‘Going Up?’ falling for the Skyride tourist trap at the Empire State
I’ll be writing about my more enjoyable experiences in New York soon. I also have more to write about, but hey I’m on vacation, so please excuse the lack of content lately!
This week Vanessa and I spent a lovely two days in New York City, and one of the last attractions we planned to attend before leaving the city was the Empire State Building. Neither of us have ever been, however we did Top of the Rock last year which was an enjoyable experience. We figured visiting the Empire State would be a great conclusion to our trip.
I had glanced at various Trip Advisor pages before making our trip, and I recall reading through a post that strongly advised against buying Empire State tickets from the vendors outside the building. During most of my New York trips I’ve easily avoided all the various street vendors selling tours and such, however a few years ago I bought comedy club tickets on a whim from a street promoter and had an absolutely wonderful time.
As we approached the Empire State building we were met with the infamous “going up?” question from one of the venders on the corner. Against my better judgement I replied that we were indeed ‘going up’ and before I knew it the vendor had begun his sales pitch. He asked if we were planning to visit the 102nd floor, and I said we were and he said he could get us up there for $52 while including the Skyride attraction free. He assured me he was an authorized seller, displaying a badge and all (albeit a Skyride badge), and even asked a security guard how long the wait was. “Forty-five minutes” was the reply, so then the vendor promised we’d skip that wait for $7 more.
‘Oh, why not?’ I replied. I love the indoor “rides” in Orlando, so figured the Skyride might be worth checking out. Before long we had out receipt and three sets of printed tickets, one for Skyride, one for the Empire State and a free “bonus” ticket for a one hour cruise that would allow us to checkout the Statue of Liberty (via Hornblower Cruises).
Once we got inside the building and up to the Skyride attraction the attendant took our slips of paper and gave us actual tickets. I took the tickets, still excited for the adventure ahead. As we got shuffled into the Skyride attraction by employees who were entirely unenthused, I noticed our Empire state tickets not only were ONLY for the 86th floor, but they also had “not EXPRESS tickets” printed on them. So two of the things I was promised (the 102nd floor and express passes) were not given to me.
At this point I was already in a declining mood, and then I realized just how pointless the Skyride attraction is. The seats are old and falling apart and once the “ride” started it was apparent how terrible the attraction was. The screen was blurry, shaky and straight out of the 90’s. The display was so terrible it was sickening. The Skyride tickets are $42, but honestly the experience is NOT worthwhile at all.
So what exactly did I get for the $64 a ticket I paid to the street vendor? If you take out the $42 for Skyride I paid $24 for a standard 86th floor ticket. My stomach sank when I realized how much cheaper it would’ve been had I just headed inside and bough standard tickets.
I realize the Skyride people aren’t associated with the Empire State Building in anything other than they operate out of the building, but their presence really hampered our enjoyment of the entire experience.
The view from the Empire State was enjoyable, and we did end up spending an extra $40 ($20 each) to visit the 102nd floor (which also wasn’t quite worth the money) but the fact that we spent $160 at one attraction was disturbing.
We were pretty annoyed about the entire experience we decided not to bother checking out the “bonus” cruise. Maybe it would’ve made up for the cost, but I was more afraid it would be another subpar experience that would further my displeasure.
Moral of the story? Don’t be like me. Don’t listen to anyone selling you something on the street, even if they’re just a few feet away from the attraction. Just don’t do it.
And screw the Skyride people.