The Sesame Specialty – Sesame Street Educational Play Centers Will Resonate with Children in Seoul, South Korea

Sesame Street is such an obvious, natural theme for a children’s play center that it’s amazing such a place didn’t exist — until recently. Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit media and education organization behind the beloved PBS children’s television program, recently teamed up with AVECS, a South Korea experiential marketing company, to launch the world’s first Sesame Street Educational Play Center (EPC) in Seoul.
It is the first of what are expected to be many Sesame EPCs around the world, including four more in South Korea and eventual locations in the United States. The facilities will draw on Sesame Workshop’s five decades of experience producing educational programming that resonates with children globally.

Children in a science area photographed in March 2022 at Sesame Street Educational Play Center in Seoul, South Korea. The facility draws on Sesame Workshop’s five decades of experience producing educational programming. TM/© Sesame Workshop. All rights reserved. Photography courtesy of AVECS Creative Group. All rights reserved.

“These EPC attractions will bring Sesame Street to life in an immersive way, with a core of interactive play experiences and activity-based classes at every location,” said Jen Ahearn, vice president for Global Strategic Partnerships and Themed Entertainment at Sesame Workshop.
She cited research showing that children learn best through play as they engage cognitively, physically and socially with new and stimulating activities. “All of our programming is designed with Sesame Street’s whole child learning objective,” Ahearn noted. That means hands-on learning through immersive experiences, enhanced by Sesame Street’s beloved, familiar characters and scenery.

An overview of a stage area at Sesame Street Educational Play Center in Seoul, South Korea, in March 2022. All of the center’s programming is designed with Sesame Street’s whole child learning objective in mind. TM/© Sesame Workshop. All rights reserved. Photography courtesy of AVECS Creative Group. All rights reserved.

The Sesame EPC target demographic roughly mirrors that of its television audience: children from ages 1 through 7, accompanied by their parents or caregivers. EPCs may be located within shopping or entertainment complexes, as is the case with the first center in South Korea, but they may also be standalone facilities. In either case, “we might utilize Sesame Street’s iconic characters in our exterior design,” Ahearn noted.
Depending on the region, a Sesame EPC may range from about 7,500 to 25,000 square feet. Ahearn said costs and revenue projections will also vary according to both the model footprint and local market conditions, and declined to offer financial details of the projects underway. In highly urbanized South Korea, EPCs will scale slightly smaller — between 7,000 and 18,000 square feet.

A child drawing on a board in March 2022 at Sesame Street Educational Play Center in Seoul, South Korea. The center is expected to be the first of many such attractions around the world. TM/© Sesame Workshop. All rights reserved. Photography courtesy of AVECS Creative Group. All rights reserved.

Generations of children around the world have grown up with Sesame Street, the pioneering television show that debuted on American screens in 1969. From the beginning, Sesame Street programming combined kid-pleasing entertainment with explicitly educational content — emphasizing alphabet, vocabulary, numerical and cultural skills for the preschool set. As such, the brand appeals as much to parents as it does to children, who don’t even realize they’re learning as they sing along with Cookie Monster and Elmo.
Today, Sesame Workshop has a presence in 150 countries. Its programming — targeting children with fewer resources — is distributed through a range of media, formal education, and philanthropically funded, research-backed social impact programs. Ahearn said a hallmark of Sesame Workshop is its thoughtful adaptation to each community and culture where it has a presence.
In Korea, EPCs will feature special programming around the week of Lunar New Year and traditional holidays like Chuseok. “We’ve already found many opportunities to customize activities to Korean culture, incorporating local foods, music, and dance,” said Will DePippo, Asia Pacific Senior Director for Sesame Workshop, which is collaborating on the Korean EPC debut with AVECS.
The first Sesame Street EPC opened in March in the new LOTTE department store downtown in Gyeonggi Province. DePippo explained that Sesame Street has been a favorite for decades in South Korea, where it airs on a public broadcast station as well as on paid TV channels and a streaming platform.

Children in a cooking area at Sesame Street Educational Play Center in Seoul, South Korea, in March 2022. Research shows that children learn best through play. TM/© Sesame Workshop. All rights reserved. Photography courtesy of AVECS Creative Group. All rights reserved.

Ahearn said South Korea is only the first country for what Sesame Workshop envisions as a worldwide rollout of EPCs. “We are laser focused on opening our first EPC in the U.S. marketplace,” she said. “At the same time, we are seeking out new partnerships worldwide.”
South Korea was chosen for the launch in part because of Sesame’s confidence in AVECS, a 7-year-old Seoul company founded by Park Hong-bin and Son Boryeo. The firm specializes in brand experience design, with particular expertise melding iconic brands to memorable experiences in areas including luxury brands, entertainment, destination development, museum and exhibition planning, e-commerce and community-building public art projects.

Children looking at a book at Sesame Street Educational Play Center in Seoul, South Korea, photographed in March of 2022. Sesame Workshop and AVECS teamed to open the center. TM/© Sesame Workshop. All rights reserved. Photography courtesy of AVECS Creative Group. All rights reserved.

“AVECS shared our vision of creating a physical destination for playful learning, and they understood the value that Sesame Street could bring to the EPC business, with our strong heritage of educational content creation,” DePippo explained. “AVECS also had the contacts and capital to turn our vision into reality.” In addition funding the South Korean rollout, AVECs also leveraged its connections to LOTTE in order to secure what DePippo described as “an ideal location in a beautiful new mall.”
“We were impressed by the caliber of partners they’d worked with previously, including world class entertainment brands like Coldplay,” DePippo noted. He and the rest of the Sesame Workshop team also appreciated that AVECS board members had experience in the world of Korean education.
Ultimately, Jen Ahearn said, Sesame Street EPCs will be successful by providing “interactive, playful, and learning experiences that encourage children to connect and engage in their world.”

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