In 2025, Universal Orlando Resort will unveil its next gamechanger for theme park entertainment with the debut of its most ambitious theme park yet: Universal Epic Universe. Epic Universe will present a level of theme park immersion and innovation that is unmatched – transporting guests to expansive worlds featuring more than 50 awe-inspiring attraction, entertainment, dining and shopping experiences that come together to create an unforgettable adventure that is nothing short of epic. The addition of Universal Orlando’s fourth theme park will also transform the award-winning resort into a weeklong vacation destination filled with the most compelling experiences imaginable. Enter into an imaginative new world at Celestial Park Universal Orlando revealed more details about Celestial Park – the heart of Universal Epic Universe and the first world guests will encounter at the new theme park. With acres of rolling gardens, chasing waterways and strolling pathways, Celestial Park puts the “park” back in “theme park.” As soon as guests enter the imaginative world, they’ll embark on a journey of discovery, thrills and excitement as they wander through lush living gardens nestled along shimmering waters surrounded by stunning architecture inspired by astronomical and mythological elements. Here, guests can relax while taking in the sights and sounds around them, board a shooting comet for an exhilarating roller coaster adventure, dine on delectable cuisine, shop exclusive merchandise to commemorate their visit and more. Here are additional details about some of the other wonders guests can enjoy while exploring Celestial Park:Starfall Racers, a dual-launch racing coaster that sends guests rocketing through the skies aboard comets in a race to see who’s the fastest of them all. Reaching speeds up to 62 mph and heights up to 133 feet along 5,000 feet of track, Starfall Racers will be Epic Universe’s most thrilling coaster experience with unique maneuvers such as the “Celestial Spin,” in which the two coaster vehicles perform an inverted crisscross while speeding through the air – creating an “out-of-this-world” adrenaline rush.Constellation Carousel – the grand centerpiece of Celestial Park. Here, explorers of all ages will take a fantastical whirl aboard constellations that glide forward, backward – and even make 360-degree rotations – through the milky way in a choreographed dance of music and starlight.Astronomica, an interactive wet-play area that also doubles as a giant compass rose to the many wonders of Epic Universe, featuring crystal blue fountains that spring to life and dance around guests;An array of unique dining experiences ranging from full-service restaurants to quick-service locations that offer something for every palate, including Atlantic – a full-service “surf and turf” restaurant set inside a Victorian aquarium complete with captivating views of Celestial Park……and The Blue Dragon Pan-Asian Restaurant – where diners take a culinary journey across Asia as they enjoy authentic Chinese, Japanese and Thai fare in this full-service restaurant accented with neon dragons and ethereal lanterns. Additional “must-eat” locations within Celestial Park include The Oak & Star Tavern, where guests can enjoy savory barbecue, Pizza Moon, which will serve up a tasty menu featuring a variety of pizzas, and more.Incredibly detailed retail locations, including the Nintendo Super Star Store, where guests can shop an assortment of merchandise themed to SUPER NINTENDO WORLD; Moonship Chocolates & Celestial Sweets, where guests can satisfy their cravings with a unique selection of sweet treats, and more.Plenty of exciting entertainment, including various fountain shows throughout Celestial Park’s seven acres of water where a multitude of fountains sway, dance – and even reach heights up to 135 feet in the air – to music and interactive lighting from day to night.Travel through portals to other worldsMultiple new attractions at Universal Orlando are opening in 2025 - courtesy of Universal Orlando Resort Plus, Celestial Park will be the gateway to explore the four additional worlds of Epic Universe – each bringing to life extraordinary adventures that go beyond guests’ wildest imaginations. Through a set of majestic portals that capture the imagination and creativity of each world, guests will embark on a transformative experience as they journey from Celestial Park to:The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Ministry of Magic, where guests will discover a different era of the wizarding world in an all-new land that blends 1920s wizarding Paris from Warner Bros. Pictures’ Fantastic Beasts films with the iconic British Ministry of Magic from the Harry Potter series;SUPER NINTENDO WORLD, where guests will enter the iconic green pipe and discover a new way to play as they step into the worlds of beloved characters like Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach and Donkey Kong;How to Train Your Dragon – Isle of Berk, where guests can soar with dragons in a colorful world filled with Viking adventures based on the wildly popular How to Train Your Dragon film franchise;and Dark Universe, where guests encounter everything from the experiments of Dr. Victoria Frankenstein to the shadowy landscape where monsters roam in a world of myth and mystery. Stay at a new resort inspired by the heavensA brand new resort is coming in 2025 - courtesy of Universal Orlando Resort And located inside Epic Universe at the end of Celestial Park is Universal Helios Grand Hotel, designed to transport guests to a world where the heavens and earth unite – complete with 500 rooms, one-of-a-kind views and its very own dedicated entrance into the theme park. Plus – in addition to raising the bar for theme park innovation, Epic Universe is Universal Destinations & Experiences’ latest development to integrate energy efficiency and sustainable construction practices. More details about Universal Epic Universe – including the debut of an interactive preview center at Universal CityWalk later this year that will offer a sneak peek at the new theme park – will be revealed in the months ahead. For more information about Universal Orlando Resort, visit www.UniversalOrlando.com.
A Rare, Massive Lake Has Appeared in Death Valley—See It Before It Vanishes, Again
Who would guess? A large saltwater lake has appeared in Death Valley, one of the hottest, driest places in the Western Hemisphere. Named Lake Manly in honor of W. L. Manly, who led and heroically rescued the first party of white emigrants who entered Death Valley in 1849 it stretches across the floor of the valley. But it won’t be there long, and the last time it appeared was in 2005. A historical appearanceLake Manly - courtesy of Percepture Lake Manly is back after a rare significant rain fall in 2023. So, the time to see it is now, and most of the major roads into Death Valley are open (like California Route 190) with access to all the major park attractions like Zabriskie Point, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Ubehebe Crater, Artists Drive, Golden Canyon/Gower Gulch Trails, and Racetrack Road, just to name a few. Interestingly, the floor of Death Valley was part of a vast lake system during North America’s last major Ice Age. As the lakes vanished around 10,000 years ago, massive salt deposits were left behind creating the floor of the valley. There is also a vast aquifer system underneath Death Valley, a true American oasis.A timely getawayAn aerial view of the Inn at Death Valley - courtesy of Percepture Only two hours from Las Vegas and four hours from Los Angeles, Death Valley is an easy escape from the worried, rushing world. Ancient waters bubble up from the ground to support an entire ecosystem at the Oasis at Death Valley, a secluded resort off of CA 190 tucked into the 3.4-million-acre Death Valley National Park (the largest park in the Lower 48). This winter vacation destination offers spring-fed pools averaging a comfortable 87 degrees, the lowest USGA golf course on earth, cascading bougainvillea-adorned gardens, and a spring-watered date palm grove. Dating to 1927, the historic property encompasses two lodging options: The Inn at Death Valley and the family-friendly The Ranch at Death Valley, both part of a recent $250 million renaissance. For more information on booking a stay, visit oasisatdeathvalley.com.The sign at Death Valley National Park - courtesy of Percepture
With summer travel in full swing and families traveling to enjoy Broadway experiences this season, Hilton New York Times Square has unveiled an Aladdin's Times Square Palace suite complementing the hotel's close proximity to Disney's Aladdin the Musical on Broadway. Perfect for families enjoying a staycation or traveling in for their first Broadway adventure, the immersive suite draws inspiration from the timeless musical ballads and venturous storylines from the hit Broadway musical and has been masterfully transformed to welcome guests into “A Whole New World” within the tale's Arabian desert kingdom known as Agrabah. Located just feet away from the New Amsterdam Theatre, Hilton New York Times Square guests will feel seamlessly transported to Aladdin's city of mystery with only a one-minute walk between the production's intricate Cave of Wonders set and the elaborately designed Aladdin's Times Square Palace suite. Genie lamp decor - courtesy of Hilton New York Times Square “Our location in Times Square offers an exceptional homebase for travelers and families visiting New York City for Broadway, with the hit show Aladdin the Musical at the New Amsterdam Theatre just steps away from our doors,” said Thomas Caska, general manager, Hilton New York Times Square. “We're thrilled to partner with this incredible musical to transport our guests to the fictional world of Agrabah where guests can embrace the magic of the show, creating an exclusive, memorable stay at our property in the heart of the Big Apple.” Aladdin's Times Square Palace Suite View of the Aladdin palace suite - courtesy of Hilton New York Times Square Designed by Broadway's top dressing room designer for its most legendary stars, Devin Sparkles Design, the spacious one-king bedroom studio corner suite complete with a pullout couch allows for “High Adventure” in the magical world of Agrabah while taking in wall-to-wall views overlooking Manhattan. As guests step into their desert oasis, they'll encounter a selection of show prints adorning the wall along with costume and scenic design sketches. Agrabah-inspired furnishings include bedding, Moroccan wall sconces, a selection of magic carpet Moroccan rugs, Jasmine-inspired silks throughout, a magic genie lamp light, lago-inspired bird light, and bright curtains that truly transform the suite into Agrabah. The “Cave of Wonders”-style washroom features gold mirror and bath accents including vases and gems. The Aladdin's Times Square Palace suite experience includes two “Genie-tini” cocktails and two Magic Mocktails, a lively wake-up call from the Broadway musical's Genie himself, Michael James Scott, Aladdin coloring materials for kids, complimentary breakfast for up to four guests and complimentary parking. Guests that book the enchanted suite will also receive up to four complimentary Premium Orchestra tickets to see Broadway's Aladdin the Musical and show merchandise upon arrival to the theater. 'Aladdin the Musical' Hotel Experiences Try a Genie-ini at Pinnacle Bar & Lounge - courtesy of Hilton New York Times Square Available through October 31, 2023, guests can visit the hotel's website or call (212) 913-9488 to reserve the suite. Rates for the Aladdin's Times Square Palace suite and tickets start from $599 per night and must be booked 72 hours in advance. If the price of a night in Agrabah seems a little too much, there's good news: any Hilton New York Times Square guest can enjoy magical experiences including a genie lamp photo opportunity, “Genie-tini” cocktails and Magic Mocktails served at Pinnacle Bar & Lounge, a Genie wake-up call upon request, and Aladdin coloring activities. For more information about Hilton Hotels & Resorts, visit Stories.Hilton.com.
Universal Orlando Resort shares new details about all the ways guests can eat, laugh and make mischief with the Minions in the highly anticipated Minion Land on Illumination Ave. – an immersive new area created in partnership between Universal’s award-winning creative team and the acclaimed filmmakers from Illumination. Opening this summer at Universal Studios Florida, the new land expands upon the wildly popular Despicable Me Minion Mayhem attraction and will debut a new collection of experiences for guests of all ages inspired by the beloved Minions franchise. As soon as guests enter the land, they’ll be greeted by a fun, photo-worthy “Minion Land” marquee featuring 22 Minions before embarking on the mischief that awaits along Illumination Ave. From blasting their way to supervillain stardom in Illumination’s Villain-Con Minion Blast to savoring tasty dishes at the Minion Cafe to snacking on banana-flavored popcorn at Pop-a-Nana and meeting fan-favorite characters along the way, here are details about the exciting new experiences that await in Minion Land: Play in the Villain-Con Minion Blast Illumination's new Villain-Con Minion Blast attraction - courtesy of NBCUniversal Guests can put their villainous skills to the test in Illumination’s Villain-Con Minion Blast – an all-new attraction where guests compete against each other in a fully interactive gaming experience that’s so much fun, it’s a crime. Afterward, guests exit through Evil Stuff, an all-new retail location where they can stock up on Villain-Con and Minions merchandise. More details about Villain-Con Minion Blast will be revealed soon. Indulge in Minion-themed Treats Rendering of Bake My Day at Universal Orlando - courtesy of NBCUniversal It’s Minions in the kitchen, mischief in the dining room, and tons of tasty food at the new Illumination’s Minion Cafe – the marquee dining location within Minion Land. This immersive new eatery offers something for every palate in a highly-entertaining dining experience that features three themed areas designed after beloved Minions Kevin, Stuart, Bob and Otto:the Kitchen – where guests will get a glimpse of the equipment and gear the Minions have used to whip up the cafe’s menu; the Breakroom – where guests can dine in the Minions’ break space that includes everything from “Office Safety Tips” to a vending machine stocked with mischievous items; and the Dining Room – a vibrant space adorned with colorful artwork courtesy of the Minions and more. Guests can also enjoy their meal on an outdoor patio that overlooks the fun of Minion Land. Just as eye-catching as Minion Cafe’s incredibly-themed surroundings is its delicious menu – the latest example of how Universal Orlando’s award-winning culinary team continues to raise the bar when it comes to theme park dining. Guests of all ages can enjoy inventive, family-friendly fare featuring nearly 20 items inspired by memorable characters and staples from the Minions franchise, including eclectic “despica-bowls” such as Otto’s Noodle Bowl, Agnes’s Honeymoon Soup and Carl’s Crispy Cauliflower (vegan offering); delectable handhelds such as the Steak & “Cheese Ray” Sandwich; adorable desserts such as Bob’s Teddy Bear Chocolate Cream Puff; a kids’ menu for the “mini Minions” in the family that includes items like the Mini Boss’ Mega Melt; and so much more. The Minion Cafe will also feature an express window with a limited menu for those looking to satisfy their mischievous cravings quickly and return to the mayhem in Minion Land. Other Minion Land treats to come: Bake My Day: Topped with a massive pink cupcake that’s visible from anywhere in the land, Bake My Day is a whimsical retail location and bakery featuring a selection of Minion-themed sweet treats, including cupcakes, macarons, s’mores and more, along with exclusive Minion-inspired merchandise like apparel, plush, drinkware, accessories, keychains and more.Pop-A-Nana: Banana-flavored popcorn, anyone? This walkup location features sweet and savory popcorn inspired by the Minions’ love for bananas. Here, guests may also find an assortment of cute popcorn buckets, including the Minion Selfie bucket. Freeze Ray Pops: Guests can cool off with a visit to Freeze Ray Pops, featuring a variety of colorful popsicles inspired by Gru, the Minions and Vector – along with beverages. Interact with Characters Guests can meet, greet and interact with beloved characters like the Minions, Gru, Margo, Edith and Agnes, plus new additions from the hit film “Sing” – Rosita, Gunter and Johnny – at an outdoor Illumination Theater facade. Guests can also discover murals, photo ops and more throughout Minion Land that celebrate additional characters from popular Illumination films. Minion Land is yet another example of how Universal Destinations & Experiences is raising the bar on immersive storytelling for the entire family using beloved stories and franchises often seen in films. —For more information about Minion Land and Universal Orlando Resort overall, visit www.universalorlando.com.
The Future of Travel
Imagine this: After previewing where you want to travel to in the metaverse, you finally decide which subterranean hotel to book. The day of the trip you head to the airport in an electric shuttle and breeze through security thanks to a quick and simple biometric passport screening; you've packed your in-ear language-translation device but not much else, because most things you need can simply be 3d printed when you get to your destination. And you're not just going to a physical place, but back in time to experience a particularly fascinating moment in history. Sound too wild to be true? It seems like science fiction now, but a new ground-breaking report "The Future of Travel," commissioned by airline easyJet, claims this may just be what future decades of travel look like. Heading up the report, Professor Birgitte Andersen of Birkbeck College, says, “This next 50 years will bring the largest technological advances we have ever seen in travel and tourism. Aspects of how we holiday will be transformed beyond recognition; in the future holiday-makers will be queuing at the hotel buffet to have their breakfast omelettes and fry-ups 3D printed by machines, our heartbeat will become our passport, and in-ear devices will translate the local language in real time and enable us to speak the local lingo. Looking forward, by the year 2070 the destinations we fly to, the type of accommodation we stay in, and the experiences we have, will have changed immeasurably.” The report forecasts innovations in airport journeys, air travel, accommodation, and holiday experiences, with the help of data and contributions from Europe’s leading futurists and experts from the worlds of aerospace, innovation, and engineering. Below are some of the highlights from the report. Biometric Passports Artistic rendering of future seamless airport security - courtesy of easyjet.com The airport journey and air travel experience will be revolutionized by technological advances. Heartbeat and biometric passports will replace the traditional passport for passengers to breeze through their airport. Much like fingerprints and the retina, every person’s cardiac signature is unique. Passengers’ heartbeat signatures and biometric details will be logged on a global system in the same way finger-print scanning technology works today. "Try Before You Buy" Experiences Vacations, even the most budget-friendly, are a considerable investment compared to most other expenditures. What if you could take part in a "try before you buy" system before committing to a trip? Utilizing bionic and metaverse technology, people could now "sample" a vacation before making the full investment by experiencing holiday previews. This might allow for more efficient planning, in terms of specific hotel locations and desired experiences.In-flight UpgradesArtistic rendering of future airplane ergonomic seating - courtesy of easyjet.com Ergonomic and biomimetic sensory plane seats will become the norm, with smart materials adapting to passengers’ body shape, height, weight, and temperature, providing the ultimate tailored comfort flying experience. Inflight entertainment will be beamed directly in front of passenger’s eyes, via optoelectronic devices, replacing the need for onboard screens or downloading movies before you fly. Local Language Support Devices Several translation apps offer a similar service by scanning written signs or documents and converting to other languages, but nothing as yet exists to make real-time conversations easier for foreign travelers. The report predicts that soon local language in-ear devices will be available to take on vacation to translate the local language in real time and even enable visitors to speak the local lingo. More Sustainable Hotels Artistic rendering of 3d printed hotel food - courtesy of easyjet.com As technology advances, we will see significant advances in the accommodation experience abroad. 3D-printed hotel buffet food will allow tourists to print whatever they want to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner, while reducing food waste. Similarly, 3D-printed, recyclable holiday clothes on arrival at the hotel will remove the need for suitcases and fast holiday fashion as travelers can print the clothes required in their hotel rooms, tailored to their perfect fit and style, and recycle the materials for the next guest to enjoy. To save on energy, hotels will be able to harvest energy from its guests’ footsteps in order to generate power, essentially becoming "human-powered." Subterranean hotels will also be built into the fabric of the earth that are super energy efficient and at one with the environment. Personalized Hotel Rooms All hotel rooms will be smart rooms with beds already pre-made to exactly desired firmness, ambient temperatures and favorite music playing based upon preferences you select in advance of booking the holiday. A holographic personal holiday concierge will accompany vacationers to provide up to date destination information and assistance throughout their stay.Underwater Adventures The report also imagines new ways to see more of the world. Consider this the ultimate upgrade from your traditional cruise experience exploring the seas: the underwater "sea-fari." These would be aquatic adventures onboard submarines for tourists deep beneath the sea discovering marine life in underwater "marine parks." While much less exotic than the underwater marine park prediction, the report also sees beach vacations getting an upgrade and that e-foiling, cable skiing, and flyboarding will become the norm at oceanside destinations, truly taking water sports to another level. Time-Traveling Experiences One of the most intriguing ideas from the reports are "time-travelling" experiences. Tomorrow’s travelers will be able to vacation in the past by wearing haptic suits at historical sites that enable them to immerse themselves in live historical surroundings marveling wonders of the ancient world like the Colossus of Rhodes during a stroll in Rhodes Town, or cheering among the crowds of the original Olympic Games in Ancient Greece. The report also included a survey to gauge how interested prospective travelers would be about all the different potential technology and travel features. Time-traveling trips took the top spot when it came to most anticipated with 42% of those surveyed looking forward to those vacations. Most people were also excited for "try before you buy" metaverse previews (23%), language translation devices (24%), smart hotels (25%) and subterranean hotels (26%), "sea-faris" (32%), and biometric passports (38%). — Click here for the full report.
The First New Hotel Inside Grand Canyon National Park, in Over 50-Years, Opens to the Public Travelers headed to Grand Canyon now have a new option for in-park accommodations. After its $35 million reconstruction by Xanterra Travel Collection, Maswik South Lodge is the first new lodging inside the park in over 50-years and is just footsteps away from the Grand Canyon National Park’s South Rim. Booking is available now for stays. Constructed in 1971, the original 90 rooms have been replaced with 120 new lodging units across four new lodging structures in the same general location. The 4.5-acre property features two types of accommodations: 90 standard rooms and 30 kitchenettes. The rooms now include private balconies, and the buildings have elevators and interior hallway entrances. Maswik South is in close proximity to Maswik Lodge where guests can access the Maswik Food Court, Pizza Pub, Transportation & Activities Desk, and the Village Loop (Blue) park shuttle line. The new units are approximately a ten-minute walk from both South Rim itself and the Hermit’s Rest/Village Loop Shuttle Bus Transfer Station. Universal Orland Resort Unlocks Universal’s Great Movie Escape Universal Orlando Resort will soon debut Universal’s Great Movie Escape – featuring two next-level escape rooms that pack the innovative storytelling and theming the destination is known for into “can’t-miss” experiences inspired by blockbuster films Jurassic World and Back to the Future. Concepted and designed by the same creative masterminds responsible for the wildly immersive haunts of Halloween Horror Nights, Universal’s Great Movie Escape will bring two distinct and extraordinary escape adventures to the heart of Universal CityWalk. Through interactive state-of-the-art missions, captivating storytelling and intricately detailed sets, guests will be swept into the dinosaur adventures of Jurassic World or the time-traveling chaos of Back to the Future as they solve their way through a multi-sensory experience like no other. Universal’s Great Movie Escape will open later this year and tickets will go on sale in the months ahead. Find great deals on Universal tickets thru Budget Travel's deals. Natchez Trace Tiny House Village Opens in Hohenwald, Tennessee Courtesy of Natchez Trace Tiny House Village Natchez Trace Tiny House Village is the newest location from Petite Retreats, which has launched a series of unique accommodations across the country since 2016. The houses are part of Natchez Trace RV Campground, located about an hour southwest of Nashville in Hohenwald, TN, which offers plenty of family-friendly amenities and activities. Each of the six specially designed tiny houses at Natchez Trace measures 30 feet long, sleeps two to six guests and comes fully equipped with a kitchen, bathroom, satellite TV, and its own unique personality reflected in the carefully selected design and décor. The village is nestled among trees and has lakefront views. These tiny homes are full of character and personality, and are Green Certified by TRA Certification. Each home also includes sustainable items from IKEA, ensuring an eco-friendly vacation for all. CDC Lifts its Requirement for Travelers to Test Negative for COVID-19 Before Entering the U.S June 12, 2022, CDC will no longer require air passengers traveling from a foreign country to the United States to show a negative COVID-19 viral test or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before they board their flight. For more information, see Rescission: Requirement for Negative Pre-Departure COVID-19 Test Result or Documentation of Recovery from COVID-19 for all Airline or Other Aircraft Passengers Arriving into the United States from Any Foreign Country. Eureka, California is Celebrates One Year Anniversary of the Redwood Sky Walk at Sequoia Park Zoo Courtesy redwoodskywalk.com The city of Eureka, California is celebrating the first full year of operations for the Redwood Sky Walk at Sequoia Park Zoo this weekend and, there is much to celebrate. Over the last twelve months, the Redwood Sky Walk has garnered more than $4M worth of global media attention and helped steadily increase visitation to the community. Since the opening of the Redwood Sky Walk at Sequoia Park Zoo last year, guest counts have increased by 181 percent year-over-year and by more than 68 percent over two years ago. The Redwood Sky Walk sits inside the Sequoia Park Zoo, California’s oldest accredited community zoo, which is recognized for its quality by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and fully owned and operated by the city of Eureka. One ticket, which can be bought at the gate, provides global entry into both experiences. The Redwood Sky Walk is a one-of-a-kind affordable, family-friendly, and ADA accessible attraction that takes visitors more than 100ft up into the world’s tallest trees for an educational and engaging journey through the rich, hidden ecology of Northern California’s famed Coastal Redwoods.
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