Why buy a New York City Explorer Pass instead of a New York CityPass?

The New York City Explorer Pass and the New York CityPASS are two of the biggest multi-attraction passes in New York. Both products offer discounted admission to some of the city’s top attractions, but they’re in fact quite different. Taking into account factors like available attractions, flexibility of use, and savings potential, the New York City Explorer Pass comes out on top.

We’ll begin with a comparison of the two products and then get into specifics about how you save.

Included New York Tourist Attractions 

New York City Explorer Pass 

Because the product includes more than 50 attractions, it’s impractical to list them all here. Instead, check out a selection of their most popular offerings.

New York CityPass

  • Empire State Building
  • American Museum of Natural History
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Top of the Rock OR the Guggenheim Museum
  • Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island OR Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
  • 9/11 Memorial & Museum OR Intrepid Museum

The New York City Explorer Pass includes all of the same attractions (or comparable attractions) as the New York CityPass without any either/or choices. This is especially a big bonus in a market like New York, where some of the biggest attractions are positioned as exclusionary choices with the CityPass, including the Statue of Liberty, the 9/11 Memorial, and the Top of the Rock. It’s also unlikely that visitors will want to see both the Empire State Building and the Top of the Rock (the more popular of the two), but you’d want to choose the Top of the Rock anyway to maximize your savings.

How You Save 

The New York City Explorer Pass can save you up to 45% on combined admission prices, and their website offers real customer savings testimonials that often exceed that percentage. Customers saved hundreds of dollars per family!

One of the most popular aspects of this pass is the flexibility in attraction choice. You can select what you want to see as you go along, with your choice of 3, 5, 7, or 10 attractions, no need for either/or decisions. See what you want over the course of 30 full days!

There are also simply more ways to save with this product. Dozens of attraction combinations will save you the maximum advertised value, or even more!

The New York CityPass advertises that it can save you up to 42% on combined admission prices (so no real difference there), but your savings percentage is heavily dependent upon which attractions you choose.

You’re also more limited in attraction choice, taking into account the exclusions and the much narrower selection to begin with. You only have 9 consecutive days to visit each attraction, which doesn’t end up being a lot of time when you’re interested in making multiple trips to NYC.

In order to make the most of the pass, you have to choose certain attractions. If you want to maximize your savings, you have to see both the Top of the Rock and the Empire State Building, something that most visitors to NYC don’t choose to do. You also need to opt for the sightseeing cruise over the Statue of Liberty – and who wants to do that?

How Do I Use Them?

Both products serve as your admission ticket to the included attractions, but they otherwise work in different ways with different benefits.

The New York CityPass is a booklet of paper tickets that you order online or buy in person. You bring the booklet to each attraction, they tear off the appropriate ticket, and then you dispose of the book when you’re done.

The New York City Explorer Pass offers more delivery and usage options. If you choose a physical card (it looks like a credit card), it can be shipped or picked up in person in New York. Many customers choose to keep the card as a souvenir after their trip!

Or, if you prefer to be a little more high tech (or are a last-minute planner), the instant delivery option is a big win. Get the pass e-mailed directly to you immediately after purchase, and display it on a smartphone for admission. If you don’t have or don’t want to use a smartphone, you could also just print it out. This is a really popular option with customers.

What’s the Real Difference? 

The major difference between these two passes has to do with your preferred style of travel. If you like more flexibility and freedom in planning your itinerary, you’ll likely prefer the wider range of attraction choices and greater duration of the New York City Explorer Pass. You also don’t have to deal with exclusionary choices or a more restrictive path to greater savings.

If you only have a few specific attractions in mind, then New York CityPass may be a decent option. However, this also limits you in terms of choosing between those few attractions, in which attractions you need to choose to max out your savings, and flexibility in purchasing.

Extra Details

The New York City Explorer Pass features a number of diverse walking tours and bus tours, providing better opportunities to really get to know NYC culture. From food tours to T.V. and movie tours and beyond, you’ll find plenty to enjoy.

Both products come with additional discounts on things like dining, shopping, and entertainment. They also both come with a free area map.

The New York City Explorer Pass also includes a free, full-color guidebook that’s packed with useful info about each attraction, various neighborhoods you may encounter, and even free attractions.

Both products offer skip-the-line benefits at selected attractions.

The New York City Explorer Pass even includes a number of attractions in Brooklyn and the Bronx, allowing you to more fully explore all that NYC has to offer.

Last Thoughts

Deciding between a New York City Explorer Pass and a New York CityPass? Taking into account factors like flexibility, convenience, and ways to save, the answer seems clear. The New York City Explorer Pass is truly the best way to maximize your fun and your savings on your next vacation.