Is Times Square a tourist trap filled with unorganized chaos? Absolutely. It’s best to just embrace the insanity while you dodge sketchy Spidnermen (Spidermans?) and try your best not to be in the street performer’s TikTok videos. We found that visiting at night during even slightest drizzle will deter some of the sightseers.
In this blog:
Madame Tussauds New York
Broadway Shows & More
Visiting a wax museum isn’t usually first on our itineraries typically but with a 10-year-old daughter first getting into pop culture, it seemed like the perfect destination. Madame Tussaud’s wax museum is located on 42nd Street just a block off of Times Square and directly across from the back entrance to Broadway’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The first gallery invited us to attend a party at Studio 54. Then we rode an elevator to a celebrity party in one of the most crowded locations in the museum (by skipping the up-charge photo op we were able to avoid a long line into the next hallway.) The hallways then wound through the many different themes.
Broadway in Wax
The Broadway halls featured a couple of the shows we had seen live over the last year; Phantom of the Opera and Cats. We also noticed that the wax sculptures were often from the most recent movie versions of the shows.
NYC New Year
We walked through a replicated NYE bash with views of the 42nd St. from there, an elevator took us to the top floor “Glow Gallery” filled with celebrities.
While we aren’t a “sporting” family, we did recognize most of the wax tennis, basketball, soccer and baseball players.
The Media in NYC
In an immersive gallery, we jumped from chatting with Wendy Williams and Michael Strahan and Jimmy Fallon to selling ads on the set of Mad Men.
Kids’ Movies in Wax
If horror movies aren’t their thing, children will still find opportunities to jump into the action with King Kong, Men in Black, and E.T. (although many 80s kids may argue that he belongs in the scary section.)
Warner Bros Icons of Horror
This section is well-positioned off the beaten path with content warnings to deter families with young children. For me, it was comparable to a well-done amusement park haunted house, minus the jump scares.
MARVEL Universe 4D
After seeing the superheroes we entered the theater for a short 4D movie. The attraction was included in the price of our general admission ticket.
Marvel Hall of Heroes
The largest complete themed collection was of Marvel Superheroes, and while most were recognizable as the Disney versions, Hulk looked more like he had jumped out of a comic book.
More Historic Figures
A small gallery included authors, scientists, religious leaders, and other important historic figures. Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts took obligatory photos by their club’s founders.
Political Figures and World Leaders
This gallery was filled with both past and currently living world leaders and history makers. One of our favorite photo ops was in the oval office with President Biden and Vice President Harris.
Rise NYC is a relatively new attraction in Times Square. It is a combination of a history museum and a ride (basically Epcot’s Soarin’ but New York City themed). With just an hour before our performance of & Juliet on Broadway, it was a perfect family stop to escape the Times Square crowds for a bit.
Many of the galleries begin by highlighting pivotal moments in the growth of the city, starting with the rise in popularity of beaver pelts.
The importance of radio broadcasts was marked with a collection of how the devices have changed with time.
Models comparing of the heights of the tallest building were lined up by when they were built, with just footprints representing the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.
New York in television provided the backdrop for a few photo ops, including a black and white Honeymooners set and a well-worn Friends couch.
After seeing costumes from Broadway productions, we boarded an “elevator” before the pre-show for the ride. The flight itself was mild enough for young children and the production was updated to celebrate a 2023 New Year’s Eve in the city.
Broadway intersects Times Square, so its the ideal destination for dinner & a show.
Like chain restaurants, Times Square is also home to many a larger version of a mall store. We’ve bribed Alice to continue on many a long walking trip with overpriced candy from M&Ms New York.
Times Square Dining
For dining, many enormous versions of popular chain restaurants are glaringly easy to find. We preferred jumping off the beaten path just a little fora slice of pizza. an enormous milkshake at Juniors Restaurant & Bakery, and a unique upscale (but 10-year old friendly) meal at Lillie’s Victorian Establishment.
Purchasing Broadway Tickets
Shows are a huge investment if you purchase tickets in advance and reserve your favorite seats. There are reputable discount ticket websites; we saw a lot of affordable ($75+range) last minute seats for some shows, while others were still over $250 per seat. Phantom of the Opera which was closing permanently later that month, had weekend seats for over $300 each, so we were glad we had chosen it for Alice’s first Broadway show in 2020
Broadway in NYC
There are many (mostly) kid-friendly Broadway shows. In 2023 we chose & Juliet. While there were a few “over her head” references, the Max Martin soundtrack from the early 2000s was fun for both kids and their Gen X/Gen Y parents. Most shows offer booster seats for kids; just ask an usher where to find one.