Sunday, May 31, 2009

Virginia is for [Sesame Street] Lovers!

Recently I was invited to take a tour of the newest addition to Busch Gardens, Williamsburg:
Sesame Street Forest of Fun!
It was really interesting to step into another world of Sesame Street after having worked with Sesame Place and Sesame Street Live.  The characters are built by a company called Animax and as you can see here, they differ from the VEE built characters (used in Sesame Street Live).

As a performer I'm not really sure how much I'm allowed to divulge... but, what the hey!  The biggest differences between Animax and VEE Costumes is in the materials used.  Especially with this particular set of Animax builds, they opted for a much more lightweight approach using high density foam instead of the rigid plastic molded heads we use on tour.  This is completely understandable, as the workload in the park is not nearly as demanding as a ten-month rigorous run of a high-energy dance show.

Other inner workings were different as well, such as the mechs and the performer's bracing within the character heads... both of which are kind of hard to explain in words...

The biggest hazard of working outdoors (regarding costume integrity) concerns fading colors due to exposure to the sun.  It was most noticeable on Abby Cadabby - whose hair, dress, and especially her fur bore stark differences when viewing their respective undersides.

Not all the characters made an appearance that day, but in addition to Elmo, Abby, Zoe, Cookie Monster, and Grover, the park also has opportunities to meet Bert and Ernie, Big Bird, Count Von Count, and Oscar (sadly no Telly).  Along with the characters, some familiar attractions from Sesame Place also seem to have been altered for this Sesame outlet including "123 Smile With Me", and an upgraded version of the character dining experience.

As part of the Busch Gardens "KIDsiderate" initiative, there are also some very cute, family-friendly rides and play areas.  For a complete list of attractions in the Forest of Fun via a nifty fact sheet, click here!

Overall, I think it is a cute little addition to the Busch Gardens theme park... although I'm not sure why they nestled it into England.  

PS - I loved the bathroom signs...