Published on April 29th, 2013 | by Greg
Walk, Drink, Think With NY_Hearts: Park Slope Tour
You’ve got two weekends left to experience one of the more unique limited-time New York City experiences, part neighborhood tour and part theater experience. You’ll visit local businesses, and listen to an audio track that brings a character to life as you wander through shops and grab drinks and free gifts. We’re huge fans of experiential theater in it’s many forms, and were quite excited to join the latest edition of NY_Hearts this past weekend. Offering all of the ingredients for a franchise, this is the second in the series, after the first one had us explore the Lower East Side for seven hours, and resulted in a rave review.
The new hotness? NY_Hearts: Park Slope, a shorter experience that features a completely new character and lower price. Your ticket includes drinks and other surprises from three local businesses – Babeland, DeLuxe, and Bar Toto – which are featured in the story. On the chosen day- Friday, Saturday, or Sunday- you simply start the tour at around 2PM and will follow along the route until around 5PM. The story’s action takes place on your headphones, thanks to a free app called Moveable Feast that you can download for your iPhone. The scheme works nicely for small groups or a date, especially if you don’t know the area. There’s no real ‘guide’ or rules or timeline, allowing you to wander off-trail and search through the cute shops.
But the experience is only as strong as the two parts- the businesses who essentially sign up to host, and the audio portion. Unfortunately, despite beautiful weather, we found both elements a bit weak this time around. A couple of the minor issues weren’t new- you didn’t really know if you had to tip at the cafe and the bar, and the instructions on exactly where to go were unclear. If you were a newcomer, you’d likely be confused at the first stop, which is vague, and without a person to meet, it feels unsatisfying. It’s essential that you at least feel part of something for an experience like this, encouraged and in a larger if often invisible group. That was lacking here, at least when we visited.
Also, unlike in the Lower East Side, this tour felt more like a trek, and involves a lot of walking distance. Everyone we spoke to would have preferred more stops and much less walking- you go around in circles a bit, and it feels a bit unnecessary considering the relative flexibility of the locations and plot. The narrator and only character, as well, is less enjoyable and practically unlikeable, despite some nice music. The story lacks drive- the twist and plot are handled with a bit less dexterity overall. It’s still adult, which we appreciated- fitting for a tour that includes a stop at an adult shop. But when we walk by the Old Stone House, a bit of information on this fascinating historical location would be great- otherwise, it misses the point completely, ignoring or at best indifferent to the world around the audience.
To it’s credit, nothing in the plot feels too forced, and it did seem realistic- just not very romantic, or all that pleasurable. It’s still very much worth trying- we highly suggest adding a stop at the Superhero Supply Store, which is right on the way. And NY Hearts remains well worth the price and time- $25, tickets available online. But Park Slope isn’t quite presented as the dynamic, packed neighborhood that it truly is. We have fallen in love with cortados though!