New York and movie stars - sign me up!
The sidewalk paint outside New York City’s Hook and Ladder 8 Firestation is now slightly peeling, but there is no mistaking that distinctive logo – this is THE firehouse from Ghostbusters movie. Further confirmation comes when I stand on my tippy toes and peer through the window – a huge Ghostbusters sign hangs inside. Sadly, this legendary ladder has a new legacy now, that of honoring Lt Vincent Halloran, who tragically died on Sept 11, 2001. It is this mix of joy and sorrow, of cheerful make-believe and heartbreaking reality, which really gives me my first taste of New York City, a city of inspiration, imagination, and indestructible spirit.
The Perfect Tour For Us
I would likely have never made my way to Hook and Ladder 8 on my own if I wasn’t part of the On Location bus tour of classic New York television and movie scenes. Joining a bus tour made perfect sense for us on the first day of our round the world trip. I wanted to see as much of New York City as I could on my first visit and the tour did not disappoint. We saw so many different neighbourhoods but it never felt rushed. The tour was so well organized and every street corner and store front had an interesting story to share. And on a practical level, the tour was the perfect activity for a short layover, combining a high level of sightseeing and entertainment with a convenient, warm seat for me and my backpack.
Entertainment and Enthusiasm
Our guide, Amadao, was full of movie and television trivia and quotes. He was friendly and organized – and a little sarcastic too (which works just fine for me). Our driver Pete was extremely courteous and always kept an eye out for us as we navigated off the bus and onto the curb. When Amadao wasn't’t sharing stories and movie scenes with us, he would play short clips from movies to illustrate his points – everything from Tom Cruise in Times Square in Vanilla Sky to Will Smith cruising the empty streets in I Am Legend. I was surprised by how many movies I had seen but had never connected to New York City and it felt like I was getting both a tour of the city and a refresher on film and pop culture.
My Only Complaint
The only criticism of the tour would be the 30 minute stop in SoHo. We were given a map of nearby entertainment points of interest to explore (like the apartment of Heath Ledger) and I appreciate that the narrow streets of this neighbourhood make it impractical for a large tour bus to drive around. But for me personally I was more interested in a food break, as it was the early afternoon, and I’m betting a lot of other participants were as well. I’m sure there was plenty of great New York food tucked away on those SoHo streets - if only I knew where! I wish I had of asked for a lunch recommendation!
Is It Good Value?
The tour costs $40 per person for a 4 hour experience – and an average of $10 an hour is a bargain for a comfortable, warm bus and entertaining tour in pricey New York City. For those who still want to enjoy the skills of the On Location tour guides on a budget, the company also offers walking tours of Central Park for about $22.
Overall, our On Location tour was the perfect way to spend our New York City layover and launch our round-the-world trip. We got a great overview of the city and saw tons of famous sites - and some lesser known ones as well, such as Ladder 8, the apartment building from Friends, and the original Soup Man. Having a theme helped focus and narrow the tour and it never felt rushed or overwhelming. Including the movie clips was not only a fun refresher for me but it would also be helpful for non-movie fans who were taking the tour. I'd recommend On Location to anyone who has a short amount of time in the city, who has a keen interest in movies and television, and anyone visiting the city for the first time and wants a good overview of the city.
Learn more about our round-the-world adventures!
How It All Began: Our $350 Round-the-World Trip
New York City: Day 1
Next Stop: Paris! Day 2 & 3 of our Round The World Trip
We were provided with complimentary tickets by On Location Tours. This did not influence my review and all opinions remain my own.