[Destination Review] One World Trade Center Observatory

One WTC

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Another bird’s eye view of New York City opened on Friday. The brand new One World Observatory, on floors 100, 101 and 102 of the iconic One World Trade Center, offers panoramic views of the city from more than 1,250 feet up. I went on day two and the lines were surprisingly quick in comparison to some of the other observatories at the Empire State Building or 30 Rock (Top of the Rock).

 

One world trade thrifty traveler

Observatory Entrance

 

We purchased our tickets in advance online for $32 each and were quickly ushered through the west side entrance and into the lower level where you will go through TSA style security screening. It’s a quick process and you can bring liquids up to the top.

Thrifty Tip #1: Buy tickets online to avoid additional lines.

 

One World Trade Obervatory

Observatory entrance to security screening

 

Once you get through security there is a large LED screen showing how many visitors have been through that day and also since it’s opening. I was lucky number 14,134!

 

WTC Observatory

Visitor Counter

 

Once through security, you can watch a couple short videos about the construction of the tower or you can continue on to the state of the art “Sky Pod” elevators which will take you up to the top. The elevators are equipped with high-resolution screens on all sides showing you a time lapse of New York City’s settlement to present day. Look closely on the right-hand side and you’ll briefly see the Twin Towers for a couple seconds near the end.

Once you are at the top you will be ushered into a room to watch a brief video. I was not sure what the point of the video was until the end. I won’t ruin it for you but it’s one of the best parts of the experience!

Once you’re done with the brief video you will be led into the observatory which is on three different levels. There are two restaurants, a gift shop, and 360-degree views of New York City. Even if it’s crowded there is still an opportunity to take lots of great photos. I imagine going early in the morning or late in the day could reduce some of the crowds and still offer great views!

 

WTC Observatory

Observatory

 

Once you’re in the observatory you are free to move around the circumference of the building. Just make sure to go on a clear day because if it’s cloudy it’s very likely the top floors will be shrouded in clouds.

 

View north towards Midtown Manhattan

 

Thrifty Tip #2: Check the forecast before purchasing tickets because you won’t be able to see very much on a cloudy day.

I won’t ruin the experience with too many photos of the skyline. You will have to see it for yourself. You’ll have a fantastic view of the whole city as well as the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

 

WTC Observatory

View towards Ellis Island

 

Thrifty Tip #3: Wear dark colored clothes if you plan to take photos. The glass is very reflective to light colored clothing.

 

WTC Presentation

Observatory Presentation

 

Also, make sure to check out one of the two observatory presentations on the north and south side of the observation deck. They are led by very entertaining presenters and offer high-tech presentations about the building and city.

Once you’re done in the observatory you will take the “Sky Pod” elevators back down and you’ll have another cool elevator presentation. When exiting downstairs make sure to check out the new concourse just outside the observatory entrance. It’s the new walkway to the New Jersey bound PATH trains, and it will soon be connected to the NYC Subway system.

 

WTC Transportation Concourse

WTC Transportation Concourse

 

Thrifty Tip #4: Check out the new transportation concourse just outside of the revolving doors by the observatory lower-level entrance and exit.

Once you’re done make sure to check out the 9/11 memorial just outside the building. There are two fountains representing the north and south towers of the fallen World Trade Center. It’s a very tasteful memorial to a tragic event.

 

Thrifty Traveler

9/11 Memorial with One World Trade Center in the background

 

Bottom Line

Our family was impressed with the One World Observatory experience. It is reasonably priced at $32, which is similar if not a little cheaper than many of the other attractions around town. I will say that the Top of The Rock observatory offers better views of Central Park and Midtown Manhattan and should also be included on your list of places to visit. Both observatories offer very different views and are a must see on your New York City bucket list!

 

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