Mickey doesn't smoke, nor should you

By Times Wires
Published May 13, 2007

 Smoking will be banned June 1 at all 22 Disney World hotels and timeshare resorts in Florida.

The ban permits smoking at designated outdoor areas. The transition to become smoke-free will allow Disney to better accommodate the increasing number of guests requesting nonsmoking hotel rooms.

The ban follows a 2000 measure that restricted smoking throughout Disney's theme and water parks, limiting smoking to designated areas.

Guests caught smoking after the ban could face cleaning surcharges as high as $500.


Planning a family sabbatical

Ever dream of chucking the daily routine and moving with your family to a foreign country?

Elisa Bernick and her husband did just that, with their two children, moving from St. Paul, Minn., to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, for 18 months. Bernick has written a book about the experience that's part memoir and part advice, called The Family Sabbatical Handbook: The Budget Guide to Living Abroad With Your Family (Branford, $15.95).

They chose Mexico partly because of affordability, partly because it was easier to arrange than other destinations they'd considered, and partly because it was close enough to home that friends and relatives could visit. San Miguel also met other criteria: easy Internet access, nice climate year-round and good options for schools, day care and health care.


Magazine for U.S. travel

If the weak dollar has put travel to Europe out of your reach, stay closer to home and plan a trip around Destination America, as showcased in Smithsonian magazine.

The magazine recommends cultural destinations plus lists festivals and diversions, including Burning Man, the arts festival, Aug. 27-Sept. 3 in Black Rock Desert, Nev., and the Adirondacks, and the National Hamburger Festival, July 21-22 in Akron, Ohio.

Details and some online-only features are available at www.smithsonianmagazine.com.


Move to protect Caymans coral

The government and port authority of the Cayman Islands have banned cruise ships from anchoring where their massive chains have destroyed coral reefs.

Environmental officials say some living coral can be preserved despite extensive damage along the sea floor near the Spotts Dock.

A cruise ship anchoring for one day can destroy nearly an acre of intact reef. Cruise ships capable of holding their position without anchoring will still be allowed to unload passengers in Spotts Bay, which is 10 miles from the capital and is sometimes used as an alternate port.


Chatter about great hotels

If you like TripAdvisor, check out HotelChatter.com, a terrific resource for travelers who think the place they rest their heads is as important as the destination.

What's hot: It has the usual reader reviews, but goes one step further. It has a team of six editors posting reviews and hotel gossip, trends and news. It has photos, videos and lists. A favorite: best geek hotels.

What's not: The search function could be better. A search for "Beijing hotels" first lists Google ads, followed by links to Hotel Chatter and Jaunted.com, a pop culture travel site that's part of the same company.


Global camps for teens

Does the thought of a traditional summer camp – complete with canoeing and marshmallow roasts – make your teenager yawn? Maybe an adventure is in order. According to the American Camp Association, there has been a 59 percent increase in travel camp programs since 2000.

A search on the association's Web site, www.acacamps.org, reveals 282 travel-tour camps. They include AAVE Teen Adventures, based in Colorado (www.aave.com), which offers an array of trips, like a 21-day trip to Australia, departing July 1 and July 23. Activities include scuba diving, dirt biking and surfing. The trip costs $4, 888, not including air fare.

Alpengirl, which says it is for "girls with altitude" (www.alpengirl.com), still has spots open for a three-week trip to Montana, where girls ages 13 to 15 can explore the Lewis and Clark Caverns, plus rock climb and backpack. The trip departs June 24 and costs $3, 000.


Dickens' stories inspire park

Charles Dickens' 19th century characters are about to be brought to life in a decidedly 21st century manner – as animatronic figures in a new theme park based on the author's books and life. Opening May 25, Dickens World (www.dickensworld.co.uk), in Chatham, Kent, England (where Dickens spent most of his childhood), will introduce visitors to life in Dickensian times – from the architecture and street scenes to the smells and sounds.

The attraction, about an hour southeast of London, includes rides, a mall, a themed restaurant and a theater, all in one building. Visitors can experience a harsh Victorian schoolroom (like the one attended by Oliver Twist) and take a boat ride in the dark through London's sewers.

Compiled from the New York Times, Washington Post and Associated Press