Sears Tower Skydeck

Member Rating 2 out of 5 by VA_traveler on October 16, 2007

Our vacations are rarely restful - they are more the "see-it-all-on-foot" kind of trips. So sometimes, I admit, we get a little cranky. We were tired when we got to the Sears Tower Skydeck entrance in the afternoon of a day with lots of walking. The line didn't look too bad - maybe 50 people, waiting for the elevator. No big deal.

So we got in line.

Then we realized that this was NOT the line for the top. No. This group of stroller-pushers and high school field-trippers was merely waiting for one harried and hassled young lady to allow us access to the down elevator - to take us deeper into the building, into longer lines for security checks and ticket purchases. It was at the moment of that realization that the crankiness kicked in. We finally resigned ourselves to the fact that it wasn't going to be a quick stop, promised we'd find some food right afterwards, and got on with the waiting. But still, I remember my visit to the Skydeck as a series of lines. Here's what you can expect:

Line #1 is the line for the elevator. This starts in the lobby on Jackson. It wasn't too bad for us, but I imagine this one might snake out onto the sidewalk on really busy days. According to their website, the best way to avoid long lines is to arrive after 5; the Skydeck opens at 10 am, and closes at 10pm April-October (8pm October-March).

Once downstairs, we stood in line #2 for security. As I remember, you could bring in small bags. It moved pretty quickly, but still provided us with plenty of time to review our guidebook for Sears Tower trivia.

After exiting security, most folks stand in the ticket line (line #3). DO NOT stand in this line! Instead, buy your tickets on the web ahead of time. This is a great time saver, especially because an eticket is good for one visit in a seven day window, which gives you a great amount of flexibility.

So, skipping the ticket line, scoot over to line #4, which wraps back and forth and finally dumps you in a movie theater. You'll see a movie about the construction and history of the Sears Tower. It lasts about 10 minutes, and is pretty interesting - I think it was a History channel production.

Once the movie's over, exit the theater for (you guessed it) line #5. This was the money line - it ends at the long awaited "up elevator", a ride which is extremely fast, and pretty cool. Views from the top are great, although crowded. Yes, you will probably have to stand in some short lines to get to the best viewing spots.

There's also a somewhat interesting display around the center of the viewing floor, providing historical information about Chicago. I had lots of time to look at this while I was waiting in line#6 - the line for the elevator out.
Willis Tower (Sears Tower)
233 South Wacker Drive
Chicago, 60606-8615
(312) 875-9447

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