That’s a picture of my boarding pass for a recent flight from Fort Lauderdale to New York. I printed it out in the lobby of my beachfront hotel just before racing to the airport. I felt great that I was cleared for expedited screening in the TSA PreCheck lane, but not so great when the TSA agent frowned and said, “This boarding pass is no good.”
Fifty years ago today the New York World’s Fair opened its doors to the public along with one of the featured attractions, Walt Disney’s “it’s a small world.” (Yes, those lower-case letters are there on purpose.) In the ride, water-borne passengers drift through an enchanted world of audio-animatronic dolls dressed in national costume, singing the eponymous song. And in 50 years people still can’t get that darn song out of their heads. But if you’re one of those goofballs who really, really loves that tune, you can record yourself singing along and have it broadcast on Disney’s site devoted to the anniversary.
Meantime, while you’re warming up your vocal cords and focusing your laptop cam, here are 10 facts that you probably didn’t know about the most famous travel-related ride in the world.
In an expensive city that all too often tears down its architectural heritage, it’s refreshing (astonishing, really) to find a massive discount at a historic hotel. But that’s exactly what you’ll discover at Midtown Manhattan’s Hotel Wolcott, which this month celebrates its 110th anniversary.
From March 1 to March 31, travelers can book a standard room for just $110 a night (a savings of more than 50 percent), including breakfast, for travel throughout 2014. Reservations must be made at the Wolcott’s anniversary web page. The landmark Beaux Arts-style hostelry, three blocks from the Empire State Building, has hosted such guests as Mark Twain, Edith Wharton, Henry Miller, and Buddy Holly.
Mark Orwoll is the International Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter at @orwoll and "like" him on Facebook.
Yes, the Super Bowl is being held at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, but make no mistake: the true epicenter of Super Bowl frenzy is really right across the Hudson River, in Manhattan. That’s where the city’s finest restaurants are serving prime rib to NFL legends, where the nation’s sports broadcasters are knocking back manhattans in the city’s swankiest bars, and where anyone who wants to live like a Super Bowl VIP leading up to the Broncos-Seahawks to-do has carte blanche to enjoy himself to the hilt. And probably nowhere else on the planet will you find elegant Game Day venues like you’ll find in New York City. So what are your plans for Sunday? Probably nothing like what you’ll find at these 10 only-in-New-York Super Bowl watching spots.
Some P.R. gigs are pretty cushy—like getting publicity for London. I mean, all you have to do is write a sentence using the words pub, West End, Tate Modern, mews, and—well, you had me at pub. But the boffins of ballyhoo at Visit London, the city’s official tourism website, and its parent, London & Partners, have done themselves proud with a series of video odes to the capital from some of London’s best-known celebs.
Chef Gordon Ramsay(above) waxes poetic about curry shops in Brick Lane and tells viewers the name of his favorite café for a “fry-up” (local slang for a full English breakfast). Actress, model, and Sixties icon Twiggy(below) goes gaga over London’s shopping scene. Mayor Boris Johnson recounts cycling to the London Borough of Hackney to enjoy bangers and mash at a local pub. Actress Joanna Lumley (Absolutely Fabulous, The Wolf of Wall Street) rhapsodizes over the duck ponds, statues, and tree-lined paths of Holland Park, “one of the best-kept secrets in London.” More videos from other Londoners can be found at visitlondon.com/story.
New York’s new mayor, Bill de Blasio, often bemoans a “tale of two cities”—one rich, one poor. But lately he has been lamenting a different kind of tail—the ones on the horses that for decades have pulled the iconic tourist carriages through Central Park. De Blasio plans to ban the horse-drawn hansoms because, like many New Yorkers, he thinks the horses are undernourished, mistreated, and overworked, not unlike your typical Manhattan freelance fact-checker. And so, to keep the tourists coming back to the Big Apple, here are my alternatives to the Central Park horse-drawn carriages.
An Italian developer last week unveiled a plan to create a 10-acre amusement park in the heart of Venice, complete with gigantic Ferris wheel, roller coaster, bobbing boat rides, a log flume, a swinging galleon, and what look suspiciously like Polynesian thatched huts selling trinkets. The proposal is by no means assured, and must still be approved by local authorities. But nonetheless it answers the age-old question: No, nothing is sacred anymore.
The developer, Antonio Zamperla, has chosen as its site the ill-used San Biagio Island, a man-made spit of landfill that has long been exploited as a garbage dump. The builder said it will first clear the land and remediate the ecological damage before constructing the park. Among the attractions: re-enactments of the naval Battle of Lepanto, between the Turks and Venetians, in an artificial pond; Carnival-themed performances on an outdoor stage; interactive exhibits of the lagoon ecosystem; augmented-reality installations based on the city’s history; and a spinning, stand-up, half-pipe ride called a Disk’O, which is best enjoyed before you eat lunch.
Waiting in line—perhaps the most dreaded aspect—of the air travel experience—is improving by leaps and bounds this year at U.S. airports. For one, the TSA PreCheck expedited screening program, which is now available for international flights, is growing rapidly: the TSA has installed PreCheck lanes in 40 airports, with planned expansions into 60 more domestic airports by the end of 2013. Meanwhile, in-airport PreCheck enrollment centers will also soon start rolling out—opening up the program to all U.S. travelers willing to pay the $85 fee—no passport or frequent-flier membership required. The first will be in Indianapolis and Washington Dulles this fall, followed by some 300 locations across the country.
What do you do if you're a hotel chain that wants to grab the interest of potential Gen X and Y guests? It's obvious, isn't it? You entice young women into a hotel room where a pajama-clad CeeLo Green, the singer-songwriter behind the danceable hit, "F*** You," lies in wait, smiling seductively. And that, in fact, was the kick-off P.R. stunt for one seriously odd (and oddly cool) promotional campaign: Discovery Doors, which launches today. It's primarily an online video game on the Reniassance Hotel's website where gamers can win everything from membership in a Coffee-of-the-Month club to a trip for two around the world—500 prizes in all. Here's how it works…
Everyone's heard of the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, (see video) a tradition made famous by Ernest Hemingway in his 1926 novel, The Sun Also Rises. I've run with the bulls too—not in Pamplona, but in Tecate, Mexico, in 1980, in a makeshift recreation of the Pamplona encierro. What a disaster. The bulls were small yearlings, far too young for such an event. It looked to me as if the tips of their horns had been purposely blunted. The runners were mainly drunk and rowdy college kids who yanked the animals' tails, knocked their legs out from under them, and piled on top of them as if it were a rugby scrum. And now, a group calling itself the Great Bull Run is bringing this extreme activity to a city near you. But hold the olés just yet.