We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Espress tickets for Empire State Building? Pre-book or not.

Sussex
Level Contributor
61 posts
33 reviews
Save Topic
Espress tickets for Empire State Building? Pre-book or not.

I know there is lots of talk about this in other threads but I'm now so muddled having read through lots of conflicting comments. My family are visiting NYC for 10 days over Christmas/ New Year, 3 kids in tow. We really want to visit both Empire State Building AND Top of the Rock and I have spent many hours comparing prices with the various websites, including the official websites and then looking at prices using different passes.

I think we would be better going with Express tickets for ESB. We will be staying in Brooklyn Heights - I see the queues are quicker if we get there very early but I'm not getting much delight from the kids when I mention getting up at 6.00 to be in the queue at 8. Viator offers Express tickets which work out cheaper than buying direct but I guess I worry about whether the weather is rubbish if I prebook... it's a load of money to spend for going up and looking at cloud. Then again, it could easily be cloudy for the whole stay, I suppose, and we would still want to go up there as we've never visited America before so it's a really big deal for us.

Could I ask what people's views are on the benefits of getting Express tickets and, then, the best way, in people's opinion to get them. If we don't buy in advance, would we still have to queue for hours to buy the express tickets? We won't have access to a printer whilst there so, if I wait until we get there, I would only be able to show purchase on my phone.

With TOTR, I am slightly less worried about buying in advance as we will be near it for most of the day on 27th December and can keep an eye on the queues... just concerned as lots of people seem to say it is far better to go up there in the day rather than night. I was thinking we could go up ESB in the day, and TOTR at night, or vice versa?

I guess my main driver is that we definitely want to go up both, I would love to save a few dollars if I can as I am spending so much on this trip already and saving 100 dollars is significant, but equally, I don't want to mess up and purchase from somewhere where I am being ripped off with dodgy tickets (so any saving would be diminished anyway).

Any tips please - would love to know what people feel is the best route for me to take - pre book or not/ express tickets or not?

Many thanks in advance.

Perth, Australia
Level Contributor
1,287 posts
57 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Espress tickets for Empire State Building? Pre-book or not.

I bought express tickets direct from ESB website last December and printed at home. I could just show up and use them whenever I wanted to so was able to pick my night- this was my 4th trip to New York and I had always done Top of the Rock and never ESB. I chose a packed Friday night and lo & behold there was no staff to direct me to the express lines and I had to either push my way through the crowds like I saw one family do or just stay with everyone else. I chose to stay in the general lines until I got to the last lift and finally came across a staff member who said I should not be waiting and "expressed" me through.

While I felt ripped off financially for paying significantly more I was actually quite happy to line up with everyone else, I was in no hurry and it was a jovial atmosphere. I was really disappointed with the view though as I adore the ESB so seeing the city from it is not as good as seeing the city with it in view. Top of the Rock next month for me as I do every trip. I would never do ESB again but I'm glad I did it.

Do ESB at night, don't worry about express and just join the lines and enjoy the experience. Do ToTR during the day and enjoy looking directly at ESB. If money is tight just do ToTR this trip as with a family that is a lot of money to fork out for views. I'm not sure if you can still get the ToTR/ MOMA combo at the Rockefeller Center but that was good value if you were planning to do both. Enjoy your trip.

Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
9,011 posts
26 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Espress tickets for Empire State Building? Pre-book or not.

We've used the Express Passes twice...once it meant we missed the 3 hour queues to go UP ...there are 3 queues.... tickets, security and elevator...and there's express going DOWN too. So it was great value....we were there in Winter...A beautiful blue sky sunny day in early Jan....I couldn't stand in a queue for that long at the best of times, let alone that cold...it was 5 degrees Celcius.

But the second time, another beautiful day in Winter there was no queue so it was a waste...but them's the breaks.

I would have been miffed to have the Pass and have that mucking around like Pedro.....we didn't experience that either time.

^^ I was thinking we could go up ESB in the day, and TOTR at night, or vice versa

VICE VERSA....

Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
9,011 posts
26 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Espress tickets for Empire State Building? Pre-book or not.

PS if you prebook ToTR non timed tickets you need to queue to get an allocated time, and may need to return for that.....some-one posted here recently about that and it's useful to know. And the queue for redeeming was moving slower than the queue for those who had turned up and were then able to go up immediately...sheesh. That scenario might not be the norm, but the Poster was annoyed enough to pass the message on here.

Sussex
Level Contributor
61 posts
33 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Espress tickets for Empire State Building? Pre-book or not.

Thanks for your replies Pedro. and Jenny.. really useful, I am going to double check everything tonight and make a final decision as I seem to have been mulling over this one for ages!! I think we will almost certainly opt for ESB at night now, and TOTR in the day - seems to make sense really as so many people recommend the view from TOTR. I think, as we will almost certainly do ESB at night, we may take the gamble and not buy express tickets........ Really appreciate your help. Only 3 weeks til we get there now - this trip has been planned all year and I can't believe it's just around the corner now!

New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for New York City
Level Contributor
95,931 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Espress tickets for Empire State Building? Pre-book or not.

If you're here after Jan. 4, I def. would not buy express tickets. The city is relatively quiet after the big holiday push. If, as you say, you will go at night, I don't think it's worth the express pass if you go at say 9:00-10 pm or very late.

New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for New York City
Level Contributor
95,931 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Espress tickets for Empire State Building? Pre-book or not.

Just posted on the where did you eat Thanksgiving meal thread

"...My guests also went to the Empire State Building around 11 pm, and there was no line at all. We all thought it was a great time to go...."

They were not soecific about which day of the week.

Sussex
Level Contributor
61 posts
33 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Espress tickets for Empire State Building? Pre-book or not.

Ah thanks NYWhiz - we are there between 23 Dec and 2 Jan so will be peak time whilst we're there but I think we will aim to go, as you say, maybe 9ish in the evening. Bit restricted in terms of how late we can go up as a result of having three kids with us but they can cope with a late might every now and again!! It just seems so much cheaper (when there are 5 of us) so I think we will probably go for not using any sort of Express pass. I am not sure whether I can buy advance tickets which are date-less or whether, if I book in advance, I need to choose a day (I am guessing that is the case)... in which case, I think we will just turn up ticketless and take it from there!

Many thanks for you assistance. I hoe you had a good Thanksgiving.

New Jersey
Level Contributor
3,239 posts
99 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Espress tickets for Empire State Building? Pre-book or not.

"...My guests also went to the Empire State Building around 11 pm, and there was no line at all. We all thought it was a great time to go...."

I posted this. We went this past Monday (Nov 25th).

Perth, Australia
Level Contributor
1,287 posts
57 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Espress tickets for Empire State Building? Pre-book or not.

Ted, if you are definitely going to do it I would still recommend booking now through the official site. You don't have to specify a date (valid for 1 year from date of purchase), can print the tickets at home to bring with you and you skip having to line up for tickets.

http://www.esbnyc.com

Sussex
Level Contributor
61 posts
33 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Espress tickets for Empire State Building? Pre-book or not.

Ah great - thanks DoubleD and Pedro - I will book online today for non-express tickets but at least that'll save us queuing to purchase on the day (night!). Really handy to know. Thanks