Yesterday I took a day off from work to hang out with our friends and play tourist. It’s been at least fifteen and probably closer to twenty years since I’ve been to the Empire State Building. I can’t honestly remember looking at it and seeing anything but "The Empire State Building". I was surprised at what a beautiful art deco building it is and how the themes are carried throughout the public hallways and spaces. I was also surprised at:
- The skyride. A fantasy helicopter tour through New York seen from a shifting, heaving platform to simulate motion. When did that go in? Fun but cheesy. Enter and exit through a gift shop.
- Fleecing the tourists. You go through a gift shop to wait on line. Expect an hour or so of waiting before riding the elevator to a lobby where staff take your photo against a painted backdrop of the building. Proceed past food, audio tour headset rental and gifts to elevators to observatory where you emerge into, guess what… a gift shop. Lather, rinse, repeat on exit. You’ll get an opportunity to buy a copy of the photo they took on the way up. Exit into lobby where there are the usual shops for the business offices residing in the building- dry cleaning, shoe repair, newstand, food- and, of course, a couple of gift shops.
We also went to the Intrepid. Interesting, sort of ad hoc collection. I don’t remember it being so sparse and disjointed. Okay, it was more than twenty years ago since I last toured but even as a kid I think I would have noticed. The simulator rides are an additional charge and very short- seven minutes, three of them spent on orientation. The foundation doesn’t seem to know what to do with all the space and had a rock climbing wall in there… at least it was free. Sadly, the flight deck was closed because of the ice and snow. The tour through the WWII sub the U.S.S. Growler was neat, if quick, and the destroyer and Concorde were not open to the public. I think I’ll be good for another ten years or so before returning to that museum.