Tuesday, December 18, 2012

WellsWorld on the radio: Travel goodies for Christmasts

Disneyworld's present: New Fantasyland

Cinderella's Castle is joined by the Beast's. Photos © by Judy Wells.

 Belle tells her story with visitors' help, the Beast stalks through his castle while diners enjoy French cuisine, Ariel takes humans on a trip under the sea and two identical Dumbos fly over a new recreation of a 1930s circus.

At Epcot, guests design their dream drives then take them for a spin on the Chevrolet Test Track.  Meanwhile, at Downtown Disney, Splittsville provides bowling, booze, sushi and more to keglers. 

Merry Christmas, Disney devotees. New worlds to visit.

Pros offer bargains

Bid for seven-nights at Morgan Bay Beach Resort, St. Lucia.

What: The Society of American Travel Writers' annual on-line auction is open to all with bargains to be had in travel packages, photography and travel writing courses.
Fairmont St. Andrews

Windjammer Cruise

For instance, a six-day Windjammer Cruise or a four-night luxury Nile cruise, stays in Abu Dhabi or St. Andrews, family packages in the Smokies or Legoland, hip and historic hotels.
Hotel Matilda, San Miguel Allende, Mexico
When: Now through 11:45 p.m. (EST) Dec. 30, 2012.

How: http://auctions.readysetauction.com/societyofamericantra/

Happy bidding.

Dine IN Gingerbread

Great Wolf Lodge, Pocono Mountains.
What: Have breakfast, lunch or dinner in a Life-Sized Gingerbread House.

Where: Snowland in all 11 locations of Great Wolf Lodge, the largest family of indoor waterpark resorts. This includes resorts in North Carolina, Washington State, Virginia, Texas, Ohio and the Pocono Mountains, PA.

When: Now through Dec. 25, 2012

How:  Book a stay and pay a $20 seating fee which goes to Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Bet you won't be able to pass up dessert.

Ultimate Outdoor Experience: Camping overnight in Antarctica

Camp on the White Continent  in 2013.
What: Sign up for camping overnight when booking any of five different 2013 cruises to Antarctica aboard Hurtigruten's MS Fram -

• 10-day "Classic Expedition" focuses solely on Antarctica, sailing through the Drake Passage to landings that immerse guests in the remote landscape and exotic wildlife of The White Continent.

• 13-day "Polar Circle Expedition," similar to the 10-day experience, spends its extra days traveling as far south as the Antarctic Circle.

• 13-day "Weddell Sea Expedition" follows the path forged by British Captain James Weddell, who reached 74ยบ latitude in 1823 - a first for explorations;

• 17-day "Christmas Expedition" celebrates the season with traditional carols, festive meals, Santa Claus visits and a New Year's gala and includes the Falklands and South Georgia;

• 19-day "In the Realm of the Great Explorers" explores the areas visited by Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton, and takes in the sub-Arctic eco-system of the Falkland Islands, and South Georgia.

Details: Each camping night is limited to 15 in two-person tents. Campers are accompanied by expedition guides and will be supplied with cold-weather gear, but all is weather permitting.  Should more than 15 sign up, a lottery will be held determine who participates. A second camping experience can be scheduled if weather and land conditions permit.
Your neighbors.

Cost: The night of camping is $500 per person; cruises start from $5,327 to $10,321.


You've got to admit this is the gift for anyone who has everything. Talk about bragging rights.

Tickets to Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance

Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance. Photo © by Judy Wells.

What: One of the nation's top gathering of automotive collectibles from classic town cars to world-famous racers.

When: March 8-10, 2013; Concours display March 10.

How: Buy tickets now and save. Advance adult tickets are $55, at the gate $70. You the ages 12-18 $30 in advance, $35 at the gate.

Buy: www.amelia concours.org.

Reduced winter rates for Grand Canyon and Zion Lodge

Grand Canyon in winter.

What: Grand Canyon -  $85 a night at Maswik Lodge South, $115 per night at Maswik Lodge North. Now through March 7, 2013, excluding Dec. 21-31, 2012.
           El Tovar Romance package - $380 plus tax for one night, a bottle of California sparkling wine, and dinner for two with a bottle of Grand Canyon label wine. Available now through Feb. 14, 2013, excluding Dec. 22 through Jan. 1, 2013. Use promo code "romance".

Zion with a smattering of snow.
What: Winter Magic in Zion at Zion Lodge - $89 standard room, $109 Western cabin, $119 for a suite, with breakfast for two, Sunday-Thursday. Available through March 15, 2013.


Special holiday rate at JIA

What: Economy Lot 3 at Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) opens from Dec. 21 through Jan. 5 - or until the lot fills - for a flat fee of $20.

Details: It's first come, first served with the fee payable by cash or credit card upon entry. Travelers are advised to arrive at least two hours before their flight in case the lot is full and they have to find alternative parking. Options include Economy Lots 1 and 2, $5 a day; daily surface lot, $8 a day; Daily Garage, $14 a day, and Hourly Garage, $18 a day.  

Picking someone up? Wait in the free courtesy lot next to the JAA administration building and have your traveler call after picking up their luggage.

Give or get an Oxford education

The Quad, Christ Church, Oxford.

What: Learn something new in one of the world's most prestigious centers of learning. Study a variety of topics from the operas of Verdi to quantum mechanics or mythical animals during a one-week residence and savor the Oxford experience.

Where: Christ Church, Oxford University, England.

Cost: Tuition, accommodations and all meals are included for approximately $1,885 (US). Private bathroom will add to cost.

When: One-week periods from June 30 to August 10. Registration deadline is May 1, but the most popular courses fill early.


Splurgiferous Family Christmas 

Shangri-La Hotel, Paris
If money is no object, spend it before we go over the Fiscal Cliff and taxes go up.

 What: Head to Shangri-La Hotel, Paris for the Noel en Famile package, a two- night minimum stay in an Eiffel Premier Suite for parents and a connecting room for the children including a Christmas tree to decorate, breakfasts and tea, a two-hour tour of Paris in a horse-drawn carriage and VIP treatment at Studio Harcourt where movie stars go for portraits. Champagne for adults, fruit juice for children, professional makeup sessions and a two-hour photo session for four or six people. A framed portrait, a low-res digital copy plus a book and 50 greeting cards. You could also set the session in your suites around the Christmas tree.

Price: Approximately $11,674 (US) per night, but that includes value-added tax, visitor taxes and service.

Book: www.shangri-la.com/paris/

Friday, December 7, 2012

Catch a launch at Kennedy Space Center

What: Experience the excitement of a space launch from Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex as an Atlas V rocket launches a space plane prototype. United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket will carry X-37B, a prototype of an unmanned space plane or an orbital test vehicle (OTV), in its secret cargo.

The X-37B space plane, developed by The Boeing Company, is the newest and most advanced re-entry spacecraft. This prototype measures at 29 feet in length and can return to Earth and land like an airplane. The mission, named OTV-3, is the second flight of this re-usable spacecraft. The first flight successfully landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base on Dec. 3, 2012, after 224 days in orbit.

When: Launch window scheduled Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012, between 1:03 and 6:03 p.m. EDT from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex’s operating hours may be extended based on the actual launch time.

Where: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Cape Canaveral, FL.

How Much: Launch viewing is included with admission. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex admission is $50+ tax for adults and $40 + tax for children ages 3-11.

 Admission also includes the Kennedy Space Center Tour, Shuttle Launch Experience, 3D IMAX® space films, Astronaut Encounter, Exploration Space: Explorers Wanted and all exhibits, the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame®, featuring historic spacecraft and the world's largest collection of personal astronaut memorabilia, open from noon until 5:00 p.m. daily.

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Commander's Club Annual Pass is $63 + tax for adults and $53 + tax for children ages 3-11.

Details: 877-313-2610 or www.kennedyspacecenter.com .

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Win a FLASH: Win Caribbean Cruise for 2 at Carnival's Breeze-A-Thon

What: Carnival Cruise Lines on-line sweepstakes in honor of the new Carnival Breeze's official naming ceremony. Top prize, the Caribbean cruise aboard the Breeze, the largest ship home-ported in south Florida. Others include Samsung 40-inch 3D hi-def TV, pre-loaded iPod touch and Bluetooth speakers, Kindle Fire HD and wine glass collection.

When: Now through Dec. 6.

How: www.facebook.com/carnival