New York City: Meet the Line-up Police!

Sheree with ExpodiskSheree with ExpodiskPhoto by Sheree Zielke

New York City has an ample supply of police and security personnel; that’s commonly known.  However, there is another type of policing official you might not know about: the “line-up police.”

If you are a theatre-lover, or a lover of the Bard’s works, and you plan to take in New York’s famous Shakespeare in the Park event, then you are guaranteed to meet the Big Apple’s line-up police.

Read on . . .

Every year, NYC presents selected Bard plays in Central Park’s Delacorte Theater.  Admission is absolutely FREE, but audience members must have a ticket.  That’s where the line-up police come in.

In order to obtain tickets to New York City’s Shakespeare in the Park, you must line up.  But lining up in New York City for a free theatrical event has rules.  And those rules MUST be followed or you risk getting kicked out of line.

Here’s a quick guide to help you obtain tickets for this must-see New York City attraction in Central Park:

  1. Get up early in the morning.  While the plays don’t start till 8:30 P.M., the ticket line-ups start 12 hours prior.  If you arrive even as early as 10 A.M., you will be greeted by a huge line-up of people, some who look like they’ve stayed overnight to secure their spot.
  2. Upon arrival, walk as quickly as you can to the END of the line.  You’ll see a very formal procession of people lining the Great Lawn’s curving walkways.  You’ll notice that people are not clumped together, but rather they appear neatly spaced out.  There is a reason for this: the line-up police want to know exactly who is in the line.  And they will remember your face.
  3. There is absolutely NO spot holding in a New York City Shakespeare in the Park ticket line-up.  If you are in line, then you are the person who is qualified to receive tickets (every person can have up to 2 tickets).  You CANNOT wait in line and then give up your spot to a friend.  The line-up police will notice and both you and your friend will be kicked out of line.
  4. You may go to the bathroom, but you had better make it quick.  You are allowed to leave your spot in line, but you are expected to return, quickly.
  5. Bring a book, or some form of entertaining diversion to help you survive the long wait.  And remember your butt.  You might be lucky enough to land in a spot with a park bench, but don’t count on it.  Bring a folding lawn chair or a blanket instead.
  6. Bring a lunch, or some cash.  Deli runners regularly come up and down the line, taking orders for delivery.  They really do!  You’ll be glad of this because your wait in line could be 3 hours, or longer.  (We lined up just before 10 in the morning, and got our tickets just after 1 P.M.)
  7. Obey the line-up police.  They walk the line regularly and scold those who are breaking the rules.  They also don’t allow for messy lines; you are not allowed to sit out-of-line.  That includes trying to escape the high noon sun by sitting higher up the hill in the shade of trees.  Bring a hat, and your sunscreen.  You will be bumped from the line if you leave it, without a very good reason.  Hot sun is NOT one of those reasons.
  8. Move quickly once the ticket line-up begins to move.  The line-up police don’t like slow movers; you can lose your place in line for dragging your feet, too.  Amble along with the rest of the crowd, and you will be rewarded with tickets.
  9. Upon reaching your goal, someone will ask you how many tickets you require.  If you’ve stood in line with a partner, then say, “Two” or “Four,” if you require four tickets.  Don’t stand there gaping, grab your tickets, thank your lucky stars, and leave.

Come back to the Delacorte Theater around 7:30 P.M. and join another line-up.  Yes, the line-up police will be back in force there, too.  But by now you know how to obey.

The best way to access Central Park’s Delacorte Theatre is from Fifth Avenue at 79th Street or off Central Park West at 81st Street.

Do you have better hints and tips for surviving the ticket line-up for Central Park’s Shakespeare in the Park event?  Please share them here.


Sheree Zielke

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