REVIEW: Madison Square Garden “All Access Tour” by Margaret Hart

If you live in the New York City area, I have a great day trip for you the next time your kids have a day off from school, and you’re looking for something fun and different to do.  Or, if you are from out of town, and planning a visit to the Big Apple, I’ll be you didn’t know that you can take an “All Access Tour” of Madison Square Garden.  It’s like having a backstage pass.

IMG_4195My nine-year-old son and I recently took the behind-the-scenes guided tour,  and it was tons of fun!  I thought he would be bored, since it didn’t involve running or jumping, but he loved it.  He got to see the Knicks and Rangers locker rooms, a photo of the famous “Dunk” during the May 25, 1993 game of the Eastern Conference Finals between The Knicks and The Bulls, and a New York Knicks Championship diamond ring, which he thought was very cool (me, too). He loved learning about how the Garden keeps the ice cold during hockey season, and is able to quickly transform the floor for concerts – it appealed to the basketball fan and the science kid in him (made mom happy that he did something educational). 

I liked seeing how the other half lives: the Garden recently completed a three-year, $1 billion renovation, which includes new luxury suites and seating. One area, called the Chase Bridges, provides a truly unique view of the action and gives new meaning to term “nose bleed section.” While your seats are comfy, you are up there, close to the ceiling, and you feel almost suspended in air, with a tall glass wall in front of you. I felt a little vertigo-ish, but I’ll bet the seats are popular with adventurous fans looking for a really unique experience. The Delta Sky Club was more my speed, offering VIP guests luxurious and exclusive views of the Knicks and Rangers entering and exiting the locker rooms – and maybe a celebrity or two.

IMG_4215We enjoyed the history lesson, exploring the “Garden 366” and “Defining Moments” exhibits, which are museum-like displays of historical and commemorative photos, memorabilia and artifacts from some of the most celebrated moments in the Garden’s history. If you love celebrities, like I do, there are dozens of vintage photos. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable, and I found it fascinating to learn from her that the basketball courts are put together like a puzzle, some 200 pieces, hand laid by a crew that can transform a hockey floor to a basketball court in about 2 hours and change.

If you are in New York this holiday season, in addition to the tour, you may want to get tickets for a live musical performance by Yo Gabba Gabba in November, or a musical production of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, in December.  In early January, the Harlem Globe Trotters will be there. The tour is 75 minutes long and runs daily from 10:30 am to 3:00 pm.Tickets can be purchased at the Madison Square Garden box office, online at all Ticketmaster outlets, or Ticketmaster by phone at (866) 858-0008. Tickets are priced at $26.95 for adults, $18.95 for seniors and students, $17.95 for children, and $18.00 per person for groups of more than 20.


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