Last week, my friend Sarah and I had a girls’ staycation weekend. We were newly off for Spring Break, wanted to do something but found travel planning to be difficult with working around various restrictions and worrying that places we wanted to go to would be closed. Instead, we decided to have a “staycation” weekend (or, really, an overnight) as we already had tickets to the Friends Experience exhibit (we were supposed to go in December, but I ended up coming down with a cold, not COVID related, and we rescheduled as a precaution).
This is our second foray to the Friends Experience, but this is their permanent installment in New York, and they added more to it than we had seen last time so we wanted to see.
We started the afternoon at David’s Bridal, as Sarah is getting married in August and I’m a bridesmaid. The store was also walking distance to the exhibit so it made sense to just squeeze both into the afternoon (I had the miss the original try on a few weeks ago because I was sick – it was not Covid). I did find a dress I liked, but I’ll save the reveal for after her wedding. Instead, here’s a cryptic preview (the pink is the try on sample; the real thing is going to be blue).
Dress try on a success, it was off to the exhibit. We walked over, going through Madison Square Park and passing my old high school on the way, which was fun for nostalgia purposes although we didn’t really stick around too much (the school as I knew it has closed since I attended, but the building is still a school). It was fairly coincidental that we happened to be in this neighborhood following a few months of me being pretty sentimental about the 90’s (I graduated from high school in 1999 so it was a good chunk of the 90’s for me). It’s really weird that the building is now being used by another high school but, other than the signs being different and having a different school name, it looked the same as I remember it!
Nostalgia factor taken care of, it was time to get to the exhibit. It is is located on 23rd Street and Lexington Avenue, and it is hard to miss once you’re there! Their signage is gigantic and there are also multiple signs on the side of the building lit up with different quotes from the show.
When you enter, you watch a short video and then a giant version of the frame on Monica and Rachel’s apartment opens up to reveal the orange couch and fountain from the opening credits. Since we’ve been to the exhibit before, Sarah and I have seen this so we weren’t quite as excited as the group of teenagers who were walking ahead of us! (However, we were also being cynical adults who were wondering if this group was even alive when Friends originally aired… we don’t think so.)
As I am likely to reference the first time we visited the exhibit a few times in this post, you can read about that one by clicking here. (We prefer the pictures from that one since we didn’t have to wear masks in them.)
This version of the experience has been expanded quite a bit, though it did also feature a number of the same things from the original. This one had a ton more costumes, which you know I appreciate! However, other than a few costume photos, I didn’t take a lot of pictures of the props and whatnot, as I found after the last time that I don’t tend to really look back at those photos a lot, preferring the ones with people in them.
This time around, you sign up for a little card to have pictures taken throughout the exhibit. At certain stations, you hand the card to one of the attendants who takes a picture for you in the various sets. We were able to take pictures in the Vegas chapel where Ross and Rachel got married, Monica and Rachel’s apartment and a few more. You can buy these at the end if you want them in a special frame, but otherwise they get sent to a website where you can save them for free. In other spots, the attendants will gladly take pictures for you with your phone or other device so you come out of it with tons of pictures with the people you came with (which is very helpful when you only go with one other person).
Of course, there was. more to see than just different sets (even though I LOVE seeing the sets). There were also a few areas (such as Chandler and Joey’s apartment) where we took our own pictures, and so it became a lot of either me OR Sarah or some strategic selfies.
A new feature of this exhibit is that you get to stand on Monica and Rachel’s balcony and “poke” Ugly Naked Guy. Granted, he’s on a screen but it’s fun in it’s ridiculousness.
The exhibit ends as it should: with a real live Central Perk. You can, of course, have your picture taken on the couch but you can also order coffee and treats before heading into the gift shop. Unlike the first time around, this a more thorough Central Perk set up more like a real life cafe. Of course we got coffees before heading into the gift shop and heading out of the exhibit… but we also took the chance to get a few more pictures in as well!
Before heading home, we took a few minutes to take some pictures with the quotes on the outside of the building. Trust me, all your favorite are there, from “Pivot!” to “How you doin?”
I really hope they start doing more of these – I love immersing myself in tv show paraphernalia and being part of the sets! There was a Schitt’s Creek a while back that I tried in vain to get tickets too, so hopefully these will start popping up more (I’d love an Office one or a Parks & Rec one)!
Stay tuned for the next installment of the staycation weekend in my nest post!
If you’re a Friends fan and you’re interested in seeing the experience for yourself, click here for all the info you need on the exhibit!