New York City has many beautiful sights: Central Park, St. Patrick's Cathedral, The Cloisters. The above is one more: An empty FAO Schwarz. As in, no crowds, no noise, no hustle and bustle. Just a handful of moms and kids roaming around a 50,000 square foot store, guided by a toy soldier.
That's exactly what I got to do courtesy of MasterCard Priceless New York, a new program that offers one-of-a-kind experiences and exclusive offers to MasterCard holders. The access opportunities are rather incredible—best seats in house at Jazz at Lincoln Center, a cooking class with Padma Lakshmi, watching a football game with former New York Jets at a private dinner party at Tribeca Grill. There's great kid stuff, too, like a meet and greet with the clowns of the Big Apple Circus and a pizza-making class at Donatella.
Thing is, Max can't stand crowds. They wig him out and make him wail. I could have never brought him to FAO Schwarz, until this program started (or we snuck in right before it closed and slept there, but I've chosen not to start Max on a life of crime at this tender age).
I went to scope it out last week, bright and early at 8:00 a.m., armed with a $100 gift card I received. Remember that dream you had as a kid of getting locked up in a department store or a toy store? That's exactly how it felt. Only now you're an adult with a kid who has special needs, and this is your new fantasy come true.
I even got to see pros practicing on the big piano (yes, people actually get paid to do that), and picked up a couple of things for the kids. Although your child will not actually get to cruise around the store in a mini electric car or encounter laser-shooting galactic figures, like in the TV commerical, if you hit the FAO Schweetz candy shop you will feel like a kid who got locked up in a candy store. Mini peanut butter cups and non-pareils for breakfast? Bring it on!
Shopping at FAO Schwarz before the store opens, from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., is free to MasterCard holders; you just have to sign up for the dedicated number of spots. We'll be taking Max! The Priceless Cities program will eventually roll out in other places. Meanwhile, if you're in NY or plan to visit, give it a go.