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Trip Doctor: Disney Introduces MyMagic+ RFID Bracelets

Disney's Magic Kingdom

As a native Floridian who spent half her childhood at Walt Disney World, I reacted to the recent announcement of MyMagic+, an RFID-enabled system that lets visitors interact with (and pay for) nearly anything in the Disney village, with a sense of cautious excitement—thrilled by all the possibilities this offers travelers, though wary of the privacy concerns that come with it.

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Trip Doctor: Cruise Safety Update

cruise safety

Silversea's luxury expedition ship, Silver Explorer, was damaged by heavy weather during a recent Antarctic cruise, causing the ship to return early to port in Ushuaia, Argentina, and cancel its Jan. 21 sailing, the company said this week. No injuries were reported among the 133 passengers, according to Silversea; four of the 113 crew members were treated for onboard for injuries.

Though all passengers appear to be safe, the incident—along with the Jan. 13 anniversary of the Costa Concordia shipwreck off the coast of Italy—brings cruise safety top of mind.

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The Goring Hotel Receives Royal Warrant

Goring Hotel

During the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Queen Elizabeth II broke with hundreds of years of protocol and agreed to rent out the lavish rooms—or so-called “state apartments”—inside St. James’s Palace to various companies during the Games. Only holders of the Royal Warrant—companies with long-standing ties to the royal family—were able to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime offer.

Holding a Royal Warrant signifies that Her Majesty prefers that company—or brand—over others. And the list grows.

Just this week, for the first time in history, The Queen granted a Royal Warrant to a hotel. The Goring, the 103-year-old Edwardian property near Buckingham Palace in London's Belgravia neighborhood where Kate Middleton slept the night before her wedding, was honored. “To be able to display Her Majesty’s coat of arms is something that the staff will be enormously proud of. Without doubt this is the most important recognition,” claims Jeremy Goring, great-grandson of the hotel’s founder.

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Trip Doctor: American Airlines' New Look

American Airlines

It’s time to say goodbye. After forty years in action, American Airlines’ silver striped planes—the last vestige of sky-high nostalgia—are getting a makeover. Replacing the traditional design we all know and love is a bold, patriotic color scheme, with a flag-like pattern extending from the tail onto the rear fuselage—an updated spin for a brand that nearly collapsed just last year, and is still in the throes of a merger with US Airways. The first new AA plane debuted yesterday at Dallas-Fort Worth, with the full fleet taking five years to convert (a third should be newly painted by the year’s end). But frankly, we’d rather see the cabins get a refresh though—wouldn’t you?

Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her at on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

Photo courtesy of American Airlines

Trip Doctor: Dreamliner Update

787

The news over the last few days about Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner has been unnerving—to say the least.

Last night, the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority grounded the aircraft pending a comprehensive review of the fire risk posed by the plane's lithium-ion battery. This comes a day after a Dreamliner in Japan's All Nippon Airways fleet was formed to make an emergency landing because of a defective battery—and a week after the battery was faulted with starting a fire aboard a parked Japan Airways 787 at Boston's Logan airport. Both of Japan's airlines grounded their fleets after the emergency landing. With the FAA directive, other international carriers with 787s followed suit. Among them: Air India, Chile's LAN Airlines, LOT (Poland), Qatar Airways, and United Airlines here in the States.

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Trip Doctor: Avis + Zipcar- What It Means for Travelers

Zipcar

You've come a long way, Zipcar.

The recent announcement that the Avis Budget Group is aiming to acquire the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company for nearly $500 million marked the pioneering car-sharing service's evolution from an upstart launched at the turn of the Millennium to a lucrative brand with serious international potential. Though Zipcar members (a.k.a. Zipsters) may squirm at the idea of a traditional (read: staid) car-rental agency holding sway over their quirky, beloved service, the deal could have great advantages for everyone.

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New Titanic-Themed Floating Hotel in Liverpool Stirs up Controversy

Titanic Liverpool hotel

A new floating hotel in Liverpool, England, is already churning the waters of controversy even before it opens. The Titanic Liverpool boutique hotel, set to open this week, is designed to resemble the sinking stern section of the fated ship—complete with two mock smokestacks and a paint job that creates the illusion of a heavy slant.

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CES Download: Best New Travel Gadgets for 2013

Best New Travel Gadgets for 2013: Sony Xperia Z

Over 3,000 exhibitors and 1.85 million square feet of eye-popping innovations later, annual gadget industry gala the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has finally wrapped in Las Vegas, leaving frequent travelers surprised in more ways than one.

An evolutionary, not revolutionary, year for technology, key revelations nonetheless spanned the entire spectrum, including the weird (hooray, Internet-enabled forks), wild (see: self-driving cars), and wacky (enter the robotic spider walkers). Happily, a few—i.e. smartphones and tablets with PC-grade power, Android-powered cameras, and remote home security system—may even make sense to the lay viewer. Big trends in 2013: Smart—a.k.a. online-enabled—everything, mass interconnectivity between gizmos, and growing set-top performance from pocket-sized devices, courtesy of performance-obsessed chipmakers like AMD and Qualcomm.

Related: Best Travel Gadgets

Too busy sprinting between connections to enjoy scene-stealers including 110-inch 4K or OLED (read: ultra-crisp, high-def) televisions and table-sized touchscreens, however? No sweat. Try one of these pocket rockets—among the year's top travel gadgets, and each destined to find a welcome home inside any purse or carry-on—instead. So what if they lack the sheer stopping power of living picture windows the size of billboards? All are infinitely easier to cram in an overhead bin, and infinitely more practical in-flight companion.

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The Alpina: New Luxury Ski Resort Opens in Gstaad, Switzerland

Alpina Gstaad

The jet-setting ski-crowd has been flocking to Gstaad, Switzerland for decades, but it’s been a century since a proper grand hotel entered the scene. (The early 20th century saw the openings of the Grand Hotel Park in 1910, the Grand Hotel Bellevue in 1912, and the Gstaad Palace in 1913.) Enter the brand new luxury resort, Alpina Gstaad, which opened its doors last month.

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For Butter or Worse: Trans Fats Totally Banned in MA Town

food

So—you've resolved to eat healthier in 2013? We salute you. But if you're worried that the only way to stick to your new strict diet is stop traveling—too many temptations out there!— here's some good news: Your diet is safe in Chelsea, Mass.

That's because, as of New Year's Day, the Boston suburb instituted a tough ban on trans fats in restaurants. That means a serious dearth of French fries, gravy, pies, cookies or anything really good to spread on your morning toast. It's reportedly a tougher ban than either Boston or NYC's similar laws, which allow trace amounts of trans fats—and it makes the Big Apple's impending ban on jumbo sodas seem downright restrained.

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