The cost of visiting New York City can make it an extremely expensive trip. One way to save money is to invest in an attraction pass. One such pass is the New York City C3 Pass from CityPASS. This is a Cutdown Pass based on the Original New York CityPASS, Geared towards people with less time in the City or people who are only wanting to visit a few attractions. In our New York CityPASS C3 Review we answer the question, is the New York C3 Pass is worth it, and is it is the right pass for you?
If you want to see what other passes are available, see our comparison review here Where we have looked at The New York Pass, The New York Explorer Pass, and the New York CityPASS.
- Product: New York CityPASS C3
- Price: $82 (18+)
- Price Child: $62 (4-12)
- Where to Buy: http://www.citypass.com/new-york
- Number of Attractions: choose 3 of 10
- Time Limit: 9 consecutive days
- Rating: 4.3/5 Stars
Choose any 3 of the following:
- Empire State Building Experience
- American Museum of Natural History
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Top of the Rock Observation Deck
- Guggenheim Museum
- Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
- Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
- 9/11 Memorial & Museum
- Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
- Hornblower Cruises
IN A NUTSHELL
A very basic Pass that just allows you to see the Highlights of New York City. This is the perfect Pass for very quick 1-2 Day trips where you don’t have the time to see as much as you want but still want a few attractions and a modest saving. Care must be taken when Choosing your attractions as certain combinations work out very badly. We like the Pass but it’s lightweight nature always leaves us wanting more so prefer the other passes. But for those Whirlwind visit’s this is perfect.
What is the New York CityPASS C3:
The New York C3 by CityPASS is a cut-down version of the popular New York CityPASS. It allows you to visit any 3 attractions from a list of 10 of New Yorks’s most popular attractions. This works very well for short trips or where you are on a very tight budget. The price is only $82 ($64 for Children 4-12) which is the cheapest price of all of New York’s passes. However, for this, you are only getting 3 attractions and the value isn’t as great as some of the other more expensive passes.
How Does the New York C3 Pass Work?
Unlike it’s bigger brother the C3 is a Digital Pass meaning it is just a QR barcode that is scanned at the attractions when you visit them. We believe (hope) this is the way all the CityPASS’s are heading and the C3 is being used as a trial. We have used this system for other passes and it works very well. The codes are either printed out or scanned directly from your smartphone.
There is no need to pre-decide which attractions you choose. You simply turn up on the day and use the QR code. No need to pre-book. Some of the Attractions used timed slot systems but you can simply book for the next available time which is normally well within the hour.
Is the New York C3 Good Value?
The New York C3 Pass doesn’t represent as good value as some of the other passes out there. In fact, in some instances, the C3 can work out more expensive than visiting the attractions separately! This is dependant upon which attractions you Choose. You need to be visiting the more expensive options to get any value from the PASS. However, picking the most expensive attractions is a poor way to choose your attractions. You need to decide which attractions you wish to see and work out if that represents good value. Here are a few examples cost out for you:
- Empire State Building Experience + Top of the Rock Observation Deck + Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum – $37 + $39 + $33 = $109 Pass $ 82 Saving $27 or 24%
- Empire State Building Experience + Top of the Rock Observation Deck + 9/11 Memorial & Museum – $37 + $39 + $26 = $100 Pass $ 82 Saving $18 or 18%
- Empire State Building Experience + American Museum of Natural History + The Metropolitan Museum of Art – $37 + $28 + $25 = $90 Pass $ 82 Saving $8 or 8%
- Top of the Rock Observation Deck + Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island + Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum – $39 + $18.50 + $33 = $90.50 Pass $ 82 Saving $8.50 or 9%
- Empire State Building Experience + Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island + 9/11 Memorial & Museum – $37 + $18.50 + $26 = $81.50 Pass $ 82 Saving $0.50 or 0%
- American Museum of Natural History + The Metropolitan Museum of Art + Guggenheim Museum – $28 + $25 + $25 = $78 Pass $ 82 Saving –$-4 or -5%
- American Museum of Natural History + Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island + 9/11 Memorial & Museum – $28 + $18.50 + $26 = $72.50 Pass $ 82 Saving –$-9.50 or -7%
As you can see there is quite a variation in possible savings from $29 or 37% right down to costing you money. The Big Killer in Value is the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Cruise as this is the cheapest attraction it instantly minimises potential savings. So if this is to be on of your planned attractions, which it often is the C3 may not be for you. Unless of course, you have the time and inclination for 4 attractions as you could just pay for the Statue and Ellis separately. But then you are getting close to the cost of a full New York CityPASS!
Central Park From Top Of The Rock
The take-home message is to work out what is really important to you and cost it out to see if the savings are worth getting a pass. Here are is a list of current prices as of Jan 2018(Hopefully they don’t change soon as I’ll have a lot of Maths to re-do!):
- Empire State Building Experience – $37 Adult – $31 Child
- American Museum of Natural History – $28 Adult – $16.50 Child
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art – $25 Adult – $12 Child
- Top of the Rock Observation Deck – $39 Adult – $32.49 Child
- Guggenheim Museum – $25 Adult – $18 Child
- Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island – $18.50 Adult – $9 Child
- Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises – $31 Adult – $26 Child
- 9/11 Memorial & Museum – $26 Adult – $17 Child
- Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum – $33 Adult – $24 Child
- Hornblower Cruises – $31 Adult – $21 Child
While the primary reason for choosing a pass is cost-saving. There are a few good reasons why the C3 pass can enhance your trip beyond just money-saving.
Budgeting – With the C3 you know exactly how much you will be spending on the attraction side of the holiday. There will be no nasty surprises when you get back and no worrying that you have spent too much of your holiday cash. As you have paid upfront for all your attraction costs that part of the planning can be put to bed and you can just focus on enjoying your trip.
Planning – Visting a new city can be confusing and intimidating and you don’t always know where to start in planning your trip. A pass can add real clarity to this process and as you pick your attractions you can plan other things to do in the vicinity of the attraction. Like heading into Central Park after the natural history museum. Or heading to Macy’s after going up the empire state building.
Ease – Simply having the QR Code on your phone or printed out certainly helps make things a lot easier rather than carrying around multiple tickets. A quick scan of the code and you are in. While having a few tickets is hardly the most taxing prospect it still stands that the simplicity of the pass is a positive.
Queues – At some Attractions having the pass allows you to either skip certain parts of the queuing process or access priority lines. We go into detail about this in our hands-on CityPASS Review. The C3 works the same in practice so this is a good guide as to where and when you can skip lines.
Flexibility – Because there is no need to choose your attractions ahead of time and you are not booking specific times it gives you the flexibility to alter your itinerary to suit weather or mood. say you are planning the Empire state building first thing but wake to low clouds which will obscure any view? well, head to the 9/11 museum instead and do the Empire state after the cloud has lifted. As the C3 is geared toward shorter stays it doesn’t provide a huge amount of flexibility but it might just get out of a pickle.
Manhatten From Top Of The Rock
Timed Tickets – At the 9/11 Museum*, The Top Of The Rock, and the Cruise Options offered a Timed ticket System is used. This means you are allocated a ticket for the attraction at a certain time. The way, the pass works you can’t book these timed slots ahead of time as you can if booking directly with the providers. You simply arrive and then book the next available. For the most part, this is fine and the wait is minimal but at very busy times it can be an issue. meaning you have a bit of a wait until your timed entry. Personally, we have NEVER experienced this and have not had to wait more than 30 mins. But we are aware at very busy times it can be a problem. A simple way to avoid this issue is to attend at less than peak times of the day. early morning or late on. or if you really want a certain time, such as sunset at the top of the rock. Visit the attraction well in advance and get your timed ticket for the later time of your choosing.
*At the 9/11 museum, we actually experienced the opposite and were ushered in Quicker than those needing to buy tickets as we were pass-holders.
Cramming Too Much in – We always mention this when discussing passes as there is always the temptation to Cram too much in to get value from a pass. While this is less of an issue for the C3 as it only has 3 attractions included if your trip is very short it could still be too much! 3 attractions in one day is still a fairly busy schedule depending on the attractions. They can be fairly far apart and require a good amount of time investment to properly appreciate. For single days or long layovers, we don’t really think any pass is the best idea unless you really are intent on seeing the available attractions. Better to Maybe just go up the empire state them just enjoy the City.
Value For Money – We have mentioned this extensively so won’t go on again, but this isn’t the best in value in terms of possible savings.
You will obviously have your own Idea of which attractions you wish to visit when traveling to New York But we do feel some of the C3’s offerings are stronger than others.
Empire State Building Experience or Top of the Rock
View From the Empire State Building
Most people want to do at least one of these. The view of Manhatten from up high is a truly staggering spectacle. We strongly advise anyone visiting New York to visit an Observation Deck. While the C3 Pass allows you to visit both and they are both high value it doesn’t lead to a lot of variety in your trip. We advise choosing only one. But which?
We sum up the pros and cons in our Observation Deck Article but in Brief, it’s a tough choice. The Top of the Rock wins on most levels, it is a far better view and you actually get to see the Empire State Building, however, there is just something so Iconic about going up the Empire State building it’s hard to overlook it. We are just going to have to choose between a superior view or bragging rights or upgrade to a more expensive pass.
There are 5 Museums offered on the C3 pass. People who don’t like Museums may be a little put off by this but they are not all stuffy collections of relics, while some are. The 911 Museum and Memorial is a truly heartbreaking experience that most people visiting New York should experience at least once. This should be top of your list along with an Observation Deck.
9/11 Memorial and Museum
The other 4 Museums are quite different. The Natural history museum is a real world-class museum and well worth a visit for anyone with an interest in nature and the history of life on earth. The Intrepid museum is also fantastic if military hardware is your thing, our only issue with it is it’s not very New Yorky! While it’s fascinating being on the deck of an aircraft carrier moored on the Hudson River, it’s just a bit irrelevant to new york. This can be seen as a bad choice therefore for someone on a whirlwind tour of the city, trying to get the most out of new york on a tight timescale which we feel is the main aim of the C3 Pass.
The Museum of Modern Art houses some of the best artworks in the world and is a great museum but like the intrepid museum, it doesn’t feel that relevant to a new york trip. If this has been on your list for a while as you are an ardent art lover then this is probably the perfect choice. The Guggenheimnhiem is another world-class museum but for most, it’s “an as well as” museum, not a first choice so not most people’s ideal choice. If you are here primarily for the museums the fact it has so many options means you could save a few $while visiting your favorites.
Blue Whale Replica – New York American Museum of Natural History
The other issue with choosing Museums is the Metropolitan and the Natural History Museum do have the option of paying only what you want. For the vast majority of tourists paying the suggested donation is the normal way forward. We personally would feel very rude and awkward demanding that the museum wasn’t worth the entry fee and we want to pay less than everyone else. We don’t feel that is the purpose of this system. The museum house some incredibly important works and EVERYONE should have access to. The reduced donation fee is for those who really can’t afford the “entry”. Not a category many New York Tourists fall into. We liken it to Tipping, you don’t have to tip your server but it’s very ill manners not to?
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
As we mentioned this is the poorest value choice on the C3 Pass. While it’s a fantastic option and we highly recommend the trip itself it just isn’t very expensive on its own and as such limits the amount the pass can save you. You would be much better off choosing another option and then book the cruise separately (maybe with a crown access upgrade?) if you want to visit the Statue. Which you should it is a very iconic experience. Another option is the Staten Island ferry which doesn’t actually stop on the island but makes a very close pass. See here for details.
The other Cruises on the list offer much better value and are a real joy. We should say they can be less enjoyable during the winter months where it can be VERY cold out on the Rivers. But a relaxing cruise taking in one of the best skylines in the world is a great way to spend your time.
If we were to recommend a perfect itinerary for us it would be:
- Empire State Building Experience
- 9/11 Memorial & Museum
- American Museum of Natural History
Even after saying the Top of the Rock is better, which it is, We just love the romance of the Empire State Building, But the two are really interchangeable on the C3 Pass.
T-Rex Fossil – New York American Museum of Natural History
The New York C3 Pass is far from the best value pass on offer in New York but it offers a really cheap option for a whistle-stop tour. It is actually the cheapest option for a very short or limited stay. It is also a good option for people just looking to do just a few attractions and then fill their days with the free things on offer in New York.
We prefer the more complete full-fat New York CityPASS as it offers such a complete New York Experience. But if you, for whatever reason can only do 3 of the attractions the C3 is a very good option for a cut-down Pass. The attractions on offer are all really top attractions with only the statue of liberty and Ellis Island the only one to avoid and then only as it reduces the value of the pass. However, as stated Cost should not be the major factor in choosing the Pass. If the selection of attractions you want to visit doesn’t add up to more than the cost of the pass, don’t change your itinerary, just don’t buy the pass.
Have Your Say
Let us know if you have tried the C3 Pass? What did you think? Is your experience similar to ours or did you find it disappointing? What attractions did you choose? Just leave us a comment below, we would love to hear from you. Or if you have any questions on the Pass of the attractions themselves again just drop us a comment.