While Hollywood is the movie industry capital, many hit TV shows and movies were shot in NYC, and a film and TV bus tour is just the perfect thing to exploring shooting locations in the city.
By Holly Rosen Fink
On Location Tour Bus in New York City (Courtesy On Location Tours)
Even after living in NYC for many years, it’s impossible to know every location that’s been used on celluloid. For film and TV buffs of all ages, there is nothing better than a family-friendly tour of NYC by bus, making pit stops at locations around the city used in TV shows and films shot in town.
On Location Tours offers New York TV & Movie Sites, a three and a half hour bus tour visiting more than 40 locations from shoots all over the city. They take patrons to explore famous sites seen throughout the Big Apple from Midtown Manhattan to SoHo, and the tour truly caters to all ages. Not only will kids get what they need out of it, but so will you.
The New York TV & Movie Sites tour visits locations used in Glee, The Avengers, Seinfeld, Gossip Girl, Spider-Man, Men in Black, Friends and many more. It really helps that the tour plays theme songs and video clips from the movies and shows being discussed on the bus to put what you’re experiencing in perspective, and it also helps that tours are led by local actors and actresses who share inside industry information and behind-the-scenes gossip. They genuinely care about what they are talking about and it makes a difference.
In addition, stops are made at various spots around the city so there are plenty of photo opportunities. Cookies are distributed, as are lollipops, keeping kids patient along the way.
The tour guides also point out fun facts that you would not otherwise know, like where Taylor Swift lives. If you’re lucky, you’ll also ride by several film and TV shoots.
Here are five films/TV shows discussed and shown on the tour that every young (and old) pop culture freak will love:
New York Public Library (Flickr: Vincent Desjardins)
Ghostbusters fans will be in their element. The tour takes you past Columbia University, the New York Public Library, Lincoln Center, Columbus Circle, Times Square and lastly, the Ghostbusters Headquarters at North Moore Street and Varick Street where you’ll have a photo opportunity. If you find your child hasn’t seen the film prior to the tour, you can be sure a family viewing on Netflix will be in your stars after this adventure.
Night at the Museum
Museum of Natural History (Photo: Ingfbruno)
Most kids nowadays have been entranced by at least one film in the Night in the Museum series and will be pretty excited by the sighting of the Museum of Natural History. There’s a sculpture outside the museum of Teddy Roosevelt, a key figure in the series, and of course, the two Dinosaur Halls. If your kids really love seeing the outside of the museum, be sure to bring them back for one of the museum’s famous sleepovers.
F.R.I.E.N.D.S. apartment in New York (Flickr: Rob Young)
Regardless of whether you and your kids have gotten around to watching Friends yet, chances are you can tell them enough about this historical TV show when you see the apartment building the show took place in (though shot in Los Angeles, it’s exteriors were used). Be prepared for scenes to start filling up your memory immediately upon seeing it, and catching the show your kids won’t be difficult as it’s syndicated on several cable networks.
Mr. Popper’s Penguins
Central Park Zoo (Flickr: woodleywonderworks)
For Mr. Popper’s Penguins fans, the tour takes you past Tavern on the Green, Central Park Zoo, Wollman Rink, the High Line, the Met, the Meatpacking District, the Flatiron, the Guggenheim and the Empire State Building, where you can quietly introduce your kids to the film Sleepless in Seattle and tell them about that ultra-memorable scene.
Home Alone II
The tour takes you past several stops made by Home Alone II’s Kevin McCallister as he gallivanted around NYC, from the Plaza Hotel to the Empire Diner to Lincoln Center to Rockefeller Center where he’s famously reunited with his mother. Pretty much every child, tween and teenager has seen this film, or another in the series, and will be hypnotized by the scenes shown on the bus.
The tour of New York TV and Movie Sites runs daily at 11:00 AM. Tickets cost $41 for adults and $25 for children, plus an additional $2 fee per ticket. Advance is purchase is required.
Detailed information on all tours can be found at onlocationtours.com.