Journey to Ernie is a recurring Sesame Street segment which focuses on Big Bird's hide-and-seek game with Ernie. It premiered in Season 33 and features the Muppet characters interacting with computer-animated backdrops.
In the original format, Ernie hid inside a box with a striped pattern similar to that of his shirt and a rubber ducky. Big Bird had to locate Ernie's box, a task he usually accomplished after finding two other, similar boxes which did not contain Ernie. Big Bird's discovery of an incorrect box triggered a non-Ernie sketch or film while the revelation of the correct box launched a segment prominently featuring Ernie.
In season 34, the format was changed. The segments began with Ernie interrupting Big Bird's normal routine with a challenge to play the game. The animated environments in the new format are more fully realized than in the previous incarnation of the segment and Ernie no longer hides in a box. Big Bird now searches based on clues from Ernie, and the Two-Headed Monster appears regularly to offer some not-so-helpful advice. The new format also featured a closing song sung by Big Bird and Ernie at the end of every segment.
"Journey to Ernie" started to appear less frequently in season 36 and was dropped the following season. According to the book Sesame Street: A Celebration - 40 Years of Life on the Street,
“"It was very popular, especially among the younger children," [Dr.] Rosemarie [Truglio] says. "They loved the game of hide and seek." But however popular the segment was, writers and the producers felt it wasn't 'Sesame' enough, and wasn't a comfortable fit. The look and feel of the animation was too similar to other shows on the television schedule and, while funny, it didn't mesh with the whole show.”
Matt Vogel performed Big Bird in all "Journey to Ernie" segments.
Sequences from the Original Format (2002)
All of these sequences were repeated in other Journey to Ernie sketches during season 33, in different sequence orders. With the exceptions of the introduction and closing, each sequence ended with Big Bird finding Ernie. These parts were edited from sketches that showed these sequences as the first and second sequences.
|Picture||Location / First Appearance||Description|
|Park||Introduction of Journey to Ernie.|
|Outer Space||Big Bird is in Outer Space, asking a Martian for help.|
|Antarctica||Big Bird follows a penguin pattern at a snowy location.|
|The Disco||Big Bird looks for Ernie at a disco.|
|Supermarket||Big Bird searches at the supermarket.|
|Circus||Big Bird walks the tight rope at a circus.|
|Dinosaur Land||Big Bird asks a dinosaur for help.|
|Chicken House||Big Bird talks to chickens.|
|Vortex||Big Bird looks for Ernie's box by repeating a clapping pattern.|
|The Farm||Big Bird looks for Ernie's box by singing Old MacDonald Had a Farm with the Three Little Pigs.|
|Picture||Location / First||Description|
|Musical Instrument Land|| Big Bird looks for Ernie in a land that is filled with musical instruments, many of which play "Rubber Duckie."
|Barnyard||Big Bird looks for Ernie at a barnyard by asking questions to the animals there.|
|Jungle|| Big Bird looks for Ernie in the jungle.
|Beach||Big Bird looks for Ernie at the beach.|
|Shape Land||Big Bird hunts for Ernie in a land full of floating geometric shapes. Telly Monster appears hanging out in his favorite shape: a triangle.|
|Rubber Duckie Land||Big Bird goes to a land filled with Rubber Duckies.|
|Nursery Rhyme Land|| Big Bird meets characters from nursery rhymes.
|Journey to Big Bird|| Ernie and Big Bird switch places and Ernie looks for Big Bird at a circus.
|Beanstalk|| Big Bird climbs a beanstalk.
|One of These Things|| Big Bird looks for Ernie in a land full of animated boards for the classic song/game. Here, he learns that sometimes more than one answer is right.
|Dancing Land||Ernie hides in a land full of dancing creatures, plants, and other natural objects; even the sun dances in the sky there.|
|Playground||If Big Bird finds something that rhymes with the words that he saw written in chalk on the pavement, he will find Ernie.|
|Chilly, Icy Snowyville||Big Bird looks for Ernie in the snowy land.|
|Transportation Land||Ernie hides in a land full of transportation vehicles and other things to ride on.|
|Dinosaur Age|| Big Bird goes to the land of dinosaurs.
|The Letter B Museum||Ernie hides in a museum where all the exhibits have names beginning with B. Bob makes a cameo appearance in this one--not as an exhibit, but as a visitor on his way home.|
|Journey to Bert||Bert replaces Ernie in the game, and Big Bird looks for Bert in a place where there is a lot of food.|