It took me years to visit Alcatraz. One of those cases where it is in your neighborhood, but you never go. I finally made the trip.
My first bit of advice is to take the night tour. It’s called a night tour, but, at least in Daylight Savings Time, it’s not when it’s dark. Anyway, the night tour is the best because it is the most extensive. After completing the regular audio tour you can then go to additional presentations/talks on things like Al Capone, The Birdman, Escapes, etc. The key though, is to get the first night tour boat—at 4:30. Your first reaction is to schedule the 6:30 or the 5:30 boats. In reality you want the 4:30 boat so that you have plenty of time to do the extra presentations. If you wait until 6:30, you will only be able to do the audio tour before the last boat back leaves at 7:50.
If you are interested in the Underground Alcatraz presentation, be sure to sign up as soon as you hit the Information Desk in the middle of your audio tour because they only take ten people.
We stuck around for the Cell Door demonstration. This is where they show you how the cell door mechanism works to close a row of 14 doors. A row of doors weighs a ton and a half and they are all moved by one clutch mechanism. You get to hear the clang of the doors shutting as if you were being locked up for the night.
The audio tour is given to everyone regardless of what time of day you take the trip. It is great because it has interviews with guards and prisoners and zigzags back and forth through the cell block. It covers a lot.
Tickets are $35.50 or $42.50 for the night tour.
The National Park Service only issues tour tickets through one official vendor: Alcatrazcruises.com
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