Journey to Ernie is a recurring Sesame Street segment which focuses on Big Bird's hide-and-seek game with Ernie. It premiered in Season 33 and features the Muppet characters interacting with computer-animated backdrops.
The format for the segment would change after its first season on the show. In the original format, Ernie hid inside a box with a striped pattern similar to that of his shirt. Big Bird had to locate Ernie's box, a task he usually accomplished after finding two other, similar boxes which did not contain Ernie. Big Bird's discovery of an incorrect box triggered a non-Ernie sketch or film while the revelation of the correct box launched a segment prominently featuring Ernie.
In season 34, the format was changed. The segments began with Ernie interrupting Big Bird's normal routine with a challenge to play the game. The animated environments in the new format are more fully realized than in the previous incarnation of the segment and Ernie no longer hides in a box. Big Bird now searches based on clues from Ernie, and the Two-Headed Monster appears regularly to offer some not-so-helpful advice. The new format also featured a closing song sung by Big Bird and Ernie at the end of every segment.
"It was very popular, especially among the younger children, [Dr.] Rosemarie [Truglio] says. "They loved the game of hide and seek." But however popular the segment was, writers and the producers felt it wasn't 'Sesame' enough, and wasn't a comfortable fit. The look and feel of the animation was too similar to other shows on the television schedule and, while funny, it didn't mesh with the whole show.
Matt Vogel performs Big Bird in all of these Journey to Ernie segments.
All of these sequences were repeated in other Journey to Ernie sketches during season 33, in different sequence orders. With the exceptions of the introduction and closing, each sequence ended with Big Bird finding Ernie. These parts were edited from sketches that showed these sequences as the first and second sequences.