More and more people are traveling these days, and that means more people are visiting U.S. theme parks. It is anticipated that some 300 million people will travel to the many parks that are open this summer. Revenue for the parks this year should hit $13.4 billion according to market researcher IBISWorld.
Park admission fees are also climbing. Disneyland and Disneyworld fees today are $92 and $95 respectively. We should also tell you about some new theme park rides that may interest you and the family.
Six Flags Magic Mountain, Calif. has a new rollercoaster which goes up to 70 mph, has a 160-ft. loop that you’ll travel twice, first inside and then outside the loop, before capping it off with a backward launch. Six Flags is marketing it as Sensory Overload. Height requirement for each passenger is 54 inches. It opened June 22.
In Sandusky, Ohio a big new ride at Cedar Point is located right at the entrance gates. Among winged coasters — where riders are perched on either side of the track — this one boasts of being the tallest, fastest and longest, as well as claiming the tallest inversion (a 70-ft. loop) of any coaster in the world. Passengers must be at least 52 inches tall.
In Wisconsin Dells is the Mount Olympus, which offers a new barrel roll, making it the first all-wooden coaster that goes upside down (sick anyone?). It also features an 800-ft. tunnel with a 90-degree underground turn in total darkness. Height requirement here is 48 inches.
Six Flags Over Texas is flying noticeably higher this summer. At 400 feet high, the Texas Sky Screamer is now the tallest swing ride in the world and promises to send you flying in a 124-ft. wide circle at 35 mph.
Ride it at night and you’ll get city-lights views of both downtown Dallas and Fort Worth. Height requirement is 48 inches.
At Universal Studios Florida there is a new thrill for folks who like rides that only seem to leave the ground — this 3-D motion simulator ride offers faux smash-em-up fun as the Autobots battle the Decepticons, who are reportedly intent on taking over Orlando.
At Denver’s Elitch Park there is a kiddie ride called Blazin’ Buckaroo. This new 360-ft. steel coaster goes no faster than 15 mph, but promises a just-exciting enough first drop. Height requirement is 36 inches.
Many of us have dogs that are part of the family. You may feel tied down with them, but there are luxury hotels that invite them in with you. Pet amenities have become such an important part of the high-end hotel business that well-known companies vie to offer the best dog perks.
Lisa Porter, founder of the Web site Pet Hotels of America, has come up with a list of the top seven based on perks, pet-friendliness of the hotel staff and pet policies and fees.
In Aspen, Colo. there is the Little Nell five-star hotel. Your pooch receives a Puppy Jet Lag kit that includes a personalized ID tag, special bowls and logo-embroidered doggie bed. Dogs have their own pet menu with a selection of such delicacies as beef tenderloin, grilled organic chicken breast and grilled salmon. The hotel offers group or solo walks and dog-sitting services.
Hotel Palomar in San Diego is dog friendly. There are no pet fees or size restrictions at this luxury downtown hotel where pet-loving staff members have been known to allow visiting dogs or cats to sit with them at the reception desk while owners step out for short periods. Basic pet amenities include cozy beds, dining bowls and special treats of biscuits and cookies placed in cookie jars throughout the hotel.
Traveling to New York City? The Surrey Hotel offers pets visiting the Big Apple plush pet beds and food and water bowls. The hotel is only one block away from Central Park. The hotel has no breed or sex restrictions and charges only $25 per pet stay.
In San Francisco, the St. Regis boasts that it is the most pet-friendly in the City by the Bay. The hotel will deliver to your room a dog bed. There is a $150 non-refundable fee.
The Ritz-Carlton in Dallas welcomes pets with insignia pet beds and offers water and food bowls that Rover may take with him when he leaves. Other perks: a monogrammed belt-attachable waste bag holder, treats and portable water bottle to take on outings.
The luxurious and famous Kahala Hotel in Honolulu is pet-friendly and a haven for dogs. Pooches are greeted with cookies with their names on them and have been known to get a flower lei upon arrival. Each is given their own water bowl and mat. Visitors should keep in mind that Hawaii is a rabies-free state with stringent restrictions that require animals to be quarantined for a minimum of five days.
Back to New York City, the Four Seasons Hotel is pet-friendly. Big dogs receive large pillow beds while little pups get cushy semi-circular ones. A mat and two bowls are set up in the room for food and water. And — get this — a bottle of Evian water. Dogs also get a warm, in-room welcome with a biscuit made in the hotel bakery along with a welcome letter. Central Park is a five-minute walk away. There is no additional charge for dog stays.
Maybe a little whitewater rafting appeals to you. Our own Colorado River offers some of the best in the country. Genuine whitewater vacations take as much as two weeks to explore the rapids that you will find. A 7-day trip covers 187 miles of river. Guide services can be found on the Internet.
Oregon’s Rogue River is only a four-hour drive from Portland. The river is located in southern Oregon and is off-the-beaten track. For a weekend trip this summer with Rogue Wilderness Adventures, you’ll raft an 18-mile chunk of the predominantly Class Three Rogue, spending nights in a cabin at historic Morrison’s Lodge. Minimum age is 6.
Colorado and Utah’s Green River offers a roaring 84 miles through northwestern Colorado and northeastern Utah. The Class Three whitewater snakes through rarely seen Dinosaur National Monument where red walls rise sharply to some 2,500 feet. You will see many hard-to-find wildlife as you pass down the Green River. Adrift Adventures features a five-day run during August.
The Kanannaskis River in the Canadian Rockies is a favorite 2-hour, rip-roaring ride on the glacial-fed waters that will definitely cool you down when splashed. Afterwards, drive on the nearby Highwood Pass for views of the snow-capped Rockies.
Idaho’s Salmon River is one of America’s wildest and most scenic. The Salmon River deserves its reputation as one of the premier whitewater runs in the U.S. You may get a glimpse of bighorn sheep and elk on the shore and eagles flying overhead while catching fish. It’s a great outdoors location.
West Virginia’s New River is just five hours west of Washington, D.C. For many years shrieking families have traveled down the rapids. Tours are available in the region. You can find one on the Internet.
Several rivers in Nova Scotia, Massachusetts and Maine offer whitewater rafting if you happen to be in that area.
I first rafted down the Russian River in California as a young person with my father. We slept in sleeping bags along the bank and caught a lot of fish. I did get tired of eating beans every night!