California’s Great America opens its 2017 season on March 25 and will introduce an array of new attractions, entertainment and dining experiences. Patriot, the first floorless coaster in the park’s history, will make its official park debut on Saturday, April 1.
Patriot will take riders to a nine-story height before plummeting them into a 360-degree loop and a series of hairpin turns. The floorless ride will include state-of-the-art blue and white floorless trains positioning guests with their feet dangling inches above the track…
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With winter having kept most of us cooped up indoors, the idea of getting away to somewhere warm and sunny is coming more into focus for many.
Luckily, the current downtime does provide families an opportunity to start planning their upcoming vacations – trips to more-hospitable locales offering plenty of energizing fun and a much-needed change in the weather.
“Planning your vacation now is a great way to find budget-friendly deals. It also helps you beat the winter blues by giving you something to look forward to,” said Eric Garvey, Director of Florida’s Space Coast Office of Tourism. “For families, couples and adventurers who love to have fun outdoors – from sports and recreation to exploring nature – the Space Coast is an out-of-this-world destination.”…
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From the wonder of nature and blood-pumping excitement of thrill rides to the anticipation of new craft brews and joy of 50-year-old music and memories, there is no better place than Ohio to connect with the people who mean the most to you in 2017.
For more travel ideas and inspiration, visit Ohio.org. Download the free “Official Ohio Travel Guide by TourismOhio” app for easy access to everything you need to explore Ohio…
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Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom opens May 27 at the Walt Disney World Resort. The all-new land will immerse guests in a mystical world of massive floating mountains, bioluminescent rainforests and breathtaking new experiences.
The largest addition in the history of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Pandora carries on the park’s tradition of celebrating the intrinsic value of nature, transformation through adventure and a personal call to action.
Based on Oscar-winning filmmaker James Cameron’s record-breaking box-office hit, AVATAR, the new land welcomes guests to the lush world of Pandora long after the human conflict with the native Na’vi inhabitants has ended. The dramatic daytime beauty of the land transforms to glow by night when bioluminescent flora and intricate nighttime experiences add a dreamlike quality to Pandora.
Pandora – The World of Avatar is a creative collaboration of Walt Disney Imagineering, Cameron and Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment.
“We are taking our guests on a journey to this world in an experience that’s as realistic and immersive as possible,” says Joe Rohde, Walt Disney Imagineering portfolio creative executive. “In the movie, the world of Pandora is a setting for the action and characters whose story we follow. Here, guests are the primary characters immersed in an extremely vivid, authentic experience.”
Guests to Disney’s Animal Kingdom cross the park’s Discovery River into Pandora – The World of Avatar and continue along a winding rainforest path for their first glimpse of the land’s iconic floating mountains.
“When guests come across the bridge, they are transferred light-years away, to the Alpha-Centauri solar system and Pandora,” says Jon Landau, AVATAR producer, Lightstorm Entertainment. “It’s an otherworldly, fully-themed experience.”
As guests explore the verdant terrain sprawling beneath mountains that appear to float in the sky, they see waterfalls cascading down the mountainside into meandering streams and pools, and they discover two thrilling new expeditions: Avatar Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey.
Avatar Flight of Passage launches each guest on an exhilarating, wind-in-your-face experience on a winged mountain banshee over the awe-inspiring world of Pandora. Guests will actually feel the banshee breathe beneath them as they soar through the forest and past floating mountains. What was a rite of passage for Na’vi in Cameron’s film becomes a multisensory experience for guests seeking the ultimate adventure – a faceoff with the most feared predator of Pandora, the Great Leonopteryx.
On the family-friendly Na’vi River Journey, guests travel down a sacred river deep into a bioluminescent rainforest. The eight-seat reed boats float past exotic glowing plants and Pandoran creatures into the midst of a musical Na’vi ceremony. The mystical journey culminates in an encounter with a breathtakingly realistic Na’vi Shaman of Songs who is deeply connected with Pandora’s life force and sends positive energy through her music into the forest.
“The Pandora landscape will be alive with creatures,” Rohde says. “We’re bringing to life everything from the largest creature you might encounter to the most microscopic. Animals will appear out of the underbrush – big Pandoran animals will appear at the edge of the forest and you’ll hear the very complicated calls they issue back and forth.”
The thriving Pandoran landscape conveys intrinsic park messages of the value of nature, transformation through adventure and conservation and stewardship.
The artful storytelling in Pandora continues as guests stop for sustenance at the land’s Satu’li Canteen (pronounced “Sa-too-lee”), a Quonset-hut-style building. The fast-casual restaurant is inspired the healthful bounty of Pandora – wholesome grains, fresh vegetables, and hearty proteins. Guests can grab a drink at nearby Pongu Pongu.
Windtraders is a shopper’s delight where guests can choose from Na’vi cultural items, toys, science kits and more.
Authenticity and realism were drivers in the creation of Pandora, and the result is a world beyond belief.
“The attractions have very deliberate emotional moments crafted into them, the way a good story does, the way a good film does.” Rohde says. “It’s not as simple as just coming to a place that looks realistic. It’s a place that’s been deliberately imbued with the emotions of awe, of wonder, of respect, of harmony.”
Biltmore’s gardeners are preparing for an early flowering season in Asheville for Biltmore Blooms, the estate’s annual spring celebration. Biltmore Blooms begins March 20 and runs through May 25, 2017. Expect the showstopper of more than 50,000 tulips to kick off this year’s celebration, blooming in mid to late March.
A progression of flowers takes center stage with lavish displays inside Biltmore House and thousands of spring bulbs blooming in gardens designed at the turn of the century by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. Crocus, forsythia and daffodils are among the first flowers. After March’s grand tulip show, April and May promise irises, roses, acres of azaleas, and mountain laurels and rhododendrons close behind.
For trip planning, stay up to date with what’s currently flowering with weekly reports from the estate’s Director of Horticulture at Biltmore.com/bloomreport.
This spring visitors have an additional reason to visit Biltmore House: a special exhibition, “Designed for Drama: Fashion from the Classics.” Inspired by George Vanderbilt’s love of literature, “Designed for Drama” showcases more than 40 award-winning movie costumes from films based on favorite books in his collection. The exhibition runs through July 4, 2017.
- Annual Easter Egg Hunt: April 16
Easter Rabbit makes an appearance on Biltmore’s front lawn Easter Sunday. Easter egg hunts are at 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m.
- Gardening tips
Weekend ‘Ask a Gardener’ stations in the Walled Garden from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. give an opportunity to talk with Biltmore’s horticulture experts. Daily free demonstrations on creating spring arrangements are offered at A Gardener’s Place at the Conservatory: “Orchids for Everyone” and “Creating a Butterfly Garden.”
- Live music
- Wine tastings
- Spring break adventures
The Outdoor Adventure Center offers a great way to see Biltmore’s 8,000 acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Register for sport clay shooting, Segway tours, horseback riding, carriage rides, fly-fishing, hiking and biking, float trips along the French Broad River and the Land Rover Driving Experience.
- Farmyard fun
The farmyard comes alive with baby goats, lambs and chicks.
Spring dining experiences
- Spring Wine release: March 24
The release and tasting of the 2017 Spring Wine is Friday, March 24. The rosé features fruit-forward notes of persimmon and blood orange.
- “Designed for Drama: Fashion from the Classics” tea series
The Inn on Biltmore Estate is the location to celebrate Biltmore’s “Designed for Drama: Fashion from the Classics” exhibition with a tea series. Enjoy themed menus, lively entertainment, and imaginative décor that bring the literary classics to life.
March 26: “Beauty and the Beast”
April 15: “Far from the Maddening Crowd”
May 13: The Works of William Shakespeare, “Twelfth Night”
- Easter Sunday Brunch: April 16 and Mother’s Day Brunch: May 14
Easter Sunday and Mother’s Day brunches are served at three estate restaurants: The Dining Room at The Inn on Biltmore Estate, Deerpark and Bistro.
Purchase tickets in advance at Biltmore.com, or by calling 800-411-3812.