Branson brighter than ever
Branson, Mo., is staking its claim as home to the most spectacular Christmas celebration of the season. The Silver Dollar City theme park has unveiled its biggest and brightest Christmas lighting array ever, throwing the switch on 6.5 million colorful LED lights. Only Busch Gardens’ Christmas Town in Williamsburg, Va., is brighter, featuring some 10 million lights. The Branson holiday festival, known as “An Old Time Christmas,” continues through Dec. 30. It features the nightly Rudolph’s Holly Jolly Christmas Light Parade, Broadway-style musical productions of “A Christmas Carol” and “It’s a Wonderful Life,” a five-story special-effects Christmas tree, strolling carolers, a dramatic Living Nativity and seasonal food offerings. The park’s 100-plus craftsmen/women create one-of-a-kind holiday items (silverdollarcity.com).
Tribune News Service
Traveling with family members and friends can be fun and festive. Or, fraught with complications. Family groups often choose to share a ski cabin, beach house or urban condo. That can mean divvying up expenses, transportation, room assignments, cleaning and cooking. Be sure to have a clearly defined plan before your holiday gets underway to avoid misunderstandings about how time and resources will be allocated. If you sense close quarters could be uncomfortable, suggest staying in a resort or hotel where individual rooms will provide each family with more time on their own. Also, consider discussing issues ranging from bedtime and use of technology to strategies for handling mealtime and cleanup with the other adults. Then share expectations with your family before the fun begins.
Puerto Rico rebounds
Puerto Rico is anticipating a tourism boost as some of its top hotels reopen, including Dorado Beach and St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort. Over 11,000 hotel rooms are currently available and officials expect room inventory to reach 15,000, or pre-Hurricane Maria levels, by mid-2019. The classic El San Juan Hotel on Isla Verde Beach is expected to fully reopen this month. In early 2019, the 1949-vintage Caribe Hilton will be back with remodeled rooms, new tennis courts, restaurants and bars. Airbnb reported 7,700 active home listings in Puerto Rico in September 2017. That figure shrank after Maria, but has rebounded to more than 8,300 listings today. The company also now offers 80 of its Experiences, guided activities led by locals, including a walking tour of Old San Juan with an architect and paddleboarding lessons in a lagoon (each $25).
New York Times
Disney has started to fill in some of the details of a makeover of Epcot that will be going on for years. The highlights so far are two major new rides: The first Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster and a copy of the Ratatouille ride that is one of the most popular attractions at Disneyland Paris. On Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, visitors will see the world from the perspective of a rat as rat-shaped cars take them through a restaurant kitchen. The Guardians roller coaster will be one of the longest enclosed coasters in the world. They’ll be finished in time for Disney World’s 50th anniversary in 2021. Rumors on fan sites talk about an overhaul of Spaceship Earth, a new hotel straddling the park’s entrance, a re-theming of the Gran Fiesta Tour and other attractions. Disney has kept mum about those rumors.