My Movie Staycation: Hopping Aboard the Manhattan Tour of TV & Movie Sites by:Meagan Hess
In light of the recent economic downturn and subsequent belt tightening, I have opted against a fabulous Caribbean vacation or cross-country road trip this summer and have decided instead on a "staycation" and becoming a tourist in my own town. And apparently, I'm not the only one. According to the Air Transport Association, about 1.3 percent fewer Americans are expected to fly this summer than last summer. AAA Vice President Mark Brown acknowledges that, due to the slowing economy and high fuel prices, "a small number of us may choose to stay home... and relax with friends and family rather than take a vacation."
Granted, playing tourist is a lot easier when you live in New York City, as I happen to do. Culture, history, events, and attractions are everywhere you look. And while I wanted to feel like a true tourist, I couldn't bring myself to wait in line to go to the top of the Empire State Building or ride one of those bright red double deckers. So I chose instead to take the New York Tour of TV & Movie Sites from On Location Tours.
The tour picks up at Ellen's Stardust Diner, another tourist trap I had previously neglected to visit, with relatively good reason as I really do not enjoy watching people sing (hence my loathing of American Idol). However, I will admit that Ellen's provided a relatively enjoyable breakfast experience. The food wasn't terrificnor was the servicebut obviously you go for the atmosphere and the singing waitstaff, not the waffles.
You are welcomed upon the tourbus with the familiar tv and movie theme songs of your past - Cosby Show, anyone? Ray Parker Junior's unnervingly catchy ditty that remains in your head for the rest of the day? Yep, they're all there.
Our tour guide, Kimberly, was perky and extremely knowledgeable about "the most filmed city in the world." She kept the tour engaging with trivia contests and pointing out celebrity homes along the tour.
One of the best features of the tour is viewing the locations you've just seen on the tourbus tv screens. Can't exactly picture that scene from Ghostbusters where the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man makes his way to Columbus Circle? Oh, there he is in all his marshmallowy goodness on screen for you to remember.
The tour takes place mostly on the bus, but makes several stops along the way for leg stretching, pizza eating (at Famous Ben's from MIB II), and of course, photo ops. Stops include Hook and Ladder 8 (the beloved Ghostbusters firehouse), the Huxtable House from The Cosby Show, and Monica's apartment from Friends (sadly, Central Perk was filmed on a soundstage). I could have done without the group singalong of the Friends theme song and "Smelly Cat," but the black and white cookie we were given as a reward more than made up for it ("Look to the cookie, Elaine!")
Overall, this tour is a great way to see a large portion of Manhattan in just a few hours. It's also a perfect choice when the weather is too hot, too cold or too wet for spending extended periods of time outdoors, as most of the tour is spent on the bus.
So if you're a legit tourist, a "staycationer," or just entertaining out-of-town visitors, the Manhattan TV & Movie Tour is a sure bet for a fun-filled afternoon for all ages. Hey, you might even learn a thing or two.
Tickets can be purchased on the On Location Tours website at http://www.screentours.com.
About the author
Meagan Hess is a former perpetual English Graduate Student turned New Media Chick. She resides in New York City, but her heart will always belong in good ol' York, PA.