Coupon code for you to use:
10% discount: TVFRIENDS
My wife and I went on On Location Tours' "NYC TV & Movie Tour" on Monday Apr 8th, 2019. That was the last day of a 5-day NYC trip we took. This particular tour happens every morning at 10am. We had a 6pm flight departing that day, so this was perfect timing for us to do one last cool thing, but easily stay on a predictable schedule. Some things you might chose to do in NYC might take far longer than you anticipate. But this tour is relatively predictable in it's timing, which is helpful. I've seen different estimates of how long this tour is, but the guide said it would be about 3 hours and indeed it was. (Cue TV theme-song about "a three hour tour.").
The tour met near Ellen's Stardust Diner at the northen end of Times Square, not far from convenient subway stops. (Go early and explore Times Square as well!) Checking in with our guide (Chris) was easy, and he had good recommendations for grabbing any food or drink we might want at nearby drugstores or fast food places, while waiting for the rest of the people to arrive and check in. He clearly wanted us to be comfortable, at ease, and not feel rushed or stuck in a seat the very moment we checked in.
The tour bus itself seemed pretty new and was nicely comfortable. This was one of the tall coach buses where you ride pretty high and have large windows. This allowed for decent views of the points of interest. Since this wasn't an open-top bus tour, there were some trade offs. Occasionally it wasn't easy to see the sites from inside the bus. My view wasn't panoramic, as I was in the back half of the bus. People in the very front might get some better views, and might more easily keep track or where the tour guide was looking or pointing (so arrive early and get your good seats!). Of course, being inside a closed bus has the advantage of being completely climate controlled, so it's not going to be too cold or too hot, or wet, or have too much harsh sun. This can be a MAJOR advantage at many times of the year.
As we travelled, some sites were mentioned pretty briefly and we moved right along. With other sites we got more time to notice things and look around. A lot depended on traffic, which is normal for a bus tour in the city. Between sites that Chris pointed out, he rolled clips of movie and TV scenes, on convenient monitors, so we could see some of the locations in action. He also gave tips about learning when actual film crews are (or will soon be) filming on the streets, and gave interesting recommendations about local comedy clubs. For me, the highlights of the tour were 3 times when the bus stopped and let us off to see a site better. We stopped at Washington Square Park, where many things have been filmed. We stopped at the Friends apartment building and also walked down the street to it's companion site, the Lucille Lortel Theater, home of "Freud!" (a fictional off-broadway musical in which Joey had the lead role). We also stopped at the Ghostbusters firehouse. Chris, our guide, had interesting information about all these locations, and was great about offering to take pictures in front of these sites, for anyone who wanted it.
Near the end of the tour, we also were given a small "Black and White" cookie, referenced in a Seinfeld episode. We finished off outside McGee's Pub, the inspiration for MacLaren's in "How I Met Your Mother." Tour attendees can get a discount for eating there. It would be a nice way to extend your experience.
Overall, the tour is well done. How much you're going to enjoy this tour probably depends on how much of a Movie and TV buff you are. As suggested by the name "On Location Tours," that's what this company is all about. You won't hear much other NYC topics such as architecture, politcs, culture, the local food scene, etc. Not every site you see is completely impressive and memorable, and you don't get in-depth information or time to experience every one of them. But with 60 sites on one tour, you gotta expect that. I like a tour where there's several sites I feel excited about, and have some time to explore them. The 3 stops on this tour did that well, and the time spent riding versus outside at a site was well balanced.
If you have some sites on your list that you really want to take time to see and explore, or get photos taken "just right" to match what you saw in some movie or show, you might want to research those and stop by those places on your own. For example, you see Rockefeller Center and neighboring St. Patrick's Cathedral from the bus, but I would certainly recommend visiting in person and exploring those sites on foot for an hour or more. The tour is definitely satisfying on it's own, but it would also be a good way to get an oveview of various sites of interest, and then decide on certain areas to return to and spend more time. I recommend you know what you want to get out of a tour, and know what to expect from what's available (by reading reviews such as this one!) so you'll make good choices and enjoy your time.
When booking a tour, you might consider which kinds of movie sites you're most interested in. For those who have more specific passions, On Location Tours also has tours that focus on superhero movie sites, Central Park sites (on a walking tour), Sex and the City, Seinfeld, Gossip Girl, Sopranos, and more. In the Holiday season, they have a popular "Holiday Lights and Movie Sites" which sounds great!
Here's just a few photos of sites on the tour. Click on any of the small photos to see a large verion.