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Times Square is currently home to a Ferris wheel — TPG went so you don't have to

Aug. 25, 2021
5 min read
Times Square is currently home to a Ferris wheel — TPG went so you don't have to
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Times Square in New York City is temporarily home to a new tourist attraction: a 110-foot Ferris wheel.

From Aug. 25 to Sept. 12, visitors can buy tickets to ride this new attraction. It's on a stretch of Broadway in Times Square, just below the famous Coca-Cola billboard where the ball drops on New Year's Eve. Rides start at noon and go through midnight, rain or shine.

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I have fond childhood memories of waiting in line with friends at the annual Garland County fair for the Ferris wheel — a hard-won stuffed animal from the ring toss in one hand, blue raspberry cotton candy in the other and the unforgettable view of my small corner of the universe filled with bright lights and laughter. The Times Square Wheel experience, unfortunately, was nothing like that.

For starters, tickets are expensive. For about three loops and 10 minutes, you'll pay $20 for general admission tickets, $35 for "skip the line" tickets and $15 for kids 5 to 10-years-old (children under 5 are not permitted to ride). If you purchase your tickets online ahead of time, you'll also be charged a service fee. You can buy tickets once you arrive, but the ticket booth specified cash only.

TPG reporter Chris Dong and I checked out the new attraction and paid $79.10 total for our "skip the line" tickets. Had we gone with the cheaper general admission tickets, it would have cost $45.20 total.

Ticket reservations are sold for 30-minute slots, and our slot was supposed to start at noon. As we arrived, it was clear there were still some kinks to work out with the attraction.

It was definitely a bit confusing and chaotic when the attraction first opened on Aug. 25 at noon. (Photo by Madison Blancaflor/The Points Guy)

A small (or, relatively small for Times Square) crowd was amassed by the time we got there, but there was no direction on how to enter, who to talk to or where the entrance to the attraction was even located. Eventually, we did find someone working the attraction who instructed us to wait outside the metal fencing while media members filmed b-roll of the opening for use online and on TV.

Proof of vaccination was not required (which made sense considering it was an outdoors attraction), and mask-wearing was hit or miss.

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The worker told those of us waiting in line — including a small group who had been waiting for almost 30 minutes by the time we got there — that they were running behind because the city had only given them the all-clear to start operating four minutes before noon (when the attraction was originally supposed to open to the public).

Despite having "skip the line" tickets, we weren't actually let into the attraction area until 12:45 p.m.

That wasn't the last of the hiccups, either. The ticket scanner app that was meant to check us in wouldn't scan our tickets, which bottlenecked the line quite a bit. The man working the entrance ended up having to search for our reservation by last name. The workers were stuck outside trying to deal with an increasingly impatient crowd in 90-degree heat with next to no shade.

(Photo by Madison Blancaflor/The Points Guy)

The ride itself was fine, though nothing I'd write home about. Once you load into the gondolas — which can sit up to six people each, though that would be a rather tight squeeze, in my opinion — you end up going around about three times. The attraction's website claims the ride lasts nine to 12 minutes, but we were only on for maybe five or six total.

Because the buildings in Times Square are so tall, you really don't get any unique or especially breathtaking views. You can get comparable (or sometimes even better) views without the actual Ferris wheel structure blocking you from some of the stores and restaurants in Times Square.

To be honest, the placement of the attraction is interesting. A Ferris wheel attraction in Brooklyn Bridge Park, for example, would have given more space while still attracting large crowds since the Brooklyn Bridge and Dumbo area of Brooklyn draw a lot of tourists on their own. Plus, the views of the New York City skyline would have been spectacular.

Related: 3 ways to experience New York City on any budget

Something else to consider is that the attraction isn't ADA accessible — tourists and NYC locals who use a wheelchair or who are unable to traverse stairs won't be able to ride.

(Photo by Madison Blancaflor/The Points Guy)

Now, to be completely fair, Chris and I went at noon on the first day of opening (which happened to be during a heat advisory in New York City). In a few days, the kinks for entry should be worked out. And going at night might be a better experience for tourists looking to experience Times Square while it's lit up — the attraction is open from noon until midnight every day through Sept. 12.

It was definitely a unique experience (how many people can say they've ridden a Ferris wheel in Times Square?), but I personally wouldn't shell out $80 to do it again.

If you're visiting New York City and want to experience incredible skyline views, hit up one of the dozens of stellar rooftop bars throughout the city and use the money you would have spent on tickets on drinks with dinner.

Featured image by (Photo by Madison Blancaflor/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more