The Walt Disney Co. has plunked an unusual "ski resort" in the middle of tropical Florida.
The 66-acre Blizzard Beach that opens this weekend at Walt Disney World in Orlando is a water adventure park that looks like it stepped right out of the Alps. The water slides take the shape of toboggan runs and slalom courses, and towering over all is "Mount Gushmore" with its 120-foot-high "Summit Plummet," a free-fall slide that plunges straight down to a splash landing at the base of the mountain (pictured right).
Admission to Blizzard Beach is $22.50 for ages 10 and older; $17 for 3 to 9, and also is available in some of Disney's multi-day ticket offers.
For those who would rather take a more intellectual plunge, the company has unveiled plans for the Disney Institute, a resort at Disney World that will feature "highly personalized experiences for adults and older children" and is something of a departure from other Disney resorts. Call it the Mickey Mouse approach to the inner self, but don't expect to see Mickey--or any of the other Disney characters--on the grounds.
The institute, brainchild of Disney chairman and CEO Michael D. Eisner, will offer more than 80 workshop programs in such areas as culinary arts, storytelling, entertainment and design. "We live in an age where discovering new things is a lifetime priority," Eisner said. "The institute will be a resort with a creatively charged atmosphere where you can engage your body, excite your mind and expand your horizons."
A number of celebrities, including former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, architect Frank Gehry and operatic baritone Sherrill Milnes, have already signed on as artists-in-residence. The new resort comes at a time when Disney has begun expanding beyond its traditional theme parks in a bid to attract more adults. Rates will be about $550 per person, based on double occupancy, for a three-night stay. It is scheduled to open in February.
MarkAir Drops Seattle Route
MarkAir, the Alaska-based coach-only airline, has dropped its north-south service along the West Coast--including its LAX-Seattle route--as part of a cost-cutting strategy. It will continue to offer east- and west-bound flights across the U.S. A spokeswoman said travelers holding tickets on the discontinued flights should contact the airline at (800) 627-5247 for refunds or to make other arrangements.
More Airline Flights Ban Smoking
Beginning May 1, all United Airlines flights from the continental United States to London and Zurich will be smoke free. Air France also has designated one of its four daily flights between Paris and New York as nonsmoking.
Trails Reopen at Grand Canyon
Two of the three heavily used trails in the Grand Canyon that were closed by rock slides caused by heavy rains on March 7 have reopened. The third remains inaccessible, which will prevent rim-to-rim hiking this summer.
The Bright Angel and South Kaibab trails, which go from the South Rim to the Colorado River, were repaired ahead of schedule and reopened March 24, according to park officials. However, the North Kaibab trail, which runs from north of the Phantom Ranch Lodge to Ribbon Falls and sustained the most damage, will be closed all summer for repairs. Rim-to-rim hiking will be prohibited because of unsafe conditions.
The repair of the waterline and trail between Roaring Springs and the North Rim is scheduled to begin by mid-April, and a park spokeswoman said it looks as if facilities on the North Rim will reopen as scheduled on May 15. The Phantom Ranch Lodge, at the bottom of the inner gorge, is expected to reopen by April 15.