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SeaWorld's Bay of Play set to wow kids May 24

Bright colors, fun characters and themed rides are coming together at SeaWorld to create the new Sesame Street Bay of Play, a whimsical new play area for children.

The Bay of Play is full of pink, teal, yellow and green and is part of an ongoing 30-year relationship between Sesame Street and the Busch Entertainment Corp., which operates the SeaWorld parks as well as Sesame Place, just outside of Philadelphia.

The Bay of Play is scheduled to open Memorial Day weekend. It replaces Shamu’s Happy Harbor as the children’s fun area. Kids and kids at heart can explore the play area complete with a ship bigger than many sea-faring boats and enjoy the three new rides. Sesame Street characters will also be appearing throughout the day to meet and play with children visiting the park.

As both Sesame Street and SeaWorld are about education, Doug Minerd, SeaWorld’s vice president of entertainment, said the Bay of Play is a good fit.

“It’s really more of a complement to what we already have,” said SeaWorld Communications Director Dave Koontz.

Education, not a tourism boost, was the reason SeaWorld San Diego decided to form a contract with Sesame Street, Koontz said. The contract is already being fulfilled through a breakfast at the park with Sesame Street characters, a 3-D movie, and a show titled Big Bird’s Beach Party that plays at the Pet’s Rule Stadium.

The enchanting Bay of Play is the final piece of the contract. Construction for the Bay started in August of last year. SeaWorld does not discuss the cost of their projects.

San Diego is the first SeaWorld site with a Sesame Street-themed park, but Minerd said that in the next three to five years, the parks in Orlando and San Antonio could follow suit.

The rides, some of which are interactive, are a first for SeaWorld, a place known for research, shows and sea life. The rides are tame and child-oriented, with no height restrictions -- if one can walk onto the ride, they are welcome to participate.

Abby’s Sea Star Spin is a 36-passenger ride that channels the twirling Alice in Wonderland teacup ride in Disneyland. In Abby Cadabby’s ride, participants sit in a sea star-themed cart and spin. They can spin the ride faster with a wheel in their cart.

In the Elmo’s Flying Fish ride, kids sit inside several species of fish -- catfish, dogfish, angelfish -- only these water creatures are literally smiling cats, dogs and angels with Elmo faces. Participants circle a statue of the ride’s famous namesake, Elmo, who is swimming in an air bubble wearing flowered swim trunks and a snorkel. Riders have a control in the ride to steer their fish up or down.

The third ride is Oscar’s Rocking Eel, a rock-and-spin adventure where participants sit in a Eel-themed car that slides up-and-down on a small, crescent-shaped track while completing 360-degree turns.

Overall, Koontz hopes the Bay of Play adds a new layer to the SeaWorld experience.

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