New York is a very expensive city to visit. The cost of Hotels, Food, Flights, and attractions are always on the rise. Many people visit the City as a once in a lifetime trip and want to pack the most into there one and only opportunity to visit the city. This can make the expenses pile up. Attraction Passes are one way to reduce the cost and increase the number of things you see and do in the City. While in some quarters of the internet these passes get a bit of criticism, we, on the whole, think they are a great idea.
New York has many passes available and it can be hard to know which is best and which would suit you the BEST. Here we take a look at “THE NEW YORK PASS”. This is an all-inclusive Pass that offers great value for those looking to visit a lot of attractions. In our THE NEW YORK PASS Review we take an in-depth look at what the pass offers, it’s pros and con’s and answers the question, is THE NEW YORK PASS worth it?
We take a look at what attractions are best, how to get the best out of the pass and look a the pros and cons of using a pass in general. This way you can decide if a Pass is the best way for you to see the City, or of you should wing it and see how things go.
There are several other Passes available for New York. Each Pass has its own unique pros and cons. If you want to see what other passes are available, see our New York Passes Comparison here.
- Product: THE NEW YORK PASS
- Price: $124-$419 (13+)*
- Price Child: $94-$279 (4-12yrs)*
- Where to Buy: www.newyorkpass.com
- Number of Attractions: 100+ Unlimited use
- Time Limit: 1-10 Days
- Rating: 4/5 Stars
- Empire State Building Experience
- The Ride
- New York Water Taxi
- Top of the Rock Observation Deck
- 9/11 Memorial & Museum
- Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
- Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
- Madame Tussauds New York
- Museum Modern Art (Moma)
- + Many more, Click here for all activities
This All-inclusive City Pass Has just about every imaginable Attraction included and with the new Mobile app could not be easier to use. If you are planning to see and do as much as possible on your New York trip then this is the pass for you. The price is pretty steep, so you need to pack a lot in to get value, but if that is the plan then THE NEW YORK PASS is perfect
What is THE NEW YORK PASS:
THE NEW YORK PASS is a Digital Pass that allows access to 100+ of New York’s Best Attractions, Including all the Top-rated Attractions in New York. When Purchasing a card you pick the number of days you want to use the card for and then you can see as many of the 100+ attractions that you would like within that period. Its a pretty good deal and if you can cram in lots of attractions its astonishing value.
How Much does THE NEW YORK PASS Cost:
Below is a table explaining the different costs of THE NEW YORK PASS. Children under 4 will typically be allowed free entry to most attractions so will not need a Pass. The longer you have the pass the less it will cost “per day”. The online price typically makes buying a 3-day cheaper than buying a 2-day. These online prices vary quite a bit during the year
Adult Prices (13+):
- 1-Day – $124.00 – $124 per day
- 2-Day – $189.00 – $94 per day
- 3-Day –
$273.00 – $92 per day– Online offer: $199 – $74 per day
- 5-Day –
$324.00 – $64 per day– Online offer: $264 – $52 per day
- 7-Day –
$369.00 – $52 per day– Online offer: $299 – $42 per day
- 10-Day –
$419.00 – $42 per day– Online offer: $339 – $34 per day
Child Prices (3-12):
- 1-Day – $94.00 – $94 per day
- 2-Day – $159.00 – $79 per day
- 3-Day –
$199.00 – $66 per day– Online offer: $149 – $49 per day
- 5-Day –
$239.00 – $48 per day– Online offer: $179 – $36 per day
- 7-Day –
$259.00 – $37 per day– Online offer: $189 – $27 per day
- 10-Day –
$279.00 – $28 per day– Online offer: $204 – $19 per day
*Note – Online Prices vary wildly for 3,5,7 and 10-day passes and there are often promotions online of varying degree’s Never pay the Full price we list here. If there is no offer currently on hold off on purchasing until there is. Typically you can expect to save up to $50 on a 3-Day pass, up to $70-80 on a 10 Day Pass.
As you can see it a serious outlay. But there is no doubt that by seeing a good number of the attractions on the Card you can save a serious sum of cash. But the reality is unless you are in New York for a number of days It can be hard to cram in enough attractions to make it worthwhile. The best attractions can take a fair amount of time to visit and you will inevitably spend some time queuing.
These Cards also receive some pretty bad press on some Travel forums. People arguing the cards actually cause more queuing than they save and the actual experience is deteriorated by using a card. So We headed to New York to investigate these claims.
Budgeting: The Card allows you to see a lot of high-quality attractions at a fixed price point. This price is a lot lower than seeing the attractions individually, assuming you make good use of the card. It’s also a Fixed price so you know well in advance how much this part of your trip will cost. No Nasty Surprises on your credit card when you get home and no Missing out on things you really want to do because you have run out of money.
The single fixed payment really is a big incentive for us when visiting a city.
Flexibility: Flexibility is important when visiting a city such as New York. You are never sure until a couple of days before what the weather will hold. Some of New York’s attractions are very weather dependent and having the ability to chop and change your pans can be the difference between an ok trip and a GREAT trip.
Huge Choice: There are an awful lot of attractions included with the pass so surely something for all tastes and budgets
Cost: While the Pass is expensive, So are New York attractions. While there is heaps of cool free stuff to do in New York, the Big attractions are not free. And being one of the most visited city’s in the world the owners of these attractions know people will pay big. So despite its expense, it still represents a big cost saving. Costs that can be spent on something else.
Simplicity: The Alternative to a pass recommended by most Forum Experts is to book ahead using the attractions websites and buy everything individually that way you know exactly when and where to be for what. This is all very regimented but also means lots and lots of organizing and printing and carrying tickets etc… With THE NEW YORK PASS Its just the one pass to cover everything you want to do. Or even better with the new Mobile App just your phone!
Some of these advantages might not seem like much but remember these are on TOP of the rather large discounts on offer. We think without the discounts a pass might be a pretty decent purchase anyway.
Chasing the Pass : With so many options available it’s possible you inadvertently start seeing attractions that you are not all that interested in simply as its “on the Pass” While doing things you normally wouldn’t can be a good thing, Its only the case if it’s not at the detriment to things you would otherwise do. New York is rammed with free fun things to do. And you may Miss out on these if you spend the whole time seeing paid attractions simply to derive value from the pass.
You should only consider a pass if it offers all the things you wanted to do anyway. Unless of course something on the pass really catches your eye. This is often the case and Passes open up doors to things you didn’t even know were available.
Poor Value Options: With THE NEW YORK PASS in a bid to get everything included and bump up the number of attractions it seems some of the attractions are a little poor value. Some of the tours and such can be done for free and In our opinion are poor offerings. That’s said the Pass does include almost all the Marquee attractions so there is no need to actually do the less enticing offerings. And some people really like walking tours and being shown everything, so for them, these may be good options.
Exhausting: Trying to cram in enough attractions to justify the cost can lead you to tear around the city like crazy. This is genuinely tiring. We were covering over 10 miles a day! getting back to the hotel In the evening was a relief. Our legs were battered and Achy. I have, in my time, ran a few marathons. The feeling was very similar. New York, in general, can be an exhausting city. The added pressure of trying to cram too much into a day really can leave you beat up!
No Timed Entry: Some Attractions use timed tickets. These are tickets where you pre-book and reserve a slot. Such as the Top Of The Rock, The Circle Line and Statue Cruises, and the 9/11 Museum. This means you know when you need to be somewhere and then just turn up. You avoid the ticket queue and get straight on or in. This is not possible with most passes. This means at some attractions you need to queue for a Timed ticket THEN queue for the attraction.
This is where a lot of the criticism of the passes comes from. Read on to see how we fared and if the Criticism is just.
The New York Pass in Practice
Obviously, we have not been able to visit ALL the attractions available on the Pass. But we tried to hit the ones where Timed tickets and queuing are a big issue. It’s defiantly worth noting we were in New York on one of the busiest weekends of the year. The city was painfully busy. No one can claim we picked a quiet time to skew the test.
In practice THE NEW YORK PASS Fairs very well. At a lot of attractions, there was no difference. The pass simply acted as your ticket and you just queued to enter. Other attractions offer a “fast track” service where you are able to skip the ticket queue.
This worked great at the 9/11 Museum and the Top Of the Rock for Example. These are Timed ticket attractions but the Fast Track meant quick access to the VIP line to book our ticket or simply bypassing the Queue as was the case at 9/11 Museum. While the Queues were bad they were far worse for people who had to buy tickets BEFORE queuing for entry.
Also at the Empire State Building, the Ticket portion of the queue was simply bypassed. On our Statue Cruise. We arrived and booked onto the next cruise which was in 30 mins time, it took nearly this long to get through security and we wouldn’t have saved any time at all by pre-booking.
For the Tours, the New York Pass allows you to book online beforehand. Otherwise, you will risk turning up and having the tour/walk booked up for the day.
Overall we witnessed very few of the negatives Highlighted by Messageboard regulars. The pass performed at least as well as either the Walkup option or Pre-Booking for a set time. In a lot of cases, it outperformed both.
There are two delivery options when Purchasing Either a Code for Redemption when in New York. Or they will deliver the Cards to a large number of countries. The card delivery options are fairly hefty though $8 in the US $25 to Europe! (banks will send me a card in the post for free!) But the Redemption Code is free. This does, however, mean you need to go and pick the card up. Locations here.
With 80+ Attractions, it can be tricky to find them all on a conventional map. So the New York Pass offers a free companion app! Available on Android and AppStore. It’s a very nice App. It pretty good even if you DON’T want to purchase a Pass. And for Visitors from outside the USA, It is mainly Offline. So it doesn’t require data. The odd feature, does but it has a Wifi-only Mode so no nasty charges (But you have data roaming disabled anyway right?).
Just search your App Store or Google Play for THE NEW YORK PASS
UPDATE – THE NEW YORK PASS now offers a Mobile-only Option. This is accessed via the Smartphone App and allows you to simply Scan your code when visiting an attraction. We have not had a chance to try this out in With the New York Pass, but have used this system often for other passes and it works incredibly well. Although care should be taken not to run down your phone battery taking too many photos!
This is great news and makes Visiting New York with THE NEW YORK PASS even easier. Cutting out the need for expensive delivery or visiting a Ticket Centre to exchange you Coupon. While these options are still available should you not be Smartphone enabled just yet!
We mentioned previously that we feel some of the offerings are not so fantastic. I don’t want to slate these individually as if they appeal to you I wouldn’t want to put you off. It would, however, be fair for us to point out which Attractions we DO think are fantastic and should be TOP of your Must do list.
There is no doubt that Observation Decks are one of the most popular attractions in New York. Seeing the City from up high is an incredible experience. We really do put a trip to the top of a BIG Skyscraper the Number one thing to do in New York. But which one? Well, we have answered that question here.
Of course with THE NEW YORK PASS, you get both the Empire State Building and the Top of the Rock. So if you choose this pass We suggest both. Try to time The Top of the Rock for Sunset so you get to see the city in Both Day and Night.
- Empire State Building $39.00
- Top of the Rock $39.00
There are a number of very highly recommended cruises available with THE NEW YORK PASS. For us, the Best of NYC cruise is the one to go for, but check out the highlights of each before you decide. All of the Circle line cruises are very enjoyable. It’s worth remembering while there are several Circle line Cruises included on THE NEW YORK PASS, your pass only entitles you to go on one of the cruises per PASS. So it is important to choose the one that suits you best. While this may seem a poor restriction, we wonder how many times you would want to go on a cruise per Visit?
- Circle Line Best of NYC Cruise $ 43.00
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
Apart from Cabs, Hotdogs and the Empire State Building. The Statue of Liberty the most iconic landmark in New York. While almost all the Cruise options include a sail right by the Statue. Only the Statue Cruise actually lands on the island.
Unfortunately, if you want to climb the Statue, you are pretty much out of luck. Crown upgrades are not available and pedestal upgrades are on a first-come-first-served basis. But if they sell out beforehand online, which they normally do then they will not be available. TBH It doesn’t concern us much. The pedestal just offers slightly improved views of Manhattan. and the crown offers little other than the chance to say “We did it”.
If this is a “Must do” you will need to Book a Statue Cruise independently of your pass. This is the same for all Passes.
This Cruise Also lands on Ellis Island which is a historical Gem.
- Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island $ 18.50
Hop On Hop Off Bus
The Big Bus Hop-on Hop-off bus is a big-ticket item. This is often included in the example itinerary to inflate the value of the Pass. I would not consider $62 for 48hrs on the bus to be good value. But as it is included in the pass it’s definitely worth checking out.
It’s certainly a Fairweather experience. You need to visit the Big Bus Ticket centers to get your tickets. You can’t redeem on the Bus itself. These are the same locations you need to redeem your THE NEW YORK PASS purchase codes to get your actual pass’s if you didn’t pay for delivery. Just order your HOHO bus tickets at the same time.
The Bus is good fun and a great intro to the city. Just don’t rely on it as transport. Just use it to link a few distant attraction together and enjoy the relaxed pace trip around the City. It is DEFINITELY a tourist trap but a fun one, and really you are a tourist…
The NEW YORK PASS offers the Hop on Hop Off Bus for the just one day for the duration of your pass. This may seem a bit rubbish but really the bus isn’t that great as a means of transportation. It is much better to use it early in your trip and treat it more like a sightseeing tour. For transport we much prefer the subway.
- Big Bus Tours – 48/24 hour Hop-on Hop-off Tickets $ 60.00
New York’s Museums are World Class and there are Lots of them included in THE NEW YORK PASS. We love the American Museum of Natural History. It is a fantastic Collection of realistic Dioramas of animals in the wild and actual stuffed remains of some of the world’s giants. It’s a bit last century and shame to see the animals dead, but they were killed in a different era so we are not to judge. The Highlight for us is always the Dinosaur halls.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a world-class Art collection and contains Many interesting historical items also, like a Full Egyptian Tomb! It has work from Picasso, Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Monet to name but a few but it is far more than just a few paintings it really is a treasure trove of Art, Sculpture and historical artifacts.
Most of the other Museums have alluded us up until now but when they are included on your pass they can be well worth checking out.
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art $ 25.00
- American Museum of Natural History $ 23.00
9/11 Memorial & Museum
While Technically a Museum the 9/11 Memorial and museum Deserves its own mention. The Memorial is a free attraction to pay respects to the victims. The Museum is built around the remaining foundations of the actual buildings and is a huge space with some incredibly moving displays. We were completely blown away by the Museum and recommend everyone visit this. the events of that day are now entwined into the City and the Museum, along with the memorial is a fitting tribute to the lives lost that day.
The Museum is a very somber experience and may not be suitable for some kids. And you can expect some tough questions if you do take them there, as most kids are now too young to remember the events.
- 9/11 Memorial & Museum $ 26.00
Actually, we are not Madame Tussauds biggest fans however, we appreciate A LOT of people do enjoy the experience though. This is the only pass that offers entry to Madame Tussauds. We thought it was worthy of a mention if you are one of the many who enjoys Madame Tussauds. It certainly represents good value.
- Madame Tussauds $ 37.00
Is THE NEW YORK PASS WORTH It?
To answer this question we first take a simple look at the Maths. Based on the above Attractions we pulled together a quick realistic itinerary that also includes a number of free attractions to fully see the best of the City in just 3 days. And using the Hop On Hop Off Bus to link some attractions
*Denotes paid attraction
- Empire State Building *
- Times Square
- Madame Tussauds*
- Circle line Cruise*
- HopOn Hop-Off Bus
- Museum of Natural History*
- Central Park
- Metropolitan Museum of Art*
- Statue of Liberty and Elis island*
- 911 Museum and Memorial*
- Downtown / Wall Street
- Top of the Rock at Sunset*
- TOTAL COST OF THE ABOVE 9 ATTRACTIONS: $310.50
- 3 DAY PASS PRICE: $199
- SAVING: $109.50
You should be able to cover most of those quite on a 3-day pass costing $199 so an overall saving of $109.50
This is also a fairly conservative Itinerary you could fit more in to get better value and with longer passes, you will be able to do a lot more activities and save even more as the cost per day drops significantly the more days you purchase. We were in New York very Recently with a 3-
So it is clear from a simple mathematical point of view that yes the pass is great value. But life isn’t as simple as that. You need to make sure that is covering attractions you want to do and not ones you do just because they are on the pass. If so then Financially it makes perfect sense.
We also found none of the issues that are highlighted on Message boards. The pass normally cut queueing times and even in the worst case was no worse than a walk-up. The added flexibility of being able to switch days around and do things on different days based on mood and weather really helps and beats booking everything rigidly in advance using timed tickets. We found on our last trip switching days up due to an impending rainstorm saved the trip. Otherwise, we would have been on museums on a bueatifil sunny day and drenched as we took our open-top bus ride around the City!
The planning and execution of the trip are greatly aided by the Pass and we have lost count of the number of times we have heard people find an attraction they didn’t know existed because of a pass! Overall we really see very few reasons not to recommend a pass. Assuming you are wanting to visit the attractions included.
Not every trip to New York needs to take in so many Paid attractions but if you are going to visit them anyway the Pass Makes a lot of sense.
A lot of New York Attractions are clumped together around the City so it makes sense to plan ahead and do certain attractions on certain days. Things like the Statue Cruise and 9/11 Memorial and Museum are both together so it makes sense to do one then the other.
We also tend to Clump our Museums into one day. Mainly because we can time this to coincide with the worst weather day. Attractions like the Empire State Building are no fun if low cloud obscures the view from the top. This can and does happen quite often. A Cruise is little fun on a damp dull rainy day. And no one wants to do an open-top bus ride. If it’s giving Rain head on up to the Museums, It’s always warm dry and bright in the Dinosaur Hall. And they are beautifully air-conditioned if the temps outside are getting melting.
We find it best to plan the Days out but not necessarily which DATE we do those days on. Keep it flexible to make the most of the trip.
With the added benefit of the HOHO Bus for one day, we make the most of this by using the bus to link up attractions. The routes can be found here. We do still recommend using the Subway for the bulk of your transport as the bus, while fun, can be a little slow.
Our Live Blog shows how we used the Pass on our last trip.
Overall we found THE NEW YORK PASS to work very effectively. At all locations, it was at least as effective as walking up or booking ahead and in many instances, it was far better. The cost savings speak for themselves. And the flexibility it allows really helps you get the best out of your trip.
All things considered, we struggle to not recommend the pass for most people. For those on a very tight budget, it’s a big outlay. And people with only one or two days you may struggle to cram in the value. but for 3 or more days visiting 3 or more attractions a day, you will easily come out well on top.
It will not result in a leisurely trip. You will be tearing around the city some of the time so for those looking for a quiet break, it’s probably not the best. Of course, we are not sure New York is the right destination for a quiet break anyway! However, if you are looking to just do a few attractions and not be forced to cram as much in as possible the other passes available are more suited to this approach.
Where to Buy
The New York Pass is a Heavily discounted product and as such, they don’t really offer heavy discounts to resellers so buying direct is Normally Cheaper. It pays to buy online beforehand as they offer generous Online discounts. Remember if there is No offer available for purchasing online, Wait as there will be one in the near future.
There are a few different passes available for New York and if the Idea of a Pass sounds good but you are not completely sold on the New York Pass, Try our New York Passes Comparison to see what else is available.
Have Your Say?
Have you used the New York Pass while Visiting New York? Did you find it value for money? How did you find the Overall Queuing experience? Please leave a comment below. If you have any questions also feel free to comment and We will reply as soon as possible.
If you try THE NEW YORK PASS While visiting the City feel free to come back and report how it went!