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New York City is famous for a lot of things, but one of the most popular attractions to see in NYC is the dropping of the Times Square Ball on New Year’s Eve. If watching the ball drop on NYE is on your bucket list, here are some things that may help you optimize your trip to watch that famous ball drop at midnight.
First, here are a few fun facts about the ball. It is 12 feet in diameter, weighs 11,875 pounds and is covered with 2688 Waterford crystal panels. Since the ball is weatherproof, it sits atop One Times Square nearly year round.
The Times Square Ball is such a sight that it attracts 1 million viewers flooding into Times Square to see it drop every NYE! With that said, if you are claustrophobic, have a history of a leg, back or foot problems, I would recommend that you watch it from home or a hotel/restaurant in Times Square. To have the best experience, I will share some helpful tips for your trip to see the ball drop.
Get There Early
Most people arrive in the late morning/early afternoon to secure their spot. Keep in mind that the spot you are standing in may not be the spot that you will end up in. The NYPD set up barricades to mark off areas to move folks from one area to another for crowd control. You will be in this barricaded area with hundreds of strangers for hours on end. You will do a lot of standing around due to the sheer number of people in your barricade. The only walking you will do all day is if the NYPD moves your group to another area.
Be Prepared for the Weather
The weather in NYC in December could range from 50 degrees to below 0 degrees, it could be raining or it could be snowing, it is a crapshoot. Watch the weather and dress in layers. You won’t be doing much more than standing around, so you will get colder than if you were moving. The more layers you wear the easier it will be for you to get food, drink, poncho, pocket chairs, and battery packs for cell phone charging into the viewing area.
NYPD conducts a security check on everyone entering Times Square. You can not bring in glass bottles or bags of any kind (purses, backpacks, etc.). You can only bring with you what you have on your person.
Once You’re In, You’re In
Once you get past security and are in Times Square, you can’t leave. If you leave (i.e. to get a drink, eat or go to the restroom), you will lose your spot and have to start all over again. There are no Port-o-lets. Beware that if you decide to do your business on the street, you risk getting arrested by the NYPD who have a large presence in the crowds. In addition to no bathrooms, this it is a secured area so there are no vendors selling food or drink.
Enter Times Square From the East
Come to Times Square from 5th Ave. Entering from the East will have you end up on 7th Ave. 7th Ave runs North/South so you will have a good view of the ball as you leave Times Square. Broadway runs at an angle so you may not be able to see the ball at all.
After the Ball Drops, Head to Central Park
If you are on 7th Ave, turn uptown once the ball drops (uptown is behind you if you are facing the ball). You can see the fireworks display in Central Park. It’s nothing spectacular, but still pretty cool. BE AWARE–Once the ball drops, the floodgates are opened up and everyone rushes to get out of Times Square for food, drink & bathrooms! Be careful not to trip & fall for fear of being trampled. Keep an eye out for others who may have fallen as well. Keep in mind, most people have been standing (without being able to walk around) for 9-12 hours.
Book a Hotel or Resturant Reservation
You will have to plan far in advance for the ball drop, but book a hotel or make a reservation at a restaurant on 7th Ave. or Broadway. If you are at a restaurant, you can just step outside 15 mins prior to the ball drop and watch it from the sidewalk. If you are in a hotel, you can watch it from outside of the hotel or spend the extra money and get a room with a view. Both options are going to be extremely pricey though.
The hotels with the best views are Marriott Marquis (ask for a room on the south side, but, you will pay over $1000 for the night), Renaissance Hotel (south side, however, some rooms have their view partially blocked by the advertising signs of Times Square), Casablanca Hotel (no rooms with a view but guests are welcome to go to the roof where they get unlimited champagne as they await the coveted moment) & the Doubletree Guest Suites in Times Square (of the 460 suites in the hotel, only 40 face Times Square and offer a view of the ball drop. Expect to pay $4000/night min 2 night stay). There is a great view from the Supernova Grill at the Novotel Times Square on 52nd & Broadway, and another great view from the 7th floor of the Novotel Times Square.
You can also watch the ball drop from the RLounge in the Renaissance Hotel and not be a guest. You must buy tickets and pay $1500 for a single ticket which gives you access to the bar, no-table with unlimited champagne, hors-d’oeuvres & a few other extras. For the VIP private tables, expect to pay $10,000-$15,000 for the experience.
Good luck planning your trip to see the ball drop on NYE in New York City. I hope I was able to help you make the most of your visit & have a pleasurable experience ringing in the new year NYC style!
Written By: Jackie Palmer