Gulliver's Gate is New York's latest attraction - a tiny version of Manhattan

I am standing inside a large white egg. The interior is studded with cameras that take my photo from every conceivable angle. Why? Because my body is being scanned and I'm about to be shrunk to 1/87th of my actual size.

By the time this is over, I will be transformed into a "Model Citizen" around two centimetres high and live in a miniature New York. I will become a permanent part of Gulliver's Gate.

No, I'm not dreaming, I'm not on drugs and I'm not writing a pitch for a dystopian Netflix series. Gulliver's Gate exists near Times Square in Manhattan. It opened last year in the former New York Times building, more than 4600 square metres filled with miniature versions of 25 of the world's great cities.

Six hundred model builders took more than two years to build it. There are 1000 trains, 10,000 cars and 100,000 people.

The whole thing came about because two men met on a mountaintop in Costa Rica. Israeli entrepreneur Eiran Gazit and US property developer Michael Langer bonded over a love of miniatures and soon found themselves cooking up the grand scheme. Forty million US dollars later, it became a reality.

The Taj Mahal, the Arc de Triomphe, the Pyramids and Stonehenge are all here, lovingly detailed. But the jewel in the crown is a vast model of Manhattan, including the Brooklyn Bridge, Grand Central Station, the Guggenheim, The Rockefeller Center, The New York Public Library, the Chrysler Building and the 9/11 Memorial.

Taxis, cars and fire engines move around the city, all controlled via GPS from a command centre that has glass walls so the public can see how everything operates.

There are also little in-jokes within this mini-Manhattan – a cluster of people on a subway platform ponder a dropped purse on the tracks, a truck spills a pile of lumber on the West Side Highway, old men feed pigeons on a rooftop, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters peeks around a corner.

All visitors to Gulliver's Gate can have their body scanned and be recreated as a figure in the display. They are also given a silver key when they enter, which they can use to make things happen around this version of the world. Carousels turn, trains move, Carnival starts up in Rio; animated balloons make their way down New York's streets in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade; you decide who you want to see at a concert in London – Adele or Queen?

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Adrian Davies is an Englishman who grew up making model planes and being obsessed with the Star Wars films, so being head of model making at Gulliver's Gate is his dream job.

"We see people come up the escalators and they get that first glimpse of New York and you can see they're gobsmacked," he says, as we gaze on Paris. "And once they're here, we try to let people peek behind the curtain to see how everything works. Some people have told us about their own projects.

"One guy made little baseball scoreboards from famous games in history and there was a woman who made tiny carousels that fitted into matchboxes. Hopefully seeing this will inspire other people to build their own little worlds."

Davies has been working for months on the latest addition to Gulliver's Gate, a replica of an airport with four kilometres of wiring underneath the tarmac so model planes can taxi and take off. Then Davies and his team will turn their sights towards Africa.

"We're constantly adding to it," he says. "It's never going to be finished. That's the great thing about it."

Three weeks after being scanned inside the giant egg, I receive a package in the mail. It's a 1/15th scale model of myself. And I'm also sent a photo of me as a two-centimetre tall model citizen being glued into place on the High Line in New York.

See if you can find me when you visit: I'm bald, I'm wearing a black T-shirt with "Jones" emblazoned in orange across the chest, and I have a smile on my face that lasted for days.

TRIP NOTES

Barry Divola travelled as a guest of Brand USA, The Hoxton, 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge and Hotel Hugo.

MORE

traveller.com.au/new-york

visittheusa.com.au

nycgo.com

FLY

Virgin Australia and Delta Air Lines together have 25 flights a week to Los Angeles from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Delta flies daily to New York from Los Angeles. See virginaustralia.com and delta.com

STAY

Hotel Hugo is on the western edge of SoHo. See hotelhugony.com. The Hoxton is in the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. See thehoxton.com/new-york/williamsburg; 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge is in DUMBO with spectacular views of Brooklyn Bridge. See 1hotels.com/brooklyn-bridge

VISIT

Gulliver's Gate, 216 West 44th Street. Adults $36, children three  years and over, $27. See gulliversgate.com

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