The Empire State Building is opening its new 102nd floor observatory, complete with floor-to-ceiling glass walls, on Saturday.
If you haven’t been there since you were a kid or you took your out-of-town relatives a decade ago, it’s time for another look. The guest experience no longer involves a DMV-like waiting line and has been revamped and filled with immersive and Instagrammable moments.
Want to view a 25-foot-tall model of the building that is synched with its varying colored lights on top? Check.
Want to see hundreds of huge photos of celebrities and movie clips taken at the building? Check.
Want a selfie of yourself in King Kong’s hand while the beast moves around and peers in windows? Check.
Want to delight kids of all ages by spotting the video cat chasing a pigeon perched on a construction beam? Check.
Want swift-moving elevators with ceilings showing videos of the building’s construction? Check.
On a cloudy, drizzly day last week, visitors’ spirits were not dampened as there was zero wait time and plenty of elbow room at the exhibits and in the remodeled indoor and outdoor observatory on the 86th floor.
Long views were obscured, but the city’s other towers, skylines and streetscapes were visible through the thin fog.
After another elevator ride, I stepped out into an entirely revamped 102nd floor — the top-most inhabitable level — which was still swarming with dozens of construction workers.
Here, the small, waist-high windows have been swapped for dizzying new floor-to-ceiling glass. Even the lone elevator has a glass surround to ensure a gorilla-sized 360-degree experience.
Tickets are available online and at the West 34th Street visitor entrance but, to filter out some of the 4 million-plus visitors a year, there’s a $20 up-charge for the new 102nd observatory.