ROBIN’S NYC ADVENTURES: On Location Tours & NBC Studio Tour

My son had three days home before starting camp, so I scouted around for interesting things to do with him, and we spent a beautiful day in Manhattan touring.  Even if you live in NY, it can be fun to feel like a tourist, and inevitably you will see and experience things you might not have previously taken in. 

We began our day with On Location Tours. They offer a New York TV & Movie Sites, a three and a half hour bus tour that visits more than 40 locations from TV shows and films shot in New York City….from Midtown Manhattan to the Financial District.  You visit exterior locations used in Glee,  Seinfeld, Spider-Man, Men in Black and many more.  In addition to a photo-op in front of the Friends apartment building, there are other opportunities to hop off the bus and explore sites seen on the big and small screens.  A surprise and welcome stop in Soho, near the Dash store owned by the Kardashian sisters — of reality-tv fame – give us a 1/2 hour opportunity to do some quick, fun shopping.  We also rode past the site of the 9.11 Memorial, Battery Park, had gorgeous views of boats on the Hudson River, etc.  My son particularly loved the visit to the firehouse where they filmed Ghostbusters…we didn’t get to go inside but could see in the windows and photograph a cool Ghostbusters emblem on the sidewalk in front of the house.

 Tours are led by local actors and actresses who share inside industry information and behind-the-scenes gossip.  Theme songs and video clips from the actual television shows and films are played on the bus.  We had Amadeo as our guide , a young actor, who was engaging and kept the bus lively, whether singing, chatting, giving away black ‘n white cookies to lucky trivia winners, handing out Spiderman tatoos, etc. (since it was Spiderman movie week in NY), etc.

The tour of New York TV and Movie Sites runs daily at 11:00 AM.  Tickets cost $40 for adults and $24 for children, plus an additional $2 fee per ticket.  Detailed information on all tours can be found at  Advance purchase is required, as tours normally sell out.  To purchase tickets, call Zerve at 212-209-3370 or visit online at

On Location Tours, Inc. is a bus tour company based in New York City, specializing in TV and movie location tours. Other tours offered include Sex and the City Hotspots, Gossip Girl Sites, Sopranos Sites, Central Park TV & Movie Sites and Brooklyn TV & Movie Sites. On Location Tours also runs the Boston TV & Movie Sites and Boston Movie Mile in Boston, MA. The company was founded in 1999 by Georgette Blau, a 1996 graduate of Skidmore College.


The NBC Studio Tour provides a behind the scenes look at television production in the heart of Midtown Manhattan.
As you walk through the impressive 30 Rockefeller Plaza, two NBC Pages take you on a  tour beginning with a screening of the History of Television in the private NBC Sharp Globe Theatre. This high-definition short film highlights classic clips of television milestones from the past to the present and provides a glimpse of what the future of television might hold. Then we were taken to a floor to see photos, etc. from NBC employees lost in the line of duty, to remind us of the risks and dedication of television folk to perform their jobs and keep us informed.  Next, we were herded to a floor to peer through glass at the studio for Saturday Night Live, and provided background on the show, guest stories, etc.   We then again looked through glass at NBC’s worldwide media distribution at the  Broadcast Operations Center.  The tour’s next stop was a room with a video and display of prosthetics/makeup used in SNL.  Kinda interesting to hear what they go through to portray certain characters….though would have been cooler to see the real makeup room.   Then, we were led to a makeshift High Definition Mini-control Studio where two volunteers (who can read on Fifth Grade Level or above….so my son was too young) had the opportunity to deliver news and weather.  Here we got to sit, and see what teleprompters are like, learn about Green Screens, etc.  My son thought this part was cool!

The tour starts and ends in the NBC Experience Store with the opportunity to view photos and video of your NBC Studio Tour experience.  Felt like a very concerted attempt to sell merchandise, though there was some unique stuff for sale if you’re a fan of any particular NBC show.

I have to admit….I thought we would have been able to see a lot more on this tour.  There were about 30 of us in the group, and we piled on and off two elevators, feeling a bit squashed in, with poor air circulation (maybe too many on the tour?).  There was no place to sit except for one stop on the tour, and between the movie and security…the tour itself was more like 45 minutes.   My son commented he had thought, as did I, that we might get a closer view of equipment, controls, etc.  It wasn’t easy to see much from the window peering onto the SNL set.  The tour felt like a lot more talking on the part of the pages vs. seeing.  But, if you’ve never been to a TV studio before, you might find the experience interesting.



Note: Thanks to the tour operators for providing tickets.