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Questions on different topics

Lima, Peru
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Questions on different topics

Hello! My mom and I are going to be in NYC for a week in early January. This will be our first trip to the city and I have some questions on different topics:


We are arriving at Newark Airport and we will be staying at Econo Lodge Times Square, so we are planning to take the AirTrain to Penn Station and then take a bus since the hotel is just down the avenue. Is there a place where we could buy Metro Cards near or at the station? So we buy the 7-day metro card before taking the bus.


The FAQ says we have to tip the housekeepers. I didn’t know that. We never did when we went to Disney World years ago. Is it really 15% in restaurants? We are on a budget so mom says we will only order take-outs/fast food so we don’t have to tip. In Lima, we only leave $1 or $2 average no matter the total price, unless it’s a really fancy restaurant.


If we pay suggested donation for the AMNH, can we attend an exhibition at the Hayden Planetarium or would we have to pay the general admission plus one for $25? Is there a single price for an exhibition? A general admission costs $19 with no exhibitions and a ‘plus one”, $25 which includes one exhibition so one exhibition costs $6 then?

Most museums close at 5pm. Is this for admission and people inside can stay longer, say 8pm or would they ask us to leave?

Is a whole day (10am – 4pm) at Bronx Zoo too much? Seeing as not all the attractions will be opened in winter.


I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. Where can I buy merchandise (scarves, beanies, keychains, etc)? Is it true the WB Studio Store closed? Also, merchandise from The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and Game of Thrones.

I’m planning to buy a MacBook Pro with Retina Display because it’s cheaper over there. Where to buy it? Apple Store, J&R or B&H? Is it better to buy at the Apple Store when there’s only $10 difference with J&R/B&H?

Thank you in advance!

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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1. Re: Questions on different topics

Restaurant tipping: 15-20% is the norm in restaurants where a server takes your order and brings the food to your table.

Museum hours: if a museum says it closes at 5, that usually means you have to leave then.

Bronx Zoo: with all the fabulous things to see in NYC, I'd skip it. IMHO, when it comes to zoos, seen one, seen them all.

Mesa, Arizona
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2. Re: Questions on different topics

Usually one tips about $2/day for the room maid. If a museum closes at 5, then it closes at 5 - you have to leave.

It sounds like perhaps you should save a little more money before you come to NYC. It's a shame to have you come here and live on take-out food. (If you have food delivered you should also tip.

VERY unlikely you will find merchandise for Harry Potter etc.

I would buy at the Apple store. But expect big crowds.

New York City
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3. Re: Questions on different topics

From Penn Station I would take the subway (to 50th Street; two stops uptown) rather than the Eighth Avenue bus. You can get MetroCards at the machines right next to the turnstiles in the 34th Street/Eighth Avenue station.

In restaurants, it is very, very, very rude, selfish, and unjust not to tip. Waiters are not paid by the restaurant -- their wages instead come mostly from the tip. If you think a waiter does not deserve to be paid, you should not ask him to serve you. While you and mama may be on a budget, you can still afford an international vacation -- and waiters also have budgets -- they use their wages to feed their children and to pay their rent. If you think a waiter does deserve his wages, then you have a moral obligation to tip him (or her) so the server can support his/her family. You tip 15% for merely acceptable service, and more for good service. We really don't care what you do in Lima -- New York is NOT Lima.

Different musueums have different closing times on different days. if you want to stay late, go on a day the museum is open late. Closing times, though, mean what they say: you cannot stay later, but must leave.

What attractions at the Bronx Zoo are not open in winter?

4. Re: Questions on different topics

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Removed on: 12:05 pm, November 17, 2012
Hove, United Kingdom
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5. Re: Questions on different topics

Agree with posts above regarding tipping etc. It's very important to do the right thing when visiting another country. Also did you figure in the tax when calculating the cost of the mac book, that will add (i think) 8.75% to the cost, prices in nyc are shown without tax.

London, United...
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for Wakefield
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6. Re: Questions on different topics

Can afford a $2000 laptop but not a 20% tip on a meal.

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7. Re: Questions on different topics

I always tip when I am in the US. Obviously for the reasons listed here but also because compared to where I live in Australia the service is by far worth it.

Harrisburg, PA
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8. Re: Questions on different topics


Note that the AirTrain does not go directly to New York Penn Station. You will need to change trains at the Newark Liberty Airport Station and pickup a NJ Transit train into New York (not Newark) Penn Station. Once at Penn Station in New York, I would proceed as recommended to the A/C/E line and take it uptown to 50th Street (exit toward 49th street end) and walk just down the street to the hotel. You can buy the metro card near the turnstiles at the entrance to the subway. Generally, take the subway up and down town, take the bus across town.


Housekeepers generally should be tipped a few dollars a day (tip left each day in a conspicuous place in the room where it's obvious it's for them) since different housekeepers work the room each day). This is common courtesy, but there are some who don't choose not to leave a tip.

For wait staff, if you're seated and someone takes your order and brings you food, then it's expected that you should tip. As others have mentioned, in the U.S. the "service" is NOT included in the price of the meal unless the restaurant specifically indicates that it is (some restaurants will automatically include it in areas where tourists frequent because of this confusion -- but will indicate that they are by having it listed as a separate item on the check). You are being rude and insulting to the wait staff if you don't insure that a proper tip is left for good service. The rule in the US is generally 15% for "adaquate" service, and 18-20% for "good" service. As others have indicated, wait staff wages depend on tips as a significant portion of their hourly wage.

You are correct that for fast food or take away, a tip is neither expected nor required (despite those silly tip jars which some places sit on the counter). However, as others have said -- why in the world are you going to one of the most diverse places in the world in terms of culinary opportunities to eat at some fast food restaurant. Experiencing all the local eateries is one of the best parts of experiencing NYC.


You will need to check with each museum to see what their admission policy is for various exhibits. Generally however, if you pay a "minimum" price, you can expect that you'll get a "minimum" of exhibits without any of the extras.

Posted hours are the closing time. All guests must leave at this time. Admission usually ends about a 1/2 hour before closing at many places.

Skip the zoo if this is your first trip to the city. There is more than enough to keep you busy in Manhattan.


Can't help much on the Harry Potter merchandise although I do see that the Harry Potter exhibit has returned to the Discovery Times Square -- and I can only imagine there's a gift shop.

For the Apple, buy it from Apple. The price is not significantly different and you'll have the comfort of knowing it's a legitimate product with the full warranty , etc. from Apple. The Apple locations are always busy -- so be prepared for that.

Edited: 5:53 am, November 17, 2012
staten island
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9. Re: Questions on different topics

You'll find Harry Potter merch. at Discovery Times Square- www.discoverytsx.com/exhibitions/harry-potter

The gift shop has everything.

New York City, New...
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for New York City
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10. Re: Questions on different topics

The Metropolitan Museum is open til 9 on Fri. and Sat. nights and there are no extra charges for different exhibits. MOMA is open late on Fridays and is free from 5-9 (although that also makes it the most crowded time). The answer to your question about the AMNH is listed very clearly here on their website


As for the Apple computer, make sure you know what kind of warranty you're getting by buying it here.