Let’s face it: amusement park lines aren’t going anywhere. Attendance at parks is on the up and up in recent years, forcing some parks to create diversions that make waiting more fun. Disney World is leading the charge, with games, interactive displays and other distractions to entertain people waiting in long queues. At the famous Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride, an air-conditioned play area under a big-top tent (pictured) keeps the kids entertained while parents wait for a pager to buzz and let them know their time to ride has arrived.
But Disney World isn’t the only amusement park hopping on the trend. Many parks now have video entertainment that visitors can watch as they snake through lines. For example, at all 16 Six Flags parks, visitors can use their cellphones as game controllers to play games on television screens. And across the country, it’s becoming less common to wait under the blaring sun; many parks now have tents over their lines, or at the very least supply fans that spray water on visitors.
Across the travelsphere, entertainment is in high demand. Some flights even have live stand-up comedy and music on board to amuse passengers. It just goes to show that in a world where we’re used to having entertainment at our fingertips, our attention span is becoming shorter and shorter.
Visitors staying at a resort near Disney World in Orlando, Florida said they heard loud “popping” and “cracking” just before a 60-foot-wide sinkhole opened up underneath them last night. A three-story building collapsed and another slowly sank into the 15-foot-deep hole. Luckily, all the guests staying at the affected buildings at Summer Bay Resort — an estimated 35 people — were safely evacuated just before the ground gave way.
Passersby are no doubt ogling at the buckled resort buildings this morning, as they have been doing in western Kansas, where tourists are flocking to a 200-foot-wide sinkhole. Despite warnings from the landowner and town law enforcements, visitors are coming from miles around for the rare chance of getting to watch the earth open up.
Coming up in less than a month, America celebrates its Independence Day as fireworks light up the sky at events around the country. This year, the Fourth of July falls on a Thursday. That might mean an extra day off work for some, returning on Friday to end the week. Others might be in for an extra long, four-day weekend with plenty of time for travel.
Regardless of how your holiday schedule works out, one day might not be enough celebration. Plan a visit to Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort to the east or Disneyland Resort to the west. Both will be celebrating the Fourth of July for an entire week, starting July 1, 2013, during what Disney calls Limited Time Magic.
Said to “surprise and delight Guests in fanciful and unexpected ways,” Limited Time Magic events happen “only at certain times of the year,” says the Disney Parks blog. Between now and June 23, Disney wishes “ears to you” as graduates are invited to buy a mortar board Ear Hat at the Magic Kingdom park, then choose from five different tassels representing their school colors.During the Independence Week Celebration from July 1 to July 7, 2013, a fireworks spectacular will happen at 9 p.m. on July 3 and 4, and 10 p.m. on July 1, 2, 5, 6 and 7 at Walt Disney World and 9:30 p.m. each night at Disneyland. At either park, Disney chefs will have Independence Day-themed cuisine including red, white and blue strawberry shortcake or desserts in Mason Jars, apple pie-filled cupcakes and patriotic cotton candy.
Other Limited Time Magic events include a sneak peek at “The Lone Ranger,” a “Monsters University” homecoming celebration and other Monstrous Summer events.
Can’t make it but want to see those Disney fireworks? They might look something like these:
Disney faced two security scares this week, first when Disneyland’s Toontown was evacuated after dry ice caused an “explosion” in a trash can, and later when a grandmother on a ride in Disney World’s Animal Kingdom found a loaded gun on her seat.
On Tuesday at Anaheim, California’s Disneyland, it seems someone put a sealed plastic bottle containing dry ice in a trash can that ended up making a loud noise (described by one visitor as sounding “louder than a gunshot”) and releasing water vapor, the Associated Press reports. The area where the trash can was located was evacuated for approximately two hours, and USA Today writes an employee has since been arrested on suspicion of being the culprit.
In the second incident, which happened on Wednesday in Disney World’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida, a woman on the Dinosaur ride with her grandson found a loaded Cobra .380-caliber semiautomatic pistol on her seat and turned it over to a park attendant, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Moments later, the patron who brought the gun in realized it was missing and apologetically explained he “didn’t know Disney World patrons weren’t allowed to bring guns,” Associated Press reports.
Although the visitor in the last instance has a concealed weapons permit, Disney prohibits patrons from bringing weapons of any kind on its property. Park security does check bags, but patrons do not walk through metal detectors and are not subject to pat-downs – at least for now, that is. These two incidents will surely raise questions about what park security does to keep patrons safe in Disney’s parks.
Summer travel season is right around the corner but exciting travel opportunities are often limited by price. There are plenty of places to go, but they are often priced out of reach. Still, with some research and timing, summer travel bargains are out there right now. Why? Sellers of travel want occupancy and booking levels to be at a certain target number right about now. If the numbers are not where they want them to be, they bring on the discounts to shore up summer season bookings. Here are some we found as standout bargains.
Disney World, Discounted
Summer is usually a popular time to visit Florida’s Walt Disney World and this year is no exception. Many families have to do vacations during the summer, when kids are out of school, most often driving prices up. Still, with hotel capacity running a bit ahead of reservations, deals are out there. Savings of 30 percent on select Disney hotels on Disney property, free dining with a hotel and ticket package, and more can be found at Disney’s Special Offers webpage.
Hike the Blue Mountains in Jamaica Strawberry Hill is offering guests 25 percent off rates for stays through October 31 with its “Discover the Blue Mountains” package. The three-night stay includes two hikes on Gordon Town Trail and Settlement Trail, daily breakfast, a fruit and cheese welcome amenity, dinner with a bottle of wine, daily Blackwell Rum cocktail and a spa treatment. Don’t come home without a pound or two of that Blue Mountain coffee.Summer for Less at Nantucket Island Resorts– Nantucket, Massachusetts Nantucket Island Resorts is offering 30 percent off room rates at White Elephant Village, The Wauwinet and the White Elephant Hotel to guests who book five consecutive nights July 7-19. Rates start at $2,500 for five nights. Visit nantucketislandresorts.com/hotel-deals for more.
Pick A Cruise, Any Cruise
Practically every cruise line sailing has felt the sting of recent widely publicized events so prices have gone down. Some lines are advertising like never before, others have quietlyjust not raised pricing as they might have normally done at this time of the year, choosing instead to go for maximized occupancy. Best deals can be found in the Mediterranean where prices can be as low as $75 per person, per day. Short Caribbean and Bahamas sailings are also showing fall-like pricing for summer sailings. That never happens.
Cheap Not Good Enough? How About Free?
Ultra-luxe cruise line Crystal Cruises is allowing kids ages 17 and under to sail free when sharing a third berth stateroom with two adults. Families can choose from seven- to 15-day voyages in the Mediterranean, Western Europe, North Cape, Baltic, British Isles, Canary Islands and across the Atlantic from May-December aboard Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony. Book by June 28, 2013.
Take A Road Trip, You Will Not Be Alone
Compared to many summer travel options, a road trip is still a standout winner for budget-minded vacationers. A timely YP survey published in TravelPulse compared driving versus flying and found that Americans believe they have a greater flexibility in schedule (35 percent) and sight-seeing (33 percent) when driving vs. flying. They also liked having the ability to easily take more stuff with them (11 percent), avoiding crowds and security lines (9 percent), and the ability to more easily take pets (7 percent).
Perhaps something a bit more exotic? How about one of these James Bond-inspired destinations?