By Tribute on July 13, 2022 | Leave a Comment
Tribute was invited to preview The FRIENDS Experience: The One in Toronto. Located at the Yorkdale Mall just across from the LEGO Store, it’s hard to miss with its bold, purple exterior. We checked into our time slot and it was time for the tour to begin.
Scattered throughout the rooms are sanitation centers, certifying that the exhibition is not just clean, but Monica clean since 1994. This is a cute nod towards the character with a love for cleanliness, and also keeps guests reassured that they’re in good hands.
The first stop is a replica set of the iconic intro scene, complete with the orange couch, lamp, and fountain. As we sit on the sofa and pose for pictures, the Friends theme song plays, letting us live out our 90s sitcom dreams.
Our tour guide, Henry, tells us that the show was originally called “Six of One” before being changed to “Friends Like Us.” As we know, that name didn’t stick for very long and it was eventually shortened to Friends.
The next room was all about design. It featured biographies of costume designer Debra McGuire and artist Burton Morris. Rachel Green’s hairstyles had its own display, with wigs showing the character’s most memorable looks: including “the Rachel” from the mid-90s. Turns out, to achieve that famous thick-layered style, Jennifer Aniston’s stylist would swap out scissors for a flat razor.
Placed throughout the experience are TVs playing clips from various episodes.
As we continue with the tour, we are met with a wall of writing. Any Friends fan would recognize this as the 18 page letter Rachel wrote to Ross in “The One with the Jellyfish” episode. Henry informed us that on set, Aniston was using a regular stack of papers, but from an audience’s perspective, it didn’t look authentic. She ended up writing the letter by hand. Guests can see how the black pen slowly fades and the words suddenly change to blue ink after swapping pens.
Another interactive set replica waits for us around the corner. This one is taken straight from “The One with the Cop,” in which Rachel, Chandler and Ross, attempt to carry a couch up a narrow stairwell, resulting in Ross screaming “PIVOT” every few seconds.
Some other fun displays include a wall of iconic quotes (such as “Unagi,” “we were on a break” and “how you doin”), the prop of a raw turkey with sunglasses and a hat, and a Phoebe Buffay jukebox that plays her memorable lines with a push of a button.
The next set is Chandler and Joey’s apartment, complete with all the authentic details that give the room its charm. Two comfy recliners sit in the center of the floor, with a foosball table off to the side. There’s even a wall of MagnaDoodle boards, showcasing the messages and drawings that appeared in each episode.
We suddenly find ourselves in the most recognizable set from the show: Rachel and Monica’s apartment. For a moment, guests can truly feel like they’re part of the cast in the presence of the classic purple door and teal kitchen cabinets.
The last stop of the tour is the beloved coffee shop, Central Perk. There’s an exterior set with a microphone and guitar, paying homage to Phoebe’s lovely ballad, “Smelly Cat.” Further into the room is a full replica of the cafe’s interior. You can raise a prop mug and toast to friendship while sitting on the squad’s favorite couch (which our tour guide Henry pointed out, is the same sofa from the show’s intro sequence).
The experience comes to a close, lasting about half an hour, and we find ourselves in the gift shop. There is exclusive merchandise for the Toronto exhibit, ranging from comfy sweaters to coffee mugs, puzzles, and even a Friends edition of Monopoly.
Toronto is the experience’s first international stop. There is another location open in Denver and a permanent experience in New York, complete with a real Central Perk Cafe.
The replica sets and props are so detailed. Plus, the staff are very friendly and take plenty of photos, capturing all the best angles for you and your group. If you’re a Friends fan, this is a must-see. The FRIENDS Experience: The One in Toronto opens to the public Thursday, June 14, 2022 at Yorkdale Shopping Centre at 3401 Dufferin Street, across from the LEGO Store. ~Claudia Minardi
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