NYC expected to be open for business over holidays

Gary Hershorn / Today
The Buzz Lightyear balloon floats down Central Park West during the 85th Macy's Thanksgiving day parade in New York City on November 24, 2011. Despite Superstorm Sandy and an early-season nor'easter, the parade will go on as planned -- although along a new route.

Despite being walloped by the one-two punch of Superstorm Sandy and an early-season nor'easter a week later, New York City is expected to be fully operational for the holiday travel rush.

"The worst is far from over for many communities in the region," Courtney Scott, senior editor at Travelocity, told NBC News, but she doesn't anticipate holiday travel will be "significantly impacted."

NYC & Co., the city’s official tourism organization, is confident the city will be fully operational for the holiday, and features a “What’s open in NYC” section on its website to keep track of hotels, theaters, attractions and cultural institutions that are open.

Among the more popular holiday attractions:

Gray Line New York plans to offer its annual Holiday Lights tours beginning November 28th and reports no changes in pre-sale ticket orders for December. Meanwhile, it is business-as-usual for the Empire State Building.

Despite Sandy, “Harry Potter: The Exhibition” -- the new experiential museum of artifacts, costumes and scenery from the Harry Potter movies -- opened on schedule earlier this month at NYC’s Discovery Times Square.

“The city will be ready to provide the wonder it is known for during the holidays and we don't foresee a lasting impact on attendance from Hurricane Sandy,” said James Sanna, CEO of Discovery Times Square.

Some National Park Service attractions in the area, however, may not be back in business for the holidays.

An assessment team has been evaluating the storm damage at several sites, including the Statue of Liberty, Grant’s Tomb and the Thomas Edison National Historical Park.

“We’re aware those sites receive heavy visitation during the holidays and how beneficial it is for those making travel plans to know the operating status of all of the national parks in the metropolitan New York area,” NPS spokesman Mike Litterst said.

Litterst said some sites will open as soon as they get power and phone service. The assessment team, he said, isn’t ready to make projections about when the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island will reopen.

Some apartment dwellers displaced by Sandy are staying in hotels. The 500-room New York Marriott Downtown, evacuated since before Sandy, plans to welcome guests back on November 13th. Until then, guests with reservations are being accommodated in other Marriott properties in town. Holiday bookings seem to be as robust as in past years. “Thanksgiving looks extremely strong,” Kathleen Duffy, Director of Public Relations-NYC Marriott Hotels, told NBC News. “We don’t see anything affecting holiday bookings right now.”

The Intercontinental New York Times Square has experienced “no discernible drop-offs or additional demands for rooms,” said Victoria Zuffranieri, the hotel's marketing coordinator. But she says the hotel is fielding calls from guests wondering if it’s safe to travel to the city. “We reassure them that our hotel is fine and that we expect everything to be running as usual in the next few weeks.”

Some hotels are encouraging guests to help storm victims.

The James New York, which lost power during the hurricane and operated on generators until November 4th, is donating 20 percent of proceeds from a special Peace, Love & Room Service package to the Red Cross.

For those worried another storm may wreak havoc with a holiday weekend in New York there are some options. While many hotels and some theaters will permit rebooking with no fees, unless airlines issue blanket fee waivers, “you might end up paying $150 or more just to change that,” said Mike Kelly, CEO of On Call International. He suggests making special note of the cancellation policy of your hotel and insuring the non-changeable parts of your trip.

Or you could wait and take your chances. “If airlines and hotels see a reduction in bookings in the upcoming weeks, they may begin to offer special deals,” said Mark Drusch, chief supplier relations officer for

“And that could be considered an early holiday gift from Sandy.”

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