Exploring Central Park with On Location Tours

Of all the times I have been to Central Park while living in New York City, I never knew just how many movies and television shows have filmed there. So when I had the opportunity to do the Central Park TV & Movie Sites tour with On Location Tours, I knew it would be a great photo opp as well!

I joined the tour group led by Paige, who clued us in on the fact that we were about to make our way through the most filmed location in all of Manhattan. It turns out over 200 TV series and movies have filmed here, making it the ultimate location to experience these iconic sites up close.

We had about 843 acres to cover—well not quite! We navigated through the main spots of Central Park to view the many recognizable landmarks and landscapes.

Duck Pond
On Location Tours at Duck Pond
We started at the most picturesque section of the park and my personal favorite, the Duck Pond, set against the Midtown skyline along 5th Avenue and 59th Street. Our On Location Tours guide pointed out the familiar setting of the Gapstow Bridge where you may remember scenes from King Kong, Gossip Girl, Enchanted, Home Alone 2 and more. To be standing on the same ground that famous actors like Patrick Dempsey, Amy Adams, Anne Hathaway and Macaulay Culkin once professionally covered seemed too magical to be true. Hence the magic behind that dance sequence from Enchanted and the imaginary portal from Smurf world into NYC in last year's Smurf 3D movie.

Duck Pond and Gapstow Bridge

On Location Tours - Gapstow Bridge

Wollman Skating Rink

On Location Tour - Wollman Ice Rink
Our Central Park tour was just getting started, and it seemed to spark the imaginations of many members of the group. We were lead towards our next stop: Wollman Skating Rink. Once I saw it I remembered the scene from Serendipity where Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack's character first meet then reunite some time later thanks to fate. Our tour guide Paige went into detail about this location and the seasonal changes that take place in this section of the park.

Playmate's Arch
On Location Tours - Playmates Arch
From there we were led to The Dairy and Gift Shop, located in an area that has been dubbed the "Children's District." I can see why: playgrounds and family picnics abound in this area, providing a friendly atmosphere and the perfect spot to film a TV or movie scene. We wander underneath Playmates Arch toward the Carousel where we learn of several more famous TV and movie scenes.

The Mall: Literary Walk
On Location Tours - Literary Walk
The next stop was another favorite of mine: Central Park's Literary Walk, a.k.a The Mall. We've seen Vanilla Sky, The Producers and Maid in Manhattan set here, as well as classics like Breakfast at Tiffany's and new favorites like Glee. Those recognizable American Elm trees that lean in towards a busy central walkway provide an iconic setting in all of these movies and shows.

The group being led to Bethesda Terrace
OLT - To Bethesda Terrace

On Location Tours - Bethesda Terrace

The group gathered at Bethesda Fountain

On Location Tours - group

It turns out Elf filmed here, with Will Ferrell flying over the Bethesda Fountain with his reindeer and sleigh on Christmas Eve. And just across the lake from Bethesda Terrace is the popular Boathouse Restaurant. Paige told us about a scene from Sex and the City and some insider facts from the day they filmed that only On Location Tours would know!

Paige shared with us a lot of key facts about filming and production in New York. This is the type of excitement that leads out-of-towners here. Why merely watch it on TV when you can experience it in real life!?

That's when we made an interesting stop at the Imagine Mosaic in Strawberry Fields. We learned some interesting facts about this section of the park and of the nearby Dakota Building where John Lennon once lived.

The tour ended at the site of Tavern on the Green where Paige described to us the former restaurant's appeal, success and what ultimately led to it shutting down.

From there we were free to explore Sheep Meadow where many famous scenes have taken place. With all of locations the Central Park TV & Movie Sites tour highlighted, it brought more meaning to the spots I've been frequenting over the years. It would be a fun tour to take whether you're visiting, just moved here, or have lived in the city for several years like I have! 


Central Park, Spring 2012

Midtown Backdrop
Midtown Skyline

In the 'Children's District"
Kids Playing

The CarouselCentral Park's Carousel

Spring TreesCentral Park in Spring

Looking up to CPW

Towards Strawberry Fields
Towards Strawberry Fields

The Imagine Mosaic
Picture takers at Imagine Mosaic

Toward Columbus Circle 
Sightseeing Tour Bus