How long do you have to queue for going up the Empire State Building in general? As I've seen, they offer a special ticket where you are allowed to skip the elevator queue, but you have to queue for the security check nevertheless. How much time could you save with this express ticket?

  • Apparently The One World Trade Center is opening June 1 so you could check that out as well if the queues are too large. There's supposed to be a 3 floor observation deck on floors 100–102.
    – zuallauz
    May 31, 2013 at 1:29
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    @zuallauz I am sad it wont be open. "[...]The 120,000 square foot facility is scheduled to open in early 2015 and will occupy floors 100-102 at One WTC. [...]" panynj.gov/wtcprogress/wtc-observation-deck.cfm
    – Coxer
    May 31, 2013 at 6:39
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    If you're a gregarious kind of person, it might be possible to meet other travellers while you're waiting in line. Make eye contact, smile, say hello, and ask, "Are you from here?" Jun 14, 2013 at 1:25

4 Answers 4


The wait time actually fluctuates throughout the year. We do see a large increase in the number of guests during the summer months and most major holidays, causing a wait time of about 45 minutes to an hour on average. During those times we recommend visitors purchase our Express Pass which allows you to skip the ticket and elevator lines. Everyone does need to go through security as we do our best to provide the safest experience for everyone. We recommend you purchase your tickets in advance at www.esbnyc.com to avoid having to queue at the building’s ticket office. Should you visit other times of the year we suggest coming either between 8-10 a.m. or after 10 p.m. as those are both times we tend to see shorter lines, as Geeo mentioned. Thank you and we look forward to seeing you!

  • Hi, and welcome to Travel-SE! You can list your contact information, including the website, on your profile page as well. Jun 13, 2013 at 20:10
  • 5
    I was quoted by the Empire State Building itself!
    – Geeo
    Jun 13, 2013 at 20:34
  • I queued to go on NYE, the wait time in the "express" lane was over 3 hours. Needless to say I don't recommend going at that time Jun 11, 2014 at 9:38

Queue are huge in peak hours (especially weekends) but not if you go early in the morning (try to be there before it opens, 8 am, or a little later) or late at night (1.30 am) when you should be able to enter within minutes.

  • I didn't know the Empire is open in the wee morning hours! You can go to the top at like 2am?
    – verve
    Jul 22, 2013 at 9:54
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    Yes, they are opened until 2AM daily, with last elevators going up at 1:15 AM.
    – Geeo
    Jul 22, 2013 at 12:13

I was told by a friend to go at 5pm on a Sunday (well, an hour before sunset) - as they had no queues.

I dutifully went along at the time - perfectly clear day, and for some reason, there was no queue. I walked straight past all the empty lines, straight up and had a short wait at the intermediate elevator.

I've been told however, that during peak tourist times it's possible to take two hours to get to the top. I can only imagine the frustration. So I guess that's the theoretical time you could save.


I'm just back from NYC and I will say on a weekday it should not take more than 45 minutes to get inside except evening. Everyone tries to go evening around 7pm to watch NYC in daylight and sunset time. We were there by 6.30pm and reached top by 7pm.

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