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Need To Know

November 28, 2010

Hey, where do you think you're going?

What? You say you haven't even recovered from turkey overdose and we're already asking about 2011? Well, yes. Because it's never too early to start thinking about your travel plans. If time and money were unlimited, where would you go next year and why? And now, back to reality: Where do you plan to vacation next year and why? We'll choose the best answers and run them in the Dec. 26 issue. Please include your city of residence and phone (the latter, for verification purposes), write "2011" in the subject line and e-mail to travel@?latimes.com.

— Times staff

Theme park to expand

A long-term plan for Universal Studios Hollywood envisions adding seven new theme park attractions in the next two decades and removing or relocating several studio backlot tour favorites, including the "Jaws" lake, the "War of the Worlds" disaster scene and the "Psycho" house and Bates Motel. The $3-billion NBC Universal Evolution Plan lays out a proposed blueprint for the 391-acre Universal City site in the San Fernando Valley, including new movie studio production facilities, CityWalk retail space and a residential neighborhood. Public hearings on the plan are expected next year, with the company hoping to begin construction by 2012. http://www.nbcuniversalevolution.com/plan/.

—Brady MacDonald

Travel statistics issued

At least 572 American citizens died abroad of nonnatural causes from January through June, according to statistics released by the U.S. State Department.That makes them a tiny minority among the millions traveling and residing safely in other countries. But their stories are still powerful reminders of where the greatest dangers are — and where they aren't — when we leave the country. The single most fatal event for Americans abroad was the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti, which killed 120 U.S. citizens among the 100,000 to 200,000 total deaths. (Estimates of the toll vary widely.) The next-most common killers of Americans were vehicle accidents, which took the lives of 116. The tally mostly excludes members of the military and other government employees. http://www.travel.state.gov/law/family_issues/death/death_600.html

—Christopher Reynolds

Locarno on Ice

An icy chill is set to descend upon Locarno this week, the elegant resort destination with a Mediterranean flair in southern Switzerland, when Locarno on Ice takes over Piazza Grande, the town's main square. The festival, which runs Thursday through Jan. 9, includes a skating rink; blues, rock and pop concerts; a nightly light show; glass igloo bars; and a traditional Christmas market. Open 10 a.m.-11 p.m. daily. Rink admission is about $2 for adults; skate rentals start at $4 for two hours. The closest airports are Lugano, about 25 miles, and the Malpensa airport in Milan, Italy. http://www.locarnoonice.ch.

—Benoit Lebourgeois

Handy travel pal

The Open It ($11.99) is designed to open tough packaging, such as hard plastic, clam shells and blister-wrap, plus boxes of every ilk. I keep one in my car trunk for short trips and long hauls, and it invariably comes in handy. The newest Open It model has an easy-grip ergonomic design for both right- and left-handers. Besides a scissors-like device, it houses a retractable utility knife, a removable screwdriver and a bottle opener. (866) 869-7544, http://www.enjoyZibra.com

—Judi Dash

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