We visited the Willis Tower SkyDeck on a quiet Wednesday afternoon in February--a lovely cold, clear day--although a bit of haze/smog was present. Things were quiet and we had no wait other than for an elevator. We had not prebooked the Fast option and that was just as well, as the express elevators were out of service for maintenance. The Fastpass or the Chicago Pass will allow bypassing much of the wait on days of heavy attendance, but it all gets pricey for a group or family. In that sense, the WT (I still want to call it Sears) is a good tourist trap--it is far too expensive to enter, although adults now get in for $18 if prepared to wait in line. The souvenirs are laughable and not cheap. But the views are spectacular. We were pleased with the walls of the SkyDeck interior which had some bits and bobs of Chicago history--where else would a visitor be introduced to the infamous Bathhouse John Coughlin and Hinky-Dink Kenna, the great city councilmen from Chicago's old First Ward. Photos through the windows were fine--but attempts to take photos of people at the windows from inside were mostly producing the effect of dark silhouettes; so a sophisticated camera is helpful.
The "Ledge" openings are fun unless you are bothered by heights--in which case you might not be up there at the Skydeck anyway. It is impressive to look past your shoes down 103 floors.
Probably the best bet for visiting is at opening on a clear day (10:00 am).
The management of access could be really oppressive if one were tired or a family member cranky; (come to think of it--if it really were crowded, even Mother Theresa would get cranky before long.
The elevators access "express" would be helpful, but otherwise after waiting in line, one lift goes to the 99th floor and then a second elevator takes one to the top. I noticed a lot of space on the 99th floor that was cordoned off, but imagine that on crowded days, they let folks wait there. In other words,
on a holiday weekend in summer, one should want to go really badly.
The departure involves waiting for a lift to 99 then waiting for a lift to the bottom--which is actually at a basement level, then either visiting the "Marketplace" or exit through a gift shop with more of the
mementos as up on top; then wait in line for an elevator to return to the ground floor.
In other words, on some days going to the Willis Tower Skydeck would be a challenge to your good nature, but, like other such sights, it is part of the cost, and, the view is often worth it. If, you make it back out after a couple of hours and are hungry, there's a McDonalds at Franklin & Jackson and a Pret-a-Manger at Franklin and Adams.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.