It’s been a while since I’ve done anything on my 30 Before 30 List. However, as I’m writing this, we’ve just got home after a day at FriendsFest. Let’s face it, a hot day, loads of crowds and touching a load of photo props that other people have touched doesn’t sound like my ideal day of fun does it? However, I’m one of many Friends fans and have been for years, so when I saw that FriendsFest was coming to Bristol this year I couldn’t help but buy tickets. Of course, we took a shit-ton of pictures, a lot of which I will share with you in this post, but I would strongly advise you to go if you’re a fan!
As we came in, there were a fair few photo set-ups you could take a picture with. The first one we headed to was Phoebe’s cab, as it had the shortest queue. The next one we moved onto was the Vegas wedding chapel, where you could recreate the “Hello Mrs Ross!” “Hello Mr Rachel!” scene. The icing on the cake was getting to dress up, and after that you could move on to recreate the scene where Phoebe, Monica and Rachel sit in front of the TV in their wedding dresses.
The busiest photo op had to be the ‘floating heads’ set from the final season’s Thanksgiving episode, so this took a little while to queue up for. I think it probably would have worked better with more than 2 of us, but even so, we still did it! The final one in this section was the iconic yellow frame where you could dress up in different costumes such as Monica and Rachel’s prom dresses, Rachel’s cheerleader costume, and Dr Drake Ramoray’s lab coat. I went for Rachel’s prom dress while Liam went for the cheerleader costume.
Part of our booking included a set tour, which we headed onto next. I wasn’t sure if we should bother with this part, because I generally prefer to wander around at my own pace, but I’m glad we did – it was the best part! Before you go into the main set tours, you could look at some of the genuine props used in the show – like Monica’s engagement ring, the bracelet that Joey gives to Chandler, and of course, Hugsy the penguin.
The first set you can explore is Joey and Chandler’s apartment, which actually looks a lot bigger than what it does in the show! The set came complete with the foosball table, the canoe and even the etch-a-sketch on the door. The next stop was the iconic hallway, but the highlight for me definitely had to be Monica’s apartment. It was amazing! There were so many photo opportunities, my favourite being the dining table. The final part of the tour was Ross’s apartment, where everyone had to get a picture hiding behind the curtains, inspired by the ‘unagi’ episode – including me, obvs.
Central Perk was partly set up as a café where you could grab a drink, but it was mainly set up so that you could explore the set. There were plenty of photo opportunities here too, like on the stage with Phoebe’s guitar, behind the counter, and of course, the iconic sofa! They even had a Phoebe tribute act performing Smelly Cat!
The ‘Lights, Camera, Action’ Section
After the tour, we headed to this section, where you could take photos in front of the titles backdrop. There were 2 separate sets – the first one was one of the best, as you could create your own version of the title sequence. It took absolutely forever to queue up for though, and the hot weather meant that it wasn’t a very good combination, but I’m glad we did it! There was another version of this set too where you could pose on the couch with umbrellas – I’d have loved there to be a real fountain though, it was bloody hot. My personal favourite was the PIVOT set – self explanatory of course!
The Gift Shop
There was a main stage that showed classic clips from the show, and while it would have been nice to chill out there for a bit, it was scorching by this point so we decided to keep moving. There were also plenty of food stalls too, but the queues were pretty big so we decided to pass. Instead, we hit up the gift shop. There was some great merch in there, but unfortunately it was all rather expensive, as most of these things are. I personally wanted to get an umbrella, but I couldn’t quite justify spending £20 on one when I have the worst luck with them breaking. I had also hoped to treat myself to a Hugsy, but they were £30, and considering I’m off to Disneyland next weekend and will probably end up spending ridiculous amounts of money, I thought better of it. I did however, pick up a keyring which had a cute little umbrella charm on it.
- It was quick to get around – overall we took just over 2 hours but we pretty much didn’t stop. If you stop for food or just general chilling out you could probably get it up to 3 hours. Overall it’s good if you want to do something else afterwards!
- There’s stewards at most of the sets who will happily take photos for you, meaning that you can get everyone in your group involved. The other good side of it means that they work quickly and keep it moving. We didn’t really queue for more than 15 minutes at a time.
- A lot of the sets and props were actually featured in the show – in particular what you see in the set tour, so if you’re a fan, this is definitely something you should go to!
- It looked like there were plenty of places to eat and chill out, and on a sunny day like we had, it was a great set up!
- With regards to the tour, while you’re given a specific time, you’re not restricted too much when it comes to exploring the sets. While there’s allocated time on each set, it’s usually enough time to get a few pictures.
- While there were a few indoor places to relax, there wasn’t much by means of air conditioning, so on a hot day, make sure you’re prepared with plenty of water!
- The set tour groups were a little too large for my liking – while the time for your tour predominantly means they don’t get too overcrowded, the sets still got pretty busy. It meant it was difficult to get pictures without people getting in the way, and on more than one occasion some dickhead pushed in front of us.
- The gift shop had some great stuff, but it was pretty expensive!
So, would I go to FriendsFest again? Probably not. Hear me out! While I had an amazing time and we took some fabulous pictures, I think perhaps once you’ve done it all once, you don’t really need to do it again, unless they bring in new sets and attractions for next year. I think things could have been improved if they perhaps made the tour groups a bit smaller with slightly shorter time-slots! Overall, I had a great time though, and if anything, it’s made me want to binge watch through the show all over again!