We’ve been to NYC quite a few times and have done many of the major things to do in New York City with kids. During our most recent trip to Manhattan with Exclusive Resorts, I wanted to experience a few new things that we hadn’t done before. I’d seen The Ride NYC buses during our past trips to NYC and was intrigued.
The Ride NYC reviews are all generally very good, so it definitely looked like something worth checking out with my kids. On our last full day in the city, we had a chance to take a trip.
Disclosure: Exclusive Resorts covered the cost of this attraction for us during our visit to NYC with them. This post contains affiliate links. A click-through or purchase through one of these links may result in a commission paid to us.
All opinions are our own. After we had the Ride experience with Exclusive Resorts, we had the opportunity to ride again at no cost with the Adventures by Disney New York Long Weekend trip.
The Ride NYC Review: A Unique Way to Experience New York City
What is the Ride NYC?
The Ride New York is described as an “interactive entertainment experience”. Their tagline is “Experience the Ride” – so it’s more of an experience.
It’s not a bus tour – so don’t expect to get full narration as you drive through the city on the bus. Instead, it’s entertainment, improv, and a little bit of sightseeing all in one.
A trip runs for about 75 minutes, and drives by a small part of midtown NYC, including Times Square, Lincoln Center, Grand Central Terminal, Bryant Park, and the New York Public Library.
One of the really unique aspects of The Ride is the specially-designed buses. These buses have floor to ceiling windows, as well as windows on the ceiling. Instead of sitting in rows facing the bus driver, the buses have stadium-style seats.
There are three long rows, so everyone can see out of the side of the bus all at once. There are also screens that show information during the journey, as well as LED lights in the front. There are sounds and flashing lights, which add to the overall energetic experience of the trip.
Each ride includes two interactive and entertaining hosts who bring tons of energy to the trip. During our experience, the hosts made a big effort to get to know as much about everyone as possible, so they could partially customize our experience.
They asked our names and where we were from as we boarded the bus, and during the trip. My kids loved having the host shout out their name as she narrated – it made the whole thing even more special.
While the bus and the hosts are lots of fun, our favorite experiences happened outside the bus, where you’ll also see some great, unique entertainment. These small scenes are almost flash mob-style – blending into the NYC landscape.
For example, in one spot, you’ll see a freestyle rapper who appears to be a regular pedestrian walking down the street. Of course, as you get closer, you realize this particular pedestrian has a microphone.
One of our favorite parts of this experience was seeing the people outside react to the entertainment. Some people walked right by while others picked up their phones and started filming. I’d imagine regular NYC residents are used to seeing the Ride entertainment on their typical daily commute, while it was completely new to most tourists.
Is it worth it to get the guaranteed front row on the Ride NYC?
When you purchase your tickets, you’ll have options for a regular experience as well as a guaranteed front row ticket. We had guaranteed front row tickets during our trip, which meant that we were able to line up in the front and get a seat in the front of the three rows.
During our experience, everyone who got front row seats had purchased the guaranteed options, so I’d definitely recommend buying that option if you absolutely want to sit in the front. Otherwise, you probably won’t be in that row, regardless of when you arrive.
However, with only three rows on the bus, you definitely do not have to be in the front row, even if you are short. If you don’t want to pay extra, you’ll still have a great experience. During my second trip on the Ride, I did not have front row seats and still had a good view.
What do you see with The Ride NYC?
It’s important to note that the Ride is NOT a guided tour. While you’ll see some of the sites of NYC, it’s not the primary purpose of the trip. The Ride originates and ends in Times Square.
During the 75 minute journey, you’ll go past popular landmarks like the Chrysler Building, Lincoln Center, Grand Central Terminal, Bryant Park, and the New York Public Library.
There is some commentary and narration about these popular and famous landmarks, but it’s mixed in with jokes and other entertainment. You will not get off the bus during the trip.
Is the Ride NYC family-friendly?
My kids, aged 12 and 13, absolutely loved it. The jokes were appropriate for everyone (although there were a few they didn’t exactly understand).
I’d probably recommend it for kids aged 8 and up, although there were a few younger ones on our trip. Just keep in mind that they may not understand everything if they are younger.
Where do you get on the Ride NYC, and when do you need to arrive?
You’ll line up for the bus at 42nd and 8th, in front of Patrick’s Restaurant. It’s an outdoor location with no shelter (or restrooms), so be aware of that when packing for the day.
During our visit, the weather was absolutely perfect, so we didn’t mind waiting outside, but I could imagine that it would be tough in the cold, rain, or excessive heat.
It’s recommended that you arrive about 15 minutes in advance of your reservation. We arrived early but boarded just a minute or two before our scheduled time.
If you don’t have guaranteed front row tickets, the line will determine when you enter the bus. Despite that, I really don’t see any reason to get there too early. All of the seats on the bus are pretty good.
How long is the Ride NYC?
The entire experience is about 75 minutes, and you’ll end exactly where you start. There are no restrooms on the bus, so you’ll want to take care of that before you line up.
There are no stops along the way, and once you’re on the bus, you won’t disembark until the trip is over. The bottom line: use the restroom before you go, especially when traveling with kids.
The Ride NYC Discount Options
There are a few different ticket options as well as some discounts that you can get. Depending on the season, there may be some coupon codes that you can find online.
If you are combining a trip on the Ride with other NYC attractions, you may consider getting a pass. The New York Explorer pass includes tickets to the Ride, as well as other attractions like the Empire State Building.
Just choose the number of attractions that you want to visit, and purchase the appropriate pass. The New York Pass is another option.
Once you have the pass, you’ll need to schedule your trip through the website. There’s a special link for booking with a pass, and you’ll want to be sure you do it correctly.
What are the differences between the Ride and the Tour?
The company that operates the Ride also offers a trip called the Tour. If you are looking for more of a traditional tourist tour experience, the Tour is probably a better option.
The Tour takes place on the same unique buses but includes more traditional narration. I love the style of the buses, so I would imagine this would be a great way to see the city.
There’s also the Downtown Experience, which incorporates virtual reality and may not be great for kids and can aggravate certain health conditions. If your kids are old enough, this could be lots of fun for another unique experience.
Is the Ride NYC worth it?
It is expensive, but I absolutely think it’s worth it, especially if you’ve done the traditional NYC tour buses. It’s entertaining and fun, and such a unique experience.
Just be aware that it isn’t a traditional tour (book the Tour for that sort of experience, or a different company’s tour options), so you won’t be getting a full tour of the city. For the first trip to New York City, I’d probably recommend doing both The Ride and a separate sightseeing tour.
To learn more, visit the Ride website.