Oh. My. Gawd! FRIENDS Experience lands in downtown Seattle
This is the one where fans squeal and cry, "Oh ... My ... God!" around every corner, while snapping endless photos in the world of "Friends," the iconic 1990s sitcom.
The FRIENDS Experience opened in Seattle this week, offering a deep dive into the sitcom. While the attraction certainly offers a fun time for the casual viewer, hardcore fans will find moments of awe — the sort of fans who clap at the right moment during the theme song, and who have an opinion about whether Ross and Rachel were on a break.
"We are fans of the show, too, and we spent a lot of time doing our research ... we worked with the Warner Bros. archive team. We got every detail," said Stacy Moscatelli, copresident of Original X Productions, which tours the FRIENDS Experience from city-to-city.
The attraction is part immersive experience, and part museum. Expect to spend around an hour meandering through a range of recreated sets apt for photos, and behind-the-scenes exhibits for loyal viewers.
"People are blown away by how much we have here, not just sets and photo moments, but there is a museum aspect, there's a history, there is storytelling," Moscatelli said. "We have a signed script from the pilot ... if you're sort of a surface-level fan and want to sit in Central Perk and get a picture, knock yourself out. If you want to read everything and pose next to Rachel's hair, we've got that for you, too."
Then there are "Friends" fans who don't want to openly admit it, but we know, and they don't know that we know they know.
There are also deep cuts, some of which require the keen eye of a "Friends" devotee. If you've ever wondered what was in the letter, it's all on display, front and back. So is the hand drawn "Science Boy" comic book. If you listen closely, you may hear the sound of a baby chick chirping in a corner of Joey and Chandler's apartment. An entire exhibit is dedicated to Rachel's hairstyles. Then there are the wardrobes, the props, the scripts, and other aspects of show.
"Over the course of 10 seasons, there are all sorts of little differences on the sets," Moscatelli said. "In the boys' apartment we have black La-Z-Boys, but there were some seasons when they had brown La-Z-Boys. So we had to ask, 'What did they have the most of that we think will be recognizable?' But we've had really big fans come in, they'll stand in the room and say, 'Wait a minute, those chairs were brown.'"
Moscatelli also pointed to one exhibit featuring an interview with Debra McGuire, the costume designer for the show.
"She gives a really interesting and thoughtful perspective on how she created personalities for each of the cast members through their wardrobe, and the thoughtfulness she put into into everybody's color pallet ... she really thought about what goes into the lengths of somebody's personality through their clothes ... I think that is something that very few fans have seen."
The core attractions are the detailed sets that bring fans past the fourth wall and into a world they previously could only watch. Sit down at Monica's kitchen table. Help Ross move ... er ... pivot his couch. Give those leather chairs a try. And of course, visit Central Perk. Fans are welcome to take as many photos as they like, however, there are professional cameras set up at key spots, which will print out a high quality photo, for a fee.
The FRIENDS Experience is the product of Original X Productions, which is based in New York where the company has a permanent "Friends" exhibit featuring original props and more. Seattle is the 11th city where the FRIENDS Experience has landed. Recently, it made its international debut in Paris. The company is also gearing up for similar pop culture offerings around "The Office" and "Harry Potter."
What: The FRIENDS Experience
Where: Pacific Place, 600 Pine Street
When: Through April 2023
Tickets: $32; special pricing for children, students, military and seniors. Tickets are scheduled in order to allow groups enough time to explore the exhibit. More information here.