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Possible New Venice Theme Park Raises Eyebrows

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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.

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"Generous Chocolate Upgrader" Rewards Fliers in Worst Seats with Candy

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Unhappy with your 43B seat assignment? Consider a stopover in Copenhagen or Stockholm, where Anthon Berg Generous Chocolate Upgrader kiosks dole out treats for passengers flying with the worst seats, as rated by website SeatGuru.com.

Travelers simply scan their boarding passes—with the help of an Anthon Berg “stewardesses”—and, voila, the stewardess will give them a "chocolate upgrade." Someone in a middle seat near the bathrooms at the rear of the plane, for example, will walk away with an eye mask, a neck pillow, and a large bar of chocolate. Anyone with an aisle seat towards the front, on the other hand, will receive only a small chocolate sample.

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Howling Good Travel-Inspired Dog Costumes for Halloween

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Halloween (or should we say, howl-o-ween) is tomorrow and we’re taking notice of the best travel costumes this side of the kennel. Jackson, above, will be donning his aviator gear in Healdsburg, CA, according to T+L Twitter follower @Green4Lori. This little guy proves that even if you can’t be a jet setter, you can most certainly dress like one.

Is your pet dressing up this weekend? Show us using the hashtag #TLDogs on Twitter and Instagram—we’ll repost the best! Click here for how we may feature your photos.

Photo courtesy of @Green4Lori

Virgin America's New Video Puts a Spin on In-Flight Safety

Virgin America's added a little twist to their in-flight safety video. Grooving nuns, rapping kids, and auto-tuning robots guide you through the airline's safety regulations. This won't be the last dance, either. Virgin America has already posted a casting call on Instagram for future video stars. And if you can't get down with the funk, Virgin America's offer—20% off flights for today only—is sure to make you jump. Simply use the promo code "GETDOWN" upon checkout.

Maria Pedone
Maria Pedone is on the digital team at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @mariapedestrian.

At Least It’s Not SpongeBob: Buddhist Fresco Restored in Cartoon-ish Style

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It’s sad when an ancient painting or fresco becomes almost unrecognizable due to vandalism or just time. But it may be even worse when it gets fixed so badly that it goes from “ruins” to “ruined.”

That seems to be the case with a nearly 300-year-old Buddhist fresco hanging in a temple in Chaoyang, in the northeastern Chinese province of Liaoning. The original paintings had been crumbling for years, and a recent “refurbishment” gave them a serious face lift, according to this article in the Daily Telegraph.

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Guess Where? Strange Sandwich

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Where in the world can you buy a spaghetti sandwich for the equivalent of $1? Leave your guesses on our Facebook page. Check back on Monday for the answer.

Lyndsey Matthews is an assistant digital editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter @matthewslyndsey

Photo by Lyndsey Matthews

Betty White Talks In-Flight Safety in Air New Zealand's Latest Video

Air New Zealand, known for their offbeat in-flight safety videos, has released a new four-minute reel, featuring actress Betty White. The latest video depicts the former star of The Golden Girls at the fictional Second Wind Retirement Resort, where she instructs a lot chess-playing residents to “listen up” as her “cousin’s grandson” (a.k.a. an Air New Zealand flight attendant) reminds seniors of the usual on-board precautions (fastening seatbelts; pulling down oxygen masks).

“We had a lot of fun on set and I think we’ve shown that it doesn’t matter what age you are, it’s important to live life to the full,” says White.

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Salem Witches Curse Shutdown

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While international tourists are shaking their collective fists at the closed gates of National Parks, another faction within the travel industry is grappling with the ugly effects of the government shutdown: witches, warlocks and their looky-loo friends in Salem, Mass.

After all, October is usually an extra-magical time of year for the hometown of the infamous 1692 witch trials. The month-long “Haunted Happenings,” which includes a psychic fair and witchcraft expo, conjures up about $30 million in revenue for the town, according to a recent AP article.

But here's the fly, or frog, in the ointment: Salem’s visitors center—the nerve center for the event—is run by the currently defunct National Park Service.

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Release the Kraken? Ginormous Squid Washes Up on Spanish Beach

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They are the stuff of Norse and Greek legends, but now Spain has its own claim on the mythology of sea monsters.

Last week, a giant squid washed up on La Arena beach in Cantabria, according to a report on the web site LiveScience. How giant, you ask? Try 30-feet-long giant.

Beachcombers were perhaps too taken aback to start making “Release the Kraken!” jokes right off the bat. Weighing in at about 400 pounds, the (expired) critter appears to be a specimen of Architeuthis dux, considered to be the largest invertebrate on Earth.  These squid also have the biggest eyes—sometimes as large as a human head. (Try not to think about that next time you wade into the ocean.)

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Not Just for St. Pauli Girls Anymore: Dirndls All the Rage at Oktoberfests

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If you’re going to an Oktoberfest this year, you might suddenly think the place is overrun with waitresses—those women wearing traditional dirndl outfits with a corset top, apron and peasant skirt. But this year, according to a recent report from Reuters, it’s the female customers who are donning the fashion, embracing that when-in-Bavaria spirit in increasing numbers.

The fashion trend is spreading outside the beer gardens, too. Flight attendants on some Lufthansa flights in recent weeks have been wearing dirndls, in honor of Oktoberfest season, and as perhaps the ultimate stamp of approval, Pippa Middleton was spotted wearing her own dirndl at a recent festival in Austria.

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