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Cool tech at the top of One World Trade Center

Incredible views -- and amazing technology -- await visitors at One World Observatory, on the 100th to 102nd floors of One World Trade Center. CBS News
By JEAN SONG & JASON KASHDAN

The 360-degree views of New York City and beyond aren't the only attractions that will keep visitors at One World Observatory engaged 100 to 102 floors above the One World Trade Center grounds.

"This whole experience is built around technology," said David Checketts, CEO of Legends, the company operating the observatory, which opens to the public May 29.

Checketts said Universal Theme Park designers, overseen by former Disney executive David Kirschner, were hired to help create the experience.

From elevators that boast a virtual time-lapse of the New York City skyline to interactive tools that help visitors explore and learn about the city, CBS News got a close-up look at the technology inside the tallest building in the Western hemisphere.

Click through to see some of the highlights...

Sky Pods

Visitors reach One World Observatory via some of the world's fastest elevators, traveling 102 floors in under 60 seconds.

Along the journey upward, a virtual time-lapse transports visitors through the city's history, from the 1500s to the present, as floor-to-ceiling LED technology displays a recreation of the evolving New York City skyline.

Just like the city itself, it takes on a whole new look and feel at nightfall. A nighttime adventure in the Sky Pods offers a different but equally impressive time-lapse experience. Colonial-era dusk transforms into a glowing 21st century skyline as "The City That Never Sleeps" comes alive.

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LED screens in the elevator display a time-lapse view of New York City through the centuries. CBS News

As the elevator doors open, don't expect to be wowed right away -- though that's all part of the experience.

"Usually on a tall building, the elevators open and you see this stunning view. But not here. We wanted to make you wait, anticipate," Checketts said.

Next: The anticipation pays off

City Pulse

On the 100th floor of the observatory, guides, or "global ambassadors," stand at the center of an interactive circular ring of HD monitors that are activated by gesture recognition technology.

Colorful images sweep from one to the next with a flick of the wrist, as the guides present visitors with more information on various landmarks and neighborhoods in New York City.

Visitors can also tap the surface of the monitors to indicate which landmark they're interested in learning more about.

Next: The Sky Portal

Sky Portal

Don't look down -- unless you want to experience incredible views of the city below.

The Sky Portal feature of One World Observatory treats guests to an unprecedented real-time perspective from HD cameras affixed to the tower's spire, projected right at their feet.

"These are high-definition screens and a camera feed from 1,776 feet above us to give you a sense of how high you are, perfectly safely," Checketts said.

While building the attraction, Checketts said they had to consider "ratio and focus" to make the digital view seem as realistic as possible.

Checketts assures visitors, you won't fall through the 14-foot wide, translucent circular disks, but that doesn't mean it won't feel dizzying.

"We wondered about the impact, but when we brought kids out on it, it gives them the thrill," he said.

Next: Go exploring

One World Explorer iPad

Want more than just the (amazing) views out those windows? Visitors can rent iPads that offer a unique interactive experience. Simply point the device in the direction of various "hot spots" and New York City landmarks to start exploring.

"If you take your iPad down on [the 100th floor] and push Yankee Stadium, all of sudden you'll be watching on your iPad a helicopter ride from the top of the Trade Center to Yankee Stadium. Just very quick," Checketts said. "And then it will tell you how many people attend there every year and how many championships they've won, and the same to 40 other spots in the city. So it's interactive, educational, inspirational, I think. And all about looking forward."

See more exclusive highlights from "CBS This Morning's" live broadcast from One World Observatory.