”
To maintain certification, the park must re-administer the autism training to staff members every two years and is responsible for ensuring team members have all the skills and knowledge necessary to interact with families and children who have autism or other intellectual disabilities.
“As the first theme park in the world to complete the training and become a CAC, Sesame Place is better equipped to offer families inclusive activities for children with autism and other special needs,” Sesame Place park president Cathy Valeriano said in a statement.
The park’s certification follows a series of recent notable efforts by Sesame Workshop that aimed to raise awareness and deepen people’s understanding of autism, such as the 2015 Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children initiative.
In 2017, Sesame Street introduced Julia, the first autistic Muppet, as a regular member to the series cast. She has since worked to inspire inclusivity and provide viewers with a breadth of new educational resources about autism.
Sesame Place is currently working to develop programs that give people the opportunity to meet and connect with Julia.
“Since her debut, Sesame Street’s Julia has touched the lives of millions of children and families around the world and we’re proud that partners like Sesame Place are committed to providing autism-friendly experiences,” Scott Chambers, Senior VP General Manager, North America Media and Licensing at Sesame Workshop, said in a statement.
Though Sesame Place is a reassuring step in the right direction, the theme park industry still has a lot of work to do. Back in 2017, an incredible, fully wheelchair-accessible water parkcalled Morgan’s Inspiration Island was designed to accommodate people with mobility-related disabilities, but the world remains in need of more inclusive theme park access to people with disabilities, both physical and intellectual.
Sesame Place hopes this Pennsylvania park will help pave the way for future inclusion.
“Sesame Place is honored to be leading the theme park industry through our commitment to making our facility friendly for families with children on the spectrum,” Valeriano said. “We’re dedicated to providing all of our guests with an exceptional and memorable experience. We look forward to applying this training and expanding our commitment to help spread awareness about autism.”
The park officially opens on April 28 at 10 a.m., but you can purchase tickets online now.