This is the second post in my series on the appropriateness of the Chicago CityPass for quiet and adaptive travel. You can read my first post here. One of the options of the CityPass is to choose either a visit to Skydeck Chicago at Willis Tower or heading to the Museum of Science and Industry. As Willis Tower is the second tallest building in the Western hemisphere, I thought I’d try the Skydeck as it seemed more unique. While I quite like the Museum of Science and Industry, there are certain elements I know that may be a little to raucous or even confined for an adaptive traveler.
Chicago SkyDeck: The Waiting
If you visit the Skydeck on a weekend over Spring Break as I did, be prepared to wait. And then wait some more. One of the perks of the Chicago CityPass is that it serves as a FastPass or VIP entrance into the attractions it covers. When I approached the Skydeck line, it wrapped around a city block. I learned that CityPass holders had a 30 minute wait once they entered the doors to the building and about 10 minutes outside. For people without the CityPass, the wait was 2.5 hours. 2.5 HOURS! That’s like waiting in line for the best ride at DisneyWorld. Thankfully it was a crisp, sunny day in April and waiting outside was very pleasant.
My Tip: CityPass or not, be prepared to bring entertainment for yourself and anyone with you. ASD individuals may become impatient. If you are traveling with children, I suggest getting in line mid-nap. There was no cell service in the basement of Willis Tower, so keep that in mind.
Once you enter the glass doors of Willis Tower, you will snake along in a shorter line to take elevators down to the waiting and ticketing areas for the Skydeck. When you step off the elevators, guides will tell you that the line to the right is for people who do not have tickets or have general access tickets and the short line to the left is for CityPass and FastPass carriers. If you have a CityPass, do not wait in either! The short line is actually a line where you can purchase a CityPass. Instead, there is a red wall with a big arrow on the left that says CityPass and FastPass and disappears around a corner to the right. Hug the wall and follow that arrow.
You will Frog Jump through the Line
The problem with going through multiple security clearances and elevators is that your spot in line will change. Sometimes you will be in front of people, then you’ll see them in front of you. Try not to get too frustrated. I visited at 11AM on a Saturday and it was a sea of tourists. If English is not your first language, you may have trouble. Hand signals and sufficient smiling seemed to work for me and the other people in my elevators.
Was SkyDeck Chicago the Right Choice?
It took 40 minutes to get up to the SkyDeck and I spent a total of four minutes looking around. It was insanely crowded and the line to get to the “Ledge” was perhaps another 20 minutes. The windows were dirty and photographs did not turn out very nicely without sufficient editing. While I think the three gift shops were worth a peek, it took quite a bit of time out of a perfectly lovely day. The gift shops at the base were better than than the one up top, in my opinion.