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How to Buy Tickets to the One World Observatory

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If you’re planning a holiday to the Big Apple, you’re probably loading up your itinerary with some of the city’s best attractions. One attraction you can’t miss is the One World Observatory, formerly known as the Freedom Tower. This attraction is not only located in the tallest building in the United States, but also the only observation deck in Manhattan, allowing you to view the city from a whole new vantage point.

Being such a popular attraction, the One World Observatory can get quite busy and its lines quite long. We here at Road Affair want to make your vacation and the planning process as seamless as possible, so we’ve created this guide to show you the best way to visit and get tickets to the One World Observatory. 

Quick Answer – How to Buy Tickets to the One World Observatory: The best way to buy tickets to the One World Observatory is online in advance here. These tickets allow you to skip the line and are refundable up to 24 hours in advance. If you want to visit both the One World Observatory and the 9/11 Memorial, purchase a combination ticket instead.

Best Ways to Get Tickets to the One World Observatory

You have multiple options for how to buy tickets for the One World Observatory, and the best one depends on how you want to experience the attraction. Below you’ll find our recommendations for where to buy tickets for the One World Observatory, whether you want to know how to get the most bang for your buck or bypass the long lines at the One World Trade Center and observation deck. 

Line Up in Person (Not Recommended)

It’s possible to purchase tickets at the entrance to the One World Observatory, but we highly advise against it. If you purchase a ticket online, you’ll bypass the purchasing line and go directly to the entry line. Also, pre-booked tickets to the One World Observatory have certain time slots, so if you show up to buy a ticket at the gate during a popular time, you might wait even longer to get in. 

Book Online (Recommended)

We highly recommend booking tickets for the One World Observatory online in advance so that you can spend more time marveling at the city skyline than standing in lines at the entrance. You can buy tickets to the One World Observatory online through the official website or a third-party seller like GetYourGuide

We recommend you buy your One World Observatory tickets through GetYourGuide. While tickets purchased through the official website may be cheaper, they are nonrefundable. Even if there is no visibility on the day you visit, it’s ultimately up to the observatory ticket booth whether you get a voucher or not. 

However, if you purchase your tickets through GetYourGuide, you not only can get a refund up to 24 hours before your visit, but you’ll also have a skip-the-line ticket to the One World Observatory. GetYourGuide also lets you choose from several ticket packages, including an ultimate skip-the-line One World Observation ticket with a flexible timed entry. You can also opt to purchase a VIP ticket, which includes a guided tour of the One World Observatory, a voucher for food and drink, and priority access. 

Exhibit at the One World Observatory in New York City.
© F11photo | Dreamstime.com

Book a Combo Ticket

If you’re looking to get the most out of your day at the One World Trade Center and 9/11 Memorial, check out this combination ticket that includes access to both attractions. This five-hour excursion includes a guided tour of the 9/11 Memorial. Your guide will be a New Yorker with a personal connection to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, who will share facts, stories, and personal accounts of that terrible day. 

After your tour of the 9/11 Memorial, you’ll get to head up to the One World Observatory with a timed ticket. You can then learn more about the events of 9/11 while enjoying an incredible panoramic view of New York City. 

Purchase a Tourist Pass

Another way to save time and money when visiting the One World Observatory is to purchase a tourist pass. You’re probably planning to visit other popular NYC attractions on your holiday, and a tourist pass allows you to visit many of them at a reduced rate! 

You have several tourist passes to choose from, so we recommend narrowing down the attractions you want to see the most and then choosing the pass that fits your itinerary the best. You can get up to 40% off entrance tickets to attractions such as the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, the Empire State Building, and the Guggenheim Museum with the Go City Explorer Pass, New York Pass, or New York CityPASS.

Useful Information for Visiting the One World Observatory

What’s the Best Time to Visit the One World Observatory?

It’s best to visit the One World Observatory on a weekday in the off-peak season (January to March). This pretty much guarantees you’ll avoid big crowds and long lines. 

The best time of day to visit the One World Observatory depends on what you want out of the experience. If you want to get incredible photos of the city skyline, sunset is the best time to go. The downside is that sunset at the observation deck is quite popular, so expect to find other tourists lined up at the same time. If you want to avoid the crowds, it’s best to visit right when the attraction opens (9 or 10 a.m., depending on the day) or after sunset when the crowd has left. 

What Are the One World Observatory Hours of Operation?

The One World Observatory is open Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. These hours might change regularly, though, so it’s always a good idea to check the hours of operation in advance and remember that the last entry is allowed one hour before closing. 

The Skyportal in the One World Observatory in New York City.
© F11photo | Dreamstime.com

How Do You Get to the One World Observatory?

The One World Observatory is located in the One World Trade Center in Manhattan. Since Manhattan has extremely heavy traffic and limited parking, we highly recommend getting to the attraction by public transit. There are train stops only a few steps from the One World Trade Center, and plenty of bus stops are nearby as well. 

How Do the One World Observatory Tickets Work?

You can choose from four types of tickets for the famed observation deck, each offering a different experience. A standard ticket is the cheapest and provides access to the observation deck at your chosen time. 

If you want to bypass the security, elevator, and ticket lines, you should purchase a combination ticket. This ticket includes a virtual iPad guide but still requires a timed entrance. 

The next level is the all-inclusive One World Observatory ticket, which allows you the flexibility to come at any time on your chosen day, skip all the lines, and enjoy the virtual iPad tour. You’ll also receive a $15 voucher for food, drinks, or souvenirs inside. You can choose from three broad time slots: morning, afternoon, and evening. 

If you want to go all out and experience the One World Observatory with a guided tour, VIP priority access, and a $15 voucher, the Mastercard VIP ticket is the way to go. The tour lasts 60-90 minutes and includes escorted access to the elevators and a commemorative gift.

How Much Do One World Observatory Tickets Cost?

The cost of tickets to the One World Observatory depends on the package you choose. A standard One World Observatory ticket starts at about $39 for adults, $37 for seniors ages 65 and older, and $33 for children ages 6-12. Children 5 years old and younger enter for free. Discounted tickets are available for active and retired U.S. military members, firefighters, law enforcement, and first responders.

For a combination ticket that includes a skip-the-line pass and the virtual iPad guide, prices start at $49 for adults, $47 for seniors, and $43 for children. An all-inclusive One World Observatory ticket starts at $59 for adults, $57 for seniors, and $53 for children. Prices do not change based on the time slot you choose. Ticket prices for the guided VIP experience start at $69 for adults, $67 for seniors, and $63 for children. 

What Are the Best Hotels Near the One World Observatory?

New York City is known for its heavy traffic, and Manhattan is no exception. To avoid wasting time in traffic or on long public transit rides, pick a hotel as close to the One World Trade Center as possible. This will give you convenient proximity to not only the 9/11 Memorial and One World Observation deck, but also the Ghostbusters Headquarters, the Brooklyn Bridge, the New York Stock Exchange, and many other attractions. 

For a budget-friendly hotel with soundproof rooms, check out Gild Hall, a Thompson Hotel. This four-star hotel in the heart of the Financial District offers an on-site restaurant, private parking, a fitness center, and room service. 

If you’re looking to splurge on a luxury hotel, consider staying at the Conrad New York Downtown. This stunning five-star hotel features spacious suites, on-site parking, and an incredible rooftop bar. 

If you’re traveling with your furry friend and looking to stay in a pet-friendly hotel, consider booking a room at IHG’s Hotel Indigo NYC Financial District. This three-star hotel features a fitness center, a bar, a restaurant, and room service. 

People enjoying the view from the One World Observatory in New York City.
© Palinchak | Dreamstime.com

What’s the Security Process at the One World Observatory?

All visitors must go through a security screening before entering the elevators to the One World Observatory. You must wear a shirt, pants or shorts, and shoes to enter. To pass through security quickly, without being denied access or having anything confiscated, make sure you don’t bring any of these prohibited items: 

  • Professional photographer equipment, including tripods, lights, and professional video cameras.
  • Outside food and drink. 
  • Recreational roller transportation devices, such as bicycles, scooters, shoes with wheels, and skateboards.
  • Bags larger than 25 by 17 by 9 inches.
  • Firearms or weapons, such as knives, mace, pepper spray, and nunchucks. 
  • Pets.
  • Service dogs (including those in training) under 12 months old.

You can see a complete list of prohibited items and the One World Observatory’s code of conduct here.

What About Visiting the One World Observatory With a Disability?

The One World Observatory is a very accessible attraction for guests with disabilities. Service animals are allowed on the observatory deck as long as they’re over 12 months old, and an accessibility drop-off and pickup point is available on West Street north of Vesey Street.

FAQs: Facts About the One World Observatory

What Is the One World Observatory?

The One World Observatory is an observation deck in Manhattan near the top of the One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the U.S. The deck offers incredible views of the city – up to 45 miles in each direction on a clear day. 

How Old Is the One World Observatory?

The One World Observatory took seven years to complete and opened its doors to the public in 2014. 

Who Built the One World Observatory?

American architect group Skidmore, Owings & Merrill designed the One World Observatory. The One World Trade Center, including the observatory, is owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Why Was the One World Trade Center and One World Observatory Built?

The One World Trade Center was built to replace the World Trade Center’s twin towers, which were destroyed in the attacks on 9/11, and bring business back to the area. The building is part of the 9/11 Memorial.

How Tall Is the One World Trade Center?

The One World Trade Center stands at a staggering 1,776 feet high, making it the tallest building in the U.S. The One World Observatory is on the 102nd floor, 1,250 feet above the streets of Manhattan. 

Where Is the One World Observatory Located?

The One World Observatory is located inside the One World Trade Center in Manhattan. It is connected to the 9/11 Memorial in the Financial District. 

Are There Lockers for Rent?

No, there are no lockers available for rent at the One World Observatory. 

There you have it – all the information you need to plan your perfect tour of the One World Observatory. Just remember to charge your phone or camera so you can get some epic pictures at the top!

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