I’ve lived in the New York area for about 7 months now and until recently had yet to make the trip to the towering heights of the Empire State Building Observation Deck. Honestly, it just seems silly to me to pay a lot of money just to go to the top of a building. My roommate’s sister was recently visiting from Saipan, and she REALLY wanted to go. Thousands and thousands of tourists do it every day, so I finally said “What the heck?” and made the journey.
If you really want the I went to the top of the Empire State Building bragging rights back home, give it a shot. Otherwise, save your cash for something more interesting. I’m sure you can find something more worthwhile in the city, and believe it or not there are even free things to do in New York City. The trip to the top is a whopping $18 with an average of a 2 hour wait. Seriously. People pay almost $20 a head and stand in line for AGES just to go to the top of a building.
If you’re a trust fund baby and just have money to burn, you can save quite a bit of time. You’ll notice that as soon as you arrive in the vicinity of the building there will be a hoard of youngish men in yellow vests with brochures. They’ll be happy to whisk you to the top of the Observation Deck after a IMAXish video presentation on the city – for the “bargain” price of $45. Yes, $45 American dollars. That’s ridiculous.
For an additional fee, you can rent a headset for the audio tour in various languages. I have no first hand experience with this, but my roommate got the Chinese version and said it wasn’t worth the cash. You can get the same information (in English) from the brochures located right past the ticket counter. Skip all those flyers people are trying to hand you in line. They’re trying to sell you the headsets and upgrades listed above. Honestly, it disturbs me how many trees must be slaughtered just so that every tourist in the building is VERY aware that they can take the optional express tour. Why not put it on video screens playing throughout the area?
The observatory is open from 8:00 am to 2:00 am daily. It may be quite a different experience to make the trip at night with jazz playing in the background.
But…Now I’ve been to the top of the Empire State Building.