Sometimes, it is okay to indulge in tourist activities. Or, at least that’s what I told myself when I walked up the steps to visit the Sears Willis Tower
I visited new heights on a Monday night at 5:30 p.m. I chose to go after work because I thought the lines would have died down after the morning rush and before the night rush. To my surprise, the relaxed lull in patrons that I expected turned out to be a hot and sweaty line of chaos, confusion, and strollers upon strollers.
The Willis Tower was absolutely hopping for a mere Monday night, leading me to conclude that the Willis Tower experiences no “lull” in lines.
Hence, my tourism experience began on a sour note. As an impatient, Type A person, long lines are the bane of my existence.
Luckily, as I was standing in the line, I saw a classmate who happened to be working at the Skydeck...and for the first time in life, I was given the VIP treatment.
Okay, well maybe not the first time, but still. I felt like a celebrity as my classmate pulled my roommate and me out of the line and sent us straight to the front. We made it up to the Skydeck in less than 30 minutes, when the actual wait would have taken us over an hour.
Seeing Chicago from up high puts things into perspective. People walking in the streets are no longer visible and cars are faint blimps on a strip of pavement the size of my toe. Boats in the river chug along but, compared to the towering skyscrapers, are unnoticed like the fine print text at the bottom of a pharmaceutical commercial.
I’ve never been one to shy away from heights, and this experience was no different. Standing on the ledge of the Skydeck didn’t faze me one bit. I even took a picture of my feet and my view.
As for my roommate, he stood clear of the ledge and looked out the windows, rather than down. In fact, his acrophobia caused him to remain five feet away from all windows for the duration of the visit.
While the view was simply indescribable, the Skydeck experience itself felt so commercialized. The constant waiting and lines combined with the over-accessible gift shop lessened the experience of taking in the view. The Skydeck was crowded and hard to move around in and the trip felt like a process rather than an authentic experience. We were funneled up the elevator to the crowded, top floor, only to have to stand in line again at the end to go back down.
While I do believe that the view is par excellence and that standing on the ledge gives you a small but sweet adrenaline rush, keep in mind that the Willis Tower experience is geared towards the tourist.