Get High On The 18 Tallest Observation Decks—But It'll Cost Ya

Illustration for article titled Get High On The 18 Tallest Observation Decks—But It'll Cost Ya

The World Trade Center’s 107th floor observation deck opened last week with some pretty stunning views of New York City. But does it really provide the best viewing experience among the clouds? The Skyscraper Museum took a global survey of the best observatories and ranked the best views from the top.

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As part of the exhibition Ten Tops—which focuses on 26 towers of 100 floors or more—the Skyscraper Museum put together this list of 18 structures which are ranked not by their spire-tipped tops, but by the height of their public spaces designed for high-altitude gawking.

Illustration for article titled Get High On The 18 Tallest Observation Decks—But It'll Cost Ya

In addition to supertalls, the list includes telecommunication towers with skydecks (Canton Tower in Guangzhou, the Tokyo Skytree, Toronto’s CN Tower, and Shanghai’s Oriental Pearl Tower), plus the 88-story Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur and Jin Mao in Shanghai. Their observation decks are higher than some 100-story skyscrapers!

But height’s still not everything when it comes to great views. The observatory experience itself also must be examined, and not all skydecks are created equal. While many New Yorkers are fussing about the WTC’s high price of admission ($32), it’s interesting to note that you can get more height for your buck should you visit, say, the Willis Tower in Chicago. It’s both higher and cheaper. Telecom towers are almost always more affordable bets (and many are outdoors, which is a nice plus). And there’s one more factor to consider: The buildings in dark blue can only be accessed via a reservation at the bar or restaurant on that floor, meaning you’ll probably have to stare at the view over some rather pricy alcohol.

Illustration for article titled Get High On The 18 Tallest Observation Decks—But It'll Cost Ya

It’s also important to note that the ruling on the very best observatory experience in the world won’t be decided until later in 2015. The Shanghai Tower, which will open later this year, will be the tallest observatory experience in the world, and there’s no word yet on price of admission. Though the Burj Khalifa is taller overall, the Shanghai Tower’s observatory will be 20 feet higher.

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Update: A previous graphic listed the wrong admission price for the CN Tower; this version is corrected (thanks to our commenter thatguyalex for pointing it out)

[The Skyscraper Museum]

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DISCUSSION

I did the At the Top Sky experience at Burj Khalifa. The ~$136 admission gets you to the 148th floor. They put you in a waiting room with arabian sweets and coffee or drinks on offer. Then they hand you a lanyard badge specific for Sky experience. The small group will then be escorted through airport style security, then walk up a couple floors via a long ramp with construction images on the walls towards the first elevator.

2 elevator rides, first one being the fastest, you won’t even feel a thing going up and my ears didnt even pop. They project images inside the dark elevator. 2nd elevator to 148th floor was quick also.

You go in to the 148th floor and be greeted by non alcoholic drinks and an assortment of more arabian sweets. They said you can only stay there for like an hour, but nobody’s checking. They have wifi available as well. Although I was able to get signal on my phone on Du network, it was usable also. Once you are done, you can go down to 125th floor, which is right above the lower observation deck. They allow you to stay at this floor for as loooong as you want. Patrons below can’t get up to 125th

Since it’s basically empty anyways (no chairs or couch), nobody stays there long.