MGM Grand’s “Hunger Games” Attraction Closes, Pivots to “Friends Experience”


As we foretold back in January, 2024, the “Hunger Games” attraction at MGM Grand has closed. What’s next for the space has been announced: A “Friends” experience. Officially, “The Friends Experience.”

Yes, those “Friends.” The sitcom’s final episode aired on May 6, 2004, two decades ago. “Friends” is timeless, however, thanks to a little something called syndication.

Let’s see what’s in store for “Friends” fans, shan’t we? Could the capitalization in this sentence BE any more predictable?

friends experience1
“Friends” was shot at Warner Bros. in Burbank, California. Stage 5 for the first season, Stage 24 for the rest. These folks aren’t members of the cast because there’s diversity. Yes, we said it.

If you’d been paying attention to our Twitter feed, the announcement of the “Friends Experience” would not have been a surprise, as we shared a “Friends”-related post just prior to the announcement of the new attraction.

Coincidence? Well, yes, but that doesn’t fit our narrative of knowing everything in Las Vegas before it happens, so just play along.

“Hunger Games: The Exhibition” opened on June 6, 2019, a decent run for Las Vegas given the fact there was no gambling involved.

“Hunger Games” was operated by Victory Hill Exhibitions, part of Neon Global (formerly CityNeon Holdings).

The “Friends Experience” is from Original X, a company that “transforms iconic stories and brands into memorable location-based entertainment, igniting imaginations and captivating audiences around the globe.”

In layperson’s terms, “squeezing every last cent possible out of once-popular TV shows and movies.”

The company also does “The Office Experience” and “Harry Potter, Magic at Play.”

Think Madame Tussauds, but instead of creepy wax celebrities, there are sets and props.

Today, we realized Tussauds doesn’t have an apostrophe. Caesars Palace doesn’t have one, either, presumably because we are all Caesars. Following that logic, we are all Tussauds.

Anyway, the “Friends Experience” will debut at MGM Resorts later this year.

The official description says the attraction “transports guests into the world of ‘Friends’ allowing fans to explore the show’s iconic moments, behind-the-scenes content and photo opportunities within life-sized set recreations. Fans can become part of Ross and Rachel’s iconic Las Vegas wedding scene bursting out into the chapel’s lobby, kick back in Monica’s apartment, or even dance around the legendary fountain featured in the opening credits.”

friends experience2
A friend: “What did you do during your precious time in Vegas?” Their friend: “Sat in a recliner and pretended to move a couch!”

The attraction has been in 24 cities, so this one is dubbed “The One in Las Vegas,” also known as “The Only One That Matters.”

The sets look spot-on, and we would absolutely take selfies in Monica’s apartment or the Central Perk coffee shop or in a stairwell hoisting that famous couch where Ross keeps shouting “Pivot!”




Still holds up, doesn’t it, fellow kids? This was back when sitcoms were funny and people watched sitcoms.

It’s quite possible you have literally never heard of any of the current crop of sitcoms.

We sometimes see ads for “Ghosts” when we’re watching “Survivor,” and the promos have never once given any indication there is any “com” in that “sit” whatsoever.

Which is one of the reasons companies like Original X are revisiting “Friends.”

It’s hard to say what the appeal of this attraction will be, but nostalgia can make bank if done well.

We have a soft spot for “Friends,” and we have a vague memory of having written a spec script for the show. Or maybe it was “Home Improvement” or “Married…With Children.” We definitely did an episode of “Seinfeld,” circa 2000. Before you say it, we were no Larry David. It’s worth noting, feedback was the main reason we didn’t become a professional sitcom writer. That, and the total lack of interest in anyone wanting to hire us to be a professional sitcom writer.

Bygones!

We’re very excited to check out the “Friends Experience.” Anything to avoid having to see the terrible “Friends: The Unauthorized Musical Parody” stage show at the Orleans (originally at the now-shuttered theater at The D, this cringeworthy show shuttered it). It’s weird they never used our review in their advertising: “Unauthorized, uninspired and undeniably unenjoyable. The only thing that could make this show worse is if Jennifer Aniston were in it.”

We can predict one thing with certainty: There is a 24,000% chance the “Friends Experience” will have a gift shop featuring the frame around Monica’s peephole. Which sounds dirtier than it really is.

“Friends” fans are encouraged to sign up for a ticket waitlist on the official Web site, which seems a smidge optimistic, but whatever.

In closing, a personal note: We miss you, Chandler. Where the hell is Madame Tussaud when you need her?

Update (6/17/24): It has come to our attention our friend Corey Levitan also used the “pivot” reference in the headline for his story about the “Friends Experience.” Our Casino.org colleague’s story was first, but as we learned during our time failing as a Hollywood scriptwriter, you can’t copyright titles (and by extension, headlines). Therefore, we are sticking to the story that we thought of it first and Corey Levitan should probably start looking for a new job as long as it’s not ours. Props to Levitan for including a photo of he and his daughter pivoting. The bastard.

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