Bright news for dark skies
The International Dark-Sky Association has named Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario as an International Dark Sky Park. The 1,800-square-mile wilderness park joins Minnesota's Voyageurs National Park and Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, both of which have already received such a designation. Quetico borders the BWCA. The designation requires light management planning, annual sky quality measures and educational programming and signage about the importance of night skies. The Ontario Parks statement notes that the parks partnership creates "an internationally significant area of pristine protected night skies in Northwestern Ontario and Northeastern Minnesota."
Summer travel forecast
Pent-up demand and vaccine hopes are fueling more travel planning, according to a Longwoods International survey released Feb. 9. The survey of traveler sentiment showed that 81% of respondents plan to travel in the next six months, up from 65% in mid-January. Amir Eylon, president of Longwoods, expects most people will travel by car, but that airline travel will "increase significantly in the third and fourth quarters, barring any unforeseen new challenges to travel." If you plan to fly in summer or fall, consider booking by the end of March for better fares, said Scott Keyes, founder of Scott's Cheap Flights. Airlines have dropped the punitive fee to change a flight, so you can lock in a good fare now without fear of a financial hit later.
Los Angeles Times
Disney World turns 50
Walt Disney World has announced details for its 50th-anniversary celebration, which will last 18 months and include lighting enhancements to all four of its theme parks' icons, including Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom. The event, dubbed "The World's Most Magical Celebration," will begin Oct. 1. Disney World opened to the public Oct. 1, 1971. Expect the castle's makeover to include more gold, pearls and jewels; the turrets and towers will be wrapped in iridescent gold and blue ribbons. Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse will don new costumes for the occasion.
Carnival offers update
Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald didn't give any exact dates for a return to cruising — either for test voyages or revenue operations — but did say it's possible some cruising will resume by year's end. "What I will predict is this: I think that certainly by the end of this year, most, if not all, of our fleet, I'm optimistic, will be in action," Donald said during a webcast "Fireside Chat" with John Lovell, president of Travel Leaders Group. "I think there's a really high probability that all of them will be back by early next year if things continue to progress the way they have."