The long: In summer, Sesame Place is an open-daily water park with Elmo-Abby-Big Bird parades and performances, and 12-ish boardwalk-style rides. Winter weekends and after Christmas, the water's off. Decorations are up. Plays, parades and rides are main attractions. Tickets are cheaper. Lines ensue.

The short: Bucket list for serious TV-show watchers.

The crowd: Best suited to ages 3 to 7.

One surprise: SeaWorld runs things.

Another surprise: Lotsa Jets fans.

The staff: Calm and friendly in the face of hell-bent stroller rollers.

Don't miss: Twice-daily parade is best chance to see all characters at once. Stake out sidewalk space early. Like, 45 minutes early. (Parades at 4 and 8 p.m.)

Skip: Rides with giant lines - during a recent visit, the wait for the "Furry Express" train was an hour - unless, that is, you . . .

Splurge on: "Abby's Magical Christmas Queue," $15-per-person pass that lets you cut most rides' lines once.

Refreshments: Chicken tenders, hot dogs, french fries, Starbucks. Better company than cuisine at reserve-ahead character dinners ($15-$25).

Souvenirs: Elmos in all shapes and sizes.

Open: 1-8 p.m. Saturday, Sunday, Dec. 13, 14, 20, 21, 26-30; 1-6 p.m. Dec. 31.

Closed: Jan. 1-Apr. 1.

Moment to yourself: Fuggedaboudit.

The basics: 100 Sesame Road, Langhorne, $29 at gate, $24 online (under 23 months free), 866-GO4-ELMO, sesameplace.com.

If you SEPTA: West Trenton Line to No. 14 or 129 bus.

If you drive: About 30 minutes from Center City. Parking is $17.

Lauren McCutcheon is a features reporter and parent to one discerning toddler.