When Yellowstone National Park opens for the summer season May 7, it will do so sporting a $3-million refurbishment of one of its icons: the national historic landmark Old Faithful Inn. Renovations were made over the winter to the east wing of the 1904 inn near Old Faithful geyser, which was added to the original structure in 1913-14. The refurbishing includes the addition of private baths to the 83 east-wing rooms that previously had shared bath facilities, and improvement of the electrical, plumbing, heating and fire protection systems. Redecoration, based on early photographs of the east wing, has returned it to the style of the early 1900s, with bent wicker chairs with print cushions and Mission-style maple beds and armoires furnishing the rooms, each different. Three of the rooms were designed to offer easy access to guests with physical disabilities. Rates will be about $90 per night per room, but May 7-16, as an early season promotion, rooms without baths in the "Old House," or original part of the hotel, will be only $19.93 per night, half of their usual rate of about $40. For more information: (307) 344-7901.
Travel Quiz: What are Europe's two smallest independent states?
Ocean Princess Will Retire: The Ocean Princess--which struck an unmarked, submerged vessel near Belem, Brazil, last month and had to evacuate its unharmed passengers--has sustained too much damage to be repaired and will not be returned to the water, according to a spokeswoman for Ocean Cruise Lines. Instead, the company will try to purchase another ship that will take over the Ocean Princess' venue. Passengers booked on scheduled 1993-94 Ocean Princess Europe and Antarctica sailings will receive full refunds and half-price vouchers for selected sailings, according to a spokeswoman. For more information: (800) 556-8850.
Three Dollars More, Please: Passengers flying out of LAX or Ontario airports will soon pay $3 more for the privilege. The Department of Transportation has approved plans by the Los Angeles Department of Airports to impose a $3 passenger facility charge at both airports, effective on or after July 1. The good news for travelers, however, is that $150 million of the money to be collected is earmarked for an LAX people mover that will link the terminal area with parking and light rail facilities. And an additional $100 million will go for a new terminal building at Ontario Airport.
Beach-Friendly Wheelchair: The Pismo Beach Chamber of Commerce has purchased, and is making available to the public at no charge, a beach-friendly wheelchair with huge tires like a dune buggy and an attached beach umbrella large enough to cover the passenger and the pusher. Reservations are recommended for the chair, which can be reserved in one-hour increments, by calling: (800) 443-7778.
We've Got Spoleto's Number: A new toll-free number--the first ever--is now in operation for making reservations for the May-June Spoleto Festival U.S.A., the internationally acclaimed arts festival held annually in Charleston, S.C., an offshoot of Italy's Spoleto arts festival. The number: (800) 255-4659. This year's festival will include the world premiere of the Gian Carlo Menotti opera, "The Singing Child," the U.S. premiere of Alexander von Zemlinsky's one-act opera, "The Birthday of the Infanta," performances by the Martha Graham Dance Company and never-before-seen drawings by Austrian painter Gustav Klimt.
Airing Eco Videos: In an effort to promote awareness of environmental concerns, Air New Zealand is showing passengers a series of 12-minute, in-flight public service videos produced by the American Oceans Campaign organization. The video advocates protections for whales, dolphins, sea turtles, the Great Barrier Reef and New Zealand's mangrove ecosystem, and touts remedies to counteract global warming. For passengers who are inspired, the airline is also collecting donations for the organization.
Quick Fact: Top in-fight movies of 1992: "Father of the Bride," "Housesitter," "Beethoven," "Sister Act," "Other People's Money" and "Fried Green Tomatoes." (Source: World Airline Entertainment Assn.)
Good Sportsmanship: Australia is promoting itself as a destination for sports lovers this year with a string of events that include nine world championships and more than 30 international events as diverse as golf, cricket, horse racing and boating. World championship events include the Australian Open Golf Championship (November), the Melbourne Cup for horse racing (November), the World Match Racing Championship of Yachting (November) and the Johnnie Walker Golf Classic (December). Amateur international events will include the Queen Sirikit Cup, a ladies amateur golf championship (May), and the Junior World Cycling Championship (September). As part of the "Year of Sport," AeroTours, a New York-based tour wholesaler, has established a toll-free Sports Phone, (800) 223-4555, for callers to request a free calendar of events.
Camping Etc. in Utah: Recreational activities, including skiing, cycling and river running, are highlighted in a free publication, "Utah! Travel Guide," for 1993. Also included in the 91-page brochure is a list of campgrounds, national and state parks and hotels. For a copy, write: Utah Travel Council, Council Hall/Capitol Hill, Salt Lake City, Utah 94114, or call (801) 538-1030.
Comparatively Speaking: Ten most popular states--in terms of days visited--for camping in national forests during 1989, the most recent year for which statistics are available: California, 17,824,300 days; Oregon, 6,401,300; Arizona, 5,969,400; Washington, 5,671,700; Colorado, 5,293,800; Utah, 4,863,800; Idaho, 3,410,300; New Mexico, 2,554,600; Montana, 2,014,900; Florida, 1,571,800. (U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.)
Quiz Answer: Vatican City and Monaco.