The Wiggles play pals stopped in at the Albany International Airport on Tuesday to prepare to make their new home at Wiggles World at the Great Escape. Wee fans were wowed and travelers were a little surprised.
Music by the Wiggles played in the background as Dorothy the Dinosaur, Wags the Dog and the others danced and greeted dozens of children and their parents and brightened up an overcast day outside.
This spring, the Great Escape will open Wiggles World, a themed children’s area based on the Wiggles, one of the most popular children’s entertainment groups in the world. The characters made a brief stop at the airport to meet some local children.
The airport spokesman clicked away on his camera, and even the security guards stopped to see what the ruckus was about near baggage claim.
Much to their surprise, it was a cast of Wiggles secondary characters: large, lumbering, colorful creatures that bounded through the airport including Dorothy the Dinosaur, Wags the Dog, Henry the Octopus and Captain Feathersword.
The secondary characters are as recognizable as the Wiggles themselves, and the children were entranced by them.
Great Escape public relations manager Diane O’Connor said the Wiggles and play pals appeal most to ages 6 months to 5 years. “Their popularity spans all ages,” she said.
The Wiggles have an exclusive arrangement with Six Flags to open Wiggles World at the Great Escape, and the new area will feature rides, shows and attractions for the entire family including the Big Red Car and the Big Red Plane rides. It will also have a Wiggles Gift shop and a restaurant called the Yummy Yummy Cafe.
The Wiggles cast of secondary characters will pose for photos with guests at the Great Escape and perform daily in the “Get Ready to Wiggle” show in the new Wiggles Theater.
On Tuesday, parents took photographs of their children next to Wags or Dorothy and children barely old enough to walk danced along with all the characters.
Christina Poleto got down on her knees to get a photograph of her daughter Gianna, not quite 2, who danced with Dorothy and held her hand. “She’s obsessed. She wakes up in the morning and watches the Wiggles. She has everything Wiggles and knows every dance tune,” said Poleto.
She said her daughter is so taken by the Wiggles she doesn’t pay much attention to “Sesame Street.”
Poleto’s cousin Tara Hulett, of Colonie, heard that the Wiggles play pals would be at the airport Tuesday morning and joined the Wiggle mania. She brought her 3-year-old daughter, Alexis, and they got as close as possible to Wags, a big, brown fluffy dog with a happy face.
The Wiggles themselves are Red Wiggle Murray Cook, Blue Wiggle Anthony Field, Yellow Wiggle Sam Moran (who replaced original member Greg Page) and Purple Wiggle Jeff Fatt.
The Wiggles were not at the airport Tuesday, but the Australian quartet is scheduled to perform at the Great Escape in 2008 on a date to be announced.
Field, Cook and Page met while studying early childhood education at Macquarie University in Australia. They began writing children’s songs as a music project, enlisted Fatt, and the Wiggles were born.
Now in their 16th year, they continue to entertain more and more children around the world, creating the magical secondary characters and building an empire along the way. Business Review Weekly said they were Australia’s biggest entertainers in 2005 and earned $50 million (Australian) in 2006.
Katrina and Dale Vance brought their 2-year-old son D.J. to see the Wiggles characters at the airport Tuesday, and he pointed to Wags.
“I think they’re cool. His favorite character is Wags the Dog,” said Katrina Vance, who lives in Broome in Schoharie County and works at the airport. She said the family has a season pass to the Great Escape and will definitely be going to the new Wiggles World when it opens.