A look inside Canada’s first Friends Experience

Oh. My. Cool. It’s the one in Toronto. The Friends Experience – an interactive exhibition of the popular TV sitcom – is officially held at Yorkdale Mall and true enthusiasts can get nostalgic. You’ll inevitably giggle at the show’s key moments as you stroll through this 20,000-square-foot exhibition. The iconic NBC series ran for 10 seasons and was formative for the micro-generation of Xennials who were in middle or high school in 1994 when the series debuted. They will no doubt flock to the mall with offspring in tow.

This is the first international stop on the Friends Experience Tour. From OG viewers to Zoomers, “people really love the show… and I think through proliferation on streaming platforms, it’s built a steady audience of new fans,” says Stacy Moscatelli, co-president and chief strategy officer of Superfly X, the production company behind the experience. Multigenerational families come together, “whether mothers and daughters or grandparents and grandchildren,” she says. “They saw the show at very different times.” The display “gives them a chance to experience it together, so the response has been really special – people get emotional.”

The exhibition runs until January 2023. Here is a little foretaste of the 12 rooms.

Spoiler alert: the tour begins with a video message from the insufferable but lovable Janice. An iconic purple door with a complementary yellow frame around the peephole teases you.

The fountain
Then it’s linear: the set from the opening credits, complete with a fringed orange Chesterfield, a Tiffany lamp and the iconic fountain. Sit down or spread out.

In a video, costume designer Debra McGuire explains how she created personas for each main character. She thought about “their style, their color palette, their personalities and really built a sense of that brand around them,” says Moscatelli, noting that this is her favorite room. Includes pop art paintings by Burton Morris, whose IRL work was featured at Central Perk.

“We took a break!”
Around the corner is the long letter from Season 4 that shows Jennifer Aniston’s actual penmanship. The real prop, however, is at the flagship location in New York. With plenty of reading material, it’s more of a hands-on museum and the signage has an authentic subway aesthetic.

Here you are really encouraged to do it for the gram. Designated floor markers prompt you to gather evidence, and staff stand by to snap that perfect shot. Why not pretend to move a sofa?

The dating wall
Do you remember Celia from the first season? She is a familiar face from another NBC blockbuster sitcom set in Scranton, PA. The Science Boy comic book nearby is also worth a look.

“I could Be Are you wearing any more clothes?”
Pretend you’re wearing all of Chandler’s clothes, then watch a highlight reel of Joey’s funniest moments.

The boys’ apartment
It has two lounge chairs to sit in so pull the lever and unbutton your jeans. Then check out the wall by Magna Doodles as well as a functional foosball table. However, no chick or duck.

Monica’s kitchen
Nearly 100 diamond engagement rings were flogged in this set, says Moscatelli. “At this point, Monica’s apartment is very popular in every town because Monica proposed to Chandler there.” Put romance aside, absorb myriad eclectic things: the table can evoke “little things.” Ten tidying tips from Monica Geller are a reminder of civic duty. Observant types will appreciate a clever nod to COVID-19: “Not Just Clean – Monica Clean – Since 1994” Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes are peppered everywhere.

The corridor
Pause to pose outside of housing units 19 and 20. “When we decided to continue the experience, we actually asked fans what they would like to see more of – what were some of their favorite moments and iconic episodes?” says Moskatelli. “As a result of this feedback, we’ve added several more sets.”

“I wish I could, but I don’t want to”
Hit a button on the jukebox and hear Phoebe – the former child kidnapper – deliver a classic punchline, or mimic her on the mic as she performs outside of Central Perk.

Inside Central Perk
Cafe-goers can lounge on the other orange couch and pretend to sip from one of the four dotted cups (the rest of the items are taped). Moscatelli confirms that this is the place with the most Instagram photos. “Central Perk has had so many really amazing conversations about life, love and career — and all of the above,” she says, “so this is one where you can definitely see that people are really into it to look at it.”

Food is such an important part of the show that it even has one friends Cookbook amidst the expected sweatshirts, mugs, tote bags and hugsy the penguin. The gift shop is open to all visitors to the mall.

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