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Booking Vacation Rentals: What You Need to Know

When you’re planning on vacationing in a specific destination, the room or house that you book can ultimately make or break the trip. For those who are wanting to secure the space ahead of time, it’s important to make reservations several weeks or months before arriving. When booking vacation rentals, there are a few important facts to know to score the right place.

Consider the Surroundings

You may be attracted to a low price on a vacation rental, but you should also be aware of the surroundings. Check to see if there’s a local grocery store nearby where you can stock up on snacks and breakfast items after arriving. You’ll also want to see if the area is safe to roam at night or if it has a high crime rate. It’s also crucial to see how close the vacation rental is to important attractions or sites that you’re planning on visiting.

Look Into the Noise Level

Booking a room on a busy street or in a downtown area can make for a vacation that is anything but relaxing. Look into the noise level of the area to determine if you’ll be able to enjoy a serene environment

Have Contact with a Property Manager

Before booking a vacation rental, you’ll want to know if there’s a property manager that you’ll be able to contact during the week if something breaks during your stay. Although it may seem like a minor issue, it can be a challenging week if there’s a leak in the home or if the toilet overflows.

Inquire About the Amenities

According to TheStreet.com, you’ll want to know about the amenities that are available with the vacation rental to determine if it’s worth the overall cost. Inquire about any luxuries that may include a spa bath or an on-site pool. There may even be a fitness center or someone who is available to keep the fridge stocked during your visit.

Consider the Square Footage

You may be excited to book a two-bedroom condo or a three-bedroom house for your trip, but that doesn’t mean that there will be a lot of space available. According to¬†CNN.com, more people are renting tiny houses, which are often in prime locations for those who want to explore a certain city. Although this type of property may be ideal for certain travelers, it can make for a challenging time spent in a cramped space if there are multiple people arriving. Look into the facts of the vacation rental and ask yourself why it may be priced so low if you’re getting a deal that seems too good to be true.

 

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Disney’s Parks Plan for Star Wars Expansion

Following their acquisition of Lucas film in 2012, Disney has been slowly ramping up their stake in the Star Wars franchise. With the impending release of Star Wars Episode 7 getting ever closer, things are really starting to pick up. At the D23 expo this year, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced the company’s plans for Star Wars Lands, two massive additions to its Anaheim-based Disneyland and Orlando-based Walt Disney World. The attractions will be spread across 14 acres, the largest single-themed area in Disney park history.

The Star Wars Land in Disneyland will be built in the Big Thunder Ranch location, one of the parks’ least developed and visited locations. Details on the specifics of the attractions have been scarce so far. Supposedly, the Land will be set on a new planet on the distant edge of the galaxy, which has never been seen in any previous Star Wars films. Iger announced that there will be a Cantina area, as well as an attraction that gives people a chance to ride the Millenium Falcon.

The other announced attraction, based on a battle between the New Order and the Resistance, draws on material from the upcoming trilogy. No material from the prequel or originally trilogy has been announced thus far, so it seems that the focus will be on the future of the franchise rather than the past.

Unfortunately, we won’t be able to see these parks for ourselves for a while. Construction begins in 2017 and will likely not being finished until 2019. In the meantime, Disney has other Star Wars-related plans to tide over fans. And of course, they are also trying to take away some attention from Universal Studios’ upcoming Harry Potter-themed land, Wizarding World West.

A West-coast version of the immensely popular The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, launched in Orlando in 2010, Wizarding World West will be coming to Universal Studios in 2016. Disney’s early announcement of Star Wars Lands was likely an attempt to steal some of Universal’s thunder, and take the attention off Potter. Disney also has plans in 2016 for the Season of the Force, an event with a Star Wars themed redux of Space Mountain, a Star Wars fireworks show, and a new restaurant called the Galactic Grill.

Disney clearly has big plans for Star Wars, and they are escalating quickly. After the Christmas release of Episode 7, things will probably move even faster, as merchandising gets even more saturated and products continue to roll out. In the meantime, we can only dream about what the Disney Imagineers are cooking up, and look forward to more details on Star Wars Lands to provide a new hope for Star Wars fans everywhere.

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How Sea World is Doing After Blackfish

When the documentary “Blackfish” was released at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2013, the filmmakers had no idea that it would spark a revolution that would later be known as the “Blackfish Effect.” What was originally produced as a means to tell the story of an orca named Tilikum and the Sea World trainer he killed, has caused big waves in the world of animal activists and politics, changing Sea World forever.

The film focuses on the capture of Tilikum as a young orca, his captivity at Sealand of the Pacific and Sea World and the three trainers he is responsible for killing. Sea World trainer Dawn Brancheau’s death sparked the making of the documentary. The film alleges that orcas are not dangerous to humans in the wild but that captivity causes them to become aggressive, that captivity decreases the lifespan of orcas and that removing orcas from their natural habitat is emotionally damaging to the killer whales.

No immediate effect was seen after the movie aired at the independent film festival. When it was picked up by Magnolia Films and CNN Films and given a wider release, however, Sea World became the center of controversy. Popular song artists and performers cancelled their concerts in 2014 with the theme park, upcoming films edited out scenes that were filmed at SeaWorld and Southwest Airlines ended their 26-year relationship with the aquatic theme park. By the end of the year, Sea World experienced a $15.9 million loss.

Lawmakers became involved after their constituents raised concerns about orcas being kept in captivity. The Orca Welfare and Safety Act was introduced by California lawmakers, which would require that killer whale captivity for entertainment purposes be banned. In New York, legislation was also proposed that banned keeping orcas in captivity. In June 2014, an amendment to the Agriculture Appropriations Act that required the Animal Welfare Act be updated in regards to cetacean captivity passed in Congress with unanimous support.

SeaWorld changed it’s policies due to public concerns following the film. Following Brancheau’s death, OSHA required that all trainers be in barriers away from the animals, no longer performing together in shows. At the end of 2014, Sea World announced that it would build larger environments for the whales and will fund additional research to protect ocean health.

SeaWorld become a public company on April 19, 2013, with its initial public offering set at $27 per share, quickly rising to over $32 by the close of the day. The company raised $702 million from the deal. After the widespread release of “Blackfish,” however, stocks plummeted. In 2014, Sea World reported low admittance, which didn’t meet the theme park’s expectations for the year. This caused the stock to fall by 31 percent by the end of the year. Currently, stocks prices are still low, averaging approximately $18 a share.

Despite low attendance and dropping stock prices, Sea World employees are hopeful that things will soon turn around. Experts say, however, that the “Blackfish Effect” may continue to harm Sea World for some time to come, unless Sea World can change their focus from entertainment to education.