GroupTour Magazine online
By Exclusive Online Article
January 18, 2011
NEW YORK — The Ride might be a slight misnomer because it portends something simple and unassuming.
The Ride appears to be anything but. It is a roadie-worthy ensemble marrying an off-Broadway production, city tour and reality television with the comfort of a motor coach.
“It’s all about providing entertainment while on tour,” said Lindsay Pitzer, vice president of operations/producer. “We want our audience to be able to interact with New York.”
The Ride provides its interactive approach through its four 49-seat, $1.3 million retrofitted Prevost motorcoaches. The three-tier stadium-seating, glass-sided vehicle features 40 video screens with movie-quality sound and images.
In operations since October and currently operating Thursday through Sunday, The Ride made an appearance last week at the American Bus Association’s Marketplace 2011 in Philadelphia.
Based at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel, 1535 Broadway, The Ride takes its passengers on a 75-minute, 4.2-mile route that includes Times Square, Grand Central Terminal, Columbus Circle, Central Park and the Chrysler Building.
Created by Michael Counts, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based entertainment entrepreneur, The Ride’s productions are directed by Daniel Goldstein and written by John Bobey. The Ride makes New York an at-large stage, using its on-board and on-street performers and augmenting them with the city’s kaleidoscope.
“It’s really part-Broadway, part-tour, part reality-TV,” Pitzer said.
That is discovered quickly upon riding The Ride.
LDV Inc., based in Burlington, Wis., turned the 13.5-by-40-by-8-foot buses into rolling theaters, with ramped-up sound any rock band would love.
It “gave us headaches” getting “an IMAX Theater’s worth of equipment into a rolling room the size of a studio apartment,” said sound designer Brett Jarvis.
He likens the results to Madison Square Garden’s Jumbotron, clearly evident when he turns up the thunderous tones to boom The Ride’s soundtrack.
Accompanying the theatrics are two hosts augmented by performers along the way.
The Ride seeks to share New York’s vibrancy along with its history. For instance, it recreates the iconic end-of-World War II scene from Times Square on Aug. 14, 1945. In the image, an unidentified sailor kisses a nurse (later identified as Edith Shain), captured for posterity by Life magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt (with another view shot by a U.S. Navy photographer and published in The New York Times).
While the production is all about interaction on all fronts, improvisation and reality are the mainstays to providing unique experiences every time out. The immersive show is drama, comedy, documentary and reality all rolled into one.
“You can’t plan things entirely when you’re in New York,” Pitzer says.
The winter schedule, in effect through March 20, has rides at 7 and 7:30 p.m. Thursdays; 7, 7:30 and 8 p.m. Fridays; noon, 2, 4, 7, 7:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; and noon, 2 and 4 p.m. Sundays.
The cost to ride is $65 per person, available online; by telephone at (866) 299-9682; or at the box office at the Marriott Marquis Hotel from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more by calling (212) 244-2551, ext. 155, or (866) 299-9682; or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Ride is working on student-oriented offerings which it hopes to offer starting later this year, Pitzer said.