Sesame Place was the first theme park in the world to receive the distinction of Certified Autism Center™ by IBCCES in 2018
— Myron Pincomb, Board Chairman of IBCCES
• At the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions annual conference, Sesame Place participated in IBCCES’ press conference, “Overwhelming Data Shows Accessibility Matters”
• Pre-visit planning resources and sensory guides developed by IBCCES are available on the Sesame Place website for autistic and sensory-sensitive guests and other special needs
Sesame Place® Philadelphia, the first theme park in the U.S. based entirely on the award-winning show Sesame Street®, was the first theme park in the world to become a Certified Autism Center™ (CAC) as designated by the International Board of Credentialing and Continued Education Standards (IBCCES) in 2018. As of this year, Sesame Place Philadelphia has completed its first staff-wide recertification.
As a CAC, Sesame Place offers services and facilities for autistic and sensory-sensitive guests. Ongoing training for ambassadors is required to ensure they have the requisite knowledge, skills, temperament, and expertise to cater to guests of all abilities.
“Our mission is to always provide families with a quality experience and the opportunity to create one-of-a-kind memories together,” Cathy Valeriano, Park President of Sesame Place Philadelphia said. “This certification is not just a title, but an ongoing commitment to serve our community and families with special needs, and we are proud to partner with IBCCES to make that happen.”
IBCCES created programs specifically for travel and entertainment organizations, such as theme parks and other attractions, to ensure staff would be more knowledgeable and other accommodations could be offered to autistic and sensory-sensitive individuals, a growing but underserved part of the community. IBCCES’ training programs include information on understanding what autism is, strategies for communication, and best practices for enhancing the onsite experience, which requires 80% of all guest-facing staff to complete.
IBCCES is the only credentialing board offering these types of programs, which include training from subject matter experts and autistic self-advocates, as well as long-term support and continuous learning, onsite reviews, and more. IBCCES also created AutismTravel.com, a free online resource for parents that lists certified destinations and connects families to other resources and each other. Each destination listed on the site has met the CAC requirements.
“It is a privilege to work with partners such as Sesame Place Philadelphia Pennsylvania who are whole-heartedly committed to creating a safe and welcoming environment for all guests by focusing on ongoing training, resources and support for staff and park guests,” said IBCCES Board Chairman Myron Pincomb. “Our programs and accessibility tools help the park expand upon and enhance inclusive practices so that all families can have fun and make memories.”
Sesame Place and IBCCES announced the park’s recertification at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) conference on Wednesday as part of IBCCES’ press conference, “Overwhelming Data Shows Accessibility Matters.”
Sesame Place and IBCCES worked closely to have all of the park’s attractions, shows, parades, and restaurants audited on a sensory scale to create a branded Sensory Guide, which is available online and at Guest Relations and the Welcome Center at the park. Sesame Place is in the process of integrating these guides into all-new ride and attraction signage developed.
In 2021, Sesame Place also implemented the IBCCES Accessibility Card, which is intended to help individuals requesting special accommodations participate in the park’s Ride Accessibility Program. This is a free resource designed to match the individual abilities of guests to the requirements of each ride, providing guests with a personalized list of rides and attractions. Guests with physical disabilities, mobility restrictions, sensory sensitives, or other accommodation needs who would like to participate in the Ride Accessibility Program must enroll with IBCCES each year at www.accessibilitycard.org to receive a valid IBCCES Accessibility Card.
Sesame Place also offers the Special Access Pass, an accommodation that gives priority boarding on select attractions to guests who are unable to stand in line because of their physical or cognitive need.
Guests in need of quiet time and relief from sensory stimulation can utilize the park’s code-activated quiet room, which features comfortable seating and lowered lighting, and noise-canceling headphones provided for single-day use. The park also added a family restroom with an adult changing table, a designated space for low-sensory parade viewing, and limited character interactions at its character dining experience, Dine with Elmo & Friends.
In 2015, Sesame Workshop introduced Julia, a four-year-old Muppet with autism, as part of its Sesame Street and Autism: Seeing Amazing in All Children initiative. In 2017, Julia made her first appearance at Sesame Place Philadelphia as a walkaround character and is available for Meet-and-Greets on select days. Julia can also be spotted at Sesame Street Land in SeaWorld Orlando, another CAC. Recently, Sesame Place San Diego opened as a CAC in March 2022, with Julia appearing on select days.
Guests can find IBCCES’ sensory guides, information about the Ride Accessibility Program and other resources at https://sesameplace.com/philadelphia/help/autism-resources/.
The Best Way to Play
The best way to play at Sesame Place is with a 2023 Season Pass. Season Pass Members can enjoy unlimited visits and unbelievable benefits, including exclusive preview days and events, Early Ride Times and VIP Meet & Greets. Season Passes also include perks such as free parking, free friend tickets, discounted food and merchandise, and more bonuses throughout 2023. Perks vary based on the type of Season Pass purchased. For more information and to purchase Season Passes, guests can visit Guest Relations or http://sesameplace.com/philadelphia/season-pass.
Delivering The Global Standard for Training and Certification in The Field of Cognitive Disorders – IBCCES provides a series of certifications that empower professionals to be leaders in their field and improve the outcomes for the individuals they serve. These programs are recognized around the world as the leading benchmark for training and certification in the areas of autism and other cognitive disorders.