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Monday, July 6, 2015

One Wold Observatory: See Forever

Located on the top floors of the newly finish One World Trade Center the multi level observation center offers panoramic views of NYC however the experience starts many floors below ground level at the Global Welcome Center. 

After buying your tickets or checking in you pass through security and enter a large hall where a world map is displayed. There we learned interesting statistics about visitors to the observatory. Today the most represented country was Germany. After leaving the lobby and ticket area we entered an area known as Voices and Foundations. In the dimly lite queue visitors can feel and touch a simulated stone representing the bedrock on which this structure is built and hear the personal stories told by those who built the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. 

As we emerge from the winding pathways we reach a bank of modern elevators known as Sky Pods which will shoot us to the 102nd floor in less then 60 seconds while riders enjoy a simulated view of New York from its beginning to present day. This was a cool experience watching as we climbed altitude the years and growth and development of the city occurred at an accelerated rate. 

After the short elevators ride we found ourselves squished into the Forever Theatre on the skyscrapers 102nd floor where a view of city life plays out. Then the wall opens vertically giving visitors their first glimpse of the city skyline. That glimpse is very brief as the wall lowers almost immediately. 

Like cattle we are then herded into a room and directed down a flight of stairs into a high pressure sales area where employees of the observatory swarmed like bees in a final push to up charge the visitors by encouraging them to rent iPads designed to help identify key locations as they view the skyline of the city. This pressure created a significant bottleneck preventing many people from reaching the next views of the city on the 101st floor easily. 

As if that push to pay more wasn't enough the next view of the city was along a small balcony which lead to their income generating cafe. Here visitors had the option to purchase overpriced pain au chocolate or artisan sandwiches with the hope to be lucky enough to find an available table on which to eat. It was a chaotic mess with many visitors unsure what to do ending up in the cafe only to discover that they needed to turn around to take the stairs down on more level to the 100th floor, known as the Discovery Level, where the first full panoramic view of the city were available. 

The Discovery Level allows visitors a full360-degree view in all directions. It also includes the sky portal, a 14-ft wide circular disc hat provides real time views of the streets below. It also offers an interactive skyline known as City Pulse which helps guests connect with and observe landmarks around the city. 

While the view were amazing and you truly could See Forever I have to agree with my father that the experience was no where near as dramatic and awe inspiring as the observation deck of the previous World Trade Center. 

While the sky pods were very cool the smooth and quick ride left you barely realizing that you had just shot up 102 floors. It lacked the experience that the old slower elevator with 102 lighted numbers that slowly counted up. 

The Forever Theatre was also a let down as you were so close to the wall it was hard to see much other then what was right in front of you. When the wall finally opened exposing the amazing view it was so short lived you barely had a chance to figure out what direction you were looking before the walls dropped back down and you were ushered like animals into the sales slaughter. 

The discovery floor certainly had awe inspiring views but it lacked that open air feel with the wind rushing by which helped give value to how high you really were. The visitors were so cocooned behind safety glass that it was hard to really appreciate what it was really like on the other side of the glass.  It's an amazing facility and a valuable venue but that intense experience the old observatory provided wasn't the same. 

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