Thursday, September 6, 2007

Don’t keep mummy waiting

Want a shortcut to Tut?

You should. The Franklin Institute advises you to get to the museum 90 minutes before the time stamped on your $32.50 ticket for “Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs,” and one look at the line snaking up three floors to the exhibit hall is all the explanation you need.

On our Labor Day weekend trip to Philadelphia, my husband and I cheerfully estimated it would take at least another hour, and possibly two, to get from the back of the line to the leather ropes at the front. I say “cheerfully” because we were doing the math while we breezed past the huddled masses (doing our best not to make eye contact as we passed them by, and passed them by, and passed and passed and passed them by), thanks to the VIP passes that came with our hotel package.

You say “elitist,” I say “efficient.” And not a little serendipitous. When we booked the package, we knew the VIP passes were untimed — meaning you can see the exhibit whenever you choose — but we didn’t know that VIPs get their own separate line. (There were four people in ours.)

Which means you can spend 90 minutes waiting in line, or spend the same 90 minutes enjoying a champagne brunch of eggs Benedict and lemon-ricotta pancakes with mixed berries at the Four Seasons, followed by a 10-minute stroll past the Swann Fountain to the museum and into the VIP queue.

Other hotels offer one-night packages starting at $185 per couple. You’d spend almost half of that on two “timed” tickets and parking at the Franklin Institute, if you can find a spot.

Sure, Ben Franklin may have been big on that whole penny-saved, penny-earned thing.

But what would the Boy King do?

—BARBARA GRZINCIC, Managing Editor, Law

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