This weekend I tried to re-create one of the best moments in New York movie history:

The scene from ‘Big’ unfolds in New York’s top toy store, FAO Schwarz, just south of Central Park. I headed there this weekend and charged past Playmobil parties, bubble demonstrations and huge stuffed animals with even huger prices (like a $1,500 stuffed giraffe – no joke) in search of the Big Piano.

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It’s tucked away in a corner on the first floor and, surprisingly, it wasn’t overrun with tourists and screaming kids – even on a Saturday afternoon. Ryan and I smiled for an overpriced picture ($24!) and then I waited my turn to tinkle the keys.


Weellll, it turns out I’m not very good at the Big Piano. No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t play the tune from Big — partly because I couldn’t remember it, partly because my feet wouldn’t move fast enough, and partly because I couldn’t hear my notes over those played by the other kids (yes, I said other).

Still, I don’t think being good at the Big Piano is really the point. I skipped up and down an arpeggio or two, but mostly clonked on the keys, rivaling the toddlers around me for grace. And while I’m sure there are some great dancers or musicians out there who could skillfully tap out a tune, I have no doubt that I had just as much fun.

Oh, and another difference from the movie — no shoes allowed!

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If you find yourself up at Central Park or the shops at Fifth Avenue (tourist territory) and want to take part in a quirky New York tradition, I’d recommend popping into FAO Schwarz. For me, the joy of the keyboard canceled out the store’s madness, and made the trip worth it. I spied some fun New York-themed goodies for gifts, but mostly I’d just advise you to zip past the toys and head straight for the tunes.


Oh, and it means I’ve checked another thing off my ’30 Before 30′ list!

FAO Schwarz can be found next to the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue and 58th Street, on the southeast corner of Central Park. It’s free to dance on the piano, which can be found on the left-hand side of the first floor. The store is open 10am to 7pm Sunday to Thursday; 10am to 8pm Friday; 10am to 8pm Saturday.