Busch Gardens is finishing construction and paving the way for a street named Sesame.
The park offered a glimpse of progress this week during a hardhat tour for the press.
The trees aren’t in the ground but the newest attraction, the Sesame Street Forest of Fun, will open as planned on Apr. 3 between England and the Escape from Pompeii ride.
Dozens of workers are scrambling to finish the project as they add roofs, color and paths to the newest “KIDsiderate” area.
“The hardest part is coordinating construction. It’s a balancing act to keep it all running and getting everything done on time,” says the park’s vice president of design and engineering Larry Giles.
The Forest of Fun will open in two phases.
When the park opens on March 28 families can dine with Elmo and meet the Sesame Street cast over breakfast or lunch at an indoor dining room.
They can also watch a 4-D movie called “Sesame Street presents Lights, Camera, Imagination” at the Globe Theatre in England. The 900-seat theatre will be taken over by Elmo, Cookie Monster, Big Bird and the rest of the gang as they try to save the Sesame Street Film Festival. The audience will be immersed in sights, sounds and sensory surprises – things for which past shows at the Globe have been known.
Then on Apr. 3 the rest of the attraction will open for the season.
The whole idea behind the forest is parents and their children can play together, says Giles.
Four new rides are featured in the forest, including Grover’s Alpine Express – a small, pink and green roller coaster designed for parents and children. Prince Elmo’s Spire, what’s known as a “shot-n-drop,” lifts the family straight up into the air and drops them safely back to earth.
Oscar’s Whirly Worms, a “rock-n-tug” ride, and Bert and Ernie’s Loch Adventure, a flume ride, are also in final stages.
Elmo’s Castle has a performance stage on one side and a “wet playground,” a play area with fountains, on the other. For those who want to avoid water there’s a dry playground called Oscar’s Yucky Forest.
Families can also get their picture taken with the characters at the new “1-2-3 Smile with Me” photography studio.
The stage, roller coaster and castle are just about finished. Once they are, the landscaping crew will begin working.
“The landscape people have a magic wand. They’ll come in and get it together real quick,” says Giles.
Giles says he and his designers have been working on the forest since Griffon opened in spring 2007 – more than a year before the park announced the Sesame Street addition. Asked what was next, Giles said he’d have to bite his tongue.