A look inside Canada’s first Friends Experience

A look inside Canada’s first Friends Experience

Oh. My. Gawd. It’s The One in Toronto. The Friends Experience—an interactive exhibition of the popular television sitcom—is officially at Yorkdale Mall, and bonafide enthusiasts can wax nostalgic. They’ll inevitably chuckle at the show’s most “pivot”-al moments while sauntering through this 20,000-square-foot display. The iconic NBC series ran for 10 seasons and was formative for the microgeneration of xennials in particular, who were in middle school or high school when the show debuted, in ’94. They’ll indubitably flock to the mall with offspring in tow.

This marks the Friends Experience tour’s first international stop. From OG viewers to zoomers, “people really love the show…and I think, through distribution on streaming platforms, it has built a continuous audience of new fans,” says Stacy Moscatelli, co-president and chief strategy officer of Superfly X, the production company behind the experience. Multigenerational families are visiting together, “whether it’s mothers and daughters or grandparents and grandkids,” she says. “They’ve watched the show at very different times.” The display “gives them the opportunity to experience it together, so the response has been really special—people get emotional.”

The exhibition runs until January 2023. Here’s a sneak peek at the 12 rooms.

Spoiler alert: the tour begins with a video message from the insufferable yet 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. Have a seat or sprawl out.

Behind the Scenes
In a video, costume designer Debra McGuire explains how she created personas for each main character. She thought about “their style, their colour palette, their personalities and really developed kind of this brand around them,” Moscatelli says, noting that this is her favourite room. Pop art paintings from Burton Morris, whose IRL work was featured in Central Perk, are included.

“We Were On a Break!”
Around the corner, the lengthy letter from season four can be found, featuring Jennifer Aniston’s actual penmanship. The real prop, however, is at the flagship location in New York. With plenty to read, it’s more like a museum where you’re allowed to touch things, and the signage features an authentic subway aesthetic.

This is where you’re really encouraged to do it for the ’gram. Designated floor markers prompt you to capture evidence and staff are on hand, trained to photograph the perfect snapshot. Why not pretend you’re moving a sofa?

The Dating Wall
Remembering Celia from season one? She’s a familiar face from another NBC blockbuster sitcom, set in Scranton, PA. The Science Boy comic book nearby is also worth a gander.

“Could I Be Wearing Any More Clothes?”
Make like you’re wearing all of Chandler’s clothing, then watch a highlight reel of Joey’s funniest moments.

The Guys’ Apartment
It has two recliners you can sit in, so pull the lever and unbutton your jeans. Then check out the wall of Magna Doodles, plus a functional foosball table. No chick or duck, though.

Monica’s Kitchen
Nearly 100 diamond engagement rings have been whipped out on this set, says Moscatelli. “At this point, in all of the cities, Monica’s apartment is really popular because that’s where Monica proposed to Chandler.” Romance aside, take in myriad eclectic things: the table may bring to mind “trifle time.” Ten tidying tips from Monica Geller are a reminder of one’s civic duty. Observant types will appreciate a clever nod to COVID-19: “Not Just Clean—Monica Clean—Since 1994” hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes are peppered throughout.

The Hallway
Pause to pose outside of apartment units 19 and 20. “Once we decided to continue the experience, we actually asked fans what they wanted to see more of—What were some of their favourite moments and iconic episodes?” says Moscatelli. “We added several more sets as a result of that feedback.”

“I Wish I Could, but I Don’t Want To”
Push a button on the jukebox and hear Phoebe—the former child mugger—deliver a classic punchline, or mimic her at the mic, performing outside of Central Perk.

Inside Central Perk
Café-goers can lounge on the other orange couch and pretend to sip from one of four polka dot mugs (the rest of the items are glued down). This is the most Instagrammed spot, Moscatelli confirms. “So many really impactful conversations about life and love and career—and all of the above—happened in Central Perk,” she says, “so that’s one that you definitely see people get really excited to check out.”

Food plays such an integral role in the show that there’s even a Friends cookbook amid the expected sweatshirts, mugs, tote bags and Hugsy the penguin. The gift shop is open to all mall-goers.