Other than being crazy, advice for NYC trip and on what time to arrive for ball drop?
December 27, 2011 3:27 PM   Subscribe

Times Square for New-Year's filter: Is there anything I should know about being one of the crazy people going to see the ball drop? Also, itinerary suggestions for rest of trip welcomed.

I'm hoping to encounter some MeFites who have done the ball drop thing in New York and tell me what I can be expectations. I leave for New York on Thursday, and one of the main reasons I am going is to watch the ball drop.

Always wanted to do it having watched it on TV growing up, and wanted to the past few years but for one reason or another never went. This is the year. Now, I've been to NYC before. Three times, actually. And was there during that hurricane.

I will be there for the ball drop by myself. What time should I get there? That's why I am asking this question. I pwas thinking 7am. Is that too early? Too late? I really want to be as close as possible, or even super up front. I love and can handle the cold (although I haven't been outside for 17-18 hours straight before), but with this strange winter it will be warmer than usual.

I know some people that do this ended up regretting doing it, but I fully know what I'm in for. Cold weather, massive crowds, no leaving for bathroom, food, or anything like that. But it's something I'm doing.

So would 7am be a good time? Or should I change that for earlier or later? I figure even the most craziest of people wouldn't start lining up until about 9am, but I could be wrong.

Also, any events going on right now or anything like that? I am taking in a Knicks game and a Broadway show, and have some other things planned. Any hot museum exhibits right now, etc.? Plenty of places I wanted to eat at last time, but Irene messed that up. I've done most of the tourist things, and I just like exploring neighborhhods. This would be my first time in the city during the winter.

See the obvious, the city decorations and such. But if you have any special suggestions I'm not thinking of, feel free to mention them.

posted by signondiego to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (15 answers total)
7am is rather early.

NYC.gov or 311 (NYC's non-emergency information line) should tell you when the streets are blocked off from traffic.

Be aware of the restrictions: no cans, bottles, containers, backpacks, etc. allowed in the area. Don't fuck around with this: at best you'll be prohibited from entering with these items and at worst you'll be arrested.
posted by dfriedman at 3:40 PM on December 27, 2011

Best answer: Not so much a Times Square specific thing, but cabs are at a premium on NYE in the city. Subways run, but it can be mob scene. While you are getting there plenty early (maybe too early), you will be leaving with about 1 million other people.

More info at the Times Square Alliance.

Keep your wits about you and have fun.
posted by lampshade at 3:46 PM on December 27, 2011

Be sure you are on whatever block you want to be on by 4 or 5 pm, because you will probably not be allowed to even WALK TO ANOTHER BLOCK after that point. Pick a block that has a Dunkin' Donuts or a Starbucks on it, so you can nip in to pee if need be.

Cabs that run right around midnight will overcharge. Subways will also run, but will be mobbed. But the crowds start thinning out enough after an hour.

For New Year's Day -- New York's Polar Bear club goes for a 1 pm swim. You can watch -- or join, if you really want to try.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:56 PM on December 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The holiday windows should still be up, if you're into that kind of thing -- Macy's is a classic, but I personally recommend the men's and women's halves of Bergdorf Goodman, which are up on 5th Ave and 58th Street.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 4:03 PM on December 27, 2011

I spent New Year's Eve in Times Square a few years ago. . .the best advice I can give is to get there early. We had a hotel nearby and went down at 4:30PM to scope out the situation and the closest we could get was 5 blocks away. You don't want to be five blocks away, trust me - you can't really see or hear much and it is a LONG wait. (We remedied the situation by buying obscenely overpriced tickets to a comedy club in Times Square and then just. . .blended in with the crowd afterward and managed to get right next to the stage, but this was sheer luck).

I'd plan to have lunch or mill around Times Square starting just before noon - have lunch there and keep an eye on the situation so that you can claim your spot when they start to block things off. Also, be prepared not to eat or use the bathroom for 8-9 hours, and dress in very warm layers. All those people jumping around in Times Square? They're jumping half because they're excited and half because they're FREEZING. It was 18 degrees F when I was there.

It's a once in a lifetime experience. . .both in the sense that it was cool, but also in the "never again will I do that" sense. Have fun!
posted by sherlockt at 4:15 PM on December 27, 2011

Be sure you are on whatever block you want to be on by 4 or 5 pm, because you will probably not be allowed to even WALK TO ANOTHER BLOCK after that point. Pick a block that has a Dunkin' Donuts or a Starbucks on it, so you can nip in to pee if need be.

Pretty sure once you're locked in a block, you're entirely locked on the street in the police barricades- I don't think you have access to businesses on the block for bathrooms.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:43 PM on December 27, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks all. I'm sure it will be a good time, despite the sacrifices you have to make. I am still intent on getting there early, as I don't want to be even a block back.

Almost forgot, any tips on things to do after all this craziness? Obviously it will take forever to get out of Times Square, and I don't think I will be leaving right at midnight. I see that Webster Hall has an after hours party, but I might want something low key afterwards. Perhaps a bar or something fun to do? I am staying in the East Village.

But it will be a long day, so perhaps I shouldn't put something in my head right now. Thanks again.
posted by signondiego at 8:29 PM on December 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

You may want to check out Time Out NY's New Year's overview. They even have a section on Times Square and the surrounding area. For the aftermath, check out its no-cover bars section -- it mentions two bars, "Elsa" and "Summit", that are in the East Village, even.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:10 AM on December 28, 2011

Response by poster: This might seem like a dumb question, but where exactly do I go for the ball drop tomorrow? I am still going to get there at 7am. I was there doing some scouting today. Is it in front of the big NIVEA soundstage, or on the other side of it, or somewhere else?

Thanks, just sort of confused. Response sometime this afternoon would be great!
posted by signondiego at 10:46 AM on December 30, 2011

The actual building the ball is on top of is at 42nd Street between Broadway and 7th; forgive me if I say something you may already know, but it doesn't so much "drop" as it "slides very slowly down a pole on top of the roof". That pole is on the roof itself, so it'll be high enough to see it if you've got a fairly central vantage point (but on the other hand, if you're on one of the side streets itself, the other buildings will block your view; similarly, if you are ON the same block standing directly under the building, you won't see it either). If you're looking for a good view of the ball itself, your best bet is probably going to be for one of the two or three blocks NORTH of there -- either the 7th Avenue or Broadway side, between 43rd and about 45th or 46th. If you've been there -- you know where the two streets cross? Anywhere in that general area.

Not ever taken the soundstage into account; but if that soundstage is about 43rd, right at one of the weird traffic islands where 7th and Broadway cross, I'd just try to get a good view of the soundstage, and you should have no trouble seeing the ball from there as well as it'll be really high up and you'll be able to see it over the soundstage.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:44 AM on December 30, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks, I believe the soundstage was at 47th on 7th and Broadway. I guess I will just go back later to check it out again. Just kind of confusing.

Especially if I'm getting there at 7am, just wanted to know where to line up.
posted by signondiego at 11:52 AM on December 30, 2011

I believe the soundstage was at 47th on 7th and Broadway.

You should be fine if you're in front of that, no matter which way the stage is facing -- if the soundstage faces north, away from the ball, you'll be able to see over the stage to see the ball, and if the soundstage faces south towards the ball, you'll just have to turn around to look at the ball. Either way you should be fine.

Rule of thumb is: the soundstage should be short enough to not get in your sightline of the ball. Most other buildings will not be short enough.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:04 PM on December 30, 2011

Response by poster: OK, nevermind. I got it. Right on 42nd/3rd, One Times Square where the NYPD post is? I see the pole you are referring to, and yes I know that it doesn't actually "drop".

I see Ryan Seacrest's soundstage and the barriers. So I guess in front of the stage is the best place for me to go if I'm there that early. I'm not sure how I missed it in the first place.

Thanks for responding, by the way. Looking forward to it tomorrow.
posted by signondiego at 12:54 PM on December 30, 2011

Response by poster: 42nd or 43rd, I meant. But thanks!
posted by signondiego at 12:56 PM on December 30, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks all. Just wanted to add that I had a great time and even got on TV.
posted by signondiego at 8:20 PM on January 3, 2012

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