Win a legendary golf outing from Hilton HHonors

Win an epic golf outing from Hilton HHonors!Are you a golf fan looking for an epic escape with your buddies this year? Than you’ll definitely want to enter the Legendary Golf Getaway contest from Hilton HHonors, which could send you and seven of your closest friends, on a once in a lifetime golf outing.

The contest, which launched last week, will award one lucky winner a fantastic prize that will take them, along with their guests, to one of three Waldorf Astoria Resorts for four days of fantastic golf. The grand prize includes airfare for eight, lodging at the resort, complimentary tee times for three rounds of golf, and a clinic with the local pro. They’re even throwing in a $5000 Hilton Worldwide gift card and 100,000 Hilton HHonors points for the winner and 50,000 points for each of the guests.

The three resort options that are available to the winner include The La Quinta Resort & Club located in California, The Boulders, A Waldorf Astoria Resort in Arizona, or the Waldorf Astoria Orlando in Florida. Each of these locations offers a world class golf course to challenge players and plenty of fantastic fun while away from the course as well.

The contest runs through September 5th with a grand prize winner being selected a few weeks later. Six first prizes will also be awarded as well, with those prizes consisting of a TaylorMade R11 Driver and 50,000 Hilton HHonors bonus points.

To enter the contest click here, and then start pairing down your guest list to the lucky seven you’ll take along on this legendary golf outing.

[Photo courtesy Fevi Yu via WikiMedia]

Another London eye-like wheel attraction is coming, this one to Florida

Another London eye-like wheel attraction is coming, this one to Florida

Just a few days ago it was Las Vegas getting a London Eye-like Ferris wheel & amusement park. Now, add Orlando to that list as a Madame Tussauds wax museum and a 425-foot Orlando Eye observation wheel will be part of a new tourist complex in central Florida.

At 425 feet, the Orlando Eye wheel will be almost as high as the 443-foot tall London Eye and be part of a sprawling dining, drinking, shopping and entertainment complex to be called “I-walk Orlando” set for a 2013 opening. To be located in the center of tourist crazed International Drive, developers are looking to make this the next “must-see” attraction in Central Florida.

Merlin Entertainments, the people who will bring LegoLand to Orlando this year, are behind the new I-walk Orlando complex in a partnership with two other developers. Up next? You guessed it: Asian LegoLand Amazing what they can do with Legos. Not long ago, they even built a cruise ship out of them: The Lego Love Boat.

Flickr photo by damo1977

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SeaWorld prepares to put trainers back in the water with killer whales

One Ocean at SeaWorld - Killer Whale ShowA year after the fatal accident involving trainer Dawn Brancheau, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment has announced that they are preparing to put trainers back in the water during their killer whale shows. Trainers have not been permitted in the water since the incident involving their largest orca named Tilikum.

SeaWorld will not give an exact date of when in-water performances will resume, but they are laying the groundwork. The company plans to spend millions of dollars on a number of safety devices aimed at preventing another tragic incident. Some of the safety measures include: the installation of fast rising pool floors, remote-controlled underwater distraction devices, and outfits with emergency air supplies.

For now, the trainers will only interact with the orcas in small medical pools already outfitted with false-bottom floors. So, SeaWorld’s new show, “One Ocean”, will not feature trainers swimming with the killer whales right away. Trainers will conduct the show entirely from the stage. “One Ocean” is set to begin in April at SeaWorld Orlando, on Memorial Day at SeaWorld San Diego, and in June at SeaWorld San Antonio. The Orlando Sentinel has more.


Spring Break deals: Fares up overall, best deals can be found to Florida, Europe

The folks over at Bing Travel have been studying up on 2011 Spring Break airfare, and we hate to break it to you, but they’ve found that the average airfare cost is up more than 10 percent over last year, to $489. But the airfare increase doesn’t have to stop the beach party. If you choose wisely, there are still plenty of Spring Break deals to be had.

Bing’s Spring Break Travel Forecast says that lower fares on flights to Florida (particularly Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando and Tampa) can still be found. The average fare for Boston to Jacksonville is $233, and you can fly from San Francisco to Tampa for $300.

And while many overseas airfares have risen since last year, average airfares from several U.S. cities to Paris, Amsterdam and Rome have dropped as much as 13 percent over Spring Break season fares in 2010.

If you are just settling into spring break planning mode, here are some tips from Bing on finding the best spring break deals:

  • Be Flexible. Now we would never suggest skipping a day of classes, but, ahem, you will do better on airfare if you’re not trying to travel on weekend days like your Spring Break brethren. Monday to Monday or Tuesday to Tuesday fares will almost always be better. And if a school schedule isn’t determining when you vacation this spring, you will likely save money by going at the beginning of March or April rather than the middle of either month.
  • Use Online Tools. You can monitor your airfares and get notices when they drop on a certain route from a number of different online services. Bing’s Price Predictor shows you whether airfares on your chosen route and dates are rising or falling, to help you decide when to buy.
  • Be Aware of Hidden Fees. Be sure you know what you will be charged for checked baggage, overweight luggage, aisle or exit row seats before you hit the airport.

Bing is giving away five $100 travel stipends for 2011 spring break travel on Twitter. To enter, tweet @fareologist with where you’d like to go for spring break. Check out the contest’s official rules before entering.

[Image credit: Flickr user Dawn Huczek]

Disney vacations: Why we go


Walt Disney World
is the most visited resort in the world. Other Disney resorts and Disney cruises remain huge destinations worldwide. Yet, a Disney vacation is also maligned by many people.

Believe me, I’ve heard all the negatives: It’s overly programmed; it’s pedestrian; it’s gimmicky; it’s hot and miserable (or cold and miserable, as the case may be).

And as a journalist who covers Disney, I have to admit that many of my trips to “The World” feel a whole lot more like work than vacation, even with my family in tow.

After a marathon couple of weeks trying to cover all the holiday happenings at Disney Parks, I spent the first half of January in Disney burn-out. But I was reminded again last week why I – and many other moms – bring our kids on Disney vacations.

While watching the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom, Tinker Bell took off from Cinderella Castle to make her nightly flight. My 7-year-old daughter, who has seen these same fireworks dozens of times, turned to me, eyes sparkling, and squealed, “Mom, Tinkerbell waved at ME!”

I cannot even express the joy I felt in that moment. I can only say it was worth a million not-so-great moments waiting in line, sweating, and dealing with kids’ meltdowns and obnoxious grown-ups on vacation.

It’s a sentiment Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger agreed with when I interviewed him last week on board the Disney Dream.

A father and grandfather himself, Iger has a built-in focus group at home, and it keeps him centered on Disney’s core values.

“Watching through my kids’ eyes reinforces the richest and most valuable quality of Disney – the impact we have on kids and families,” Iger said.

Sure, enjoying a Disney vacation requires a little leap, a little suspension of reality. And no, it doesn’t give you a sense of the place you’ve traveled or a look into the real people who live there.

But I still urge you to try it sometime. And when you do, go with a kid.

Because as far as I’m concerned, Tinker Bell really does fly out of Cinderella Castle every night. And she really did pick my daughter out of the crowd last week and wave specifically at her.

And it was magical.