An October 2004 trip
to New York by vampirefan
Quote: This past fall, my husband and I decided to check out New York City. What an amazing city. There is such an eclectic blend of everything here; people, food, cultures, buildings, and more, all seamlessly blending as one. This is one trip I will not soon forget.
We stayed at the Holiday Inn at the airport. We were only minutes from the airport. At $50 per night, we couldn’t beat the rate. The hotel is very nice. The lobby area is very inviting. They have a gift shop downstairs and a restaurant. We ate there a couple of times, and the food was pretty good. We had a very comfortable room with two very large twin beds, a desk, TV, and coffee-maker. Despite being located so close to the airport, it was very quiet. They offer 24-hour shuttle service to the airport. If your destination is New York City, you just hop on the train from the airport and off you go.
But when I called the airport and spoke with a front desk employee, I asked if we could easily get into NYC from there. I was told "yes", and they explained about getting to the train. I asked for the rate, and the gentleman I spoke with told me he wasn’t exactly sure, but he thought it was about $5. Sounded good. A twenty-minute ride, and I would be in NYC, so I was a happy camper. When we left out the following morning and went to get train tickets, we discovered it was actually $12 per person one-way! At that point, we had already paid for our hotel, and we didn’t feel like moving anyway. We could have gotten a hotel in NY for around $100 (although not nearly as nice) and been near everything. You may want to consider this if you are planning to stay outside of NYC and catching the train in.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 20, 2005
Holiday Inn Newark Airport
160 Frontage Road
Newark, New Jersey 07114
Then there is a gift shop. People drop by the gift shop even if they don’t visit just to pick up a T-shirt. Wear your Hard Rock New York shirt proudly so the whole world knows you have been to NYC! Pin collectors come by for a new addition to their collection. Those in the Hard Rock pin club can drop by to work towards their milestone pins. If you are coming to eat over a busy time, you would be wise to make reservations in advance. Simply go to www.hardrock.com, where you can make reservations up to 30 days in advance. You can also see where cafés are located or how to join the pin club.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 21, 2005
Hard Rock Cafe
221 West 57th Street
New York 10019
Take the time to stop by the gift shop for a T-shirt. When we were there they had some really cool shirts designed by West Coast Choppers. If you have the kids in tow, they will love the place. After all, who can resist dining under the watchful eye of a Terminator who does double duty as a California governor?
New York, New York 10036
If you have ever seen the deli on TV, it looks much bigger than it is. It is basically a small hole-in-the-wall deli. But the sandwiches are masterpieces. I got a chicken salad sandwich that was to die for. My husband said that the Ruben was the best he had ever tasted. When you walk in, you place your order with Rupert and then you have to squeeze you way over to the side to wait for your order.
The place is tiny, so there is not a lot of room here. There are a few tables outside to sit at. But there is always a line to get in here. It is best to have one person get the food and the other grab a table when it becomes open. You are welcome to take a picture of Rupert (lots of people were when we were there). It was so busy, though, that I never got a good shot. But remember, this is his business, so please be considerate of his time.
213 West 53rd Street
New York, New York 10019
The inside of the restaurant is beautiful and offers some incredible murals of NYC. It has over 400 seats! But the most important part is the pizza. Wow! You will need extra napkins to wipe up the drool here. Their prices are more than reasonable, too. The small margherita pizza (just plain cheese and sauce) will only cost you $12.50. The bad part was knowing we could only get a small since we had no way to take care of leftovers. They have four huge brick ovens in the back. So try to get a seat near the back to watch these guys in action.
They even have a website if you want to see what they have before you arrive. Their website is www.johnspizzerianyc.com.
278 Bleecker St.
New York, New York 10014
While we were here, there was a huge cultural arts festival going on, so the place was packed. If you do plan on visiting the Statue, try a weekday visit. The Saturday we were there, I would guesstimate the wait for the boat for the statue to be between 2 and 3 hours! You can go to their website at to check out what is going on during your visit. You will find restaurants on the grounds, as well as numerous food vendors. Souvenir vendors abound here, also. On busy days, you will often find ladies dressed as the Statue. For a tip, you can have your picture taken with one.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 20, 2005
New York, New York 10004
405 Lexington Ave.
New York, New York 10017
The famous Rainbow Room can be found here. Auction house Christies is located in the complex. Here you will also find the NBC Experience Tour, the Radio City Stage Door Tour, and the Rockefeller Center Tour. This is also home to Conan O’Brien, Saturday Night Live, and The Today Show. Here you will find the Radio City Music Hall, home to the world-famous Rockettes.
One of the most famous things you will find here is the golden statue of Prometheus designed by Paul Manship in 1934. In the summer time, umbrellas come out and outdoor dining abounds. In the wintertime, it becomes an ice skating rink. Many TV shows and movies have had scenes shot here. And it becomes a shot in many NYC TV shows in the wintertime. You can go to for more information.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 20, 2005
49th to 50th streets
New York, New York 10020
Attraction | "Staten Island Ferry / Statue of Liberty"
She stands 151-feet tall and lifts her lamp up 305 feet above the ground. Emma Lazarus’s well-known inscription, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free... send these, the homeless, the tempest-tossed, to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door," is engraved in her book.
To get to the statue, you need to take the boat from Battery Park. Since the statue is run by the National Park Service, there is no charge to see the statue. You do have to pay for the ferry ride over. Currently it is $10pp. You will then make your way over to Ellis Island.
Ellis is where many immigrants were processed as they arrived in America. From 1892-1924, it served as the nation's busiest immigration center. It later served as an army hospital. It was closed in 1954. But a $160-million restoration project restored it to its former beauty, and it was opened as the Immigration Museum in 1990. After spending some time here, you can climb up the statue. Since 9/11, the status of Lady Liberty is always changing. Before heading out, you might want to check for any changes.
Did you also know that the Statue of Liberty is also a lighthouse? In 1886, she was also commissioned as a harbor light. The light in her lamp has been a guide to ships for many years. On the ferry ride over, you can spot the Robbins Reef Lighthouse, built in 1886. For more lighthouse information go to .
Stating no one should come to New York without visiting her great Lady is easier said than done. No matter what time of year you come here, avoid going over the weekend if at all possible. We went in October, and there was probably a 3-hour wait. Then, who knows what will be going on? We came back the Tuesday before we left, and something was going on, so it was closing early! There are several other ways to see the statue. You can see her from Battery Park or from atop the Empire Statue building. Or the boat tour companies offer several tours that include a close encounter with her. Circle Line cruises offers several different cruises that feature the lady. Their website is .
Staten Island Ferry
Whitehall Ferry Terminal
New York, New York 10004
The museum is a collection of European abstract art and modern art. Its permanent collections include Picasso, Kandisnsky, Modiglianni, Klee, Modrian, Braqe, Chagall, Gleizes, and Malevich. One of the heralded pieces is Van Gogh’s Mountain at Saint-Remy. One of the best ways to view the collection is start from the top and work your way down. On the fifth level, you can walk out into the Sculpture Terrace. While I didn’t find anything particularly impressive, you do get a nice view of Central Park. Once inside, you can only photograph the main lobby. You will have to check your camera in coat check.
Personally, I was as not impressed by the collection. It is included in the city pass, and MoMA was closed, so we decided to check out the museum. I love art as much as the next person, but I prefer the old masters. I love French impressionists such as Monet and Renoir. I also love painters such as Georgia O’Keeffe. As far as photography goes, I will take the serene photos of Ansel Adams. I just fail to see the art in these paintings or a photograph of three black fingernails. Most of the art looks like something kids draw when they are doing finger-painting! We only spent about 30 minutes in the place. But hey, plenty of others do like this stuff.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on January 20, 2005
1071 Fifth Ave
New York, New York 10128
New York, New York 10036
Attraction | "Harbor Lights Tour"
One of their most popular cruises is the 2-hour Harbor Lights Cruise. The cruise starts out just before dusk. Here you will see the NYC skyline as the lights twinkle in sky. Manhattan is her most beautiful at night when she is lit up. You will see the Statue of Liberty lit up at night. She is aglow with the soft floodlight beaming on her. The boat will stop for a few minutes, offering some amazing photo opportunities. You pass under several bridges, and then come back in.
It is cold on the water, so bring something warm, even in summer months. They do have a concession stand downstairs, and they do offer hot drinks to warm you up. Bathrooms are also onboard. Before you board the boat, they will have you stop and take pictures. You can purchase them when you return. You get a 5"x7" picture and two smaller framed pictures. It is a nice memory to take home. Try to get here early and get a seat on the right side of the ship. Even though this is a semicircle cruise and comes back the same way it went out, it does get you closer to everything from the right side. When they go up to the Statue of Liberty, she will be on the right side. They do not take a second up-close on the return. If you do get seats on the left, please be considerate to those on the right. When we got up to the statue, hordes of people came running over, stepping on our toes and blocking our view. This is part of the city pass, if you have one. I would recommend reservations in advance, especially in the summer.
Harbor Lights Tour (March through November)
Pier 83, West 42nd Street & 12th Avenue
New York, New York
Attraction | "Semi-Circle Cruise, Circle Line"
It is cold on the water, so bring something warm, even in summer months. They do have a concession stand downstairs, and they do offer hot drinks to warm you up. Bathrooms are also onboard. Before you board the boat, they will have you stop and take pictures. You can purchase them when you return. You get a 5"x7" and two smaller framed pictures. It is a nice memory to take home. Try to get here early and get a seat on the right side of the ship. Even though this is a semicircle cruise and comes back the same way it went out. It does get you closer to everything from the right side. When they go up to the Statue of Liberty, she will be on the right side. They do not take a second up-close on the return. If you do get seats on the left, please be considerate to those on the right. When we got up to the Statue, hordes of people come running over, stepping on our toes and blocking our view. This is part of the city pass, if you have one. I would recommend reservations in advance, especially in the summer.
If you didn’t make it over to Lady Liberty, then check her out via the Circle Line's 2-hour semicircle cruise. You will get a breathtaking overview of this magnificent city. You pass under bridges, by Battery Park, the financial district, and the busy South Street Seaport. You also get a great up-close view of Lady Liberty. They will stop for a few minutes to allow picture-taking.
Pier 83 West 42nd Street
New York, New York 10023
In the meantime there is a CBS Store on the corner of the building. There you can find Letterman gear and stuff from most of the CBS shows. CSI fans will be giddy with all the CSI gear. If you are hungry, you can go around the corner and see Rupert at the Hello Deli. Or if you have already eaten but want to sit for a few minutes (or stay warm like we did), there is a Starbucks located diagonally across from the theater.
Make sure you come back when you’re supposed to. From here, you will start to be directed to your seats. Even if it happens to hit 100° F outside, make sure to bring a sweater or sweatshirt with you. If you have ever heard Dave’s guest complain about the cold, their right. This place is freezing. Especially if you are in the balcony! We only sat around for a few minutes before Paul and the band came out to play and keep us entertained. Then someone came out and told us what to expect and what to do. Finally, Dave came out himself and welcomed the audience. Then the show started. The taping runs about 1 hour, and there are only short pauses for what are later commercial breaks.
There is not really a way to find out who will be on the show the day of your visit until your butt is already firmly planted in the seat. During our taping, Senator Howard Dean was on the show and some horrible band called Franz Ferdinand. Believe me, I would have much rather seen Johnny Depp or Gerry Butler. But it is fun just to be able to tell everyone you were at least in a TV audience.
The Ed Sullivan Theater - 1697 Broadway
New York, New York 10019
Attraction | "Toys"
Once inside, you will have to pick your jaw up off the ground. This place is HUGE! It is the largest of the toy giant’s stores. It covers three levels. I came in here mainly just to pick up something for my nephews. Once inside, I was so enthralled that I almost forgot what I came for.
It has a 60-foot Ferris wheel located inside. Yes, even adults can ride. You can have your picture on the ride. The net proceeds for the ride go to children’s charities across the country.
Kids of all ages (including adult kids) will wow at the 5-ton, 20-foot-high, 34-foot-long animatronic T-Rex that stands guard over Jurassic Park. Be prepared for its extremely loud roar! And Barbie fans should not miss the two-story Barbie house. Everyone in your party will love Candy Land. You have never seen so much candy. You can stroll through "Gumball Pass" or see Princess Lolly, whose 5-foot skirt is made entirely of gumdrops. There are bins of new candy and long-time favorites. Adults will love taking home candy they had when they were children. We took home $20 worth! Gamers will want to check out Rzone for the latest in video games and equipment. You can take a stroll though their store online at .
Toys 'R Us
24-30 Union Square
New York, New York 10003
Attraction | "The Hershey Shop"
There are tons of candies in every type of souvenir you can imagine. We picked up a couple of bears dressed like the Lady Liberty, with kisses that were a big hit. And you can find a great tin of kisses for $10, and after they are gone, they make a great storage container. I kept one of those for myself.
Adults will also love the bath products. Chocolate bar soap and chocolate cocoa for your bath were well-received this past Christmas by my friends who were lucky enough to receive these goodies. Many of the products found at the spa in the hotel in Hershey, Pa., can be found here. They also have a website at
Hershey's Times Square Store
New York, New York 10019
Attraction | "Broadway"
Charlotte has a terrific performing arts center, and we have a terrific Broadway season each year. I have also been to London and been to the West End, but nothing before has given me such a thrill. A true Broadway fan will understand. At any given time, there are dozens of shows here delighting fans, from newcomers such as Bombay Dreams to time-honored favorites such as The Phantom of the Opera, now celebrating its 17th year on Broadway. From the cast to the costumes to the music to the theatre itself, you will have a night that will live in your memories forever.
If you are coming to New York, then you should at least check out one show. Not familiar with Broadway? No problems. Go to www.broadway.com. This is a great site for learning the plots of the show, looking up current cast members, and ordering tickets. There are quite a few ways to get tickets for Broadway shows. If you are coming during the busy summer months or during the popular holiday season, then you will want to order tickets in advance. Advance tickets are also advised for large groups or for very popular shows. Tickets can be ordered from such places at www.broadway.com, www.ticketmaster.com, or from the New York tourism site at www.nycvisit.com. You can also order them directly from the theatre. Each show has their own website where you can order tickets. Just do a search on Google or Yahoo to find the website. There is also the TKTS office located in Times Square. These are same-day, half-price tickets. Tickets go on sale starting at 11am. You can also try Ebay for tickets or discount coupons that can save you anywhere from 20% to 50%. Make sure you read the whole description and check to make sure the person has very good feedback.
New York, New York 10019
+1 212 944-3700
Attraction | "New York City Pass"
New York CityPASS
Central Park was the first major park built in America. It covers 843 acres and runs for 50 blocks from the Upper East and West sides. There are several places to enter the park. Take note of where you entered for when you are ready to leave. Development on the park began in 1858. Today it is a major NYC landmark. We were here in the fall, and all the trees were alive with the burnt colors of autumn clinging to the leaves.
One of the most popular areas is the lake area. Here you can rent a paddleboat and paddle around the lake. This is very popular during the summer. Here you will also find Bethesda Fountain. The center of it stands Angel of the Water. The statue was commissioned expressly for the park and was unveiled in 1873. If you walk around in the front away from the lake, you will find a beautiful brick bridge. Go up the stairs, and you will find an incredible spot to photograph both the fountain and the lake. It is very busy, though, with visitors trying to take a shot. So you may have to wait a few minutes. If you are hungry, you will find several food vendors here. They offer great food and one of the few deals you find price-wise in NY. We both got hot dogs and cokes for $5.
If you keep walking around the lake area, you will find all kinds of interesting things. For one, you will find some amazing views of the city. There are tons of squirrels running around. I guess they are so used to people that you can get very close to them. At one end of the lake, you will find a large concentration of turtles. You will also find places to just sit and relax.
Make sure to drop in at the visitors center to pick up a map or souvenirs. Also know as the Dairy, it was once an actual dairy. Built in 1870, milkmaids would serve fresh milk to mothers and children. Today you can find information, souvenirs, and displays. The building is a beautiful Gothic structure you will not want to miss. If you are here during the summer, they do offer free concerts in the park. You can check out www.nyc.gov/parks to see what is being offered during your visit.
John Lennon fans will want to check out the Strawberry Fields memorial. Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, in memory of her late husband, donated the 3-acre section. It can be access by entering the park from 72nd Street. The park is planted with 161 different species of plants representing the 161 nations of the world.
If you are coming in from the west down 72nd Street, you will pass the Dakota Apartments. This beautiful Gothic building was built in the 1880s as living for the more upscale residents. It has been home to celebrities such as Lauren Bacall, Leonard Bernstein, and Judy Garland. This is also where the 1968 horror classic, Rosemary’s Baby starring Mia Farrow, was shot. It is most remembered, though, as the site where John Lennon was tragically killed by an obsessed fan in 1980. It is a beautiful building to photograph. Or a place to stop a minute and remember someone who only wanted to do good in the world.
The 1,250-foot structure was completed in 1931 after little more than a year. It weighs 365,000 tons and has over 60,000 tons of steel. In 1981, the NYC Landmark Preservations Commission declared it a landmark. Then, in 1986, it was added to both the NYC and National Registers of Historic Places, assuring many more generations will have the thrill of looking over NYC from atop its observation deck. At night, you can easily spot the building amidst the Manhattan skyline. The top part is lit up by floodlights that change colors for different occasions. While we were there, it was lit red for Polish Pride Day. Though usually in October, you will find it lit pink to honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The observation of the Empire State Building has been featured in countless TV shows and movies. Four million people visit the structure every year, along with presidents, kings, queens, and many other celebrities. But its biggest visitor is still King Kong!
When you first walk into the lobby, you will be amazed the sheer beauty of this Art-Deco masterpiece. You will find several shops on this level (including a drug store, in case you need more film), as well as the ticket office. If you have a city pass, you can keep going. The lobby incorporates rare marbles from Italy, France, Belgium, and Germany. You will also find a small replica of the Statue of Liberty here.
From here, you take some steps up. If you have a city pass, you automatically have admission to the N.Y. Skyride. If not, you have to purchase that separately. The N.Y. Skyride is a 22-minute motion-picture ride featuring NYC. If you don’t care to see that (we didn’t), let the attendant know so you can be directed on over to the observatory.
When you approach the area to take the elevator to the observatory, chances are you will encounter a very looong line. Don’t be frustrated, though. It moves much quicker than you think. We were expecting to be in line a while, but it ended up only being about a 20-minute wait. Once you snake through the line, you take an elevator up to the 86th floor. Once you step off the elevator, you encounter yet another line. You do have to pass security before you are allowed in. They also wrangle you into having your picture taken. But you get two 5"x7" photos for $14 (I think). After this, you can take off for the observatory.
It can be quite windy and cool here, so make sure you bring a light sweater or jacket just in case, especially in the cooler months. There are several telescopes to get a better view, so make sure to have some change with you. From the west, you can spot Madison Square Garden, the Intrepid, and into Newark, N.J. The south offers you a view of the famed Flatiron Building, the Woolworth Building, Wall Street, and further out, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. On the north side, you spot the Chrysler Building, GE Building, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and Central Park. Further up, you can spot the George Washington Bridge. The borough of Queens can be spotted from the east. Make sure to bring your camera for some amazing views. Once back in, make sure to stop and pick up a few souvenirs. If you can come back at night, you really should. The views here at night are said to be amazing.
Everyone will enjoy the thrill of observing NYC from such a beautiful building. This is one of the most popular destinations for tourists. Needless to say, it is also one of the busiest. Even in off-season (like when we were there), it is wall-to-wall people, especially on the weekend. We were there on a Saturday, and it was unbelievably crowded. That said, I will say this: please, please, please be considerate when you are visiting any place like this. If you are going to just stand around and talk, please move so people who want to look can do so. There isn’t much you can do here but take in the amazing views and take pictures. When you are standing, waiting to get on the elevators, you are also waiting for people to come down. Only so many people are permitted on the observation deck at a time. Take in the site, take a few pictures, and then move on so others can enjoy it. The others behind you will thank you for it.
Here you will walk into the party room. You will see a lovely fountain featuring Ru Paul, and other guests include celebrities such as Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Ivana Trump, Donald Trump, Barbara Walters, and the later Christopher Reeve in his wheelchair. And yes, you can get right up to the statues and have your picture taken, then go home and brag to your friends about hanging out with Brad Pitt. The next section has celebrities from the past. Since you’re in New York, you will find Babe Ruth in his Yankees uniform. You can also see Boris Karloff as the Mummy, Fred and Ginger tripping the light fantastic, and the great Josephine Baker, to name a few. When we were here, they had a Van Helsing exhibit in connection with the movie starring hottie Hugh Jackman. I love this movie, so I was excited hoping to see both Jackman and vampire hottie Richard Roxboro as Dracula. The feature had little to do with the movie and was more akin to a haunted house with dressed-up characters jumping out at you. Little ones may find this frightening, so skip this if you have wee ones in tow.
When you come out, Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne will greet you on the couch. Take your own picture with them or have the photographer do it, and you can pick it up on your way out (or that is the way it is supposed to work). One room is dedicated to historical figures both present and past—icons such as JFK and Jackie, Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the late Princess Di can be found here. The last room is devoted to pop culture and different decades. Schmooze with Marilyn Monroe, Bon Jovi, or Elton John. There are even figures to greet you if you decide to stop at the café for a bite to eat.
On the way out, you can watch a film on making the statues. While we were there, they were offering a film featuring the mindless bimbo singer Jessica Simpson. Unless you really want to see her, I would skip this part. I did. You can find a very fascinating in-depth documentary on the Travel Channel, Discovery, or The Learning Channel. It shows up quite frequently during the vacation months.
I had a wonderful time here. My only complaint is about the employees. I found them to be less than helpful. When we got off the elevator, I asked where the ladies room was. The employee manning the elevator just shrugged and said, "Dunno". Didn’t even tell me where I might be able to ask. When we were on our way out, we went up to the screening room (thinking it was the way out), and the attendant asked us if we wanted to see the movie. We inquired what it was, and when I heard Jessica Simpson’s name, I said we would pass. The attendant looked at me and adamantly asked, "Why?" I was taken aback and told her I simply didn’t care for Jessica, only to be met with another "Why?" I found it to be rude and intrusive. I also never did get my picture with Sharon and Ozzy, and when we went to the gift shop, I stood at the cash register with my purchase, waiting for 5 minutes, while I watched two employees just talking. I finally put them down and left.
Overall, the experience was fun. I still preferred the one in London a tad bit more; it seemed to be bigger, but this one is fun. And how many chances do you get to hang out with Ozzy and Sharon? Do check out the website at and then click on N.Y. for more information or for events during your visit.
This show is brought to life by the talent of Julie Taymor, Garth Fagen, and Elton John. The genius that is Julie Taymor brought to life the play that was based on the animated hit movie of the same name. Rather than putting her cast in furry costumes, she decided to bring her characters to life though the use of puppetry and costuming. She is the director/producer/costume designer as well as puppet-maker and helped write additional lyrics. You may also know her for her Oscar-nominated work as the producer of Frida, starring Salma Hayek. Garth Fagen brought his brilliant choreography to the stage that combines ballet, modern dance, and hip-hop. Sir Elton John provided the music and lyrics first for the movie and then later adapted them for the stage.
The show is nothing less than brilliant. The cast is amazing. The scenery and costumes are stunning. And the colors are as vivid and beautiful as the colors found in the Serengeti. Make sure you do not miss the beginning of the show. When Circle of Life starts, the cast enters the stage from the back of the house, showing off their brilliant costumes to a stunned audience. Five shows later, I still get goose bumps when the cast enters. I have been going to Broadway shows since I was 19 (I am now almost 40), and it was in the first minutes of the show when I had finally decided on a favorite Broadway show.
The show opened on November 13, 1997 at the New Amsterdam Theater. The theater dates from 1903. Disney purchased the theater in 1995 and began a 2-year restoration project. It paid off. The theater is truly beautiful. In 1998, The Lion King swept the Tony awards, taking home statues for Best New Musical, Custom, Lighting, Choreography, and one for Taymor as Director. It has also won a number other awards from groups such as the Drama Desk and Outer Critics. While the whole cast is brilliant, a few did stand out. The very handsome Derek Smith as Scar and handsome Josh Tower as adult Simba were incredible. Also the very beautiful Kissy Simmons as the adult Nala was brilliant.
You will find refreshments available and there is a gift shop on the premises. Even if you don’t purchase anything, make sure to take time to come in and see one of the cast costumes on display. One of the things that surprised me was the size of the theater. Our performing arts center holds about 2,500 people. This theater seemed to hold about 1,500, making it a more intimate atmosphere. That also means it is harder to get tickets. Eight years later, the show is still going strong. So I HIGHLY suggest you purchase tickets well in advanced. You can get them from a variety of places. I ordered mine from www.broadway.com, or you can go to www.disney.go.com. You can take a chance and try to buy them at the half-price booth, but I would not recommend it.
Another thing that really surprised and annoyed me was that people did not dress for the theater. Here in Charlotte, we do dress for the theater (and people call Southerners hicks). When The Lion King performed here, it was one of the few times I saw men in tuxes. I had a gown custom made out of African print for the occasion. Imagine my shock to find people in jeans! I was horrified. So if you like your jeans, you will do fine here. If you dress up, you will be appreciated. I received dozens of compliments for being dressed up. One of the ushers even came over to tell me several cast members said to thank me for dressing up for the occasion!
The John Kander and Fred Ebb extravaganza originally opened June 3, 1975 at the 46th Street Theatre starring Gwen Verdon (former wife of choreographer Bob Fosse) and the legendary Chita River (who had a small appearance in the movie). The choreography is by the legendary Bob Fosse. Today, the choreography has been taken over by the legendary (and former flame of Fosse) Ann Reinking. On November 14, 1996, it opened its doors once again in a revival starring Bebe Newirth (TV’s Lillith on Frasier) and Tony Award winners James Naughton as Billy Flynn and Joel Gray as Amos Hart. Later, in the summer of 1997, Marilu Henner (TV star of Taxi) joined as Roxie Hart. In 2000, it became the longest musical revival.
This is one of those shows with rotating stars. Sharon Lawrence, Jasmine Guy, Vickie Lewis, Sandy Duncan, and the late Robert Ulrich have all been featured. When I was there, Wayne Brady was the big deal as Billy Flynn. He wasn’t there the night I was. A very talented gentleman named Bernard Dotson was there and performed the part of Billy Flynn to perfection. Charlotte d’Amboise as Roxie and Terra Macleod as Velma added to the already brilliant cast. The show has received a second wave of interest since the big-screen version hit the multiplexes in 2002. Richard Gere, Rene Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Queen Latifah were part of the Oscar-winning cast.
The show and choreography are masterpieces. This is just one of those shows I never tire of. Today you can see the show at the beautiful Ambassador Theater. Built in 1921, it is still owned by the Schubert Organization. If you have wee ones in town, you may want to consider taking them to one of the more family friendly shows. This is about sex, murder, and scantily clad dancers. There are no cute and cuddly animals that children like.
If you want to save some money, you can get half-price show tickets at a booth in Times Square. They are same-day tickets. But if you are coming during the busy summer months or around Christmas, you may want to get tickets in advance to make sure you have one. This is also a good idea for larger groups. You can order them at places such as www.broadway.com or www.chicagothemusical.com. Or you can get a discount coupon on Ebay. In the search area, just simply type in "Chicago+ broadway+ tickets" and search. You can do just Chicago tickets. But if the band Chicago happens to be on tour, you will get an even longer list. Make sure the person has great feedback and has sold the coupons before. They should also offer your money back if you can’t get a ticket. These are discount coupons for up to 50% off. They usually run from $2 to $5. You can also find tickets here, but they will be for a particular date. The coupons are usually for a certain length of time. We purchased $70 tickets for $40 and had third row seats!
The show plays at the Nederlander Theater. The building has been around since 1921. The theater was refurbished for the show. The building is still ornately beautiful but has some funky additions to give it the bohemian feel. The theater has also opened up its space for use by other theatre and art groups.
RENT is another show that seems to have rotation of celebrities in its ranks. While this process of using already wealthy celebrities instead of struggling raw talent angers many, it may not be all bad. After all, it does draw more people into the theater who might otherwise never attend a show. And most of the celebrities who are chosen actually do posses the talent for the show. After all, as much as I adore Julia Roberts, you have never seen her in a Broadway cast. TV’s Neil Patrick Harris (Doogie Houser) and NSYNC’s Joey Fatone are just two of the many people who have graced the stage. While we were in New York, Drew Lachey of 98 Degrees and former American Idol Frenchie Davis were part of the cast as Mark and ensemble. Frenchie had the female solo in Seasons of Love if you are familiar with the song. While I don’t know much about either one, I do know they were outstanding in their parts.
Overall, the show was magnificent. I just never can get enough of the show. The music alone is worth the price of admission. I play the cast recording all of the time. The show is a brilliant burst of energy and then calms down with a very somber ending. I still cry, and I know what happens each time. For anyone with wee ones in tow, skip this show and go see one of the more family-friendly shows like the Lion King. This is just not a show for younger children. Even if they do not understand what is going on, they will likely be bored to tears.
For more information on the show or for tickets, visit them at www.siteforrent.com. If you are here during the busy season, you might want to purchase them in advance. In Times Square there is a TKTS office where you can buy half-price tickets. They are same-day tickets, though. The show has been running long enough that you can probably get tickets here. Just remember that if a celebrity is in the cast, it might be harder to get. If you prefer to have your tickets in advance, try Ebay. You can buy actual tickets here or discount coupons for up to 50% off. You can enter "rent + tickets" or "rent + Broadway" in the search box. Read the entire description before you bid (I am amazed how many people don’t). Make sure the person has good feedback and that they have sold these coupons before. These coupons are usually for a specific timeframe instead of an actual date. Make sure they will fit in with your plans and the requirements for use. Also, look for someone who offers your money back if you cannot get a ticket. The coupons usually run from $2 to $5. I purchased one, and we got $75 tickets for $35. And we had great seats. The tickets are usually good for two or more people.
NOT RECOMMENDED AT ALL!
If you are out for a bite to eat before the Lion King or want to food for energy for walking around Madam Tusseuds, DO NOT GO NEAR BB KINGS. We decided to go to BB King’s restaurant before The Lion King. That is the biggest mistake we made while in New York. I chose this place because my husband, the guitar instructor, is a fan of BB’s.
Now, my first job was as a waitress and I waitressed while in college, so I am very lenient with wait staffs. But there was so excuse for the sorry service we got here. We arrived more than hour before the show. The place was almost empty, so we got right in. We were seated downstairs. Again, keep in mind that the place was almost empty. We waited for 15 minutes before the waitress ever came over. When she finally did, she took our food and drink order. I ordered iced tea. I am Southern, that is what we do. She came back a few minutes later to tell me they didn’t have any but had vodka instead?! Huh? What? I asked her if she knew I was talking about non-alcoholic tea, just in case maybe she thought I ordered Long Island Iced Tea. She said yes. Okay, whatever on that. I just took a coke. We both ordered the Southern Friend chicken dinner. It came out very quickly. And two of the three pieces were almost raw. I guess that explains why we got it so quickly.
Now here in the South, when you come to a restaurant with wait staff service, most will keep coming by to check on you. While in New York I noticed that wasn’t the case. But they do at least come by once or twice to make sure everything is okay. Not here. We got up to go to the bathroom, and when we retuned, our food was gone! Still no waitress. We waited and waited for a check. We stopped a few other waiters and asked if they could send our waitress over. You would have thought we had asked for a kidney! By then it was getting time for us to get over to the show. We finally went upstairs to the gift shop and asked for a manager. Next thing I know, our waitress is running up the stairs screaming to the top of her lungs at us and cursing us! The girl at the cash register tried to calm down the waitress and told her we had came up asking for management. The waitress then grabs my husband and starts pulling him downstairs. I am trying to pay for a pin, so I am getting angry because I can’t go knock down the waitress.
When I got downstairs there were two mangers. When I told them what happened, they just said, "Oh well, next time we will seat you"?! Again, huh? What? No "I am sorry," no "Here the meal is on us," nothing. Like I would ever eat there again. When I returned, I called the restaurant in Nashville to complain since that is where their headquarters is located. They said I would have to call the restaurant, that they had nothing to do with it! Yeah, I know, but it was headquarters. When I called the New York restaurant, all I got was, "We’ll take care of you next time!" I told them there would never be a next time. I will never eat at this place, even if they have Gerry Butler nude and with vampire fangs! So don’t even waste your time with this place.
Here I found a HUGE beanstalk to advertise a loan company. The signs for Broadway shows pop out at you like glitter on a page. There are huge digital displays for TV shows. CSI: NY was being very heavily promoted while we were there. And the advertisements for movies will have even the most cynical person chuckling. Shark Tale was playing when we were in New York, so there were these huge billboards all over the place with the cute fish from the movie. That was my favorite. The signs loom larger than life here. But just like everything else in New York, it just blends in perfectly.
I spent 5 years as a travel agent. While it is not rocket science, there is more to it than people imagine. It does take some effort to plan a memorable trip. But if I can do it, so can you. After all, I have my BA in sociology and never took a travel course.
One of the best pieces of advice I can give to anyone when it comes to trip-planning is to plan well in advance. I personally start thinking about a trip several years in advance. I keep a notebook by my bed, and when I see something or read something I am interested in, I write down the information for future reference and then set the plans in motion about 6-12 months in advance. I planned this one about 6 months in advance.
Despite the fact that NYC itself is not very big, there is a heck of a lot of stuff here to do. It would take you months to see everything, so don’t go and expect to see everything in one trip. After all, NYC is not going anywhere. You can come back later for more sightseeing. Take the time to invest in a tour guide (I like Frommers myself) and then find a source or two that offers current information. You can get a travel guide from the visitor’s bureau at www.nycvisit.com. You can also use their site for current information, as well as IgoUgo for advice from other travelers. I typically use three to four sources for my trip-planning. Once you have your information, sit down with everyone you're going with and come up with a list of things you want to do. I try to have a list of must-see things and then things I would like to see if I have the time. Then take a map and map out what you want to do. Many travelers' guides or visitors' bureaus will have maps you can use. I just went to my local Barnes & Noble and picked up the Streetwise Manhattan map. It was only a few bucks and laminated, making it perfect for all the use I put it through.
From there, I start my planning. Try to get your sightseeing in one area together. That makes the most efficient use of your time. I have friends who marvel at how I can see so many things in one day, while they can only manage one or two things. There are some things in NYC that can take a whole day to visit. Central Park can certainly take up all of your day, and if you plan on going to the Statue of Liberty, that will take up most of your day. I also make note of their hours and days they're closed, as well as website information. Prior to your actual trip, take time to visit the websites of the places you plan on seeing for any last-minute changes or cancellations. I try to give you the website information for all the places I visit in my journals. Also make note of whether a restaurant you want to visit accepts reservations and how far in advance you can make them. Also, plan for things to happen. No trip is perfect. If you are coming here during the summer, at Christmas, or any other heavy tourist times, then it is imperative that you make advanced plans.
For any true fan of the theater, there is no bigger thrill in the world than seeing a show on a Broadway stage. On the other hand, if you have never seen a show, NYC is the best place to get started. You can go to www.broadway.com for more information. Here, you can not only order tickets, but they offer information such as synopses of the shows, what ages each show is appropriate for, and the degree of difficulty in obtaining tickets for each show. They also offer dinner-and-show combination packages. There are a few ways to get your tickets in advance. You can go to sites such as www.broadway.com, www.ticketmaster.com, or to the show's website directly. A Google or Yahoo search should turn up a website for you. There is also the TKTS office directly in the heart of Times Square. Here you can purchase same-day, half-price tickets starting at 11am. However, if you are here during a busy time or want tickets to one of the hottest shows going, then I do suggest advanced tickets.
If you have planned your visit in advance, one of the most fun things you can do (and for free) is see a TV show being taped. Montell Williams, The View, Emeril Live, and David Letterman are all taped live in N.Y. Shows like Montell, Conan, and Letterman are seasonal and usually do not tape over the summer and around holidays. Show like Regis and Kelly and the Today Show usually tape year round.
You can go to the official NYC visitor’s page at www.nycvisit.com and click on the Things to Do page. Here you will find out how to get tickets for the show you want to see. In most cases, you are simply directed to go onto the show’s website to put in your request. If you want to see a live taping of Emeril Live, good luck. So does everybody else. Tickets for his show are hard to come by. You need to go to www.foodtv.com and sign up for the lottery. Twice a year, tickets are distributed through a lottery. The length of time before you hear back about tickets depends on the show. I put in a request for tickets for Montell Williams and heard back in days. Unfortunately, he was not taping when I was in N.Y. The request for David Letterman tickets were put in months in advance. I got the phone call the day before my departure.
With just some advanced planning, you, too, can have a wonderful visit in NYC. Everyone should take the time out to visit this magnificent city. She has so much to show you. Go ahead--make your plans and see what she can show you! You will be glad you did.
Charlotte, North Carolina