By Peter Schlesinger
April 04, 2014

Waiting in queue at New York City's Empire State Building just got a whole lot more enjoyable, thanks to a new interactive multimedia tour. User-friendly, social-media-connected, and highly informative, the experience teaches visitors the ins and outs of the historic high-rise.

A previous audio guide was available at an extra cost, but this new edition is included in the price of admission. Why the change? Observatory Director Jean-Yves Ghazi explains that survey after survey showed that individuals who had paid for the add-on consistently rated their experience higher. So it was a natural choice when he was given the opportunity to open the program to all visitors.

As the lines for the observatory elevators snake their way through glossy exhibitions, the audio guide supplements the displays with additional information. And high up on the 86th and 102nd floor observatories, it explains the (jaw-dropping) views with bonus historical tidbits. For now, the multimedia tour comes in the eight most-spoken languages by the building's visitors: English, Spanish, French, Italian, Mandarin, Portuguese, Japanese, and Korean.

Proof the new program is working? On a quiet mid-afternoon visit to the tower last week, scores of tourists were listening to the guide and stopping at the numerous displays even though there was no line to speak of.

The Empire State Building observatories are open 365 days a year, 8 am to 2 am. For more information, click here.

Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure and a member of the Trip Doctor news team. You can follow him on Twitter at @pschles08.