BWW First Person: What's It Like Waiting in Line for Shakespeare in the Park Tickets?

Waiting for free tickets for The Public Theatre's Shakespeare in the Park productions is a time-honored tradition for many theatre-lovers in New York City. But, for many people who have never gone through the experience, it can be a daunting (and exhausting) experience.

So, having never done it myself, I decided to document the process to see what it's like to wait in line for hours outside in Central Park. Twelfth Night closed yesterday, but this is a tradition that will be back soon, so take note.


4:45 a.m.: I arrive in line, as the fifth person. NOTE: when accounting for how long it will take you to take a Lyft to 81st and Central Park West from your friends apartment in the Bronx, account for the lack of traffic that will get you there fifteen minutes earlier than you thought it would.

Also, that apparently getting driven to a seemingly random street corner will prompt even New York City Lyft drivers to ask what you're doing.

BWW First Person: What's It Like Waiting in Line for Shakespeare in the Park Tickets?
The line at 6:00 a.m.

6:00 a.m.: We are ushered into the park by representatives of The Public Theater, which feels reminiscent of preschool walk time.

As Central Park opens at six in the morning, it's important that, if you want to arrive before then, to wait at the entrance to the park and not outside the Delacorte.

When we arrived to where the line began at the box office, there were a few people already there, who were then sent to the end of the line.

After this, people start to arrive en masse to the line, and it quickly went around the bend.

7:40 a.m.: I took a small walk to the end of the line to see how far it stretched. By this time, the line is already pretty long, reaching the baseball fields.

BWW First Person: What's It Like Waiting in Line for Shakespeare in the Park Tickets?
The view from the back of the line at 7:40 a.m.

8:12 a.m.: Out of boredom, I brainstorm titles for this. Most of them are Sunday in the Park with George parodies. I'm very fond of "Sunday in the Park with Shakespeare in the Park" but I think it's a bit too wordy.

8:55 a.m.: I took another walk to the end of the line, and it reached the swing set, which, according to the woman in line next to me, is where it gets questionable if you can get a ticket or not.

9:45 a.m.: I have developed the beginnings of what will be an awful caffeine headache. I compile a list of things to bring next time:

- Cash: this is a major one. I, personally, hardly ever carry cash. But since you are not allowed to leave the park while you're in line, cash is the only way to pay for food (and coffee, to my chagrin) deliveries. A very popular option with the line is Andy's Deli, whose delivery guys riding on bikes up and down the line soon became another common sight.

- More comfortable shoes

- Sunscreen

- Bugspray

Meanwhile, things I'm glad I brought are:

- A portable phone charger

- A backpack and not a over the shoulder bag

- A reusable water bottle

- A good book to pass the time

BWW First Person: What's It Like Waiting in Line for Shakespeare in the Park Tickets?
My own Patron ID.

10:30 a.m.: An hour and a half to go! A while ago, workers with The Public came down the line and gave line waiters their Patron ID numbers, which are needed to get tickets.

If you don't know yours or don't have one, they can set you up with it, but it saves time if you do know it beforehand. You can find yours HERE.

Also recently, a man came by alternating between playing the flute and the saxophone, which didn't help the caffeine headache.

11:00 a.m.: The last hour is the longest. At least it's a nice day.

12:00 p.m.: Success! Now, time for coffee!

7:30 p.m.: There's hardly a cloud in the sky and it looks like a wonderful night for some theatre!

BWW First Person: What's It Like Waiting in Line for Shakespeare in the Park Tickets?

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From This Author Sarah White

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