Community Players Join Pros for Free Public Works Musical Adaptation of Homer’s ‘The Odyssey’ at Central Park’s Delacorte, Sept 4-7

August 26, 2015
Actors take well deserved bows at the Public Theater's triumphal performance of Shakespeare's "Cymbeline," the second offering of the summer's free Shakespeare-in-the-Park series at Central Park's Delacorte Theater © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Actors take well deserved bows at the Public Theater’s triumphal performance of Shakespeare’s “Cymbeline,” the second offering of the summer’s free Shakespeare-in-the-Park series at Central Park’s Delacorte Theater © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Public Theater is offering free performances for the community-based Public Works production of Homer’s THE ODYSSEY, conceived and directed by Public Works Director Lear deBessonet, with music, lyrics and book by Todd Almond, beginning Friday, September 4. This original musical adaption, in which community players join professionals, will run for four nights only through Sunday, September 7 at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. Free tickets will be distributed, two per person, at noon on the day of the show at the Delacorte Theater and via the Virtual Ticketing lottery at www.publictheater.org.

The show features professional actors along with over 200 community members, sharing the stage. The event also features a gospel choir; a dance troupe; Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana II; a marching band; the New York Youth Symphony; and TADA! Youth Theater.

Now in its third year, Public Works annually creates ambitious works of participatory theater in partnership with community organizations from all five boroughs of New York City. This year the grand trilogy continues with Obie Award-winning director Lear deBessonet and lyricist/composer Todd Almond, the team behind the acclaimed Public Works productions of The Tempest and The Winter’s Tale, creating a breathtaking new musical adaptation, THE ODYSSEY. Inspired by the historical pageantry movement of the early 1900s—known for blending mass spectacle with community engagement—this latest work in deBessonet and Almond’s three-part cycle reimagines the Greek epic with Public Works’ signature blend of professional actors, community members and special guests. Man-eating Cyclops, a sorceress that turns sailors to beasts, and the deadly sweet song of the Sirens explode onto the stage with spectacular dance numbers in this joyful, larger-than-life musical about finding your way home—no matter where fate may lead you. This adaptation of THE ODYSSEY, conceived and directed by deBessonet, first premiered at The Old Globe in San Diego in 2011.

THE ODYSSEY features equity actors Todd Almond (Singer); Brandon Victor Dixon (Odysseus); Andy Grotelueschen (Cyclops); Karen Olivo (Penelope); and Lucas Caleb Rooney (Antinous); along with cameo group performances by The Bobby Lewis Ensemble; The D.R.E.A.M. Ring; Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana II; The Marching Cobras; The New York Youth Symphony; TADA! Youth Theater and NYC bikers from Old Bones, N.Y.C. Fire Riders, and MLC Crew Riding Club.

The five Public Works community partner organizations are Children’s Aid Society (Manhattan); DreamYard Project (Bronx); Fortune Society (Queens); Brownsville Recreation Center (Brooklyn); and Domestic Workers United (all boroughs, including Staten Island).

“Amid the glory and celebration of Fun Home and Hamilton, Public Works remains at the heart of The Public Theater’s mission,” said Artistic Director Oskar Eustis. “For the last two summers, Lear deBessonet and Todd Almond have given us euphoric, magical re-workings of Shakespeare’s late romances. This year, they are reaching back to the first great Western writer, Homer. Their version of The Odyssey is a thrilling and visionary journey home, for Odysseus and for us.”

“Public Works invites us to radically re-think how we make theater and who has a stake in the work we do,” said Public Works Director Lear deBessonet. “Exploring the genre of civic pageantry has given Todd and me a chance to collaborate with literally hundreds of New Yorkers in bringing these beautiful epics to life, and I couldn’t be more proud to celebrate three years of immersive community work with The Odyssey.”

DeBessonet is the recent recipient of two prestigious awards in 2015: the Doris Duke Impact Award, part of the Doris Duke foundation’s 10-year initiative to empower, invest and celebrate artists; and the Peter Zeisler Memorial Award, presented at the Theatre Communications Group conference in June, which recognizes an individual or organization whose work reflects and promotes the ingenuity and artistic integrity prized by Peter Zeisler, late executive director of TCG. The honorees exemplify pioneering practices in theatre, are dedicated to the freedom of expression and are unafraid of taking risks for the advancement of the art form.

THE ODYSSEY features scenic and lighting design by Justin Townsend; costume design by Paul Carey; sound design by Acme Sound Partners; wig and make-up design by Dave Bova; and choreography by Lorin Latarro.

Tickets to THE ODYSSEY are free, continuing The Public Theater’s long-standing tradition of free programming and community engagement. Since the opening of the Delacorte in 1962, more than five million people have enjoyed more than 150 free productions of Shakespeare and other classical works and musicals at The Public’s Central Park venue. Free tickets will be distributed, two per person, at 12:00 p.m. on the day of the show at the Delacorte Theater. Free tickets will also be available via the Virtual Ticketing lottery at www.publictheater.org on the day of the performance. You may become a Summer Supporter for a $75 tax-deductible donation and receive a reserved seat to the event. For information and to donate, call 212-967-7555.

The Public Theater, founded nearly 60 years ago by Joe Papp as one of the nation’s first nonprofit theaters (Artistic Director, Oskar Eustis; Executive Director, Patrick Willingham), has been an advocate for theater as an essential cultural force and forum for dialogue about issues of the day. As the only theater in New York producing Shakespeare and the classics, musicals, contemporary and experimental works in equal measure, The Public continues its long tradition of engaging a wide range of audiences and artists. Public Works exemplifies The Public’s long-standing commitment to community engagement that is at the core of the theater’s mission. It is animated by the idea that theater is a place of possibility, where the boundaries that separate us from each other in the rest of life can fall away

Lead support for Public Works is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Ford Foundation, New York City Theater Subdistrict Council, The Tow Foundation, and The Stavros Niarchos Foundation.  Additional support is provided by the New York Community Trust, New York State Regional Economic Development Council, David Rockefeller Fund, and Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, LLP. Special thanks to The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation’s leadership support for The Public’s year-round access and engagement programming.

Public Works Units Professionals with Community Members

PUBLIC WORKS is an ongoing initiative of The Public Theater that seeks to engage the people of New York by making them creators and not just spectators. PUBLIC WORKS deliberately blurs the line between professional artists and community members, creating theater that is not only for the people, but by and of the people as well. Working deeply with partner organizations in all five boroughs, PUBLIC WORKS invites members of diverse communities to participate in workshops, take classes, attend performances at The Public, and, most importantly, to join in the creation of ambitious works of participatory theater.

PUBLIC WORKS is founded on a 360° transformational experience of theater: making theater, seeing theater, discussing theater. The five community partner organizations that have worked with The Public for the first two years of PUBLIC WORKS have taken part in the full range of Public Theater programming, including Joe’s Pub, Shakespeare in the Park, Public Forum, and the Mobile Shakespeare Unit. Additionally the Public Works family gathers for monthly potluck dinners and ongoing intergenerational activities.

BROWNSVILLE RECREATION CENTER (Brooklyn) is a branch of the New York City Parks Department.  With extensive resources for youth and seniors, the center offers a vibrant space to tap into pursuits artistic and athletic alike. Over the course of three years partnering with Public Works, senior citizens participated in dance, theater, storytelling, and scene study classes led by Public Theater teaching artists. The group has performed featured dances in both The Tempest and The Winter’s Tale at the Delacorte Theater. The seniors also performed various pieces they’ve developed in classes many times at The Public Theater and the BRC. In the spring of 2015, the center hosted the first ever Public Works Palooza, featuring community performances from all the Public Works partner classes, including their own adaptation of Steel Magnolias. The Brownsville Recreation Center received the Mobile Shakespeare Unit tours of Richard III (Summer 2012), Much Ado About Nothing (Fall 2013), Pericles (Fall 2014), and Macbeth (Spring 2015).

THE CHILDREN’S AID SOCIETY (Manhattan) helps children in poverty to succeed and thrive by providing comprehensive support and critical services to children and their families in targeted high-needs New York City neighborhoods. As part of Public Works, the Children’s Aid Society Chorus (a group of teenage girls led by Kelly Campbell) attended shows at Joe’s Pub, attended regular Public Theater performances, and received master classes in singing, songwriting, movement, and acting. The chorus performed various songs they’ve developed in classes many times at The Public Theater and other events.  In 2015, Public Works also partnered with the CAS Deaf and Hard of Hearing Teen program, where deaf and hard of hearing youth studied the intersection of Shakespeare poetry and sign language. Their work culminated in a community performance of excerpts from Romeo and Juliet.

DREAMYARD PROJECT (Bronx) was recognized by President Obama with a 2012 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. The organization provides transformative arts education for youth in the Bronx through school-based and out-of-school programs and supports young people as they work toward higher learning, meaningful careers and social action. As part of Public Works, DreamYard youth participate in workshops and intensives in performing Shakespeare, and in generative movement led by artists from The Public, along with attending performances in The Public’s season. The parents of DreamYard students also participate in weekly Shakespeare scene study classes led by Public Theater artists. The group has studied, rehearsed and performed scenes from Hamlet and Julius Caesar. This group has performed excerpts from both plays multiple times at The Public Theater, the DreamYard Art Center, and other partner sites. The DreamYard Project received the Mobile Shakespeare Unit tours of Much Ado About Nothing (Fall 2013), Pericles (Fall 2014), and Macbeth (Spring 2015).

DOMESTIC WORKERS UNITED (all boroughs, including Staten Island) is a city-wide organization of Caribbean, Latina and African nannies, housekeepers, and elderly caregivers in New York, organizing for power, respect, and fair labor standards, and to help build a movement to end exploitation and oppression for all. As part of Public Works, members have read and discussed dozens of plays in a monthly play reading and luncheon group. Plays have included Eurydice, For Colored Girls…, A Raisin in the Sun, Antigone, The House of Bernarda Alba, Mother Courage and Her Children, and many others. Members also attend regular performances at The Public.

FORTUNE SOCIETY (Queens) is a nonprofit social service and advocacy organization, founded in 1967, whose mission is to support successful reentry from prison and promote alternatives to incarceration thus strengthening the fabric of their communities. Drawing upon the life experience of Fortune’s formerly incarcerated staff and clients, they offer a holistic, “one-stop” model which includes: alternatives to incarceration, counseling, career development, education, housing services, HIV/AIDS-case management, substance abuse treatment, family services, and lifetime aftercare, among other services. As part of Public Works, members participate in a full year of classes in playwriting, acting, improvisation, storytelling, clown, and production. The Fortune Tellers, the group that has emerged from these classes, has performed their original pieces many times at The Public Theater, the Fortune Society campuses, and other partner sites.  The Fortune Society received the Mobile Shakespeare Unit tours of Richard III (Summer 2012), Much Ado About Nothing (Fall 2013), Pericles (Fall 2014), and Macbeth (Spring 2015).

THE ODYSSEY COMPANY:

LEAR deBESSONET (Public Works Director/The Odyssey Director) directed the previous free Public Works productions of The Winter’s Tale and The Tempest, and has created large-scale theatrical events pairing artistic excellence with community organizing in New York, Philadelphia, San Diego, and Kazakhstan. Her previous large-scale community projects include The Odyssey at the Old Globe (2011) and her site-specific Don Quixote, a collaboration with homeless shelter Broad Street Ministry and the punk-gypsy ensemble The Psalters (2009). Her additional recent work includes Good Person of Szechwan featuring Taylor Mac for The Foundry Theatre at LaMaMa and The Public Theater (Obie Award, Drama Desk nom., Lilly Award, Lortel Award for Best Revival). She has directed shows for City Center Encores! Off-Center, LCT3, the Old Globe, the Intiman, the Guthrie, Joe’s Pub, Women’s Project, Performance Space 122, 13p, and Clubbed Thumb. For Ten Thousand Things in Minneapolis, she has directed productions of My Fair Lady, As You Like It, and The Music Man that toured to prisons, community centers, and homeless shelters.  Recipient of the Doris Duke Impact Award, TCG’s Peter Zeisler Award, the Meadow’s Prize, and LMCC’s Presidential Award for Artistic Excellence, she has also acted as a visiting professor at NYU-Tisch School of the Arts.

TODD ALMOND (Music, Lyrics, & Book, Singer in The Odyssey) is a composer, lyricist and playwright, whose recent collaborations with Lear deBessonet include the free Public Works productions of The Winter’s Tale, for which he wrote the book, music and lyrics and performed the role of Antigonus, and The Tempest, for which he also wrote the book, music, and lyrics and performed the role of Ariel at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. Almond’s most recent musical Iowa, a collaboration with playwright Jenny Schwartz, received its world premiere at Playwrights Horizons this past March. His musical Girlfriend (using new arrangements of Matthew Sweet’s eponymous cult album) will be produced at Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles under the direction of Les Waters. He starred alongside Courtney Love in the rock opera Kansas City Choir Boy at the Prototype Festival, composed by Almond and directed by Kevin Newbury. Almond recently wrote the music for, and performed in, Sarah Ruhl’s Stage Kiss at Playwrights Horizons. Almond’s other credits include a musical version of Sarah Ruhl’s Meloncholy Play, and music and lyrics for We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Almond was the music director/arranger for Laura Benanti’s acclaimed solo show at 54 Below (NYC); and for Sherie Rene Scott’s lauded Piece of Meat, also at 54 Below, and at the Hippodrome (London). Almond’s albums include “Mexico City” and his newly released “Memorial Day.”

LORIN LATARRO (Choreography) choreographed Broadway’s Waiting For Godot with Sirs Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, Ira Glass’s This American Life at BAM for Michael Mayer and Lin-Manuel Miranda, Peter and The Wolf at BAM, Beaches the Musical (Drury Lane), Jasper In Deadland, and Encore’s Fanny. Broadway’s Curious Incident…, American Idiot and The Met Opera’s Rigoletto (Associate to Michael Mayer and Steven Hoggett), Cy Coleman’s The Best Is Yet To Come (Drama Desk Award), Hands On A Hard Body (Associate to Sergio Trujillo). Latarro is an Artistic Associate for Robyn Goodman at Bucks County Playhouse and has starred in 14 Broadway shows.

BRANDON VICTOR DIXON (Odysseus) originated the role of Berry Gordy in Broadway’s Motown the Musical and has also appeared in The Color Purple, earning a Tony Award nomination. His additional credits include The Scottsboro Boys, both Off-Broadway and West End; Cotton Club Parade at New York City Center; Rent; and Far From Heaven. He has appeared in film and on television in The Warrior and the Savior; “Law & Order: Criminal Intent”; “One Life to Live”; and “The Good Wife.”

ANDY GROTELUESCHEN (Cyclops) has been seen on Broadway in Cyrano de Bergerac and in the Fiasco Theater’s The Two Gentlemen of VeronaMeasure for MeasureInto the Woods (Lucille Lortel Award Nomination); Twelfth Night; and Cymbeline. His New York and regional credits include work at Theatre for a New Audience, New Victory, The Guthrie Theater, The Acting Company, Trinity Repertory Company, Yale Repertory Theatre, American Repertory Theater among others. His film and television credits include Geezer, Still on the Road, Tumorhead, “Elementary,” “The Good Wife,” and “The Knick.” He is a graduate of the Brown/Trinity M.F.A. Acting Program, and a Fiasco Theater company member.

KAREN OLIVO (Penelope) has appeared on Broadway in West Side Story (Tony Award), In the Heights, Brooklyn, and Rent. Her Off-Broadway credits include Murder Ballad; By the Way, Meet Vera Stark; In the Heights; and Miracle Brothers. She has appeared in film and on television in Holiday Spin; Generation Um…; Shanghai Hotel; The New Twenty; “Harry’s Law”; “The Good Wife”; “Law & Order: SVU”; and “Criminal Minds.”

LUCAS CALEB ROONEY (Antinous) has appeared at The Public Theater in The Mobile Shakespeare Unit’s Much Ado About Nothing; Measure for Measure; All’s Well That Ends Well; and Yellowface. His Broadway credits include Golden Boy, The Country Girl, and Henry IV. His additional Off-Broadway credits include Regrets, The Orphans’ Home Cycle, and an oak tree. His film and television credits include The Magic of Belle Isle, “Elementary,” “The Good Wife,” “Boardwalk Empire,” and “Person of Interest.”

CAMEO APPEARANCES:

THE BOBBY LEWIS ENSEMBLE is a group of singers based out of The New Light Baptist Church in Harlem. The Senior Pastor of that church, Bobby Lewis, is the group’s founder and director. The Bobby Lewis Ensemble has been singing together almost 20 years in churches, nursing homes, hospitals, prisons, youth shelters, street fairs, and much more. They have traveled the world singing everything from Gospel to recently performing their “Soulful Beatles Celebration” in Harlem. They have toured Taiwan and annually tour Spain, performing their incredible Gospel show to packed audiences. They love performing all styles of music from Southern gospel, to the great classics, to beautiful patriotic medleys, to Negro Spirituals, to contemporary gospel, and more. They recently performed with Norm Lewis at Lincoln Center in his cabaret, Who Am I, and have recorded three CD projects including “It Cometh from the Lord,” “Live in New York City,” and “Christmas in July.”

THE D.R.E.A.M. RING (DANCE RULES EVERYTHING AROUND ME) strives to provide quality competitions that honor the culture of the Brooklyn community, encourages artistic and character development, provides youth with a safe environment to express their artistry, ensures a wealth of opportunities such as performing in schools and teaching in after school programs, displays the young artist and their talents through social media marketing and branding through artists reels, dance videos, performances, and helps young artists gain the skills needed to build careers in the dance industry. The team-oriented company’s purpose is to gain global popularity by exposing audiences to the various styles of street dance and inspiring them to embrace and join their distinctive aesthetic and cultural dance competition company, “THE D.R.E.A.M. RING.”

FLAMENCO VIVO CARLOTA SANTANA II is one of America’s premier Spanish dance companies, dedicated to the belief that the universal spirit of flamenco, a multicultural art form, has the power to build bridges between cultures. Their mission includes raising public awareness of flamenco as an integral part of Hispanic heritage, creating and presenting new works and nurturing the next generations of flamenco artists.  Founded in 1983, the company tours extensively nationwide, and serves New York audiences with an annual home season. Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana II is known for its innovative performances, community programs (including an annual “Flamenco in the Boros” tour which brings free performances to new audiences) and high-quality arts education projects in public schools. Flamenco Vivo also operates the Center for Flamenco Arts, one of only two NYC dance studios dedicated to the specific requirements of flamenco, and produces the NYS Flamenco Certamen, a competition for pre-professional dancers.

THE MARCHING COBRAS is New York’s most exciting youth non-profit organization and has performed for the NFL Superbowl 48, and in the Oscar-winning 2015 movie, Birdman starring Michael Keaton and Emma Stone. The Marching Cobras perform in many parades in many cities and feature the beautiful Sapphire Danceline. The Marching Cobras is offered to all communities in New York City and is currently a year-round program. This summer they will take part in the 2015 Steve Harvey Awards in Atlanta, GA. The program open to ages 10 and up. For more information, visit www.marchingcobrasny.org.

THE NEW YORK YOUTH SYMPHONY is the most awarded youth program of its kind in the nation, recognized for its innovative, tuition-free educational programs for talented young musicians. Founded in 1963 as an orchestra to showcase the metropolitan area’s most gifted musicians ages 12-22, its activities have since grown to encompass programs in chamber music, conducting, composition, and jazz, with performances at world class venues including Carnegie Hall and Jazz at Lincoln Center. Through its commissioning program, First Music, the NYYS has commissioned over 100 works from young composers since 1984. The careers of world-renowned conductors, musicians, and composers have been assisted by their experiences with the New York Youth Symphony. Former music directors and program alumni include Leonard Slatkin, Myung-Whun Chung, David Alan, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Marin Alsop, Gary Levinson, Michael Tiscione, Lawrence Dutton, Kenneth Mirkin, Joel Smirnoff, and Pedro Diaz among many others.

TADA! YOUTH THEATER. Celebrating 30 years, TADA! – the first youth theater to win a Drama Desk Award – is one of NYC’s leading producers of high-quality musical theater productions performed by NYC’s talented kids and teens for family audiences; as well as Arts Education residencies, classes and camps. TADA! has produced 79 mainstage musicals for over 150,000 audience members, and has reached 750,000 kids in arts education and theater programs in and out of school. TADA!’s programs – which reach 30,000 people annually – provide a safe and creative place for kids and teens to grow emotionally, intellectually and socially through musical theater. At the heart of TADA! is the Resident Youth Ensemble Program, a unique, completely free, pre-professional program, which annually serves 80 talented children aged 8-18 from all different backgrounds. Once accepted, members receive free training and perform in all of TADA!’s mainstage productions and special events.

THE PUBLIC THEATER 

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Oskar Eustis and Executive Director Patrick Willingham, The Public Theater is the only theater in New York that produces Shakespeare, the classics, musicals, contemporary and experimental pieces in equal measure. The Public continues the work of its visionary founder, Joe Papp, by acting as an advocate for the theater as an essential cultural force, and leading and framing dialogue on some of the most important issues of our day.  Creating theater for one of the largest and most diverse audience bases in New York City for nearly 60 years, today the Company engages audiences in a variety of venues—including its landmark downtown home at Astor Place, which houses five theaters and Joe’s Pub; the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, home to its beloved, free Shakespeare in the Park; and the Mobile Unit, which tours Shakespearean productions for underserved audiences throughout New York City’s five boroughs.

The Public’s wide range of programming includes free Shakespeare in the Park, the bedrock of the Company’s dedication to making theater accessible to all; Public Works, a new initiative that is designed to cultivate new connections and new models of engagement with artists, audiences and the community each year; new and experimental stagings at The Public at Astor Place, including Public Lab; and a range of artist and audience development initiatives including its Public Forum series, which brings together theater artists and professionals from a variety of disciplines for discussions that shed light on social issues explored in Public productions.

The Public Theater is located on property owned by the City of New York and receives annual support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; and in October 2012 the landmark building downtown at Astor Place was revitalized to physically manifest the Company’s core mission of sparking new dialogues and increasing accessibility for artists and audiences, by dramatically opening up the building to the street and community, and transforming the lobby into a public piazza for artists, students, and audiences. Key elements of the revitalization an expanded and refurbished lobby; the addition of a mezzanine level with a new restaurant lounge, The Library, designed by the Rockwell Group. www.publictheater.org.

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Stowe, Taos Ski Resorts Join The Mountain Collective

August 18, 2015
Stowe, Vermont has joined The Mountain Collective

Stowe, Vermont has joined The Mountain Collective

The Mountain Collective™ has widened its geographic reach with the addition of two premier ski destinations: Stowe joins The Mountain Collective as their first resort on the East Coast, while Taos extends passholder access into New Mexico.  The resorts join Sun Valley, AltaSnowbird, Aspen Snowmass, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Mammoth Mountain, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, Blackcomb, Ski Banff-Lake Louise-Sunshine Village, Whistler in British Columbia, and Thredbo in Australia, in offering unparalleled access to some of the best ski and snowboard terrain.

Mountain Collective passes are now on sale for $399 US. The Mountain Collective™ Pass includes two days of skiing or riding at each of the eleven destinations (AltaSnowbird, Aspen Snowmass, Jackson Hole, Mammoth Mountain, Ski Banff-Lake Louise-Sunshine, Stowe, Sun Valley, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, Taos, Thredbo and Whistler Blackcomb), plus a 50 percent discount on all additional days with no blackout dates. Pricing for kids aged 12 and under is $99 for the 2015-16 season, making the Mountain Collective™ Pass an ideal option for families.

The Mountain Collective™ Pass grants access to 21 mountains with more than 43,400 acres of terrain and 271 lifts and an unmatched reputation for snow quality, quantity and steeps. Passes are available online through an exclusive technology, distribution and marketing partnership with Liftopia at www.MountainCollective.com. A limited number of passes are now available for only $399 US while supplies last.

In addition to being able to ski or ride at eleven leading destinations, extra benefits available to Mountain Collective pass holders include exclusive lodging deals and two bonus days at Valle Nevado, Chile and the Hakuba Valley, Japan. Additionally, passes come with a complimentary, one-year Protect Our Winters (protectourwinters.org) membership. The Mountain Collective is committed to being in business forever and partners with Protect Our Winters with the mission of uniting the winter sports community on the important issue of climate change. The partnership also offers a 50 percent discount on lift tickets to premier season pass holders at the participating resorts throughout the season.

Stowe Mountain Resort, located just outside the vibrant city of Burlington in northern Vermont, offers some of the best of East Coast skiing and riding between the inter-connected Spruce Peak and Mt. Mansfield, the highest elevation in the state.  Stowe regularly receives over 300 inches of snow each season and covers 80% of their diverse terrain with world-class snowmaking, offering the very best snow surfaces east of the Rocky Mountains. Passholders will have access to 485 acres of terrain over a 2,360 foot vertical drop.

“Stowe Mountain Resort is delighted to be part of Mountain Collective,” says Robert McEleney, President & CEO of Stowe Mountain Resort. “As the only Eastern resort among 11 distinctive and iconic destinations, Stowe offers a superlative overall experience both on and off the mountain to the most discerning skiers and riders traveling in this part of North America. Stowe Mountain Resort, a place we call ‘bigger than a mountain,’ combines skiing’s most storied history with new enhancements that range from outdoor ice skating to a new children’s Adventure Center and base area village at Spruce Peak.”

The Mountain Collective™ is an international alliance of premier ski destinations providing the Mountain Collective™ Pass, a lift ticket that includes two days of riding at all partner resorts and 50% off additional days at each resort.  The Mountain Collective™ includes AltaSnowbird, Aspen Snowmass, Jackson Hole, Mammoth Mountain, Ski Banff-Lake Louise-Sunshine, Stowe, Sun Valley, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, Taos, Thredbo and Whistler Blackcomb – resorts that are focused on providing the best in snow terrain for skiers and snowboarders.

Visit www.MountainCollective.com or call (800) 705-6286 for more information.

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Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass Lowest Price Guaranteed Until Sept. 7

August 18, 2015
The view of Lake Tahoe from the slopes of Northstar Ski Resort, California, a Vail Resort. Vail Resorts' Epic Pass provides unlimited skiing to a dozen resorts The view of Lake Tahoe from the slopes of Northstar Ski Resort, California, a Vail Resort. Vail Resorts' Epic Pass provides unlimited skiing to a dozen resorts © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The view of Lake Tahoe from the slopes of Northstar Ski Resort, California, a Vail Resort. Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass provides unlimited skiing to a dozen resorts The view of Lake Tahoe from the slopes of Northstar Ski Resort, California, a Vail Resort. Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass provides unlimited skiing to a dozen resorts © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Labor Day Weekend is the deadline to get the best price on Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass, offering guests access to unrestricted, unlimited skiing for the 2015-16 winter season at a dozen premier ski resorts in the U.S., and perks at a couple of international resorts. Available for $769 for adults and $399 for children, pass holders gain unlimited, unrestricted access to over 32,000 acres at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado, Park City in Utah, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood at Lake Tahoe, Perisher in Australia for the 2016 season, Afton Alps in Minnesota, Mt. Brighton in Michigan, and up to five free consecutive days when staying at in-resort accommodations at Verbier, Switzerland.

“The Epic Pass offers unparalleled access to the best skiing in the U.S.,” said Kirsten Lynch, chief marketing officer of Vail Resorts. “The Epic Pass provides the best value, is the easiest to use and is the most popular pass.””

For visitors looking to take only one ski trip during the 2015-16 winter season, the Epic 4-Day provides four days of unrestricted access to Vail Resorts’ mountains in Colorado, Utah and Lake Tahoe. At just over $1,200 for a family of four, the Epic 4-Day represents a 35 percent savings compared to lift tickets.

Vail Resorts 2015-16 Upgrades

Guests can look forward to $50-million in new improvements combining Park City and Canyons to create one Park City across 7,300 skiable acres of terrain; the project is one of the most ambitious and impactful capital programs in U.S. ski industry history and will be ready for the 2015-16 winter ski season. The plan includes the eight-passenger two-way high-speed Quicksilver gondola with mid-station and new trails, upgraded King Con and Motherload Lifts, new Miner’s Camp Restaurant, snowmaking upgrades and restaurant renovations.

Vail Resorts is also investing $10-15 million more in other resort improvements to elevate the guest experience, bringing its five-year resort investment total to more than $515 million. Improvements include upgrading Vail Mountain’s Avanti Express Lift (#2) to a six-passenger high-speed chairlift, expanding the “refreshing” snowmaking system at Beaver Creek, adding new snowmaking on the recently opened Peak 6 terrain at Breckenridge and rejuvenating the Keystone Lodge. More information on upgrades can be found at http://news.vailresorts.com.

Vail Resorts season pass information:

  • The Epic Pass: Ski as much as you want, whenever you want for $769. The Epic Pass pays for itself in less than five days of skiing or riding. With more than 32,000 acres of skiing and snowboarding terrain, this pass can’t be beat. Unlimited, unrestricted access to Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado, Park City in Utah, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood at Lake Tahoe, Perisher in Australia for the 2016 season, Afton Alps in Minnesota, Mt. Brighton in Michigan, and up to five free consecutive days when staying at in-resort accommodations at Verbier, Switzerland. No blackout dates. A child pass is $399.
  • Epic Local Pass: Perfect for people who can navigate a pass with restrictions. For $579, get unlimited, unrestricted skiing or riding at Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin, as well as Afton Alps and Mt. Brighton, with limited restrictions at Park City, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood. Also includes a total of 10 days at Vail and Beaver Creek with holiday restrictions. The Epic Local Pass pays for itself in less than four days. A child pass (ages five to 12) is $299.
  • Epic 7-Day™ pass is great for guests who don’t plan to ski more than seven days next winter. The pass features seven unrestricted days of skiing and riding at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado; Park City in Utah; and Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in Tahoe. The Epic 7-day is $579 for adults and $299 for children (ages 5-12). In addition, pass holders will receive a total of seven free days of skiing at Afton Alps and Mt. Brighton. The Epic 7-Day pays for itself in under four days of skiing and riding and provides more than 45 percent savings compared to lift tickets purchased at the lift ticket window next season.
  • The Epic 4-Day: Is optimal for guests planning one ski vacation during the 2015-16 winter season. $389 for adults and $219 for children (ages 5-12). Ski any four days at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, and Arapahoe Basin, plus a total of four days at Afton Alps and Mt. Brighton. This pass pays for itself in just over two days and offers a savings of over 35 percent compared to lift tickets. And, for a little over $1,200 a family of four can ski four days at the best ski resorts in the U.S.

Six Ski-With-A-Friend Benefit Tickets

Epic Pass, Epic Local and Epic 7-Day pass holders will automatically receive six discounted Ski-With-a-Friend lift tickets to use for friends and family. All pass holders receive exclusive offers on lodging, dining, ski rentals, equipment, ski school and special events for the 2015-16 ski and snowboard season at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Mt. Brighton, Afton Alps and Arapahoe Basin. Additional season pass benefit information can be found at www.epicpass.com.

Season Pass Insurance Option

Vail Resorts encourages guests to purchase pass insurance. All of the Company’s season pass products are non-refundable and non-transferable; however, pass insurance covers pass holders in the event of unexpected circumstances including sickness, injury and job loss. Coverage applies for all Epic season passes and is valid for the 2015-16 ski season.  Season pass insurance starts at just $10 for adults and $5 for children.

Biggest Savings of the Year on Lodging

Throughout the year, Epic Pass holders save up to an additional 20 percent off the lowest lodging rates and existing promotional packages with Vail Resorts owned and operated properties. The discounts are even deeper this week when pass holders book during Vail Resorts’ biggest sale of the year, the 96 Hour Sale, by Friday, August 21 at 11:59PM MDT.

Direct Flights to Nearby Airports

Access to Epic Pass resorts is easy with direct access to Denver International Airport (DEN), Eagle County Airport (EGE), approximately 25 minutes west of Beaver Creek and Vail; Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO), approximately 1 hour northeast of Lake Tahoe, and Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC), approximately 35 minutes from Park City.

For more formation on the Epic Pass, visit www.epicpass.com.

Vail Resorts, Inc., through its subsidiaries, is a leading global mountain resort operator. The Company’s subsidiaries operate nine world-class mountain resorts and two urban ski areas, including Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado; Park City in Utah; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada; Perisher, Australia; Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mt. Brighton in Michigan. The Company owns and/or manages a collection of casually elegant hotels under the RockResorts brand, as well as the Grand Teton Lodge Company in Jackson Hole, Wyo. Vail Resorts Development Company is the real estate planning and development subsidiary of Vail Resorts, Inc. Vail Resorts is a publicly held company traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: MTN). The Vail Resorts company website is www.vailresorts.com and consumer website is www.snow.com.

See also:

Northstar California scores with new programs: Tost, 4Her, Mountain Table Dinner and slideshow

Keystone, Colorado is Perfect Destination Mountain Resort For Families and slideshow

Night & Day in Heavenly: Your Inner Angel & Devil Both Get Time to Play At Resort that Straddles Nevada & California

Breckenridge Mountain Resort Is Worth The Hike

Beaver Creek: Penultimate in Rocky Mountain Skiing

A Mancation to Heavenly Mountain, Lake Tahoe

 

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Registration for PDN’s PhotoPlus International Conference + Expo is Now Open

August 14, 2015
PDN's PhotoPlus International Conference & Expo offers opportunities to hear from experts. Nikon's booth offers a full day of presentations. here, Ron Magill gives an amazing talk on

PDN’s PhotoPlus International Conference & Expo offers opportunities to hear from experts. Nikon’s booth offers a full day of presentations. here, Ron Magill gives an amazing talk on “The Wild Side”© 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Photography and travel are symbiotic. And the best place to learn about the latest equipment while picking up great tips and techniques from renowned experts is at PDN’s PhotoPlus International Conference + Expo, taking place October 21-24 at the Javits Convention Center in New York City. Registration is now open.

Evolving each year, this year’s conference offers almost twice the number of Master Classes and Photo Walks, as well as a new Next Gen initiative welcoming young and emerging photographers. The Expo will feature more than 220 industry manufacturers and service providers offering special show discounts on new products and technology, raffle prizes, software demos, and free educational presentations to over 21,000 attendees over three days.

“The PhotoPlus Conference provides extensive education and growth opportunities for professionals and enthusiasts alike ranging from lighting, portraiture, post-production, filmmaking, business & marketing and much more,” said Jason Groupp, Director of Education and Membership of the PHOTO+ Group.

“Our vast schedule of photo walks, master classes, conference seminars, keynotes, and portfolio reviews, combined with our large expo hall filled with hundreds of exhibitors demonstrating the latest imaging technologies, has created a wonderful playground for anyone who loves the visual arts.”

To ensure a robust educational experience for all attendees, PhotoPlus also boasts a variety of panels, networking opportunities, and special events throughout the four-day conference and three-day expo.

Young Adult Conference Pass for Photographers and Enthusiasts
Extending the benefits of student pricing to young adults, PhotoPlus Expo is offering discounted rates for young photographers at this year’s show.  Four-day admission to all conference seminars, keynote presentations, and the expo will be provided for $99 to anyone between the ages of 17-25; Master Classes and Photo Walk pricing are also discounted. Wednesday (October 21) will also feature the Next Gen program, an interactive free event for young photographers featuring panelists giving career advice, hands-on workshops, and raffles.

The special pricing was created to make attending the Conference + Expo more affordable to young professionals who are just beginning their careers and provide access to activities that will maximize their learning opportunities.

PhotoPlus VIP Expo Pass
Get the VIP experience at PhotoPlus. VIP status begins with Instant Badge pickup at the VIP Customer Service Desk to avoid long lines and maximize time on the show floor. Next is an exclusive invitation to Thursday night’s private party at the 230 Fifth rooftop bar for speakers, portfolio reviewers, and exhibitors. VIP attendees will also get the Official PPE VIP bag, over 125 of which will contain Golden Tickets to be redeemed for prizes worth up to $500 from Lomography, B&H, and more. This year, the VIP program will be giving away more than $15,000 in prizes! Keep checking the PhotoPlus website for an up-to-date list of prizes.

General Pricing for PhotoPlus Expo 2015
PhotoPlus Expo also offers general attendees with a variety of conference pass options to suit their schedules and budgets. The three-day Expo is free to everyone who registers online before October 21st and as always, those who act quickly can benefit from Early Bird Pricing on all education as well as first choice of over 60 seminars, 20 Photo Walks, and 20 Master Classes before they sell out.  Members of PHOTO+ (PhotoServe.com and WPPI) will save up to 30% on all conference seminar pass options including a Full Conference Pass, One Day Conference Pass, individual seminars as well as Master Class and Photo Walk purchases. Attendees can choose to become PHOTO+ members before or during the registration process to unlock exclusive discounts on conference passes, year-round vendor and product discounts and more.

The price of a Full Conference Pass will be $299.99 for members ($499.99 for non-members) through August 21st.  The price of a One Day Conference Pass is $129.99 for members ($179.99 for non-members). Advanced pricing rates begin August 22nd and end October 20th.

Special Events*

Next Gen
Wednesday, October 21 from 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM
For young photographers early in their careers and students who want to further immerse themselves in the industry, the Next Gen program will feature speakers and industry creatives giving career advice, important tips for portfolio strengthening and presentation. This event will lead into a free panel discussion, #trending, to be followed by Test Drive, a new product review and networking event.

Panel Discussion: #trending
Wednesday, October 21 from 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Wednesday’s free panel will examine innovative ways photographers and brands are using social media and technology to promote growth, generate buzz, and distinguish themselves from the competition.

Test Drive: New Product Preview + Networking Event
Wednesday, October 21 from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

After being inspired by the panel, get a head start on your PhotoPlus Expo experience with an exclusive look at some of the newest and most innovative products at this year’s show. With large crowds expected on the show floor, this is another chance to get an up-close-and-personal look at the latest gadgets, gear, and accessories.

Keynote Presentations
Thursday & Friday, October 22-23 from 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM
Each year, PhotoPlus Expo presents keynote speakers who have literally changed the world of photography and offer a unique perspective through their work and personal experiences.  On Thursday, October 22, Lauren Greenfield will introduce her latest work, WEALTH: The Influence of Affluence, a 25-year examination of how the ideas of wealth and the American Dream have been productized, exported, and manifested around the globe. On Friday, October 23, join Dennis Keeley, Chair of the Photography & Imaging Department at the Art Center College of Design and current co-founder/publisher of Acuity Press, as he moderates a panel of remarkable talent, all coming together to explore new ways to define and practice one of the more fascinating and enduring documents in photography—the “Street Photograph.”

(More information on other special events at the PhotoPlus website.)

Unique Education Photo Walks
Wednesday – Friday, October 21-23 from 8:00 AM – 10 AM, 10 AM – 12 PM & 4:30 – 6:30 PM
Having sold out many last year, PPE will offer more than 20 Photo Walks– more than double the number from last year. Each walk will be led by a photography icon and limited to 25 people to provide a more intimate learning experience for all participants. A complete list of Photo Walks can be viewed on the PhotoPlus website.

Master Classes
Thursday – Friday, October 22-23, from 8:00 AM – 10 AM & 4:30 – 6:30 PM 
Comprehensive and hands-on, Master Classes at PhotoPlus Expo are limited to 50 students giving each one the chance to have personal one-on-one time with the instructor. Students will work on technique, participate in a live shoot with peer critiquing and more. A complete list of Master Classes can be found on the PhotoPlus website.

Portfolio Reviews
The Official Portfolio Review at PhotoPlus Expo, brought to you by Palm Springs Photo Festival, is America’s premier review event for photographers. Honest and constructive feedback on your existing portfolio is a critical part of the learning process and is necessary to reach the next level of excellence. During PhotoPlus, attendees will have an opportunity to sit face-to-face with industry pros responsible for hiring and commissioning photographers and filmmakers throughout the year.

More than 175 magazine designers, art directors, and editors as well as world-class photographers and educators associated with the Palm Springs Photo Festival will offer thought-provoking critiques and suggestions for improving your portfolio to land that next job.

For more information and frequent updates, visit the PPE website, become a fan on Facebook, or follow PPE on Twitter.

Website:         http://www.photoplusexpo.com
Facebook:      http://www.facebook.com/photoplusexpo
Twitter:          http://www.twitter.com/photoplusexpo

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Country Canine Retreats for Furry Pals to Enjoy Dog Days of Summer

August 13, 2015
No need to leave your canine companion out of your summer retreat.

No need to leave your canine companion out of your summer retreat.

No need to leave your canine companion out of your summer retreat: dog-friendly rooms, suites and cottages are offered at three top east coast properties, including: Winvian Farm in Morris, CT; The Inn at Willow Grove in Orange, VA; and 506 On the River Inn in Woodstock, VT.

506 On the River Inn located in the historic town of Woodstock (VT, not NY!) announced its grand opening this summer with 40 upscale rooms that include two designated as dog-friendly. The rooms are outfitted with dog treats and doggy bags and an optional plush pet bed. Both rooms are on the ground level for easy access to the property’s six acres of meadows. Nearby 506 are many hiking trails to explore and the Ottauquechee River, which flows just behind the hotel, is ideal for splashing about. For more information or to book a stay, visit www.ontheriverwoodstock.com.

For those seeking a more southern New England destination, Winvian Farm in the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut features 18 designer dwellings, three of which are pet- friendly, including Stone Cottage, Greenhouse Cottage and Connecticut Yankee Cottage. Dog beds, food and water bowls and crates are available upon request and a special tennis ball welcome gift greets each pup at check-in. For more information or to book a stay, visit www.winvian.com.

Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains is The Inn at Willow Grove, a former 18th century plantation which was transformed into a luxury hotel in 2010. Here, guests and their four legged friend may enjoy two suites in the Overlook East and West cottages. Amenities for dogs include a comfy bed, doggie treats, and food and water bowls. For more information or to book a stay visit http://innatwillowgrove.com

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Four Seasons Resort Nevis Earns 2016 AAA Five Diamond Award

August 13, 2015
Four Seasons Nevis as seen from the private ferry between Porte Zante, St. Kitts to its private dock on Nevis

Four Seasons Nevis as seen from the private ferry between Porte Zante, St. Kitts to its private dock on Nevis

NEVIS, WEST INDIES – For the 20th time, Four Seasons Resort Nevis was named among the recipients of the coveted 2016 AAA/CAA Five Diamond Award. The award recognizes properties that deliver ultimate luxury, sophistication and comfort with extraordinary physical attributes, meticulous personalized service, extensive amenities and impeccable standards of excellence.

“We are truly delighted and honored to receive our 20th AAA Five Diamond Award,” said General Manager Ed Gannon. “Every member of the exceptional Four Seasons Resort Nevis staff is committed to delivering a true Caribbean experience with superior personalized service to every guest, every day. We are especially happy to receive this latest AAA Five Diamond Award for our resort’s 25th anniversary in 2016.”

Opened on February 14, 1991, the 196-room Four Seasons Resort Nevis delivers an intimate and authentic travel experience for adventurous and up-market couples and families. The resort was the first among Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts to ever receive the AAA Five Diamond Award in 1992, and Four Seasons Resort Nevis is currently among only seven Caribbean hotels and resorts to receive the 2015 Five Diamond recognition. The new recognition for 2016 ranks the resort as a premier establishment, esteemed by AAA’s professional inspectors, the hospitality industry, and the club’s more than 55 million members.

Four Seasons Resort Nevis, the only Four Seasons Resort in the Caribbean, is set along the golden sands of Pinney’s Beach, on the western coast of the island, minutes from museums, plantation homes and historic churches dating to the 1600s.

For more information, visit www.FourSeasons.com/Nevis.

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Airline for Pets Expands to Austin

August 13, 2015

People and Pets Dog Airlines, a Houston-based pet transportation company, is expanding to Austin. People and Pets provides air transportation throughout the country, and ground transportation in Texas and surrounding states.

People and Pets is opening offices in Austin to offer local transport services in between homes, veterinarians, pet groomers, and People and Pets flights at airports.

People and Pets is also increasing capacity in Houston, and has launched an online reservation system, allowing customers to book transportation quickly and seamlessly.

Houston-based People and Pets Dog Airlines is the only airline just for pets. Founded in 2014, the company is focused on providing fast, safe pet transportation throughout the country, with free transportation available to animal rescue groups.

People and Pets Animal Transportation is a division of People and Pets Dog Airlines LLC. People and Pets Animal Transportation provides services on the ground in conjunction with People and Pets Dog Airlines flights, both long-distance and local in the Houston market.

For information, People and Pets Dog Airlines, Houston, Texas, 855-228-2220, www.peopleandpetsair.com.

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Chalet View Lodge, Mountain Retreat in California, Welcomes Pets – even on Golf Course

August 13, 2015
Playing golf with a canine companion at Chalet View Lodge.

Playing golf with a canine companion at Chalet View Lodge.

Chalet View Lodge, just outside Graeagle, California, is welcoming four-legged guests to their mountain retreat, even on the golf course.

Chalet View Lodge right on the edge of thousands of acres of Forest Service land, dotted by alpine lakes and close to the Feather River just waiting to be explored on two or four legs. When a furry guest arrives, they’re treated with a dog biscuit at the front desk, and plenty of fun places to explore on the property.

And no need to leave your pup behind when you go out to play nine holes on the Chalet View Lodge Golf Course.

Petsalso can join their companions for dining on the terrace or on the lawn, and a tasty biscuit serves a welcome for each dog checking in with their owner.

More than half of the Chalet View Lodge’s rooms are pet friendly, for an additional $25 a night for one to two dogs.

Chalet View Lodge is an all-inclusive resort with cool mountain charm offering lots to do both onsite and in nearby Graeagle and Johnsville. The Chalet View Lodge is conveniently located on Highway 70 near the quaint town of Graeagle, California, just 54 miles to Reno Tahoe-International Airport, 51 miles from Truckee, 152 miles from Sacramento and 235 miles from the San Francisco Bay Area. The property is owned by the Hickman family since 2004.

For more information, go to www.chaletviewlodge.com or call 800-510-8439.

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Dollywood Plans to Add World’s Fastest Wood Coaster for 2016

August 12, 2015

Dollywood, the themepark in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, plans to open Lightning Rod in March 2016, which it claims will be both the world’s fastest wood coaster and the world’s first launching wood coaster. Lightning Rod adds another groundbreaking roller coaster to the park’s already impressive portfolio of world-class attractions. The thrilling $22 million ride also marks the single largest attraction investment in The Dollywood Company’s history.

Themed after a tricked out 1950s-era hot rod, Lightning Rod launches riders from zero to 45 mph more than 20 stories up its lift hill to one of the ride’s first airtime moments. At the crest of the hill, riders face twin summit airtime hills before tackling the daring first drop. Lightning Rod races down the 165-foot drop and propels guests along its 3,800-ft. track to a top speed of 73 mph, the fastest speed for a wood coaster in the world.

“Lightning Rod reminds me so much of those colorful cars cruisin’ up and down Main Street in downtown Sevierville back when I was in high school. I remember all those souped up cars; but what I remember most were those good lookin’ boys behind the wheel with those flat top and ducktail haircuts,” Dolly Parton said with a laugh.

“I’m truly excited about this ride because it will let our guests experience something just as fast as those hot rods I remember,” she continued. “Even better, it’s the fastest wooden roller coaster in the world, so I think we’re going to see a lot of people coming from all over to peel out on the Lightning Rod.”

Located in Dollywood’s Jukebox Junction, Lightning Rod rockets riders around its massive wooden structure on an adrenaline-charged lap through the trees in the hills and valleys surrounding Dollywood. During the ride, guests experience nearly 20 seconds of airtime. The coaster train is comprised of 12 cars, carrying two passengers each, for a total of 24 people per train.

Lightning Rod is the newest member of The Dollywood Company’s collection of award-winning attractions. In March 2012, Dollywood opened the $20 million Wild Eagle, the country’s first wing coaster. The company introduced RiverRush, Tennessee’s first and only water coaster, at Dollywood’s Splash Country in 2013. FireChaser Express, the nation’s first dual-launch family coaster, was added at Dollywood in 2014. Dollywood mainstays Thunderhead, consistently among the world’s top five wood coasters, Mystery Mine, Blazing Fury and Tennessee Tornado round out the park’s list of innovative coasters.

A highly awarded and widely recognized leader in the amusement industry, The Dollywood Company consists of the 150-acre Dollywood theme park; the 35-acre Dollywood’s Splash Country; Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Cabins; and Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort. As unique as its namesake and owner Dolly Parton, Dollywood is the 2010 Applause Award winner, the theme park industry’s highest accolade; winner of nearly 30 Golden Ticket Awards; and recipient of 24 Brass Ring Awards for Live Entertainment (more than any other theme park in the world). In 2014, Dollywood was named a top three theme park by USA Today.

Dollywood, celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2015, is open nine months a year (late March through early January) and offers rides and attractions, shows, and a dozen crafters authentic to the East Tennessee region. Dollywood’s Splash Country, recognized by the Travel Channel as one of the country’s most beautiful waterparks and named 2009’s Must-See Waterpark by the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions, operates from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Cabins offers luxurious cabin accommodations overlooking Dollywood. The 300-room Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort provides guests spectacular mountain views and family-friendly amenities next door to Dollywood theme park and Dollywood’s Splash Country. For more information, call 1-800-DOLLYWOOD or visit dollywood.com. Operating days and hours vary.

For more information about Dollywood’s attractions, visit www.Dollywood.com or call 1-800-DOLLYWOOD.
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3rd Annual ‘Celebration of Harry Potter’ Fan Event Comes to Universal Orlando Resort Jan 29-31; Vacation Packages Go On Sale Aug 19

August 12, 2015
Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. will host its third annual "A Celebration of Harry Potter," a special gathering of Harry Potter fans from around the globe, Jan. 29-31, 2016 © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. will host its third annual “A Celebration of Harry Potter,” a special gathering of Harry Potter fans from around the globe, Jan. 29-31, 2016 © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. will host its third annual “A Celebration of Harry Potter,” a special gathering of Harry Potter fans from around the globe, Jan. 29-31, 2016. The three-day weekend event will feature an array of experiences.

All general admission park guests will have the opportunity to:

  • Attend Q&A sessions with Harry Potter film talent (complete talent lineup will be announced at a later date)
  • Experience and participate in the interactive exhibits at the “A Celebration of Harry Potter Expo, featuring Harry Potter brand partners such as Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, Pottermore, Scholastic, MinaLima, and Harry Potter: The Exhibition
  • Enjoy special panels and demonstrations regarding various aspects of the Harry Potter stories

Additionally, guests will be able to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida, and ride the Hogwarts Express between the two lands with a park-to-park ticket.

Special vacation packages, including annual passholder packages, will go on sale at noon EST on August 19. On-site hotel packages start at $235 per adult per night and include exclusive benefits such as special guest access to “A Celebration of Harry Potter ” Expo, admission to a private evening reception in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and special guest access to panels and demonstrations. Packages also include three-night hotel accommodations, three-day park-to-park tickets to both Universal Studios Florida & Universal’s Islands of Adventure, a special welcome parcel and more. For complete package details, visit www.universalorlando.com/celebration.

Universal Orlando’s two theme parks, Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, are home to some of the world’s most exciting and innovative attractions. Its on-site resort hotels, Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, the Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, and Universals Cabana Bay Beach Resort are destinations unto themselves. Its entertainment complex, Universal CityWalk, offers dining and entertainment for every member of the family. And just minutes away is Wet n Wild, a family water park.

Universal Orlando Resort has unveiled 18 new guest experiences in the past five years including new attractions, dining opportunities and a dramatically themed hotel.  And more is on the way.  Coming in 2016 is Universal Orlando’s fifth on-site hotel, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort; and Skull Island: Reign of Kong, a groundbreaking attraction in Islands of Adventure.  And in 2017, Universal Orlando Resort will open Universal’s Volcano Bay, an entirely new water theme park experience.

Universal Orlando Resort is part of NBCUniversal, a Comcast company.  Follow on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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