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Thinking about purchasing a CityPASS discount ticket booklet? Wondering if they’re worth the money?
I’ve had the opportunity to use city pass discount tickets many times in Toronto as the booklet includes admissions to each of major attractions listed on my list of Top Things Every First-time Visitor Should Do in Toronto.
While savings of 38% are nothing to scoff at, if you’re planning a visit to Toronto in summer (or peak holiday periods) and hate waiting in line-ups, it can be worth considering a CityPASS booklet of attraction tickets for the VIP access alone. But a CityPASS isn’t always the best option.
Here’s what you need to know before purchasing a city pass attraction booklet:
How to Use City Pass in New York City and other Cities
If you’re not familiar with CityPASS, here’s the scoop. Launched in 1997, it’s a bundle of prepaid admissions to a city’s top attractions in one ticket booklet. Each CityPASS ticket booklet contains actual admission tickets to a destination’s top five or six attractions.
CityPASS is available in 13 North American destinations: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Southern California, Tampa Bay Florida and Toronto.
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For example, with the CityPASS New York City, you can actually access six attractions such as the Empire State Building, the American Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Statue of Liberty and more. By buying these attraction tickets in a bundle, you can save 42% off the price if you purchased the tickets individually. In other cities such as Houston, the savings can be as much as 53% off the cost of regular box office tickets.
When a CityPASS Might Not Be Worth it
The passes are valid for nine days from day of first use (14 days in southern California). It’s important to note that the CityPASS ticket booklet is valid for nine CONSECUTIVE days so you need to block off the time to be able to visit as many attractions needed to make it worthwhile. If you’re visiting a city for just a day or two, you likely won’t have time to be able to use enough of the tickets to make it worthwhile.
Tip: Some cities (including New York City and San Francisco) have launched a CityPASS known as C3 which means shorter-stay and weekend travellers can now experience the benefits of the customizable mobile tickets on three top attractions.
Designed to be flexible, the tickets don’t require you to pre-select the attractions that will be visited. You are free to choose your attraction as you go.
It’s worth looking into the C3 option if you’re visiting a CityPASS destination for a short stay.
City Pass VIP Access is the Real Deal
However, if you’re worried you don’t have the stamina to visit those many attractions within the nine (or three) day period, then it might not be worthwhile for you to invest in a CityPASS booklet. Unless of course, you’re willing to pay extra for VIP access, even knowing you won’t use all the tickets.
Being able to bypass most line-ups at main entrances to museums, events and attractions is really handy if you want to visit several spots in one day or if you’re travelling with small children or people with mobility issues.
At the CN Tower or the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto, queues during peak season can be an hour or longer. Losing your place in line or standing outside in the hot sun on busy Bloor street (in the case of the Royal Ontario Museum) can really put a damper on a day’s outing.
Personally, when I’m travelling with my grandchildren or elderly parents, the convenience of avoiding line-ups is a major advantage of using a city pass. With the kids, quite often, no sooner do we get to the front of the line than one or all of them need to get to a washroom. Since I’m often travelling with them as the solo adult in the group, that generally means we lose our place in line.
How to Get the Most Benefit From a CityPASS
One way to increase the likelihood of being able to see as many sights as possible within the nine day window is to combine a CityPASS ticket booklet with one of the Hop on, Hop off Sightseeing Tours. They’re available in almost each city and while they can seem expensive compared to using the TTC or public transit, they are super convenient as a way of getting to major attractions as they often go directly there so no transfers are needed.
With the NYC CityPASS one of the options in the attraction ticket booklet is even a Circle City Sightseeing Tour.
Updated: May 2018
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