Allegation Of Racist Theme Park Character Interaction Sparks Outrage

in Theme Parks

Two girls reach out for Rosita during a parade at Sesame Place, but she waves them away.

Sesame Place outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is the East Coast’s only Amusement Park themed after the beloved Sesame Street crew. The children’s Theme Park boasts another location in San Diego, California, and a Sesame Street-themed land at SeaWorld Orlando.

Character interactions at Sesame Place
Credit: Sesame Place

Pennsylvania’s Sesame Place is home to a dining experience with Elmo and Friends, over 15 family-friendly rides, a water Park, and entertainment featuring your favorite Sesame Workshop characters.

Related: Oscar the Grouch wooden coaster ride vehicle unveiled for Sesame Place at IAAPA 2017

The Park has come under fire recently for hidden price increases and now finds itself embroiled in another controversy. A mother shared a video of her two Black daughters watching a parade at Sesame Place, hoping for a hug from Rosita:

#BabyPaige & her cute lil friends went to@SesamePlace this weekend to celebrate Paige’s 4th birthday & this is how #SesamePlace treated these beautiful Black children. I’m HOT.

Rosita shakes her finger at them and runs away after giving high fives to everyone else in line. The girls are wearing Sesame Street backpacks and appear confused and sad when Rosita dismisses them.

Sesame Place San Diego entrance
Credit: Sesame Place San Diego

@TheShadeRoom on Twitter obtained screenshots of the mother’s original Instagram post, which further explains what happened:

According to the mom the character blatantly told the kids “No” and proceeded to hug the white child next to them. Sesame Place has since reached out to the mother to hopefully resolve the issue.

In the screenshots, the mother explains that another Sesame Place employee scolded the girls for reaching for Rosita. Still, she hugged the white children next to them immediately after the mother stopped filming.

A supervisor at Sesame Place reportedly refused to help the family, but Sesame Place’s social media team reached out to the mother on Instagram after the video went viral.

Sesame Place in San Diego California
Credit: Sesame Place

“Please believe I will not be quiet about this blatant disrespect to my babies. @sesameplace trust me I’m not done yet,” she wrote.

This incident sparked outrage on social media. Multiple videos of Rosita gleefully interacting with white children but ignoring young Black children resurfaced, causing fans to demand change from Sesame Place:

So apparently the Sesame Place has a history of ignoring black kids… Here’s a thread of the proof.

Sesame Place Philadelphia issued the following statement:

Our brand, our park and our employees stand for inclusivity and equality in all forms. That is what Sesame Place is all about and we do not tolerate any behaviors in our parks that are contrary to that commitment. We also are, and have always been, committed to making sure every family and every child has the best possible experience at our parks and we are incredibly disappointed when that does not happen. Regarding the incident yesterday, the costumes our performers wear sometimes make it difficult to see at lower levels and sometimes our performers miss hug requests from guests. 

The performer portraying the Rosita character has confirmed that the ‘no’ hand gesture seen several times in the video was not directed to any specific person, rather it was a response to multiple requests from someone in the crowd who asked Rosita to hold their child for a photo which is not permitted. The Rosita performer did not intentionally ignore the girls and is devastated about the misunderstanding. We spoke to the family and extended our apologies and invited them back for a special meet-and-greet opportunity with our characters. We apologize to these guests for not delivering the experience they expected and we commit to do our best to earn their and all guests’ visit and support. 

Cookies sometimes anytime FoodMarket at sesame place philadelphia
Credit: Sesame Place

Spectrum News 13 Theme Park journalist Ashley Carter shared the statement and criticized Sesame Place for not addressing the multiple videos showcasing discrimination against certain children:

I try not to react to things before I get more information. But more videos have surfaced showing how @SesamePlace characters interact w/ certain children, and it’s clear that the park should take a closer look at this and do more than issue statements like this:

Sesame Place has not issued any further comments on the allegations of racism at their Theme Parks.

Inside the Magic will report on any updates in this developing story from Sesame Place. 


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