Chile’s Valle Nevado Resort Launches Early Bird Promo For North American/UK Skiers

valle nevadoOne of South America’s top ski destinations is Valle Nevado, located just 20 miles east of Santiago, Chile. Already the largest ski resort in the Southern Hemisphere, Valle offers access to over 7,000 acres of Andean terrain, as well as a full-service, self-contained resort.

North American and UK skiers can get in on some serious savings with purchase of Valle’s Early Bird Promo packages before March 15. The savings include up to 35% off on lodging, lift tickets, half-board and après ski activities.

Accommodations include three hotels ranging from budget to luxury, dining at all price points, boutiques, a spa/fitness center, and South America’s most modernized lift system, as well as a new gondola.

Valle also offers the continent’s best heli-skiing, with up to 5,000 vertical feet in one run. The resort season is June 28 to late September, so if you’re already mourning the advent of our spring, get in on this deal. Savings include 35% off stays of a minimum of three nights during specific dates; 25% off seven-night stays from July 12-19 and September 13-20; and 20% off minimum three-night stays August 2-16 (at neighboring Tres Puntas Resort only), and August 16 to September 13. Other restrictions apply.

To book a reservation or for more information, contact Valle Nevado reservations at toll-free at 1-800-669-0554 (U.S.), or 1-888-301-3248 (Canada). You can also email reservas@vallenevado.com, or click here.

[Photo credit: Azure PR]

Get inspired watching this heli-skiing clip of Valle Nevado, courtesy of PowderQuestTours:


Orlando Braces For Decepticon Takeover, Wookiee May Intervene

Decepticons Orlando

Universal Studios Orlando announced Thursday a new ride based on the Transformers movies to open next summer. That’s big news for theme park fans around the world.

The new four-minute Transformers ride in Orlando will be entirely in the dark and use 3-D flight simulator technology, said to be the next generation of Spider man, much like Transformer rides already in motion at Universal Studios Hollywood and Singapore.

Continuing a move by theme parks to make rides more experiential, riders are recruited in waiting queue by the Transformers. Their job is to help keep the AllSpark energy source away from the Decepticons who will surely use it to take over Earth. Not everything goes well there though and a high-speed chase/battle to the death (of the Decepticons, not those on the ride) follow.

Perhaps bigger news comes from the magical world of Disney who agreed to buy Lucasfilm, heralding in a new era of Star Wars.

Three more Star Wars movies, the first to open in 2015, are in the works on top of the original films, which have earned $4.4 billion so far.

“I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime,” Lucasfilm founder George Lucas said in a statement reported by Travel Weekly.

It looks as if Star Wars will live on the silver screen and in theme parks too. Already a hit during Star Wars Weekends, Disney looks for more from the Star Wars franchise rolled into Disney products, including theme parks.


[Photo Credit: Flickr user Stephen Gardiner]

‘Star Wars’ Fans Rally To Save Iconic Set In Tunisia




Every single “Star Wars” movie, save “The Empire Strikes Back,” uses the desert landscape and dusty villages of Tunisia as backdrops for the planet of Tatooine, the place where Luke Skywalker grew up. Specifically, Luke lived until the age of 19 at the Lars Homestead, the fictional name for a very real building that was, until recently, in danger of collapse.

To the rescue was neither Luke Skywalker nor George Lucas, but Mark Dermul, an avid “Star Wars” fan from Belgium who has been leading “Star Wars” tours of Tunisia since 2001. On a trip to Tunisia in 2010, Dermul discovered that the rounded hut that served as the exterior of the Lars Homestead in the film was in a state of disrepair. Dermul then set up the Save the Lars Homestead Project, working with the Tunisian Tourist Office and Tunisian government to secure the proper permissions to restore this movie landmark.Save Lars raised $10,000 in 10 months and almost didn’t get realized because of the Arab Spring. At the end of May 2012, however, Dermul and his band of “pioneers” traveled to Tunisia, where they patched and re-plastered the Lars Homestead over the course of several days.


The Lars Homestead in a state of disrepair.


The Lars Homestead after restoration.

In the film, the Lars Homestead is located on the Great Chott Salt Flat, which is in reality Chott el Jerid, a salt flat in southwestern Tunisia. If you want to attempt a visit to the Lars Homestead, the “Star Wars” Wiki, or Wookieepedia, provides directions:

The location is a bit hard to find. From Nefta, take the road to Algeria (but do not enter!). Look for the 26 kilometer marker. If the weather permits, you should even be able to see the set from the main road. It’s only about 900 meters from the marker. However, be mindful of the trails you follow to get there. The surface may be difficult, especially when it has rained. A four-wheel drive shouldn’t have a problem, though. When you drive up to the set, you’ll get a rather eerie feeling, as it is only a small set, but so very pivotal in the saga. And there it is, in the middle of nowhere…”

[Photos Wookieepedia/Save Lars]

Legoland California announces Star Wars attraction

Legoland California to features scenes from Star Wars

Legoland California will be the first Legoland theme park to launch a Star Wars Miniland area. The Star Wars Miniland, which will have models of favorite Star Wars scenes constructed entirely of Legos, is set to open March 31.

Eight famous Star Wars scenes will be built in a 1:20 scale. The project will take more than 1.5 million Legos and, we’re guessing, a dash of The Force.

The scenes will encompass the stories told in all six Star Wars movies and the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated TV series and be arranged chronologically. The models will be up to 6 feet tall, and some of them will be built to move or perform other actions when theme park visitors press buttons at the exhibit.

Legoland California also promises life-size models of Chewbacca, R2D2 and Darth Vader for family photo ops.

Two more Legoland parks – Legoland Deutschland in Gunzburg, Germany, and Legoland Billund in Billund, Denmark – will introduce Star Wars Minilands later this year.

American arrested for stealing 299 stuffed birds

Here’s a new low in the annals of crime. An American man has been arrested in England for stealing 299 stuffed birds from the Natural History Museum in Tring, Hertfordshire, England.

The unnamed 22 year-old has been arrested in connection with a break in at the museum back in June. The birds that were stolen were all rare and would have fetched a fair amount on the black market, showing that the unnamed suspect knew what he was doing. Most of the stuffed birds have now been recovered.

The Natural History Museum at Tring is famous for its collection of more than 750,000 preserved birds, 95% of all the world’s species. If you’re not in the neighborhood, you can still check out their species of the day, a feature running throughout 2010 in celebration of the UN’s International Year of Biodiversity. Today’s species is the Welwitschia mirabilis, a plant that can live for up to 1,500 years despite living in the harsh Namib Desert.

This seems to be a mixed year for museums. Hundreds of historic treasures have gone missing in Pennsylvania and the Met had to fork over some stolen Egyptian artifacts.

On the bright side, museum attendance is up as people try to save money by visiting sights close to home. Hopefully none of these folks are stuffing dead critters into their coats.

[Photo courtesy Sarah Hartwell]