THE RIDE keeps rolling in NYC

The concept has grown to include corporate participation

THE RIDE launched in New York City in 2010 when entrepreneurs and creative minds came together in an amalgamation of a coach tour and live sidewalk entertainment viewed from a 45-foot Prevost shell outfitted with stadium seats and floor to ceiling windows for up to 49 passengers engulfed in surround sound. The fleet of four custom coaches roll through Manhattan on a 75-minute tour as a constantly changing show by actors and performers unfolds.

The founders called on LDV Bus Converter Company, Burlington, WI, to custom design and outfit The Ride coaches. The company says it carries three patents from its effort to reshape and “amp up” the standard Prevost shells with special fiberglass molding. Along with three rows of stadium-style seating is enough audio-video equipment to fill a theater, plus more than 3,000 LED lights to stage a true rolling extravaganza.

“It’s an immersion of incredible video and 25,000 watts of sound with 120 speakers in a tour bus people have never seen before,” says CEO Richard Humphrey. “Each vehicle contains miles of wire and nine tons of HVAC capacity, enough to heat or cool nine suburban homes.”

The total cost of each coach is in the neighborhood of $1.3 million — $450,000 for the conversion and $850,000 to convert the coach into The Ride.

“This is a new category of entertainment,” said Ride President and CEO Jonathan Danforth at the time. “The streets of New York are the world’s biggest stage and our passengers have front row seats.”

He coined the tour “experiential entertainment” to describe experiencing the fabric of New York through the eyes of talented and funny people and life-long residents who love the city and its history.

The show begins as the coach pulls away from the New York Marriott Marquis in the heart of Times Square with hosts on board. The high-tech monitors and sound system emulate the city’s unique characteristics from a rumbling subway to a disco night at Studio 54. The coach makes short stops at iconic locales such as the Chrysler Building, Grand Central Terminal, Times Square and Columbus Circle.

Along the way hired actors, singers and performers put on improvised performances for the passengers, while the distinctive and often idiosyncratic city dwellers unwittingly become part of the entertainment.

The experience has grown significantly since BUSRide first reported on The Ride.

In 2011, a new corporate staff led by Richard Humphrey stepped in to bring the company to new heights by creating innovative corporate and group sales programs that promote fresh ideas. The four coaches can caravan to accommodate groups up to 196 people.

Typically a corporate outing, The Ride highlights company achievements in pre-scripted presentations by the hosts and performers in an interactive experience incorporating music, video, company logos and voice-overs.

Team-building on The Ride involves colleagues in corporate trivia, scavenger hunts, and other business-focused activities integrated into the performance. Such outings typically begin and end with cocktails, dinner, coffee and spirits at some of New York City’s trendiest bars and restaurants.

The Fazzino Ride launched in May 2012 as a limited summer edition tour featuring the personal view of New York City through the lens of 3D pop artist Charles Fazzino, the official artist of the NFL, Super Bowl and the 2012 Olympics. The Fazzino Ride marked the first of many such thematic tours to come.

In addition to drivers and maintenance technicians, The Ride employs up to 70 performers, as well as box office workers and office administrators. The staff selects its street performers in casting calls as with any Broadway show. The basic format for each show changes throughout the year to coincide with holidays and seasons. The staff meets with scriptwriters to create and continually freshen up each show.

If someone takes The Ride in June, the experience will be different six months later.