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There’s always something new to do in New York City.
And for some families, it can be a challenge to sort through all the options — and find activities that will please the whole gang. Fortunately, we’ve rounded up four experiences that are educational enough to get the parental stamp of approval, but innovative enough to keep the interest of tech-savvy kids.
Madame Tussauds New YorkKing Kong began his illustrious film career in New York City, so it’s only fitting that visitors can see the Kong: Skull Island attraction at Madame Tussauds New York in Times Square. The experience was unveiled in March 2017 to coincide with the release of the blockbuster film “Kong: Skull Island,” the latest take on the iconic ape.
After a trek through an indoor bamboo jungle — and a photo op with a wax figure of Tom Hiddleston, one of the movie’s stars — visitors will come face to face with an 18-foot-tall interactive King Kong animatronic head that breathes and snarls. (It also has 22-inch-wide eyes that track guests’ movements.)
"We worked with Legendary Pictures to ensure our animatronic head is the exact film scale,” said Anna Domingo, general manager of Madame Tussauds New York. “So visitors will feel the power of the Kong depicted on the big screen."
Another cool section of Madame Tussauds is Ghostbusters: Dimension, a multisensory experience inspired by the 2016 remake of the classic comedy-horror film that brings visitors through a New York City subway station, Times Square and a haunted mansion before they head to Ghostbusters Headquarters, where they’ll ward off spirits. Until the end of September, with the purchase of a Platinum ticket, clients can take part in The Void, a 4-D virtual reality attraction that allows them to take part in the action, fighting ghosts with their own proton pack and gun.
NFL Experience Times SquareNo matter which NFL team clients root for during football season, they can learn about all 32 teams at the NFL Experience Times Square. Open since December 2017, the attraction brings the world of professional football to life through championship memorabilia, interactive displays and physical challenges that allow football fans of all ages to compete against the pros.
“One of the best things about being a travel agent is when you get the chance to introduce your clients to an incredible experience,” said Michael Williams, president of the NFL Experience Times Square. “It utilizes state-of-the-art technology to bring fans closer to the game of football than ever before, and it and brings each visitor on a journey from fan, to player to champion.”
A 4-D movie theater places guests in the middle of the action. They’re seated in motion reactive seats and surrounded by screens that recreate the feeling of playing in an NFL stadium — there’s even snow. Exclusive footage takes the audience onto the field and into the locker rooms with their favorite players and coaches as they prepare for their own “playoff training.”
In the training zone, visitors match their strength, agility, vertical jump and even their hand size against NFL superstars. After they watch a video tutorial from Jon Gruden, head coach for the Oakland Raiders, they can take the Quarterback Challenge, which allows participants to complete a pass to their favorite receiver, then compare stats with that team’s quarterback.
One World ObservatoryNew York has no shortage of tall buildings, but perhaps the most powerful is One World Trade Center, also known as the Freedom Tower. Rising a symbolic 1,776 feet — a tribute to the year of the U.S.’ independence — the building is the tallest in the Western Hemisphere.
After viewing a video diary room that tells the story of One World Trade Center from the people who built it, guests enter SkyPod Elevators that climb 102 stories in 47 seconds. As each elevator moves, its video walls depict the rise of New York from precolonial times to present day. At the top, the See Forever Theater immerses visitors in the sights and sounds of the city, culminating in a dramatic first glimpse of One World’s spectacular view.
Inside the 360-degree One World Observatory, guests can view the city from every angle. For a nominal fee, clients can rent an iPad with a view-enhancing experience called One World Explorer that lets them tap the screen for detailed information about the New York’s most iconic sights.
SpyscapeSpyscape is the world’s largest interactive spy museum, featuring technology that lets visitors determine whether they have what it takes to be super spies. Clients will also learn about the greatest and most notorious spies in history at the midtown Manhattan attraction, which opened this February.
"Unlike most museums or experiences, Spyscape engages the whole family with amazing spy artifacts and stories, as well as a uniquely compelling exploration of your own identity to discover your inner spy," said Ian Oldaker, chief operating officer for Spyscape.
When guests enter, they are given wristbands that track their progress. By touching the band to profiling stations, they can answer questions and complete brain teasers that assess their personality and skill set. Bands also record results from interactive spy skills tasks such as encryption and surveillance. A particularly popular task is special ops training, where visitors navigate through a laser tunnel and earn points for avoiding the beams.
At the end of the experience, the debriefing room assesses each guest’s performance and determines which spy role is best suited to their physical, mental and emotional qualities. During my debriefing, I was told I am empathetic, inquisitive and composed , and therefore was assigned the role of Agent Handler — a manager of agents who provides secret intelligence or operational support.