Chicago scores a four-peat
Chicago has been voted the best large city in the U.S. for the fourth year in a row — a first in the category's history — in Condé Nast Traveler's Readers' Choice Awards. This comes at a time when the city has been hit hard by a lack of leisure and business visitors. Condé Nast Traveler called Chicago a "world-class destination known for its impressive architecture, first-rate museums, brilliant chefs, and massive brewing scene," and added the city has some of the "most pleasant people." More than 715,000 readers voted in the survey. Chicago is followed in the Top 10 by Washington, D.C., Boston, New Orleans, San Antonio, New York City, San Diego, Nashville, Tucson and St. Petersburg, Fla.
Passports speeding up
After months of near-paralysis, the U.S. State Department's passport operations are nearing normal. Americans "can now apply for routine service and expect to receive a passport in 10-12 weeks," the agency said. "You also have the option of paying an additional $60 for expedited service to receive your passport in four to six weeks." This marks a dramatic improvement over previous months, when officials said they could prioritize only "life-or-death" requests. Officials recommend that people apply by mail rather than in person to reduce the risk of transmitting the coronavirus.
Los Angeles Times
Disney rebounds (sort of)
Three months since Disney World's initial reopening, the parks are getting more crowded. But attendance is still at a historical low, said Len Testa, who runs a website and app called Touring Plans that closely follows ride wait times. "You're never going to see crowds this low again," said Testa. On a recent weekend at Magic Kingdom, daily attendance hit 19,000 people instead of the typical 60,000, he said. And Hollywood Studios is attracting about 11,000 customers, or about a third of normal, he said. Walt Disney Co., which closely guards its attendance figures, declined to comment. Disney said last week it would lay off 28,000 U.S. employees in its theme park and cruise ship division.
Let's fly to nowhere
Almost two-thirds of Americans say they would be interested in taking a "flight to nowhere," according to a new poll by Harris. The idea of getting on a plane with no destination, flying for several hours and returning to the same airport is gaining traction worldwide; Australia's Qantas recently offered such a flight and it sold out in 10 minutes. The concept hasn't quite taken off in the United States yet, but maybe it should. Gen Z/ millennials and Gen X folks, at 69% and 73%, are more likely than boomers (60%) and seniors (46%) to take such a flight, according to the survey. Those who are interested would be willing to pay $260 on average.