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Empire State Bldg questions

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We are visiting late March. I plan to buy our tickets online and we will go late in the evening after dinner so 11pm -12am. Here are my questions:

1. Do we need the express pass to avoid the elevator line at this late hour?
2. Is it worth it to go to the observation deck as well or is the first stop high enough? (I have been before during the day but don't recall if we did both)
3. Anyone had experience going as/with an off duty, armed officer? We will have one with us from CA and want to avoid any issues through security.

Thanks!

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