Monday, September 28, 2020

FRIENDS: The Experience Opens This Week in Chicago

Last year marked the 25th anniversary of the debut of what would become an iconic comedy series about six friends living in New York. Each week we'd get to know them a little better - Joey, the flirty soap opera actor; Chandler, the high-strung, sarcastic jokester with an unfulfilling desk job; Monica, the responsible, competitive and ultra neat chef; Rachel, Monica's best friend and roommate - a spoiled, but sweet rich girl who has no experience in adulting; Ross, Monica's big brother, the lovable and brainy, but boring paleontologist; and Phoebe, the eccentric masseuse/songstress who performs such compelling tunes as "Smelly Cat" in a coffee shop.

There were so many laughs, adventures, twists and turns that the NBC sitcom took over the ten seasons on air and you can step back into that era during this pop-up exhibit opening October 1 and running through January 3 at The Shops at North Bridge, 540 N. Michigan. Entry begins on the lower level at the FRIENDS The Experience Store, where you can snag fun stuff like pins, t-shirts and Funko Pop! figures. COVID-19 precautions are in place that include having all merchandise behind glass so it is only handled by staff. The gift shop is open to the public without an admission needed, so even if you can't make it to the see the exhibit, you can stop by for some FRIENDS merchandise souvenirs.

Also on the first floor is an amazing recreation of Central Perk constructed entirely of plastic play blocks. You can even sit on the sofa for photos. Up on the second floor you begin in your first of 12 rooms where you can again, have a seat on an orange sofa in front of the fountain in a mock-up set of the show's opener. Throughout the exhibit is a steady stream of interactive fun that includes the purple door, the hallway, interiors of Joey and Chandler's apartment and Rachel and Monica's. You can view original costumes, scripts and get a chronological look at Rachel's do's. There are spaces dedicated to each of the characters and a recreation of a spot that is central to most of the episodes, Central Perk. Also, be sure to binge and brush up your FRIENDS knowledge so you can crush the touches trivia game with a screen that you control with foot pedals.

Friends The Experience has already made its way to New York and Boston and Chitown is its third stop. Created by Superfly X, Warner Bros. Consumer Products and Warner Bros. Television Group, "The One in Chicago" will be open daily with online ticketing available for timed entry for $35 per guest. Private access reservations can also be made for groups of 6 or 10 for an additional charge. Health and safety precautions include social distancing and limited capacity, temperature checks, UV sterilization, hand sanitizing stations and ongoing cleaning of high-touch surfaces. Masks are required for entry.

For ticket information, hours and more, visit

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