The New York Explorer Pass is a smart card that tourists can purchase in order to gain discounted cash-free entry into 3, 5, 7, or 10 of New York’s top 45 attractions. In many ways a “make your own pass” option, the New York Explorer pass is a flexible way to see some of New York’s greatest sights over a long or short period of time at a discounted price. There is no need to determine the exact sights that you plan to visit ahead of time, you need only decide upon how many you want to see.
The Explorer Pass is active for 30 days following its first use, allowing for an unprecedented amount of freedom in terms of sightseeing and time. It is also valid until December 31st of the year following its date of purchase. Therefore, a pass purchased in January of 2011 is valid until December 31, 2012.
This tourist pass option is really great for those looking to spend an extended time in New York or who want the ability to see a few key sights at a discounted rate in a short time period. Its flexibility in terms of options and time is unmatched by its competitors.
What does the New York Explorer Pass include?
In addition to the smart card which will allow entry to the number of sights specified by your purchase, the Explorer Pass also has a few additional perks. This includes a guidebook which will be mailed with your pre-purchased card and will provide you with information on each attraction covered by the pass as well as maps that will help you plot your daily course. In addition, the guidebook and maps are available in .pdf format that can be downloaded on to your smart phone.
There are 45 attractions that users may elect to visit with the New York Explorer Pass, but they may only visit each site one time. These attractions include the Empire State Building, NBC Studio Tour, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Botanical Gardens, a Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island Ferry Ticket, the Museum of Modern Art, Madame Tussauds and more. There are several tour options with the New York Explorer Pass as well.
Along with the basic pass, this package also includes some excellent “extras” that many tourists find just (if not more) appealing than the pass itself. Among these are discounts at department stores such as Macy’s Herald Square and Bloomingdales, as well as souvenir shops for many of the attractions you can visit. The pass also gives users restaurant and tour discounts that can be reused for the duration of your trip.
Similar to other tourist discount passes, the Explorer Pass offers its users the opportunity to skip lines through a fast track option. This will help in reducing the time spent waiting for tickets to get in to popular places such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the ferry to the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island.
How much does the New York Explorer Pass cost?
The prices for the New York Explorer Pass come in adult (which is anyone ages 13+) and child ages 3-12). Anyone under 2 does not need a pass as they can get into all the attractions included within it for free. The prices are based on the number of attractions that you wish to visit during your time in New York.
The prices (adult/child) are: $69.99/$49.99 for three attractions; $114.99/74.99 for five attractions; $149.99/$94.99 for seven attractions; and $189.99/$114.99 for ten attractions. As we mentioned before, passes are valid for 30 days following activation, and each attraction can only be visited once per pass. The attractions do not need to be decided upon ahead of time and each person can tailor his or her pass to their own needs and preferences.
The pass can only be purchased online. However, there is an option to either have it sent to you ahead of time or you can schedule an “In City Pick Up” instead. However, it is advisable to purchase the pass ahead of time as a means to begin to plan which sights you would like to see and when. This way you can ensure that you have the time to get the full value of your purchase.
Smart Destinations (the operators of the New York Explorer Pass, as well as Explorer Passes for several other cities) also offers a 100% money-back guarantee on the purchase of their product should your plans change. They also have a satisfaction guarantee that may allow you to recover some or all of the purchase price of your pass should your experience be less than satisfactory.
What is the value of the New York Explorer Pass?
If you choose your attractions right (i.e. make sure to take advantage of those with a higher price tag) you can save up to 45% off of admission price with the New York Explorer Pass than if you had purchased tickets alone. However, the true value of the New York Explorer Pass is not in its savings as much as its flexibility. Because of the benefit of cashless entry and the volume of choice offered to its users, as well as its money back guarantee, the Explorer Pass can be a huge asset to the right tourist.
Having an Explorer Pass allows you more flexibility than any other New York tourist pass based on its create-your-own model as well as the enormous amount of time it is valid (30 days compared with 9 or up to 7 with the other options). This means that the Explorer Pass is a great choice for new residents as well as those with extended travel plans.
A bit of planning is still involved with the Explorer Pass, however, especially if you plan to benefit from it monetarily. You will need to get the pass ahead of time and assess which sights you want to see and when. You will also need to plan for “backup” sights should weather not permit your choices on any given day. You will also need to have a pretty definitive idea of how much sightseeing you will want to do since the pass comes in options of 3, 5, 7, and 10 sights. If you want to see 8 or 9 places, for example, it will be worth it to research entrance fees and determine whether it is better to buy a 7 sight pass and 1 or 2 entry tickets or a 10 sight pass.
Finally, your type of tourist personality will come in to play with this pass as well. The New York Explorer Pass generates a lot of its savings from discounted tours. The tours included with this pass are: NBC Studios, Sex & the City, the New York TV and Movie Sights Tour, as well as 17 other tour options as well as a bus ticket to the Woodbury Commons Premium Outlets outside of the city. Therefore, if you are not into sitting on a bus for several hours, your choices with the Explorer Pass are a lot more limited.
Also, many of the museum options included, often have “suggested donations” rather than admissions fees which means you can pay as much (or as little) as you can in order to get into the place. This also affects the overall value of the pass. It is therefore imperative that you research the sights that it offers in terms of entry fees and time commitments. Otherwise you may end up breaking even or losing money with this pass.
Bottom Line: The New York Explorer Pass offers an unprecedented amount of freedom to its users in terms of attraction choice as well as time. There are a lot of great deals in terms of tours that you can take and the ability to be flexible as far as when you visit which sight can really aid you in terms of cost savings (there is no need to worry about reserving a ticket for the Statue of Liberty and then having a rainy day, your pass is your reservation). However, there is a real need to do some preliminary research into what sights you want to see and how you want to go about seeing them if you are to get your money’s worth from the Explorer Pass. If you are into tours, then this is clearly a superior choice, but if you are more concerned with museums or have a need to see “it all” in New York, there are other options which are better than the Explorer Pass.
All in all, deciding on the New York Explorer Pass over other New York City tourist options is a personal decision that only you can make.
Empire State Building Observatory
Hop on Hop off Downtown Tour: City Sights
Radio City Music Hall Stage Door Tour
Madame Tussauds All Access Pass
NBC Studio Tour
Top of the Rock Observation Deck
Metropolitan Museum of Art + Cloisters
American Museum of Natural History
Bike and Roll Bike Rental
Bike & Roll Brooklyn Bridge & Hudson River
Bike and Roll Central Park & Greenway Tour
Brooklyn Museum & Botanic Garden
Central Park Movie Tour by On Location
CitySights NY Brooklyn Tour
Uptown Treasures & Harlem Hop-On Hop-Off
Clipper City Tall Ship Sails
Cloisters Museum same day admission to Met
Dave & Busters
Food On Foot Tours
Gossip Girl Tour by On Location Tours
Ground Zero Museum Workshop
Harry Potter Exhibit at Times Square
Historical Cruise by NY Waterway
Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts Tour
Madison Square Garden Tour
Upper & Lower Manhattan by City Sights
Museum of Modern Art
Museum of Sex
Wall Street Movie Tour
NY Botanical Garden All Garden Pass
NY TV and Movie Sites Tour by On Location
NY Water Taxi 1-day Hop-On Hop-Off Pass
New York Water Taxi Beach–Food & Beverage
Pompeii Exhibit at Discovery Times Square
Ripleys Believe it or Not! Odditorium
Rockefeller Center Tour
SHARK Speedboat Thrill Ride
Sex and the City Tour by On Location Tours
Shearwater Schooner Sails
Skyline Cruise by NY Waterway
Statue of Liberty Express Cruise
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Ferry Ticket
Traces & Places: Harlem Walking Tours
Twilight Bus Tour by City Sights
Twilight Cruise by NY Waterway
United Nations Guided Tour
Woodbury Common Premium Outlets Trip
ZEPHYR Seaport Liberty Cruise