Sesame Place San Diego Becomes the First Theme Park in San Diego to Open as a Certified Autism Center™

Sesame Street Casts
  • Certification readied for April’s Autism Acceptance Month and opening of the new park
  • Hundreds of employees trained on sensory, environment and emotional awareness
  • On-site accommodations include designated quiet rooms and low sensory areas
  • Ride Sensory Guide provides insights on how a child with sensory processing issues may be affected by each sense for rides and attractions

Sesame Place® San Diego, the only theme park on the West Coast based entirely on the award-winning show Sesame Street, is now the first theme park in San Diego to open as a Certified Autism Center™ (CAC). The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) grants the CAC designation to organizations that complete staff-wide training and certification. Sesame Place San Diego also underwent an on-site review by IBCCES to provide additional insights and recommendations to enhance accessibility, including creating sensory guides for rides and attractions.

“Sesame Place is a theme park designed for families with kids of all ages to laugh, learn and play while making fun and memorable moments regardless of any special needs,” said Jim Lake, Sesame Place Park President. “This certification allows us to continue the legacy that Sesame Place Philadelphia began years ago becoming the first theme park in the world to be designated as a Certified Autism Center. IBCCES provided a detailed curriculum and exceptional support to help us train hundreds of employees with the tools needed to accommodate anyone in the autistic community.”

As a Certified Autism Center™, Sesame Place San Diego commits to ongoing training to ensure team members have the requisite knowledge, skills, temperament, and expertise to interact with all families and autistic individuals. Training focuses on sensory awareness, environment, communication, motor and social skills, program development, emotional awareness, and a comprehensive autism competency exam. The autism training must be taken every two years in order to maintain the certification.

“We’re honored to continue our work with Sesame Place San Diego and appreciate the team’s dedication to better understanding and welcoming autistic guests,” said Myron Pincomb, IBCCES Board Chairman. “Organizations like Sesame Place San Diego are critical to accomplishing our mission of inclusivity for all families, and they are helping lead the way as part of the movement across the nation and the world.”

Sensory GuideHelpful pre-visit planning resources are available on the park’s website, including a sensory guide developed by IBCCES. This sensory guide will make it easier for parents to plan activities that satisfy their child’s specific needs and accommodations by outlining the degree to which an attraction or ride may impact the five senses. The park also has two quiet rooms located near Sesame Souvenirs in the park. These rooms have adjustable lighting, and a comfortable seating area for guests to take a break. Guests who want to enjoy the daily Sesame Street Party Parade without direct character interaction such as hugs and high fives are encouraged to stand closest to where the parade begins, designated as the low sensory parade viewing area. 

Sesame Place’s certification aligns with Sesame Workshop’s commitment to increasing awareness and understanding of autism. Sesame Workshop launched the Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children initiative in 2015 which was developed to offer families ways to manage common challenges, to simplify everyday activities, and to grow connections from family, friends, and community. The initiative includes a robust collection of online tools and resources featuring Julia, a 4-year-old autistic Muppet, designed to help autistic children and their families.

JuliaJulia made her debut at Sesame Place San Diego on March 26, 2022 and is available for guest meet & greets and photos. “Through Julia and her family, we’re able to model everyday moments and interactions from an autistic child’s perspective and provide tools and strategies to families,” said Ed Wells, Executive Vice President and Head of Global Media and Education. ”We’re proud that partners like Sesame Place share that vision and are committed to providing accessible and memorable experiences.”

For more than 20 years, IBCCES has been the industry leader in autism certification for healthcare, education, and corporate professionals around the globe. IBCCES recognized that many families with autistic children or those with other sensory sensitivities may face challenges or hesitation when visiting a new attraction or destination. In response to this need, IBCCES created training and certification programs specifically for the hospitality and attractions. IBCCES is the only credentialing organization providing this type of certification, which includes evidence-based information as well as the perspectives of autistic individuals, alongside other tools and resources to ensure the program is a long-term commitment and has a lasting impact.

About Sesame Place San Diego

Sesame Place San Diego is the second theme park based on Sesame Street in the United States and the first on the West Coast. The park is ideal for families with kids of all ages and features 18 Sesame Street-themed rides and exciting water attractions, including a family-friendly rollercoaster and a 500,000-gallon wave pool – one of the largest in Southern California. The park also features an engaging musical play area, an interactive Sesame Street Neighborhood complete with the iconic 123 Stoop, daily live character shows, an award-winning parade, one-of-a-kind photo opportunities and of course, everyone’s favorite furry friends. Celebrate with family-friendly special events throughout the year including The Count’s Halloween Spooktacular and A Very Furry Christmas.

Learn More About Becoming A Certified Autism Center™

Fill out the form below to learn more about our CAC Program, which includes staff certifications, training options and center certification.

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