Here's a picture we took on the first floor of the Willis Tower (or the Sears Tower) when we visited last month:
When I saw the advertising on the wall, I was thinking: "Yeah. I'll get to the top a couple of minutes faster, but how long could it really take?" Fortunately, we never had to wait in line because we had access to the fast lane.
In the fast lane, we were allowed to cut several large rooms full of people. We probably cut at least 200 people, and every one of them us dirty looks as we sped by. The fast lane experience was so wonderful that I almost felt like I was doing something illegal. But, it was perfectly legit.
So, how do you get access to this mysterious fast lane? As the sign says, get a FastPass or a CityPass. The FastPass is just a coupon to cut the regular admission people. The CityPass has more great features, including access to four must-see museums (Shedd Aquarium, Museum of Science and Industry, Adler Planetarium, and Field Museum), and it is only $69.
The FastPass is a somewhat hefty $30, which sounds expensive. But, when regular admission is $15, buying the FastPass amounts to paying $15 to avoid the long lines, which are typically two hours. With the CityPass, it took us about 15 minutes to get to the top, and we had a wonderful experience.
Based on our experience, I'd strongly suggest getting a FastPass to visit the Willis Tower Skydeck. If you also enjoy the many Chicago museums, get a CityPass. There are plenty of great ways to explore Chicago, and if you know what to do, you can avoid the lines.
And, in case you were wondering, this is what an economist looks like when he knows he is about to avoid a long line:
Now, that's one happy economist. It's too bad I didn't take pictures of the long lines. I guess we sped too quickly past them to get a snapshot!
Here's a question to ponder: How should we interpret the fact that most people are willing to stand in line for two hours instead of paying an extra $15?
(1) These people value their time at less than $7.50 per hour.
(2) These people "misunderestimated" the expected time in line.
(3) These people are irrational.
(4) These people love standing in lines.
I am interested in hearing what you have to say.