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In prep for a recent five day staycation, I made an itinerary to map out all our bucket list must-dos. One of our top items was to visit the Burj Khalifa in downtown Dubai.
Before moving to Dubai there were a few details that I was unaware of. Dubai is home to the tallest building in the world at 2,716.5ft (828 meters) and over 160 stories high. The Burj Khalifa claims the title of most stories in world, tallest free-standing structure, highest out-door observation deck, tallest service elevator, highest occupied floor in the world, and elevator with the longest travel distance in the world (Burj Khaifa). This building is quite frankly, amazing.
You can purchase tickets ahead of your visit but also when you arrive at the Dubai Mall in the lower level food court which is next to the At The Top entrance. We pre-purchased tickets for At The Top SKY, which offers the same as the general admission in addition to some perks and a visit to the highest outdoor observation deck in the world. Cobone.com offers a combination deals of the lower levels of the Burj with a city tour bus or something else.
General admission will wait in the queue wherever there is standing room while SKY ticket holders are directed to a quiet lobby with couches, Arabic coffee, dates, and reading material. When the group has reached a certain number, all individuals are led to the elevators. There are TVs playing recordings of facts and the construction of the Burj Khalifa along the way. The first elevator has 125 floors to travel to the first observation deck. Inside the lights are dimmed and a video is projected onto the walls of the lift. It is of a starry sky as a voice details the height of the Burj Khalifa. As you go up and up the voice lists off other notable buildings in the world as they show on the projection. You pass the height of the Sears Tower, Empire State Building, Eiffel Tower, Taipei 101, Shanghai Tower, and others. This show is only about one minute long, the lift travels at 10 meters per second(32.8ft)!
The 125th floor is the stopping point for general admission. SKY tickets go up one more elevator (generic and a little warm) to the 148th floor. You are greeted with your choice of a drink (lemon mint is good) and a dessert. There are cushioned couches to sit at in the lobby area and chairs by some of the windows. You can walk around the perimeter of this floor and get photos of the city and desert. The highest outdoor observation deck is surrounded by thick glass and you are welcome to stay out here as long as you like. It is freaky for those of us who are afraid of heights (raising hand). We got plenty of photos out here and as a family. It was so hot that day but was noticeably cooler at that height. Our children loved looking out over the city for a bit but they couldn’t sit still for long and proceeded to run around.
There is a high end gift shop on this floor. I was tempted by the Lego Burj Khalifa but I actually found it for cheaper on Amazon later that day. I looked for other items online from that shop but it seems they are somewhat exclusive, I could not find others exactly like what I saw. I am sure you can find similar gifts though. There were leather purses, gold and diamond jewelry, notebooks, toys, glasses, business car holders, and other items with Burj Khalifa wording, imagery, or design. A photographer is also present to take your picture which you can also purchase. I admit that the photos were lovely but priced at aed365+ (about $100) each.
The time limit on the floor was 30minutes, though we were not pressured to leave at that exact point. When you are done on this floor you take the elevator back down to the 125th. There is a gift shop at this floor, a photo spot, binoculars, and very little seating (no drinks or cookies either). A spiral staircase leads to the 124th floor where the outdoor observation deck is for more photos and another gift shop. More general gifts like cheap bags, candies, the puzzles, stuffed animals, key chains, and mugs are found on these two levels.
The SKY admission is surely for those who want a more ritzy experience. I think in some ways it is worth the price. Fewer people select this option so your wait times are lower and the observation deck on the 148th floor will be less busy. The lower levels are more full and do not have those added perks.
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