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A Visit To The Children’s Museum, Indianapolis It’s The World’s Largest

The_Childrens_Museum_of_Indianapolis_Welcome_CenterA mummified dinosaur named Leonardo, a towering sculpture by glass artist Dale Chihuly, and a 1927 carousel are just some of the surprises that await visitors to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the world’s largest children’s museum. Paul and Elizabeth chat with President and CEO Jeffrey H. Patchen about upcoming attractions, including an exhibit featuring some of the actual terracotta warriors from Xi’an, China. The museum excels in interactive experiences that bring you into the heart of the action. Join Paul and Elizabeth as they discover a children’s museum that’s as much fun for adults as kids.

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San Francisco Glows For The Holidays With Lights For All

Transamerica Pyramid - New Year's Eve Fireworks-2Paul and Elizabeth chat with Laurie Armstrong about holiday lights and shows in the city by the bay. San Francisco embraces the holiday season in its own vibrant way with events and activities that embody the city’s spirit of tradition, surprise and innovation. On the traditional side, there’s the San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker, A Christmas Carol at American Conservatory Theater, the vocal virtuosity of Chanticleer plus outdoor ice skating, holiday teas and shopping galore. For the offbeat, catch Beach Blanket Babylon, Kung Pao Kosher Comedy and Dance-Along Nutcracker® Goes Hollywood!  Or see the city’s holiday finery on a guided bicycle tour.San Francisco is also celebrating light as art with truly brilliant, eco-friendly light art exhibits.  This convergence is being called Illuminate SF and consists of six temporary and/or permanent installations. From skyscrapers lined with lights to glimmering trees to sparkling decorations throughout the city’s neighborhoods, San Francisco becomes a city aglow during these shortest days of the year. The San Francisco Travel Association offers a list of holiday highlights. Check out SanFrancisco.Travel



Irish Tourism Is Building On The Success Of The Gathering

Uncommon Kyte 001Leo Varadkar TD, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and Niall Gibbons, CEO Tourism Ireland, talked with Paul recently in Los Angeles. They talked abut the plans for 2014 and the growth in tourism visits sparked by the Gathering.   The Dublin Festival Season (which includes the Dublin Theatre Festival, Open House Dublin and the Bram Stoker Festival), to the Belfast Festival at Queens, Wexford Festival Opera, Westport Food Festival, Waterford Harvest Food Festival, Cork Jazz Festival and the Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival. An extra-special focus will be placed on highlighting the New Year’s Eve event in Dublin – NYE 2014 – the grand finale of The Gathering, which looks set to be even bigger and better than last New Year’s event. Airlines are also involved in promotions. So  Aer Lingus and Ryanair, transatlantic and longhaul airlines like American Airlines, Etihad and Emirates are all participating.

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Northern British Columbia Is An Outdoor Sports Paradise

Susan Hubbard Northern British Columbia

Susan Hubbard Northern British Columbia

Susan Hubbard joins Paul to chat about the opportunities for outdoor recreation in Northern British Columbia. Hunting, fishing and hiking are some of the top ways to get out but there is kayaking, mountain climbing and just plain loafing. The first nations have built new cultural centers and museums. Check out the new Nisga’a Museum  and the amazing cultural center out in the islands offshore at  Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site . And if you miss summer well there is a wealth of winter sports to enjoy. We’ll catch up on that later in the year.

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Bob Baker Marionette Theater Keeps a Tradition Alive In Downtown Los Angeles

IMG_0561Bob Baker is a national treasure. His puppet theater in Los Angeles is still producing plays for both adults and kids after 53 years. The current production “Something to crow about” features a cast of more than 100 puppets. Each is unique and is hand carved and individually costumed. Come join Mama and Papa Goat and 100 more of the world famous Bob Baker Marionettes for a musical “Day on the Farm” you will never forget. Everything from dancing scarecrows to tap dancing bullfrogs warbling “Shine On Harvest Moon”, “Something To Crow About” is guaranteed to put a smile on children of all ages! He chats with Paul about how he started at a very early age producing puppet shows for Hollywood stars kid’s birthday parties.

The Bob Baker Marionette Theater in downtown Los Angeles is the oldest of its kind in the United States and has been entertaining children of all ages since its inception in 1960. At that time, Bob Baker and his business partner Alton Wood turned a scene shop in Los Angeles into the family entertainment landmark that it is today. The theater has an inventory of nearly three thousand puppets with just about everything from robots that light up, to dancing frogs, to egg laying chickens. Baker’s marionettes have entertained nearly seven hundred thousand people since the theater’s opening. Jennifer Steinhauer of The New York Times has described Baker’s shows as “a staple of a Los Angeleno childhood. It is the cultural equivalent of the annual march by the nation’s third graders to the neighborhood firehouse.” On June 3, 2009, The Bob Baker Marionette Theater was declared an historic cultural monument by the city of Los Angeles. Check out Bob Baker’s website.



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Kids Have It Made On A Cruise On Carnival Breeze

Carnival BreezePaul and Elizabeth report on the new features and facilities for kids on Carnival Cruise Line’s newest ship the Carnival Breeze. They talk with the director of the kid’s program on the Breeze, Ana Risdic. Camp Carnival as the kids program is known appeals to all ages from 2 to 17. In fact the dance club for teens is one of the hottest place on the ship and adults want to get in but can’t. Very cool. Some cruises might have only a few hundred kids and some can have as much and 1,400 but Ana can expand and contract the programs as needed. And judging from what we saw the kids have a blast. There are plenty of games and even a kid friendly waterpark and a ropes course to try.


Anne Banas Of SmarterTravel.Com Shares Her Passion For Chocolate And Pastry

Anne Banas just got back from Europe ...

Anne Banas just got back from Europe …

Paul and Elizabeth welcome back Anne Banas, executive editor of Anne provides regular travel reports from her recent experiences on the road but this time we talk about chocolate and pastry. What better reason to travel than to sample these delights around the world.

This is an example of some of the great advice Anne provides at Smarter Bad weather can wreak havoc on your travel plans. With headlines playing up planes stuck on tarmacs and newspapers printing images of exhausted people sleeping on airport floors, it’s hard to avoid total panic. But it doesn’t have to be that way when your flight is grounded.

Here’s a primer on your rights and other important things you need to know when bad weather strikes.

The Bad News

Airlines consider bad weather situations—including snow storms, hurricanes, fog conditions, and so on—to be “force majeure” events or “acts of God,” and are not the fault of the airlines. Therefore, when it comes to your rights when there’s a cancellation, the one basic thing you are entitled to is a refund—no free hotel stays, no ground transportation, and no food vouchers (though airlines might offer these options at its discretion).

And there are other potential woes. Even with a flight refund, travelers may not be fully reimbursed in these situations since they might have missed a cruise departure or tour (which may or may not be fully refundable), or they might need to pay for extended hotel nights and other travel expenses out of pocket.

Plus, travelers might have to wait quite a while, depending on the severity of the storm, before being able to return home or reach their intended destination. It can takes several days for all passengers to be rerouted. And although airlines often add more air lift, it still takes time to relocate planes and flight crews.

The Good News

Airlines have learned from the past and now preemptively cancel flights before storms hit. In theory, with the advance warning, fewer passengers will find themselves stuck at the airport than in the past. Though it might seem counterintuitive, you’ll have better access to resources in the comfort of your home or hotel room than at the airport.

Also, airlines have historically waived change fees so that customers can rebook without penalty. Normally, you would have to pay a hefty fee (up to $150 for domestic and $250 for international flights) to alter your ticket. However, date restrictions will often apply, and every airline’s waiver policy is slightly different in each circumstance.

Some Helpful Tips

While weather can disrupt your travel plans, here are some essential tips to minimize stress and allow you to take matters into your own hands:   Read more

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Cars Land At Disneyland — A Southwestern Wonderland

Paul and Elizabeth chat with two of the imagineers responsible for the outstanding setting that is Cars Land.  Kathleen Duncan is  Senior Show Design & Production Manager for Cars Land.  In her 15 years in imagineering for Disney, Kathleen has worked on Downtown Disney, Winnie the Pooh, Buzz Lightyear, Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, Wall-E, and Cars Land.  On Cars Land, Kathleen has been responsible for Managing the design, production and installation of all of the Show elements on the entirety of Cars Land.  The Show items include Sets, Animated figures, Show Action Equipment, Animated Props, Special effects, lighting, Audio/Video, Props, Scenic paint, graphics, and much more.  She managed these items for Radiator Springs Racers, Luigi’s Flying Tires, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, all of the Downtown Buildings and Area Development. In talking with Paul and Elizabeth she discusses the process that the team goes through to create something has intricate as Cars Land.

Jennifer Mok was  Principal Landscape Architect on Cars Land. Jennifer has worked for Walt Disney Imagineering for 14 years on theme park attractions for Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Golden State District of Disney California Adventure, and Fantasylands for Hong Kong Disneyland and Shanghai Disneyland. For Cars Land Jennifer held the position of lead landscape architect. She and her team were responsible for the layout of Cars Land and the town of Radiator Springs as well as the design of the exterior hardscape and landscape. She talks with Paul and Elizabeth about how the plants were chosen and how they were often grown years before the opening.

Creating Cars Land — Radiator Springs Comes To Life

Paul and Elizabeth chat with Kathy Mangum, the person who headed the team in creating Cars Land. Kathy sets priorities and directs creative efforts for Disney park attractions throughout the world. Currently, Kathy is the executive show producer of Cars Land, a 12-acre land and expansion of Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim, California. Imagineers are the creative people behind the attractions at all the Disney Resorts and she and her team opened Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage at Disneyland in 2007. She’s also oversaw enhancements to the Seas with Nemo and Friends pavilion at Epcot, including The Seas with Nemo & Friends attraction, Turtle Talk with Crush and Bruce’s Shark World.

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Jennifer Dombrowski Helps Military Personnel Travel

We met Jennifer Dombrowski through an interview with Johnny Jet and we are totally grateful. Jennifer is in Northern Italy with her Air Force husband and they’ve been there for three years and looking forward to more time in the region. Jennifer and Tim travel as much as they can and try to find new and interesting places. Currently they are discovering small towns in Slovenia but they’ve been to Svalbard near the North Pole to drive dog sleds and are planning trips to Iceland and Dubai. They are taking advantage of being posted abroad and Jennifer is helping other personnel learn how to travel and enjoy the perks of being in another country. She recently started a “Lunch and Learn” series on the base. The first one featured festivals in Italy.