A Sesame Place theme park opened in Irving, Texas in 1982, but didn't find success, closing in 1984. Midway between Dallas and Fort Worth, the Busch Entertainment park was 7 acres, cost an estimated $10 million, and was targeted to children age 3-13. The park was located at 183 and Esters; its parking lot is now a Walmart Supercenter, the park itself is a dollar store.
In a contrast to its Pennsylvania counterpart, Texas' Sesame Place was mostly indoors. Like Tokyo Sesame Place, the park's entrance was Big Bird's head. Of note was a replica of 123 Sesame Street where an animatronic Big Bird head could be seen from behind the doors in his nest, while photo puppets of Grover, Bert, The Count and Prairie Dawn were in the windows. Right next door was a ball pit replica of Ernie's bathtub, with a figure of Ernie in the tub. There was also a rope course, flash shadow room and a maze.
Stormie Jones, the 6-year-old recipient of the first simultaneous heart and liver transplant, was visited by three walkaround characters from the park. She had wanted to visit a theme park, but wasn't deemed fit to do so. The heart transplant led to her eventual death in 1990. The Oak Ridge Boys music video for "Thank God For Kids" was filmed there, as was a segment of Jerry Haynes' local kids magazine format TV show Peppermint Place, which was syndicated in 108 US markets at one point.
Muenster Enterprise articles
The Muenster Enterprise, a local newspaper for Muenster, Texas and Cooke County, printed a special Focus section about Sesame Place in its May 13, 1983 edition. The section included two detailed articles describing the park's attractions, which are quoted in full below.
Children play safely 3 stories up
"Look at me!" is the most commonly heard cry from children as they go from one outdoor play activity to another at Sesame Place in Irving, Texas. This cry of delight in discovering new things and mastering new skills is what the Sesame Place experience is all about for families with children ages 3 to 13.
This year, families can also discover new live entertainment at Sesame Place as Bert and Ernie, popular Muppet characters, take up residence in the park along with another Muppet creation called "The Honker". Bert and Ernie will perform a song and dance show at regular intervals during the day in the outdoor play area near the "Nets and Climbs."
Both adults and children also will enjoy a new outdoor live animal show produced by Ray Berwick, who has trained animals for the movies for many years. The Sesame Place animals will include performing dogs, cats and birds.
The outdoor activities at Sesame Place draw on a variety of physical skills from climbing, jumping and sliding to crawling, gliding and spinning. And there are play things for children of different age and skill levels.
New in 1983 is the "Sesame 500", a specially created race track for "big wheel" type bikes. The three-wheeled vehicles travel a 500-foot course which includes hairpin turns and spin-out areas. Bikers on the four lanes of the Sesame 500 track take off when a flashing electronic starter similar to those found at most drag strips gives the "go" sign. The laps are electronically timed so that pedalers can try to beat their personal best times as well as their friends.
Activities that get kids wet continue to be the most popular with young Sesame Place visitors. Moms and dads are encouraged to pack a change of clothes and bring their children in swimsuits, especially during hot summer days. Favorites are the "Amazing Mumford's Water Maze", where children crawl through colorful metal chambers and net tubes as water sprays from all directions, and "Herry's Hands Over Water" where youngsters use a rope ladder with a series of rings to pull themselves across a water-covered surface.
Coming in June will be more water-oriented activities including a 120-foot-long "Zoom Flume" which has an ice-slick spongy vinyl surface sprayed with water. Sliders come out of the "Zoom Flume" tube into a spin-out basin made of the same super slick material, and drop another six feet into a splash pool at the bottom.
Next to the "Zoom Flume" will be the "Slippery Slope" which also opens in June. This wet slide has eight lanes and drops nine feet on a 45-foot course.
The Sesame Place Play Court, as the outdoor area is known, features more than 30 active play activities. One of the most popular "old favorites" is the "Count's Ballroom" which features a sea of 180,000 plastic colored balls on a waterbed type of surface. Children can hide in the balls, slink through them or bounce around in the slippery surface.
Climbing can be just as much fun as crawling and sliding. A slippery vinyl structure called "Cookie Mountain" invited kids to climb to the top and slide down. Cargo nets extending more than 50 feet above the Play Court also are made for climbing and cavorting while suspended in space.
Other challenges are presented by "Ernie's Bed Bounce," a giant vinyl air mattress-type surface. Made just for bouncing, jumping and flipping out, it makes walking and standing a challenge for anyone who ventures onto its wobbly surface.
Older children also are challenged by "Grover's Cable Glide" which this year swings them through a gully of spring-powered padded obstacles which they can kick aside as they make their crossing.
There also are a lot of activities for the preschool set including climbing through "Twiddlebug Tunnel," playing "Rubber Duckie Pond" and making things with giant building blocks at the "Sesame Construction Company."
Parents who don't wish to join in the active outdoor play with their children can still be a part of the experience as they watch all of the activities from a heavily landscaped shaded oasis where adult-style frozen juice bar drinks are served. Parents also can join in the play and try out the different equipment and activities with their children.
Big Bird features games plus
For today's kids, walking through the giant Big Bird entrance into Sesame Place's indoor play area is like Alice of fairy-tale fame finding herself in wonderland.
The first discovery is one of the largest collections of computer games under one roof. The Sesame Place Computer Gallery is one of several attractions in the 40,000 square-foot air-conditioned atrium which houses 50 specially designed stand-alone micro-computers with simplified keyboards that arrange letters in alphabetical order to make them easier for youngsters to use.
An innovative assortment of 60 games has been designed to challenge the skills of children of different age levels. Created for Sesame Place by Children's Computer Workshop, a subsidiary of Children's Television Workshop, the games invite players to solve puzzles, form patterns, make words and letters, create musical compositions and test hand-eye coordination.
For younger children, there are more simple games like "Mup-O-Matic" in which players guess the Muppet characters emerging on the screen. Older players are challenged by a game called "Lemonade," which demonstrates how to use the computer to solve the economical problems of running a profitable lemonade stand.
Visitors can purchase four plays for $1 and are assisted by trained Sesame Place employees who work with families and first-time users.
In addition to the Computer Gallery, there are a number of other indoor activities designed to challenge both the mind and the body.
New indoor attractions in 1983 are the "Sesame Dream Network", regular science demonstrations by the "zany professor", and the "Rainbow Room" which features a show of lights and two other new science exhibits.
In the "Sesame Dream Network," members of the audience become stars of their own TV production. A master storyteller weaves a plot and choreographs the park guests who play different roles. The performance, which incorporates prerecorded segments with the actions of the "actors" and "actresses" from the audience, is played live for all to see.
A 150-seat theater becomes the stage for a "zany professor" who demonstrates his version of scientific principles. When the professor is not entertaining visitors with his zany experiments, the theater provides a viewing area for families to watch specially produced Muppet videotapes only shown at Sesame Place.
The "Rainbow Room" is another new experience which combines fun and scientific principles. Families perform different motions before a screen and then see their actions projected in a rainbow of colored lights.
Two other new science exhibits also demonstrate the principles of light. "Foot Notes" allows visitors to "make music" by moving from one colored light to another as the light is beamed into the floor. As they step on colors, a sensing device is triggered which plays different tones.
"Everyone Is You and Me" is a new science activity which allows visitors to see their own features reflected on their partner's face. Partners sit on opposite sides of polarized glass. By slowly adjusting the light on the one-way mirror, they can create a special reflection. There also are many of the original indoor attractions which delight children and their parents as they make new discoveries about sight, sound and motion.
The Sesame Studio, a replica of the Sesame Street TV set, encourages active participation with video equipment used in TV productions, including cameras and a switcher station. Two cameras are in front of the set. One is in a fixed position overhead and the other is movable. Families can operate the movable camera and see themselves on TV via the closed-circuit system. At the switcher station, they can operate a control panel which selects and changes the picture image on the TV monitors.
Another favorite is the "Shadow Room." Youngsters pose against phosphorescent panels as a strobe light pulses on and off. Their image is left on the wall like a frozen shadow. Images also are reflected and refracted by the "Anti-Gravity Mirror" and "Teleidoscope Temple." Through different reflections, the "Anti-Gravity Mirror" lets children see themselves "floating" in air. The mirrors in the "Teleidoscope Remple" are placed at 60-degree angles with visitors standing in the center of the three-way reflection which makes their image appear to go into infinity.
Visitors also can see images they create turn into "motion pictures" by experimenting with the "Zoetrope." Children see how movies are made by looking at images of Oscar the Grouch being spun rapidly in a drum which turns still drawings into motion pictures. Youngsters can make their own drawings on a special picture strip, put them in the spinning drum and see the images blend into a moving picture.
The indoor play area also features slides and the "Crystal Climb," a clear maze-like structure for climbing, sliding and playing hide-and-seek.
The Sesame Place Food Factory also is housed inside the atrium and only serves foods that are good for you. This unusual family restaurant has an open kitchen which encourages children to watch fresh food being prepared. There is a two-way communication system so that children can ask questions about the food preparation.
Sesame Place also has added an indoor lounge for adults with comfortable seating and a big-screen television which plays cable sports programs. There also are two smaller TV monitors which offer news updates and the latest stock market information.
The atrium also is the location for Mr. Hooper's Store which features the largest collection of Sesame merchandise ranging from dolls and clothing to games, books and puzzles. The store encourages children to browse, hug the dolls, thumb through books and select their own merchandise placed at child level, not out of reach on a tall countertop.
The Sesame Place indoor atrium offers hours of fun for families on rainy days or when they are looking for a refreshing break from the active outdoor play activities.