Dallas Morning News
By Eunice Fried
October 24, 2010
NEW YORK CITY – The Ride is like no other ride. A bus with 3,000 LED lights and 49 stadium- style seats in three tiers facing one glassed side of the vehicle, it’s a blinking, flashing, humming, talking multimedia spectacle. It debuted this month.
What it offers is a 4.2-mile, 75-minute trip through midtown Manhattan that is as much an entertainment extravaganza as it is a sightseeing tour. The live entertainment pops up along the streets of New York. The sightseeing centers on the city’s landmarks – Broadway, Carnegie Hall, Central Park, Grand Central Station, among many others – and as we drive past each, we learn gems of information about it.
Who knew, for instance, that 17 percent of New York is devoted to parks and that the decoration on the setbacks of the famed art deco Chrysler Building was made of Chrysler radiator caps, car fenders and hood ornaments?
But what sets The Ride apart from all other tours are the dancers, singers, jugglers and actors along the way who break into their respective acts as The Ride passes.
Notice that serious, well-dressed businessman carrying a black umbrella and hurrying along the street? Look again as he suddenly throws himself into a wild tap dance. See the man on Sixth Avenue in sports jacket and hat? One pull, and off come his trousers while he continues to stroll up the streets in his underpants.
Watch the ballet dancers, she in a pink tutu and glistening bodice, twirl around the base of the Christopher Columbus statue at Columbus Circle while traffic screeches around them. Add a delivery man who suddenly drops his packages and breaks into an exhilarating hip-hop number, a man who buys three hotdogs from a street vendor and then juggles them, a not-very-promising soprano belting out an aria on 57th Street and other performers. The plenitude of talent proves that all the world – at least, all of midtown Manhattan – is a stage.
If some of the acts border on the eccentric, perhaps more eccentric is the nonreaction of New Yorkers passing these outsized, often outlandish performances and never noticing, never breaking step. True, two young women glanced back for a brief moment at the man who tore off his trousers. A couple of people noticed the hip-hopper as he hung upside down from a construction grid before flinging himself on the sidewalk and twisting himself into a pretzel.
A young mother pushing a carriage almost ran into the ballerina en pointe and never looked up. Completely oblivious to them, a street cleaner pushed his broom in front of two young performers dressed as ushers and doing a Broadway song and dance number. People walked around the tap dancer as he threw himself this way and that, as if he were just another sidewalk obstruction.
Don’t get the impression that New Yorkers are jaded or indifferent. They did stop to look, stare and snap pictures – at the bus and us. As The Ride drove through Times Square toward the end of the trip, loudspeakers were turned on so that people outside could hear the passengers inside singing “New York, New York.”
They stopped, they clapped, they snapped, they waved, they sang along. Who said New Yorkers are blasé?
Eunice Fried is a freelance writer in New York.
When you go
The Ride leaves from the Marriot Marquis Hotel, 1535 Broadway, on the 46th Street side. It returns to the same location.
The Ride box office is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. It’s at the Marriot Marquis, ground level, outdoors, between 45th and 46th streets. Price: $65, peak (hours vary); $59, off peak. Children 10 and older are welcome; they pay the same price. To order by phone, call 1-866-299-9682. Website: theridenyc.com
•The first ride of the day is at 10 a.m.; the last ride leaves at 9:45 p.m. Participants should arrive 15 minutes before departure time.
•To get the most street reaction, or nonreaction, consider a ride between 2:30 and about 7:30. Most Broadway shows begin at 8 p.m., and until then, the sidewalks are jammed. After that, the crowds are less intense.
•There are no restroom facilities and no eating or drinking on the bus.
•The Ride operates year-round and in all weather, except during the rare blizzard or hurricane.