A grouchy ride

Cake Boss and 6ABC anchors helped Sesame Place celebrate the grand opening of Oscar’s Wacky Taxi

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

It’s here: Sesame Place unveiled its all-new Oscar’s Wacky Taxi during a special grand opening ceremony, which featured an appearance from everyone’s favorite grouch. Samantha Bambino / Times Photo

As he emerged from his trash can haven, the cynical, unibrowed Oscar the Grouch took in the sight of Oscar’s Wacky Taxi, Sesame Place’s all-new roller coaster named after everyone’s favorite green monster.

“That piece of junk?” he asked in disbelief.

This wasn’t the response onlooking park-goers were expecting, but hey, when you’re dealing with a grouch, what else can you expect? Oscar may not have been thrilled with his namesake ride, but the excitement of families and staff was palpable on June 1 when the Sesame Street-inspired theme park hosted a grand opening ceremony for its highly-anticipated coaster.

Oscar’s Wacky Taxi is Sesame Place’s first wooden-steel hybrid coaster, one of the largest new attractions in the park’s 37-year history. Featuring a bright yellow, taxi-cab inspired train with Oscar at the helm, the coaster sends pint-sized thrill seekers and their families soaring down an exhilarating first drop of 40 feet. The ride travels through more than 1,200 feet of track with exciting twists and turns, which are sure to delight even the grouchiest of riders.

The grand opening festivities kicked off at 11 a.m. as dozens of Sesame Place visitors flocked to the stage set up in front of the ride. To hype up the crowd (and take their minds off the brutal humidity), one of Oscar’s bubbly “trashmen” ran on stage asking, “Who here loves roller coasters?”

After a resounding “me” from nearly every child present, he introduced a few special guests from 6ABC — news anchors Adam Joseph, Alicia Vitarelli, Ducis Rodgers and Nydia Han.

“I’m feeling very trashy today,” Rodgers told the crowd.

The four were divided into teams of two for the “small, fun, sloppy competition,” Oscar’s Trash and Dash. Whichever team sorted the most trash in an allotted amount of time would receive a $2,000 check for a charity of its choice.

Sloppy fun: 6ABC news anchors Adam Joseph, Alicia Vitarelli, Ducis Rodgers and Nydia Han competed in Oscar’s Trash and Dash, with the team of Joseph and Vitarelli coming out victorious. They earned $2,000 for Cradles to Crayons. Samantha Bambino / Times Photo

It was Joseph and Vitarelli versus Rodgers and Han, and though it came down to the wire, Joseph and Vitarelli were victorious. The two were awarded $2,000 for Cradles to Crayons, with their competitors receiving a slightly lesser amount for the American Red Cross. In true “trashy” fashion, all were doused in silly string as they exited the stage taking selfies.

Next, park president Cathy Valeriano told attendees more about Oscar’s Wacky Taxi, Sesame Place’s second roller coaster. The ride joins Super Grover’s Vapor Trail, the park’s first mechanical ride, which is celebrating its 20th birthday this year.

But Valeriano stressed the Vapor Trail wasn’t the only thing deserving of a celebration — June 1 happened to be Oscar’s birthday. The crowd cheered as the monster of honor unwittingly popped his head out of his trash can. Needless to say, he wasn’t in the mood for party guests.

“Go home and come back another year,” he told everyone.

But even this grouchiest of grouches changed his tune when Buddy Valastro of TLC’s Cake Boss appeared, bearing a lifesize cake replica of him and his beloved trash can.

Sweet treat: Alongside park president Cathy Valeriano, Buddy Valastro of TLC’s Cake Boss made a special appearance, bringing a lifesize Oscar cake to celebrate the grouch’s birthday. Samantha Bambino / Times Photo

“I hope it’s not edible,” Oscar said.

Valastro explained to Valeriano how honored he felt to create the masterpiece. Growing up, Sesame Street was one of his favorite shows and he made sure that tradition continued when he had kids of his own.

“It’s an American treasure,” he said of the show.

After a rousing rendition of “Happy Grouchy Birthday,” a ceremonial ribbon was cut by Caroll Spinney, who portrays Oscar and Big Bird on Sesame Street. Finally, Oscar’s Wacky Taxi was declared open to the public.

Sesame Place is located at 100 Sesame Road in Langhorne. For more information, visit sesameplace.com or call 1–215–752-ELMO. Oscar’s Wacky Taxi has a 40-inch rider height requirement (with a supervising companion) or 46-inch height requirement for single riders.

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com