Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch Take Root at Busch Gardens

While Kermit the Frog and his cohorts from “The Muppet Show” are featured prominently at Walt Disney World, they aren’t the only Jim Henson creations to be found in Central Florida. In addition to its wild roller coasters and exotic animal exhibits, Busch Gardens Tampa is also home to “Sesame Street Safari of Fun,” an entire corner of the park devoted to the ever-popular educational TV show. Young Muppet fans can always find their favorite furry friends here, along with plenty of kid-sized attractions, but during the spring, a little bit of “Sesame Street” greenery spills out into another section of the park. The popular “Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival”  combines food, concerts, and several topiary displays (much like another park’s springtime festival), and among the topiaries in the “Bird Gardens” area of the park are depictions of some of the most beloved “Sesame Street” Muppets.

Children and older fans alike should instantly recognize the above topiaries of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, who have both been a part of the long-running show from the very beginning. The sunny Big Bird and the surly Oscar may be polar opposites in terms of their personalities, but the pair does have something notable in common: Caroll Spinney. After being personally recruited by Jim Henson, Spinney has been the puppeteer behind both of these very different Muppets since their inscription in 1969. Now 83 years old, Caroll Spinney continues to portray his iconic characters in episodes of the 47th Season of “Sesame Street,” currently airing on HBO, for yet another generation of viewers to enjoy.

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