The Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower, stands tall as one of Chicago’s most iconic landmarks. Towering at 1,450 feet, it offers breathtaking views of the city’s skyline. But what’s even more commendable is the tower’s commitment to inclusivity. Whether you’re a tourist or a local, the Willis Tower (Sears Tower) wheelchair accessibility ensures that everyone, regardless of their mobility challenges, can enjoy this architectural marvel.
- The Willis Tower is dedicated to providing a seamless experience for wheelchair users.
- There are multiple facilities within the tower to cater to the needs of those with mobility challenges.
- From ramps to special elevators, the tower ensures that everyone can reach the Skydeck and enjoy the panoramic views.
Understanding Wheelchair Accessibility at Willis Tower
What Does “Wheelchair Accessible” Mean at Willis Tower?
Imagine you’re at the base of a tall building, eager to reach the top and soak in the views. But there’s a challenge – you’re in a wheelchair. At Willis Tower, “wheelchair accessible” means you don’t have to worry about that. The tower has special pathways, elevators, and facilities to ensure you can reach the Skydeck without any hassles.
Why is Accessibility Important?
Everyone deserves to experience the beauty and grandeur of Willis Tower. By making it wheelchair accessible, the tower ensures that everyone, irrespective of their physical abilities, can enjoy the panoramic views of Chicago.
Facilities at Willis Tower for Wheelchair Users
The tower boasts high-speed elevators that are spacious enough to accommodate wheelchairs. These elevators swiftly take you to the Skydeck, ensuring you don’t miss out on the breathtaking views.
Navigating a building can be challenging for wheelchair users due to stairs. But at Willis Tower, ramps are strategically placed to ensure smooth movement throughout the tower.
Forgot your wheelchair? No worries! The tower offers willis tower wheelchair rental services, ensuring that everyone can navigate the premises with ease.
Special Viewing Areas
The Skydeck at Willis Tower is the main attraction. Special viewing areas are designated for wheelchair users, ensuring an unobstructed view of the city.
Navigating Willis Tower: A Step-by-Step Guide
Planning a visit to Willis Tower and wondering about the accessibility features? Here’s a simple guide to help you navigate the tower with ease:
- Arrival: On arriving at Willis Tower, you’ll find Willis tower handicapped parking areas designated for visitors with mobility challenges.
- Entry: The tower’s main entrance is wheelchair-friendly, with ramps and wide doors.
- Tickets: Dedicated counters are available for wheelchair users to purchase tickets. You can also avail of the willis tower veteran discount if eligible.
- Elevators: High-speed elevators take you to the Skydeck. These elevators are spacious and can comfortably accommodate wheelchairs.
- Skydeck: Once at the Skydeck, you can enjoy the views from the special viewing areas designated for wheelchair users.
Visit and Contact
Skydeck Chicago: Visitor Information
|Open year-round, seven days a week
|March-September: Mon-Fri: 9am-10pm, Sat-Sun: 8:30am-10pm
October-February: Mon-Fri: 9am-8pm, Sat-Sun: 9am-10pm
|30 minutes before closing
|Views spanning up to four states and
The Ledge, a glass balcony on the 103rd floor
|Access to Skydeck and The Ledge
|Adult (12+): Starting at $32
Youth (3-11): Starting at $24
Children under 3: FREE
|Expedited Entry Admission
|VIP access with express entry to Skydeck elevators
|Starting at $55 (Includes General Admission)
Children under 3: FREE
|Chicago CityPASS Expedited Entry
|Access to Skydeck and 4 other top Chicago attractions
|Adult (12+): $134 ($258 value)
Youth (3-11): $104 ($209 value)
|Skydeck General Admission (Timed Entry)
|Timed entry to Skydeck and The Ledge
Youth (3-11): $35
Children under 3: FREE
- For Expedited Entry, Skydeck management may temporarily stop sales on certain days. Existing ticket holders will still be honored.
- Chicago CityPASS includes admission to Skydeck, Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, and two other attractions of choice.
- It’s recommended to book tickets in advance due to limited availability.
233 South Wacker Drive
Chicago, IL 60606
Phone: 1 (312) 875-0066.
See Map ↗
Get directions to the tower from anywhere.
Hours and Attractions
9:00am to 10:00pm
Open every day of the year.
- Visit Skydeck ↗
Experience the breathtaking top-floor views of Chicago and beyond at Willis Tower’s Skydeck.
- Visit Catalog ↗
Dive into our five-story retail and dining space, complete with a rooftop terrace.
Wacker Drive Entrance:
Open from 5:00am – 11:00pm (Monday to Friday)
Main entrance for both tenants and visitors.
Jackson Boulevard Entrance:
Open from 7:00am – 11:00pm (Daily)
Primary entrance for Skydeck Catalog visitors.
Franklin Street Entrance:
Open 24 hours every day.
For a visual representation and more insights into Willis Tower’s wheelchair accessibility, check out this video:
Watch Video: The Willis Tower (Sears Tower) – FULL TOUR (Downtown Chicago, Illinois)
Stay tuned as we delve deeper into the world of wheelchair accessibility at Willis Tower, exploring more facilities, sharing stories, and highlighting the tower’s continuous efforts in Part 2.
Willis Tower (Sears Tower) Wheelchair Accessibility: Part 2
The Skydeck Experience for Wheelchair Users
The Skydeck is undoubtedly the crown jewel of the Willis Tower. Situated on the 103rd floor, it offers unparalleled views of Chicago’s skyline. But what makes the Skydeck even more special is its commitment to inclusivity.
The Ledge: A Unique Perspective
The Ledge is the most talked-about feature of the Skydeck. Introduced in 2009, it consists of three glass boxes that extend four feet from the side of the building. This allows visitors to capture incredible photos while standing (or sitting) on glass over Wacker Drive. And the best part? The Ledge is wheelchair accessible, ensuring that everyone can experience this unique perspective.
Facilities at the Skydeck
The Skydeck is fully equipped to cater to the needs of wheelchair users:
- Ramps: These ensure smooth movement for wheelchair users.
- Elevators: Spacious elevators can comfortably accommodate wheelchairs and scooters.
- Wheelchair Rental: The Skydeck offers complimentary wheelchairs on a first-come, first-served basis2.
Exploring Beyond the Skydeck
While the Skydeck is a must-visit, the Willis Tower has much more to offer. From its architecture to its history, there’s a lot to explore. And with the tower’s wheelchair accessibility features, you can be assured of a hassle-free experience.
Tours and Events
The Willis Tower often hosts tours and events that provide insights into its history, architecture, and significance. These tours are designed to be inclusive, ensuring that wheelchair users can participate without any challenges.
Shopping and Dining
The tower boasts a range of shops and restaurants. Whether you’re looking to buy a souvenir or enjoy a meal with a view, the Willis Tower ensures that you can do so with ease.
Analogies and Metaphors to Understand Accessibility
To better understand the importance of wheelchair accessibility, let’s use an analogy and a metaphor:
- Analogy: Imagine a world where every book is written in a language only a few can understand. This would mean that only a select few could enjoy the world of literature. Similarly, when places are not wheelchair accessible, they exclude a significant portion of the population from experiencing them.
- Metaphor: Wheelchair accessibility is like a bridge. It connects those with mobility challenges to experiences and places that might otherwise be out of reach.
External Resources for More Information
For those looking to delve deeper into the topic of wheelchair accessibility at Willis Tower, here are some resources:
- Willis Tower Wheelchair accessible – GetYourGuide
- Wheelchair Accessible Things to Do in Chicago
- Skydeck Chicago Accessibility | Skydeck Chicago ADA Compliant
Stay tuned as we continue our exploration of Willis Tower’s commitment to inclusivity and delve deeper into its various features and offerings in our upcoming segments.
- Wheelchair Accessible Things to Do in Chicago ↩
- Skydeck Chicago Accessibility | Skydeck Chicago ADA Compliant ↩
Parking and Transportation
Handicapped Parking at Willis Tower
For those driving to Willis Tower, the building offers designated Willis tower handicapped parking areas. These parking spots are strategically located near entrances and elevators, ensuring easy access to the tower. Moreover, the Willis tower handicapped parking map provides a clear layout of these parking spots, making it convenient for visitors to locate them.
Chicago’s public transportation system is known for its efficiency and accessibility. Many bus routes and train lines have stops near Willis Tower, and they are equipped to accommodate wheelchair users. This makes it easy for those relying on public transportation to visit the tower without any hassles.
Safety and Security
Willis Tower Security Check
Safety is a top priority at Willis Tower. All visitors, including wheelchair users, undergo a willis tower security check before entering the building. This process is streamlined to ensure that it’s quick yet thorough. Special lanes are designated for wheelchair users, ensuring that they don’t have to wait in long queues.
In the unlikely event of an emergency, Willis Tower has protocols in place to ensure the safe evacuation of all visitors, including those with mobility challenges. Special evacuation chairs are available to assist wheelchair users in descending stairs, and trained personnel are on hand to assist.
Dining and Shopping
Willis Tower Restaurants
The tower is home to several restaurants, many of which offer stunning views of the city. These restaurants are wheelchair accessible, with spacious seating areas and restrooms designed to accommodate wheelchair users. Whether you’re in the mood for a quick snack or a gourmet meal, the tower’s dining options cater to all tastes and preferences.
Shopping at Willis Tower
For those looking to indulge in some retail therapy, Willis Tower boasts a range of shops offering everything from souvenirs to luxury goods. These shops are wheelchair accessible, ensuring that everyone can enjoy a seamless shopping experience.
Willis Tower Overview:
The Willis Tower, originally known as the Sears Tower, was inaugurated in 1973 and held the title of the world’s tallest building. In 2009, it was renamed Willis Tower and introduced a significant attraction called “The Ledge” after a major renovation of the Skydeck, which had been operational since 1974. This feature allows visitors to stand on a glass platform and view the city beneath them.
Blackstone acquired the tower in 2015 for $1.3 billion, with EQ Office managing it. A substantial transformation worth $670 million began in 2017, aiming to modernize the tower and enhance its offerings. By 2022, the renovation was complete, boasting modern workplaces, new lobbies, exclusive amenities for tenants, a vast dining and retail space named Catalog, an outdoor terrace, and an upgraded Skydeck experience.
Key Facts about Willis Tower:
- The tower’s total weight is approximately 222,500 tons.
- It spans 4.5 million gross square feet, stands at a height of 1,450 feet, and comprises 110 stories, making it the tallest building in the U.S. by the highest occupied floor.
- Its elevators rank among the world’s fastest, reaching speeds of up to 1,600 feet per minute.
- Over 100 notable businesses have their offices in the Willis Tower.
- The Skydeck offers the highest observation point in the U.S., providing views that can span almost 50 miles on clear days, covering four states.
- The tower holds the distinction of being the largest U.S. building to receive LEED Platinum certification.
Information derived from the 2022 Willis Tower Fact Sheet.
Tips for a Memorable Visit
- Plan Ahead: Check the willis tower lights today schedule to experience the tower’s stunning light displays.
- Book in Advance: To avoid long queues, consider booking your willis tower skydeck tickets in advance.
- Special Discounts: Veterans can avail of the willis tower veteran discount on tickets.
- Stay Updated: For the latest news and updates, watch the willis tower video series available online.
In conclusion, Willis Tower’s commitment to inclusivity ensures that everyone, regardless of their physical abilities, can enjoy all that the tower has to offer. From its breathtaking views to its world-class amenities, the tower is a must-visit for all. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, a visit to Willis Tower promises to be an unforgettable experience.