This one is in two parts - The restaurant and then if you are interested, the show.
I have seen lines for this place extend the hour and a half mark on Saturday and Sundays in the summer during the pre-theatre dinner rush. Today, we arrived in the city at11:30 and our show didn't start until 2 PM. There was no line to get in and it was something that Mother Fluxer had always wanted to do...so we did.
Preflux (My 8 year old son) was a bit nervous about alien character dining, and I was concerned about the prices. I figured that I might something to eat and I would have to deal with it. Hey it's a themed restaurant, in the middle of the Broadway theater district on a Saturday. (By the way parking was already going to cost me 30 bucks)
When you walk down the stairway into the plaza, the center has a model of a ship. Everyone makes their way over to a counter to pay ($2 admission fee per person - which will be added on to your bill). Then you line up to go into what I thought would be an elevator to take you down stairs. Nope...it's a spacecraft, (simulator ride) to blast you off to Mars.
Mother Fluxer took the easy way out, but Pre and I went in, sat in the front row, and prepared for an unexpected flight to Mars.
The ride was about 90 seconds and I saw something here that I never saw before on any simulator...no belts, no bars, just a small handle on the sides of your chair that you can hold on to.
The ride itself was lack-luster. A few shakes, a few jolts, but not too much action. It wasn't Star Tours or Spiderman, but it wasn't a complete waste of time. The video screen was showing somewhat cheesey special effects (like a worm hole that looked like it was a left-over from the first Star Trek season). Part of the projection was blocked by something.
The ride left us out at Mars (Same location - different door) According to the designers of this place, Mars is mostly made of brown rocks and red rope lights to simulate lava flow. The design worked and even the table where you give your name was embedded in red rock. There were projections, video screens and something our waiter pointed out...a thin neon wall hanging that would change its picture every few seconds, but could only be seen by using peripheral vision.
The wait staff was plentiful and pleasant. The serivce was very good, considering it's in a New York tourist area. Every so ofter and alien would come to your table and use disney-like non-verbal communication. They too looked like they were enjoying themselves underneath their masks.
The food is quite good for people bringing children. Recipies such as Cheese Sticks, Burgers, Mac & Cheese and Chicken Fingers made it through the space/time continuum. There was also a bar, but none of us drink. The bill for the 3 of us was in the mid fifties, for a burger, a grilled chicken sandwich and an order of mac and cheese & 3 soft drinks. (That also included our $6 admission). (Tip was extra)
Preflux was given a "borading pass" for a free game at the Cyber arcade. He played skee ball. All of the other games here were very over priced. (Pacman was 75 cents, Skeeball was a buck, Dance Revolution was a buck and a half.
On the way out, we used a transporter beam, (fancy light system and we were led to a gift shop and then out to the plaza.
Thoughts: Again for a themed restaurant in the New York City theatre district, it wasn't too bad and it catered to kids. I looked at people at their tables and they all seemed to be enjoying the place. Again, the ride could have been a lot better and the food, though expensive, was edible and 7 on a scale of 1 - 10.
The bathroom though was not Martian at all. It was a bit dirty and it had a broken mirror. The music was very much safe top 40 and recent hits. Apparently Hollaback Girls are on Mars too.
That ends this portion of the report...if you want to hear about Beauty and the Beast and a few thoughts about Disney shows on Broadway read on...
When Beauty and The Beast opened on Broadway 11 years ago, it was in a different theatre. It was quite good and its success sprang The Lion King, Tarzan (which I didn't see but got poor reviews) and the soon-to-open Mary Poppins. You know what...it's still a great show and a perfect first show to share with your kids.
This time, the part of Gaston, was played by Donny Osmond, who my wife likes and has follwed ever since he was singing with his sister on national TV as teenagers. He was perfect for the part and did a great job. (I wonder though how the rest of the cast feels about his name and getting more applause than Belle and the Beast, but I'm not a theatre person and I can't judge) All of the cast was good, but he was the advertised draw.
Side thought...You know, Broadway actors kind of have the best of both worlds. In their own circles, if they get a lead role, they are known and revered. Then, when the show is over, they can leave the theatre, get on a train and enjoy being an un-known.
Anyway, I have NEVER seen a show at a theme park, even at Disney, where the talent compared to the Broadway stage. I don't know why, but it's something I can't put my finger on, since actors are looking for work and the theme parks can pick and choose from the best.
The Lunt-Fontaine Theatre on West 46th Street was clean, but not at all comfortable. The sets were too close to each other and the bathrooms were downstairs and poorly placed.
At the end of the show, the side doors opened and people exited into the street, where they begant o wait for the stage door to open and to get autographs. The young lady who played Belle, was out in a T-shirt and a ball cap signing away. Then the lady who played Mrs. Potts came out. She was very gracious. She didn't get to everyone, but she was just a nice person in front of the crowd. Then the street went nuts because Donny came out. He was smiling and signing a few things and people (mostly women in thier 40s and 50s) were yelling and asking him to sign stuff. He did, and seemed to enjoy the moment, but some of the pushing and shoving of the crowd became a bit noticeable. He signed as many as he could, and then a theatre security person helped to move him to another area. Mother Fluxer got an autograph which made her very happy.
Then we walked through the crowded streets to visit the POrt Authority Bus Terminal, where a George Rhoades Ball Sculptre is located. Of course it's in poor shape, complete dissaray, not working and filthy. dam the city for not taking care of such a great treasure.
So that's basically it. My family had a nice, but very expensive day.
The thing about Broadway vs. park shows, I think, is that on Broadway you have more rehearsal time, the shows are longer, and also the fact that on Broadway if you suck, you're out. At the parks, shows are just a sideshow attraction, hardly ever a main bill, except perhaps SFFT. So they just don't matter overall as much, and thus they lose the quality. I doubt we'll ever see Broadway quality shows at parks, because they just cost too much for parks. Heck, almost the only place, outside of the touring shows, is London or Chicago. (Sorry, Theatre Design & Production Major :p)
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