New Travel App Brings National Park Road Trips to Life

Thanks to a new travel app from Just Ahead (http://www.justahead.com/), smartphone technology can now play a vital role on a vacation into America’s national parks. In fact, it may be just the thing to turn heads away from games, music, and texting and into nature while cruising park roads this summer.

New to the market for 2015, the GPS-powered mobile app turns smartphones into hands-free audio tour guides of the most beautiful places on earth.

Just Ahead’s app and audio guides work even where cell phones, Internet, and Wi-Fi won’t, to stream fun and interesting stories spliced with geography, history, and even driving directions while cruising through a national park.

One example is Just Ahead’s Death Valley National Park audio guide, which recently garnered the Best Travel App award from the North American Travel Journalists Association. This award is due, in part, to the levels of professional travel writing and narration that present the myriad stories of each national park. Content writer and editor Bob Howells has twice won the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) Lowell Thomas Gold Award for adventure travel writing.

“Our aim is to give travelers and their families an entertaining and educational travel experience,” underscored Just Ahead founder Gregory Morse. “We think the Just Ahead app and audio guides encourage exploring and getting off the beaten track. You’re engaged at the same time you’re learning.”

Just Ahead utilizes GPS technology to know exactly where drivers are on the road, and delivers stories and maps relevant to their location. Just Ahead also helps drivers avoid getting lost by providing helpful suggested directions. Just Ahead tells drivers why they should turn or not, what they should do after a turn, and recommends the best direction to take if there are multiple route options.

As of mid-winter 2015, Just Ahead apps are available for the following parks: Yosemite, Zion and Cedar Breaks, Bryce Canyon, Joshua Tree, and Death Valley. An additional 12 national park guides are in production, including Grand Canyon, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyonlands, Petrified Forrest, Canyon De Chelly, Monument Valley, and Mesa Verde – with many more to come.

Just Ahead started with US national parks because they are treasured natural assets that are visited each year by 292 million people from around the world (2014 set a record for national park visitation). But the company intends to go beyond the parks. In the future, Just Ahead will offer guides for other major road trip destinations, including California Highway 1, Route 66, the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Hawaiian Islands, and many others.

The Just Ahead app is a free download, and each destination guide is available as an in-app purchase. Guides range from $7.99 – $9.99 and include a free trial and free guide updates.

About Just Ahead
The Just Ahead mobile app turns your smartphone into a hands-free audio guide to the most beautiful places on earth by delivering professionally written and narrated audio tours to vacationers who want an informed travel experience as they drive.

Just Ahead’s award-winning audio guides work without an Internet connection or phone service and use a smartphone’s GPS to deliver hands-free, customized audio tours based on a vehicle’s location. The guides and built-in maps also provide helpful suggested directions, and offer more points of interest and stories than any other GPS audio travel apps. Ideal for families, Just Ahead’s audio guides help create shared experiences, conversations, and memories that will last a lifetime. The Just Ahead app is a free download, and each destination guide is available as an in-app purchase that includes free guide updates.

For more information, please visit: http://www.justahead.com.

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Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Heart to Perform This Saturday at Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras 2015

Heart Coming to Universal Orlando's Mardi Gras

Let the good times roll this weekend at Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras featuring a live concert by hit rockers Heart. With more than 35 million albums sold world-wide, Heart is best known for their chart topping hits, “Crazy on You,” “Magic Man,” and “Barracuda.”

 

Before the concert, guests can catch colorful beads by the handful during the festive Mardi Gras parade, which features 12 vibrant floats. Guests can also visit Universal Studios Florida’s very own French Quarter Courtyard to enjoy authentic Cajun cuisine and see performances by bands pulled straight from Bourbon Street.

 

Schedule of Events for the Weekend:

·         4:00 P.M. – French Quarter Courtyard Opens

·         7:15 P.M. – Mardi Gras Parade Starts

·         8:00 P.M. – Live Concert Begins

 

The excitement of Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras celebration is included with admission to Universal Studios Florida. For more information, visit www.universalorlando.com/mardigras.

SHARKNADO 3 TO WREAK HAVOC AT UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT

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Now Florida will know what it feels like to be hit by a Sharknado! The eagerly anticipated Syfy and The Asylum production Sharknado 3 will shoot key scenes at Universal Orlando Resort, it was announced today. 

Featuring stars Ian Ziering, Tara Reid and Cassie Scerbo, Sharknado 3 will premiere on Syfy in July, causing mass destruction in the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., before roaring down the Eastern Seaboard and into Florida. Ziering and Reid will reprise their roles as Fin and April, respectively, while Cassie Scerbo will play Nova, her character from the original 2013 Sharknado movie.  

Anthony C. Ferrante will once again direct, based on an original screenplay by Thunder Levin.  

Sharknado 3 is a production of The Asylum.

When it aired last July 30, Sharknado 2: The Second One became Syfy’s most-watched Original Movie ever with 3.9 million total viewers.

Tracking the Critically Endangered Black Rhino in Namibia

The world’s premier nature travel company, Natural Habitat Adventures (Nat Hab – http://www.nathab.com/), has created a safari expedition for travelers to learn in depth while in the company of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) scientists and rhino conservation experts about Namibia’s endangered black rhinoceros.

Namibia: In Search of the Desert Rhino, offered this fall and next, provides a chance to track this rare animal that survives in the Namib Desert, one of the harshest environments on Earth. The trip is the second in the “In Search Of” series developed by Nat Hab and WWF, which began in 2013 with “In Search of the Snow Leopard” in Mongolia.

Guests will travel alongside local researchers, WWF experts and personnel from Save the Rhino Trust, learning firsthand about crucial measures WWF has pioneered in tandem with local community groups to protect the desert rhino and other threatened species. With the support of the Namibian government, such efforts have made Namibia a global conservation leader.

“These are unprecedented opportunities to meet with experts that have been arranged specifically for this trip and are not included on any standard Namibia safari,” said Ben Bressler, founder and president of Nat Hab.

The desert rhino remains critically endangered because of rising demand for rhino horn, largely among Asian consumers who believe it has value in folk remedies; this has driven poaching to record levels.

The new 10-day safari starts at $9,895 per person, double (single supplement $2,295) with departures Sept. 29 and Oct. 17, 2015 and 2016. The rate includes scheduled light aircraft flights, accommodations, airport transfers, meals, non-alcoholic drinks at camps and in vehicles, house alcoholic beverages in camps, services of a Nat Hab Expedition Leader, local guides and lodge staff, some gratuities, all permits, entrance fees and taxes. See: http://www.nathab.com/africa/namibia-in-search-of-the-desert-rhino/

Guests, limited to 12 per trip, will track the desert rhino and other desert-adapted species, including elephant, by vehicle and on foot throughout Namibia’s vast wilderness expanses. Varied habitats, from the arid wastes of Damaraland to the savannas and saltpans of Etosha, sustain a surprisingly diverse and vital wildlife population.

Private reserves, such as the Palmwag and Ongava concessions, are central to the experience. From the Ongava Reserve adjacent to popular Etosha National Park guests can view an abundance of wildlife without the presence of other visitors. Certain activities prohibited in national parks are offered as well, such as guided bush walks for an intimate perspective on the landscape and its wild inhabitants, and night drives in search of nocturnal animals.

One of Namibia’s top naturalist guides, Franco Morao, guides this special safari. A Namibia native, he has worked at camps and lodges throughout the country and holds a Level 3 national guiding certificate, the highest achievement possible in Namibia. In addition, as with all Nat Hab Expedition Leaders, Franco has received additional resources and training provided by WWF’s leading scientists, including those on the forefront of rhino conservation.

Guests travel in light aircraft, private mini vans, and top-of-the-line 4×4 safari vehicles with a window seat for each person. Flight transfers between destinations maximize time with wildlife. Accommodations are a highlight in their own right, with a focus on isolated, small-scale luxury camps featuring spacious individual tents with private verandas for secluded viewing.

The safari begins and ends in Namibia’s capital, Windhoek. From here guests travel to Desert Rhino Camp in the heart of the private million-acre Palmwag Concession in far-northwest Namibia. Few safari locales offer the privacy and isolation found amidst this expansive tract of desert wilderness. Several freshwater springs support healthy populations of wildlife including the camp’s namesake and the trip’s primary focus — the desert-adapted black rhino (Diceros bicornis bicornis). The largest, free-ranging black rhino population anywhere in the world lives here, as well as desert-adapted elephant, endemic Hartmann’s mountain zebra, giraffe, gemsbok, oryx, springbok and greater kudu. Namibia’s second-largest predator population thrives here, too, with more than 100 lion, cheetah, leopard and hyena. Birds are also abundant, including a number of southern African endemics.

Nat Hab and WWF have been working together since 2003 to provide conservation travel adventures exemplified by the “In Search Of” series.

“Twelve clients signed up for the first exploratory trip, and together with some of the world’s foremost snow leopard experts they journeyed to the far-western edge of Mongolia to visit two national parks where WWF Mongolia is performing important snow leopard research. Our guests were so moved by the experience that they came home and raised more than $20,000 for further snow leopard research in the region,” said Bressler, who hopes that this trip will similarly raise awareness about the black rhinoceros.

About Natural Habitat Adventures
Natural Habitat Adventures is a world leader in responsible adventure travel and nature-based ecotourism. Since its founding in 1985, the company has offered eco-conscious expeditions and wildlife-focused small-group tours to the planet’s most remarkable nature destinations. Inspired and created from years of scouring the planet for the singular and extraordinary, Nat Hab’s itineraries are artfully crafted experiences that are far from “typical.” Trips are guided by professional naturalist Expedition Leaders, and Nat Hab enjoys a longstanding reputation for hiring some of the world’s best guides. Conservation is at the forefront of everything NHA does, and its philosophy is simple: tourism must work with and benefit local communities, which will in turn find value in protecting natural resources and wildlife. NHA is proud to be the travel partner of World Wildlife Fund, sharing a mutual commitment to travel as a means of helping to protect the world’s wondrous natural places.

For trip information, descriptive itineraries, date availability and reservations, call 800.543.8917800.543.8917 FREE or visit http://www.nathab.com/. Click HERE to order a copy of the 2015 catalog.

Touring the Atacama Desert and the World’s Finest Stargazing

The Argentina and Chile tour operator specializing in authentic experiences for independent travelers, Say Hueque (http://sayhueque.com/), offers a tour through San Pedro de Atacama, said to be the best place in the world to view the uncompromised brilliance of the night sky.

Called Atacama (Chile) and Uyuni (Bolivia), this six-day/five-night program is from $710 per person double. Guests will discover San Pedro de Atacama, a small town located in the world’s driest desert (think little adobe houses and cozy restaurants) enroute to exploring one of Chile’s most spectacular landscapes. The Atacama Desert is one of the only places in the world where there is near-perfect visibility of the night sky. Here guests will explore Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley) with caves and hills configured of salt. They will also visit geysers in the Andes and salt flats in Bolivia.

The Atacama Desert receives no more than a millimeter of rain annually; its remote location and the high altitude combined with few clouds makes the sky viewing (day and night) spectacular. There is also virtually no radio interference which makes it optimal for observatories. The Atacama Desert currently hosts six celestial observatories including Alma Observatory which is the largest of its kind on Earth.

There are three trips visitors can choose from, depending on the desired length of time. The shortest trip is six days and the longest is 16 days. Each tour takes a different route through Atacama and Uyuni but each takes time in the desert to enjoy the sky.

Included in the six-day journey are transfers, three nights in San Pedro de Atacama, a three-day 4WD Adventure to Uyuni with lodging in shared huts, Moon Valley tour, Geysers tour, daily breakfasts and some meals, a bilingual guide (English / Spanish) during the excursions in San Pedro de Atacama and the services of a Spanish-speaking driver on portions of the itinerary. For details on the six-day program please see: http://sayhueque.com/argentina_tours/atacama_uyuni/atacama.php

For details on the nine-day program that includes a stay in and tour of the colonial city of Salta in Argentina, please see: http://sayhueque.com/argentina_tours/atacama_uyuni/salta_atacama.php

For details on the 16-day program that begins in Buenos Aires before moving to Salta, please see: http://sayhueque.com/argentina_tours/atacama_uyuni/north_of_argentina_chile_uyuni_salt_flats_16_days.php

As Say Hueque owner Rafael Mayer explains, “We are a group of Argentine travel professionals who are passionate about our country. We have hiked in Patagonia, felt the mist of Iguassu Falls on our smiling faces, walked along glaciers and cruised the deep blue lakes of South America. We have visited hundreds of hotels, sampled hundreds of restaurants and discovered the best wineries around, so we know exactly where to get a delicious steak, a sublime Malbec and a comfy bed along the way.”

Established in 1999, the company creates customized tours for independent travelers throughout Argentina’s and Chile´s national parks and cities. Popular destinations and experiences include Buenos Aires, Iguassu Falls, Perito Moreno Glacier, hiking in Patagonia, wine tasting in Mendoza, horseback riding at traditional estancias and glacier cruises.

Say Hueque adopted its name from the last tribal chief that surrendered to the Europeans in their conquest of the American lands, in 1885. The Great Cacique Say Hueque was the leader of a powerful tribe that occupied the region of central Patagonia. Their cultural influence is still very strong at some locations close to the Andes Range.

About Say Hueque
Founded in 1999, Say Hueque specializes in customized travel itineraries to the farthest corners of Argentina and Chile.  Careful focus is placed on creating unique travel experiences that embrace local cultures and celebrate the natural wonders nature.

Based in Buenos Aires the Say Hueque staff is comprised of young, enthusiastic English-speaking professionals who share the passion of traveling as much their clients. With intimate experience and strong local connections they provide 24/7 assistance and support when traveling.

Popular destinations include Patagonia, Iguacu Falls, Buenos Aires, Mendoza, Atacama Desert, Uyuni Salt Flats and the Salta region as well as many other lesser known but equally captivating marvels. Say Hueque has been recommended by the world’s most popular travel guides such as Lonely Planet, Frommer’s, Footprints, and Time Out year after year. The company has partnerships with and membership in Sustainable Travel International (STI), Responsible Travel, the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), ASTA and LATA.

For more information please call +1.718.395.5504+1.718.395.5504 (US and Canada) visit: http://www.sayhueque.com/ or Email: info@sayhueque.com.

Holland America Line’s 2015 Alaska Land+Sea Journeys Combine the ‘Seldom Seen’ and the ‘Must See’ in Denali and the Yukon

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Holland America Line’s popular Land+Sea Journeys combine an Alaska cruise with an overland exploration, and in 2015 guests will have more ways than ever to see this remote and off-the-beaten path part of the world. The line is the only cruise company to weave the must-see sights such as Denali National Park — the centerpiece of every Land+Sea Journey — with the seldom-seen sights such as Dawson, City in the heart of Klondike Gold Rush Country in exclusive cruise and land packages to the North.

The 13 options for 2015 range from 10 to 20 days and are in two distinct series with cruise-first or land-first choices: the industry-exclusive Yukon and Denali Land+Sea Journeys and Denali Land+Sea Journeys. Each option combines a three- to seven-night Holland America Line cruise with a one-, two- or three-night stay at Denali National Park. New for 2015, guests will have a great, competitively priced option if they have limited time: a 10-day Denali Land+Sea Journey that combines one night at Denali and a seven-night cruise.

“There are few places in the world that lend themselves so naturally to be explored by combining a cruise with an overland adventure, and with 68 years as a leader in Alaska travel, we are renown for giving our guests the best of Alaska and the Yukon,” said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “Our elegant ships and legendary service perfectly complement our unique ability to deliver Alaska’s must-see highlights and wonders of the Yukon.”

The Land+Sea Journeys emphasize Holland America Line’s 68-year history in showcasing the majesty of Alaska by sea, rail and road while maintaining premium standards throughout the entire vacation. Each Land+Sea Journey showcases places such as Dawson City, Yukon, in the heart of gold rush country; charming Seward, Alaska; the five-star Alyeska Resort; pristine Tombstone park; colorful Skagway, Alaska; and the historic narrow gauge White Pass and Yukon Route railroad.

Last year, the line enhanced the program to include a one-hour flight between Fairbanks and Dawson City, bringing Alaska and the Yukon closer together and giving guests more time in the destinations.

Holland America Line also acquired the McKinley Chalet, a magnificent 68-acre hotel property on the Nenana River. The line is now able to offer Land+Sea Journey guests their own elegant wilderness retreat that features seamless hospitality and sustainable Alaskan cuisine. The hotel serves as the ideal base camp for all adventures at Denali National Park such as flightseeing, ATV adventures, hiking trails, river rafting and more. Accommodations were stylishly updated, and newly appointed mini-suites nestled along the river make for the ultimate retreat. A hotel enhancement program also saw extensive room updates and upgrades to soft goods and hotel décor in properties in Skagway, Fairbanks and Whitehorse.

 

A Journey for Every Taste — The Holland America Line Difference Ensures Unforgettable Experiences for All

The five Land+Sea Journeys that include Yukon and Denali range in length from 10 to 20 days and travel roundtrip Vancouver, British Columbia, or between Vancouver and Anchorage, Alaska. During these trips guests will enjoy scenic cruising along the Inside Passage and/or Glacier Bay before calling at Ketchikan, Juneau, Haines or Skagway, Alaska. In addition to Denali National Park, the overland portion includes Fairbanks and Whitehorse and Dawson City, Yukon.

 

The eight Denali Land+Sea Journeys range in length from 10 to 14 days and travel between Vancouver and Fairbanks or Anchorage, Alaska. Included is Glacier Bay scenic cruising where guests can explore the ice-studded fjords of this national treasure for a full eight hours as a park ranger narrates. Ports of call on the cruise portion include Haines or Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, while the overland portion features Denali and Fairbanks.

 

Included Wilderness Tours and Optional Cultural & Adventure Optional Activities Bring the Great Land to Life

On double- and triple-night Yukon and Denali and Denali Journeys, the comprehensive six- to eight-hour Tundra Wilderness tour is included for the best way to see epic Denali National Park with its abundance of wildlife and Mount McKinley, the highest mountain peak in North America. For adventure seekers there also are plenty of optional opportunities to go hiking, rafting, flightseeing and fishing.

Travel in Signature Style by Land and by Sea

Land+Sea Journeys feature luxurious glass-domed McKinley Explorer railcars with comfortable, forward-facing seats and expert commentary by guides between Denali and Anchorage. In addition, Holland America Line’s exclusive Explorer Coaches create a superior environment for traveling the highway between Skagway and Dawson City with roomy leather seats, lavish legroom and no more than 44 travelers.

Unique to the Holland America Line cruise experience, Alaska-inspired cuisine is featured throughout both cruise and land components. Optional meal plans have been expanded to include all Land + Sea Journeys and meals on days in Denali and Anchorage. Additionally, knowledgeable interpreters, Journey Hosts, Glacier Bay park rangers and Alaska travel guides are present on most Land+Sea tours and Alaska sailings.

Land+Sea Journeys fares begin at $899 per person, double occupancy. For more information about the Alaska Land+Sea Journeys program and Holland America Line, consult a travel professional, call 1-877-SAIL HAL (877-724-5425877-724-5425 FREE) or visit www.hollandamerica.com.

New 4D movie coming to LEGOLAND Florida

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Merlin Entertainments announced today it is partnering with Warner Bros. Consumer Products and The LEGO Group to bring a new 4D animated film based on the popular characters of The LEGO® Movie™, from Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures and LEGO System A/S, to guests at LEGOLAND® Parks and LEGOLAND® Discovery Centers around the world later this year. The new 4D animated film will open exclusively at the six LEGOLAND Parks and 11 LEGOLAND Discovery Centers in North America, Asia and Europe.

Using elements such as wind, water, smoke and special lighting effects, the larger-than-life experience brings the film’s main characters, Emmet and Wyldstyle, back together with their friends for another awesome adventure.

“We’re excited to be partnering with Warner Bros. Consumer Products and The LEGO Group on such a, dare I say, awesome, adventure,” says Merlin Entertainments Chief Executive Officer Nick Varney. “Emmet and Wyldstyle have become immensely popular at our theme parks and Discovery Centers across the globe and bringing this new 4D movie exclusively to our guests continues our Merlin philosophy of creating memorable family experiences.”

“More than a film, The LEGO Movie became an anthem for creative building, inspiring families around the world to pull their LEGO collections out and piece together their imaginations,” says Jill Wilfert, vice president licensing & entertainment for the LEGO Group. “I know that LEGOLAND guests are going to love seeing these characters in a fun, new adventure.”

For the latest news on this 4D adventure, check the Merlin website at www.MerlinEntertainments.biz