This post is a self-guided tour of many Central Park movie and television filming locations. Central Park has long inspired filmmakers and television writers. It’s 843 acres of greenery, bridges, statues and more provide a perfect backdrop for a variety of New York City tales. The tour will take you about 90 minutes to walk and we suggest eating lunch at the Loeb Boathouse. This tour can also be booked as a private tour. If you enjoy this tour, check out one of our guided tours of the park, which also comes in a GPS-enabled audio format, or our self-guided tour of Lower Manhattan film and TV locations. And if you are coming durinig the December holiday season, then check out our NYC Christmas Movie Tour, which spends much time in Central Park.
The Plaza Hotel built in 1907, has been used in many different films. It’s elegant, French Renaissance-style exterior has come to represent the pinnacle of New York luxury for many people.
The Plaza is the main setting for the film “Eloise at the Plaza,” which was released in 2003 (and was based on a popular children’s book series from the 1950’s). The title character is a little girl who actually resides in the Plaza Hotel on the “tippy-top floor.” Julie Andrews appeared in the film as Eloise’s Nanny.
The Plaza Hotel is also prominently featured in the 2013 adaptation of “The Great Gatsby,” directed by Baz Luhrman. The main characters in the story have escaped the Long Island heat by coming to the city and renting a suite at the Plaza. It is here that Jay Gatsby confronts Tom Buchanan and reveals that he has been having an affair with his wife, Daisy. This scene is taken directly from the original novel, which features The Plaza as well.
The hotel is also used as the main setting for Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Kevin McAllister uses his dad’s credit card to check into a luxury suite at the Plaza. The staff of the hotel constantly tries to catch him and expose him as an unaccompanied minor, culminating in a spectacular chase through the hotel. Donald Trump, who owned the hotel at the time of filming, made a cameo appearance. The final moment of the film reveals that Kevin ran up a $967 room service bill during his stay at the hotel.
In It Could Happen To You, starring Nicolas Cage and Bridget Fonda, the cop and waitress who have split lottery winnings both check into the hotel.
The 2009 comedy Bride Wars was also filmed at the hotel. The dueling brides, Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson, book wedding spaces on the same day in the hotel. The film was shot in The Grand Ballroom, The Terrace Room, The Palm Court and many other interior spaces throughout the hotel.
Stop B – The Wollman Rink
The Wollman Rink was used for the final scene of the 2001 romantic comedy Serendipity, starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale. The characters meet while Christmas shopping at Bloomingdales and then part ways, saying that if they are meant to find one another, they will. When the two characters finally reunite, several years after their initial meeting, Jonathan (Cusack) is laying on the rink using Sara’s (Beckinsale’s) jacket as a pillow.
The Zoo is seen in the 2011 Jim Carrey film Mr. Popper’s Penguins, based on a book of the same name. Jim Carrey’s character ends up with several penguins on his hands in the New York City apartment. Though he tries for a while to keep them, he eventually donates them to the zoo (called the New York Zoo for the purposes of the film.)
Though no filming actually took place here, The Central Park Zoo was used as a major setting for the popular animated film Madagascar. At the beginning of the film, it was the home of the four main animal characters, voiced by Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer and Jada Pinkett-Smith. Though parts of the zoo are fictionalized for the film, actual features such as the Delacorte Clock and the Sea Lion Pool are shown.
Stop D – Sheep Meadow
The Sheep Meadow has been used in several films, including It Could Happen To You. In the film, a cop (Nicolas Cage) splits his lottery winnings with a waitress (Bridget Fonda) in lieu of a tip. They become friends and eventually fall in love. They spend time in Central Park as their relationship deepens, including scenes in Sheep Meadow.
The 2005 romance Little Manhattan starring Cynthia Nixon had several scenes in the park. When they were filming in Sheep Meadow, the director wanted to fill the meadow with actual sheep (just the way it used to be!), but the parks department refused. Instead, the crew put grass and sheep in the walkway just outside of the meadow and used film tricks to make it seem as though they were all over. Read more about Sheep Meadow at Central Park’s website.
Stop E – Tavern on the Green
This iconic NYC restaurant (a former sheepfold!) was used in The Ghostbusters. In the film, Louis Tully attracts the stares of other diners as he is terrorized by a ghost that none of the others can see. Eventually, they carry on eating as though nothing is wrong.
The Tavern on the Green is also seen in the film Wall Street. After a private meeting with Gordon Gekko in Central Park, Bud Fox enters the dining room of the restaurant.
The restaurant also plays a major role i. Mr Popper’s Penguins. Jim Carrey’s real estate developer character works for a firm that wants to buy Tavern on the Green to tear it down. Eventually, he is fired because he has not closed the sale of the restaurant. It is said that the film references Donald Trump’s attempts to but Tavern on the Green to re-open it because of its importance as a New York City landmark.
Stop F – The Ghostbusters Apartment Building (55 Central Park West)
If you look out to Central Park West, you will see the Art Deco apartment building that can be instantly recognized by any fan of the 1984 film The Ghostbusters. In the film, the building is used as the apartment of Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver.) For the purposes of the film, the building is said to have been designed by an insane architect named Ivo Shandor, who started a secret society and was performing rituals on the roof in 1920. The special effects team for the film also made the building appear much taller, and with a different roof. In reality, the building was designed by the firm of Schwartz and Gross and was not completed until 1929. And even though Sigourney Weaver doesn’t actually live there, the building has been home to Ginger Rogers, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein and many others!
Stop G – The Mall
The Mall has been used in several films. It’s beautiful canopy of American elms provide a beautiful backdrop in any season. It is heavily featured in the 1979 Academy Award-winning film Kramer vs. Kramer, starring Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep.
It is also seen in one of the most popular romantic comedies of all time, When Harry Met Sally. It is shown with beautiful autumn colors as the two main characters, played by Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal, are deepening their friendship.
The Mall is used again in yet another romantic comedy, Maid in Manhattan, starring Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes. It is a Cinderella-type story, where Fiennes’ politician character falls for Lopez, a hotel maid, after assuming she is a wealthy socialite. They stroll down The Mall shortly after meeting, before he figures out whom she really is.
Stop H – Naumburg Bandshell
The Bandshell is used the iconic 1960 film Breakfast at Tiffanys, which is some of the best-known work of actress Audrey Hepburn. When Holly Golightly’s husband, Doc Golightly, tracks her down in New York City and wants to bring her home to his farm, Holly’s neighbor and friend Paul Varjak (played by George Peppard) talks to him at The Bandshell.
Stop I – Bethesda Terrace
Many filmmakers and television producers have been drawn to this beautiful terrace with its iconic fountain, which was considered the “heart of the park” by its designers.
The opening sequence of the 1973 film Godspell takes place around the fountain
The Angel of the Waters statue plays a key role in the film Angels in America, adapted from a 1993 Tony Kushner play
In the 2005 movie musical The Producers, Max Bialystock (played by Nathan Lane) begs for Leo Bloom (Matthew Broderick) to reconsider his flop-musical scheme at the fountain.
The 2007 film Enchanted shows a fairy-tale princess (Amy Adams) leading New Yorkers in the dance number “That’s How You Know” around the fountain.
Part of the 2008 film 27 Dresses, which stars Katherine Heigl as the perennial bridesmaid, were filmed at the terrace.
The end of the 2012 action film The Avengers takes place here. Thor and Loki stand with the rest of the cast on the terrace before returning to Asgard
The starting point for the very first episode of The Amazing Race was Bethesda Terrace
Parts of the Dr. Who episode “The Angels Take Manhattan” were filmed at the terrace.
The terrace is used in Gossip Girl, both as a haven for Serena Van der Woodsen (Blake Lively) and for the wedding of Chuck Bass and Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester).
Stop J – The Loeb Boathouse
In season 2 of Sex and the City, Carrie meets Mr. Big for lunch at The Boathouse. She has sworn to Miranda that she will not kiss him when they meet up. While dodging the dreaded kiss, they both fall off of the Boathouse terrace and into the Lake. Discover more Sex in the City sites in New York on our self-guided tour.
Sally Albright and her friends meet up for lunch at The Boathouse to discuss the end of Sally’s relationship with Joe in When Harry Met Sally. While eating lunch her friends go through a rolodex to see who is left to set her up with. Sally decides that there are no more men to date.
Stop K – The Conservatory Water
The Conservatory Waters in featured both the book and the film adaptation of Stuart Little. This is where Stuart pilots the toy sailboat “The Wasp,” in a boat race in Central Park. The Conservatory Water is used in real life for sailing toy boats- stop and rent one for a while!