One of the first things you hear about in any discussion of a visit to Pearl Harbor is the USS Arizona Memorial program. But what exactly is it? You probably already know that the USS Arizona Memorial is a structure anchored directly above the sunken wreckage of a US Navy battleship that exploded and sank during the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, taking the lives of 1,177 men, but you may not know that there is a timed, ticketed program to see it.

You Need Tickets for the Program

Ticket booth where visitors pick up tickets for the USS Arizona Memorial program

Ticket booth where visitors pick up tickets for the USS Arizona Memorial program

How long does it take? What’s included with the program? Are tickets easy to get? You don’t like surprises, especially when it comes to planning activities on your vacation. So, let’s look at the details of the USS Arizona Memorial program and what you’ll be doing on this incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The first step is to secure your tickets for the USS Arizona program. If you’re visiting Pearl Harbor on your own, or with a Passport to Pearl Harbor, you’ll need to obtain your ticket when you arrive. Get there early, as the tickets are given out on a first come, first served basis.

To guarantee that you get a ticket to this central feature of the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, we recommend booking a Pearl Harbor tour. Official Pearl Harbor tours include the USS Arizona Memorial program.

Visiting the USS Arizona Memorial

Still from the documentary showing the explosion of USS Arizona (BB-39)

Still from the documentary showing the explosion of USS Arizona (BB-39)

Pay attention to the program time stamped on your tickets. This is when the program begins. Make your way to the Pearl Harbor Memorial Theater, to the left of the entrance to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, 15 minutes before the time indicated. The first part of the program is a 23-minute documentary covering the attack on Pearl Harbor and sinking of the USS Arizona. Filled with actual footage and pictures of the attack and its aftermath, the film helps set the stage for the next part of the program.

When the movie is over, you exit the theater and board a US Navy shuttle boat that transports you to the USS Arizona Memorial. If conditions permit boarding the memorial, you’ll find yourself standing before a wall inscribed with the names of the fallen men of USS Arizona. Gazing down at the sunken hulk of the battleship resting below, you’ll see the “Black Tears of the Arizona,” droplets of oil that have been leaking from the fallen battleship for over 77 years.

Once your time on the memorial is done, you board another Navy shuttle to return to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.

In total—including the documentary, the boat ride, and time at the memorial—the USS Arizona Memorial program runs approximately 75 minutes. Pearl Harbor tours also include additional time to explore the exhibits and other elements of the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.

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