Over twelve hours standing in a bone-chilling 11 degrees weather and not being able to go to the bathroom — this is the glamorous, once-in-a-lifetime experience of watching the ball drop on New Year’s Eve in Times Square. Now, you must be thinking why in the hell did I do that? The answer is we’ve wanted to do this ever since we were both kids, and watched it on TV and we wanted to feel as happy as the people there looked. We had to experience it first-hand. If you’re as crazy as us and you are willing to check this off your bucket list, here are 10 tips that help you survive until midnight.
Things you’ll need
- Layer up your clothing! (can’t stress that enough)
- Hand warmers
- Portable phone charger
- Water bottle
1. Be Prepared For No Accessible Bathrooms
I’m not kidding when I say this, but there AREN’T ANY BATHROOMS AVAILABLE once you enter Times Square on New Year’s Eve. You’ll be placed into a corral and that will be your spot for the night. If you leave to use the bathroom, then you will not be able to re-enter. I recommend consuming liquids and food little-by-little throughout the day and/or either holding it until midnight. If you really think you can’t hold it, there are adult diapers or feminine pads (I did this option just in case and didn’t need to use them, FYI and TG).
2. Dress in as Many Layers as Possible
Layer the f*ck up, buttercup — it’s going to be as cold as the back of the freezer. Being both from Phoenix, we’ve never experienced a real winter that’s below 20 degrees. The only way we we’re going to survive was wearing everything I brought in my suitcase. We put on a pair of leggings, a thermal, two pairs of pants, a long sleeve shirt, coat, hat, you get the deal. The warmer you are that evening, the better are the chances you’ll make it to midnight.
3. Stock up on Hand warmers
I wouldn’t have endured the night without these “handy” hand warmers. They last 10 hours and will keep you toasty throughout the night. Insert them in your gloves and in your shoes! We took a ton and even exchanged a heat warmer for a slice of pizza with the friends we met. You can buy them easily via Amazon or at your local drugstore.
4. Leave your Backpacks/Bags behind! They are prohibited!
The NYPD will NOT let you enter Times Square if you bring a backpack for security reasons. There was a couple next to us in line last year who tried to bring in their bags, but they were asked to go back or leave their belongings behind. We never saw them AGAIN. I assumed they had to leave. So, only bring the important items that you can stuff into your pockets, which brings me to my next tip.
5. Wear jackets with multiple pockets
You can’t bring bags to carry your belongings, but that’s why having lots of pockets helps! I bought a coat with a ton of pockets to hold all my stuff! In one pocket I had my phone charger and another I had my hand warmers and snacks. Also, bring the PKW (phone, keys, wallet). It’s truly all you need.
6. Take the Subway to Times Square
No matter what way you get to Times Square, every blog I’ve read says to use the Subway. It’s tough getting a taxi or Uber downtown, and it’s expensive! We only paid a couple of bucks and we got down there without any trouble. The Times Square 42nd Subway station will be closed on NYE. So, specifically, we started in uptown and headed south to the 47th-50th Streets-Rockefeller subway exit. This is the least crowded Subway stop and walking distance to Times Square.
7 and 8. Get there early around 1 p.m.
If you think you can get to Times Square a few hours before the ball drops and get a spot, THINK AGAIN. If you want a front and center view of the ball drop, you’ll have to hit up those New Year’s Eve lines around 1 p.m. We started forming a line near 49th Street and 6th Avenue, right outside the Subway station and near the Avenue of the Americas. Then the NYPD started funneling us into Times Square little-by-little. If you get lost, don’t hesitate to ask someone. This game plan got us an amazing view of the ball drop.
9. Bring cash for food
If you’re prone to getting hangry like I do, bring cold hard cash! Even though all the restaurants in the Times Square-Ball-Drop area are closed, there will be people selling pizza, hot chocolate and other goodies while you wait to ring in the New Year. Now, it will be pricey because of high demand and it’s New York, baby. A whole pizza will cost you $30! Luckily for us, someone shared a slice with us in exchange for hand warmers!
10. Dance to keep warm!
We don’t know if the cold was making us delusional, but we started to dance to the music being played in Times Square. There will be live acts to keep you entertained, so take advantage of that and dance your heart out! It makes the time pass and you’ll stay warm! My husband and I danced cumbias with a couple we met from Ciudad de Mexico and with our new friends from South Korea, and it was so much fun!
Have an exit plan. We recommend hitting up Galaxy Diner, a few blocks away from Times Square, and grab a cup of hot coffee, food and use their bathroom. We practically ran over there after the ball dropped. It was the best piss of my life.
Is it worth it?
Honestly, hell yes it is. We know this isn’t on everyone’s bucket list, but it was an amazing feeling when that crystal ball is about to fall and a million people, from different parts of the world, countdown until the New Year arrives. It was hard to hold back my tears of happiness. The energy being there was like nothing we’ve ever felt before. It’s definitely worth the cold, hunger, and lack of bathrooms. But, would we ever do it again? Hell no.
Happy New Year!
– Thania + Jose