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Review of Sesame Street Live! Make Your Magic

In this post we review Sesame Street Live! Make Your Magic. We had the opportunity to see the show in Rosemont, Illinois while visiting Chicago for the 2022 Chicago Marathon. We’ll cover the show itself, along with the pre-show Elmo Meet & Greet, booking information, and anything else you need to know to decide if this show is right for you. Read on to learn all about Sesame Street Live!

About Sesame Street Live

Sesame Street Live is a touring show featuring your favorite Sesame Street characters in an hour-long stage performance. The precise story for the show varies. For this post we saw “Make your Magic,” the only version currently being performed. The exact show shouldn’t matter much, presumably they’re all the same basic song and dance structure. I wouldn’t worry about accidentally wandering into Phantom of the Opera.

The official website is here. You’ll find the schedule of shows there, along with links to purchase tickets (I believe always through Ticketmaster).

Booking Sesame Street Live

We bought tickets a few weeks ahead of time, opting for relatively expensive seats in the 6th row for $75 per person (you can guess why this wound up being a mistake, as I’ll discuss later). Precise details will vary, but you should expect that everyone in your party needs a ticket (exceptions may exist for, say, newborns, but since this is a show for kids you should expect a strict, young age cutoff). Looking at a random upcoming show, tickets vary from $20 to $95.

There are usually several add-ons available for purchase. Primarily, these are souvenirs you could just buy at the show, and prices don’t seem to be lower ahead of time.

The big add on is the pre-show Elmo Meet and Greet. We’ll cover this in depth later, but this is essentially a chance to meet and take photos with Elmo and two other Sesame Street Characters. We paid $50 per person for this, but prices may vary.

Arrival and Check In

For the meet and greet, we were told to arrive “at least 60 minutes” prior to the start of the show, which meant arriving at 9:30AM for the 10:30AM scheduled show. We arrived at Rosemont Theater at 9:20AM and were some of the first people there.

Altogether we had 6 tickets (3 for the show, 3 for the pre-show meet and greet), they somehow appeared as 9 on my phone. There was a dedicated set of scanners for the meet and greet. After our tickets were scanned we were each given a red ticket sticker and told to listen up for the announcement to enter the theater in about ten minutes.

We walked around a bit and scoped out the souvenirs. This would have been a great time to buy any souvenirs, as there were no lines. Right around 9:30 AM we were called into the theater.

Pre-Show Meet and Greet

We knew from our frequent Disney World visits that Zoe was hit or miss (but mostly miss) with costume characters. Nonetheless, we thought that it was at least worth trying the Sesame Street greetings.

The meet and greet was very well organized. We walked down to the front rows of seats, where (with a small bit of performance) we were told we’d be called up to the greetings by the color of our ticket (so, blue went first) while the other two groups were given a scavenger hunt around the theater.

The scavenger hunt was pretty easy, even our two-year-old was able to enjoy bits of it. Our group was called to get in line for the characters at 9:45 AM, and we were done with our greetings at 9:53 AM. About half that time was in line, the other half was meeting the characters.

Meeting Elmo and Friends

The staff were very helpful with the greetings. They took pictures for us and told the characters Zoe was a bit nervous. My go-to approach for these is to give the staff Emily’s phone for pictures—they mostly just take the posed pictures. I keep my phone to take candid shots of Emily and Zoe before hopping in for the posed picture.

You get to meet three characters—Elmo and two friends. For our visit, these two friends were Abby and Cookie Monster. With three characters you get a little time to adjust to the idea, but it didn’t really matter for our little one. Zoe was at least not actively scared of Abby, but the other two were a little much.

To my surprise, the pre-show event wrapped up swiftly at 10 AM. Everyone had finished their greetings, but I was pretty happy to have not run late or mistakenly thought we’d have the full hour. Even some of the scavenger hunt items started coming down at 10 AM. (To be clear, the event details advertise it as a 30 minute experience, so we had plenty of notice.)

I didn’t expect much more—even the scavenger hunt was a nice extra—but basically this boils down to $50 per person for the chance to meet three characters. Since at least one parent is going to go to this with the kid, that’s $100 minimum.

Now, I can’t say it isn’t worth it, particularly if your kid isn’t terrified. But I would point out that $100, or more likely $150 or $200 for most families, can buy a lot of souvenirs from the show. As much as I’d like the think I’m a minimalist, I love buying Zoe junk that makes them smile.

Hindsight is 20/20, but since the greetings didn’t go particularly well, it’s easy  for me to say I wish I’d spent even just $50 on souvenirs instead.

Other Pre-Show Activities

After the end of the pre-show the theater opened for guests to find their seats. We theoretically had time for souvenir shopping. Sadly, though, lines had gotten really long. We decided just to find a spot to sit down and have a snack before the show.

Besides souvenir shopping, there are a few other options for your time before the show. First, there were one or two green screen photo opportunities. Here’s a look at one, where you’d pay around $30 (varies by exact package) for a photo of your kid with cutout Elmo and Abby. I sort of wish we’d tried this just to see if Zoe actually enjoyed inanimate-but-properly-sized Elmo more than gigantic Elmo.

Second, Maya Monster does a bit of performing from the information booth. You can see a video (not from our visit) here. Maya Monster does not seem to be a particularly prolific character, but I sort of wish Zoe was just obsessed with her so we could have replaced our pre-show meet and greet with her show.

Moreover, it seemed like the Maya show was wrapping up as we finished our pre-show meet and greet, which was a little disappointing. This sort of adds to my hesitant feelings on the pre-show.

And finally, this is a fine time to talk about concessions. There was a decent variety at this performance, but your options will obviously vary by your theater. I was a bit surprised to see beer available, though I couldn’t bring myself to partake. I bought concessions twice—nachos before the show ($6) and candy during intermission ($4)—both with next to no wait.

Sesame Street Live! Performance

The show itself is actually only about an hour long. There’s a 15-minute intermission about 30 minutes in. This makes for a total experience time of about 1 hour 15 minutes. A total of 90 minutes, depending on the exact flow of some scenes and intermission timing is reasonable to plan for.

I don’t really see the need to go too much into the details of the show itself. It’s a collection of song and dance numbers centered around the story of Elmo preparing for a magic show. It is, as the title suggests, Sesame Street, live on stage.

We were a bit disappointed that one of Zoe’s favorite segments—Letter of the Day—didn’t make an appearance, though we did get Number of the Day.

As for the experience, I think I made a bit of a rookie parent mistake here. I opted for fairly expensive tickets—$75 per person for row F—that were close enough to ensure Zoe was absolutely overwhelmed for the first 15 minutes of the show. They eventually came around (with the assistance of some candy), but it was a small battle most of the show.

In hindsight I’d pick seats much farther back. I’d maybe even pick the balcony since there were Sesame Street binoculars for sale, too.

After the Show

The souvenir stands were still open after the show, and we took the chance to buy Zoe one of these spinny light up toys. We paid $35+tax for it. That’s a bit much relative to some of the other items, so maybe I shouldn’t have let the 2 year old pick their own gift.

Sesame Street Live! Conclusions

Overall, I definitely thought Sesame Street Live on Stage was worth it. There simply aren’t that many opportunities for a small child to see a live stage show at this scale. The performance was exactly what we expected, which is fun enough. I wish I’d gotten the farther seats, but that’s just a lesson learned.

The pre-show meet and greet was probably not worth it. The biggest issue here isn’t the cost alone. It’s that you could put together a nice package of pre-show fun—photo opportunity, souvenirs, watching Maya Monster—for less than the price of the meet and greet (and the souvenirs will entertain your little ones for minutes, if not hours(!) after you get home).

I’ll try and book Sesame Street Live on Stage when Zoe is closer to 4 years old. At that age, maybe they’ll have more of an appreciation for the whole thing. Regardless, I’d say that even at 2 it was an experience worth having.