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Probing Prohibition at Chicago Attraction

July 25, 1993|KIM UPTON

Where else but in Chicago would you find a new, high-tech attraction called Capone's Chicago, created in the grand tradition of Disneyland but dedicated to the city's infamous Prohibition era? Capone's Chicago, which recently opened in the city's River North area, explores Chicago's raucous late 19th- and early 20th-Century history through the use of audio-animatronic robots and special effects created by a team whose work includes Disney World's Epcot Center and Universal Studios Florida. Visitors will encounter mobster Alphonse Capone, as well as robotic versions of Carrie Nation, 1928 Presidential candidate Al Smith and U.S. Treasury agent Frank Wilson, who brought down Capone's criminal empire. The half-hour multimedia presentation begins in the 1870s, when the temperance movement was taking shape, and concludes with the 1933 repeal of the 18th Amendment, which had banned the production, transportation and sale of alcoholic beverages. It's located at 605 N. Clark St.; (312) 654-1919.

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Travel Quiz: What ancient country, whose name means "between rivers," is often referred to as one of the cradles of civilization?

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Mata Hari Museum: Mata Hari, the World War I spy and femme fatale, is getting her own museum in Leeuwarden, Netherlands, the dairy farming town where she was born. The Mata Hari Museum is scheduled to open in August, 1994, in a townhouse down the street from where the Dutch-Javanese beauty spent her childhood. "At first everybody in Leeuwarden was reluctant, a bit ashamed of her as spy and a nude dancer and a traitor," said Maria Boon of the Mata Hari Foundation, but "I can't think of any other woman apart from Anne Frank who arouses such interest outside the country." Nude photographs, love letters, stage costumes and jewelry collected by the Mata Hari Foundation will be laid out in a chronological reconstruction of her life. During World War I, Mata Hari seduced high-ranking military officers, allegedly working as a double agent for both the French and German armies. In 1917, she was apprehended in London by the French and executed. As she faced the firing squad, she insisted on wearing her trademark black silk stockings.

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Just the Fax: Singapore Airlines has installed the world's first global in-flight fax machines on its planes, allowing passengers to send messages and black-and-white pictures anywhere in the world during flights. As yet, the fax service--only four fax machines in service on varying long-haul flights between Singapore and the United States and London--cannot receive faxes. But as with ordinary land-bound fax machines, they can transmit images in minutes. Cost: $15 per page.

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Bridges Over Troubled Waters: The covered bridges of Madison County, Iowa, the setting for the best-selling novel "The Bridges of Madison County," are untouched by the relentless floodwaters swamping other parts of Iowa. But the gravel roads leading to the six wooden bridges are mud- and water-soaked. Fans of the novel, about an unlikely love affair between a photographer and a farm wife, are still streaming to the bridges, despite the high rivers across Iowa reported at press time by the Chamber of Commerce in Winterset, which is near the bridges.

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Quick Fact: In Spain, tourism authorities acknowledge that some hoteliers have been deliberately scheming to get their government classifications downgraded from four stars to three. Why? Because recent changes in Spanish tax laws set the VAT (value added tax, comparable to our retail sales tax) for guests at four-star hotel guests at 15%, while guests at three-star hotels are levied 6%--a significant savings for three-star guests.

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More, Not Less, in Florence: Visitors to Florence this summer in the wake of the May 27 bombing of the Uffizi Gallery will find more, not less, open to them. Museums in the city are offering extended hours, special concerts and heightened security, and previously scheduled exhibits and events around the city are continuing as planned. State museums that had already planned to extend their summer hours before the blast (including the Uffizi, the Academy of Fine Arts Gallery and the Medici Chapels) are still doing so, and city museums (including the Bardini Museum, the History of Science Museum and Buonarroti House) are open evenings on a rotating basis, some as late as 11 p.m., through Sept. 24. As for the Uffizi, which reopened June 20, restoration of its bomb-damaged wing will take about six months.

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What Goes Up and Down at Euro Disney: France's Euro Disney is changing its price structure, dropping admission prices during the winter (November to mid-February), but increasing summer rates. In spring and fall, prices will remain at the current $40 for adults and $27 for children 3-11 at the park near Paris. November to mid-February, adults will pay about $32 to get in; children about $23. But during the peak periods of summer and holidays, prices will increase to $45 for adults, $32 for children.

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