TIME Six Flags

Another Major Theme Park Just Banned Selfie Sticks

A couple use a 'selfie stick' to take a photo at a popular tourist spot in Seoul on Nov. 26, 2014.
Ed Jones—AFP/Getty Images A couple use a 'selfie stick' to take a photo at a popular tourist spot in Seoul on Nov. 26, 2014.

The tourist items are reportedly too dangerous.

Six Flags is the latest to ban selfie sticks at its theme parks, NBC reported. It joins Disney on the list of amusement parks to outlaw the tourist item from use due to safety concerns.

The ban is taking affect at all Six Flags theme parks around the U.S.

“We strive to provide the safest possible environment in our parks and these devices pose a safety risk to guests and employees,” said Katy Enrique, a Six Flags communication manager, to NBC Chicago in a statement.

“The safety of our guests and employees is our top priority,” she added.

Selfie sticks have also been banned at many museums, festivals and other events around the U.S.

TIME Teddy Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt’s Home Reopens to the Public

In this June 9, 2015, photo, elk and bison heads along with mementos President Theodore Roosevelt received adorn the North Room, the 26th president's "trophy room," at Sagamore Hill, his summer White House in Oyster Bay, N.Y. Sagamore Hill reopens July 12 after a $10 million, four-year renovation by the National Park Service. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Kathy Willens—AP The North Room, President Theodore Roosevelt's "trophy room," at Sagamore Hill, his summer White House in Oyster Bay, N.Y., on June 9, 2015.

Teddy Roosevelt’s home is once again accepting visitors.

The 26th president’s New York house, known as Sagamore Hill, reopened Sunday after a $10 million restoration project that took three years.

“They did a tremendous job,” Tweed Roosevelt, president of the Theodore Roosevelt Association, told Newsday. “It looks much nicer than I remember. It’s pristine but not so much so that it doesn’t look lived in.”

Sagamore Hill was the first presidential home to be used as a “Summer White House” thanks in part to the use of telegrams.

An analysis of presidential homes by Trulia found it was the fourth most valuable, with an estimated value in today’s dollars of $3.2 million. Only the homes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were more valuable.

Read Next: Meet the U.S. President Responsible for the Most Tourism

[Newsday]

TIME Disney

Here’s Why Disney Just Banned This Vacation Photo Essential

DISNEY PARKS DISNEY SIDE
PR NEWSWIRE—PR NEWSWIRE

The company cited safety as the main concern

Disney is the latest company to ban selfie-sticks due to safety concerns, the company said in an announcement Friday.

The popular travel item will be banned from Disney theme parks in Orlando starting Tuesday, and also in Disney water parks, the Associated Press reported.

“We strive to provide a great experience for the entire family, and unfortunately selfie-sticks have become a growing safety concern for both our guests and cast,” Disney World spokeswoman Kim Prunty told the Orlando Sentinel.

According to the publication, guests will have the option of checking the items near park entrances to pick them up later in the day.

This has been an ongoing issue at Disney:

Several incidents preceded the change, but officials have been discussing the rules for some time, Disney said. This week at Disney California Adventure park, a roller coaster was halted after a passenger pulled out a selfie-stick. The ride was closed for an hour.

Apple banned the item from its Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this year.

TIME Tourism

Meet the U.S. President Responsible for the Most Tourism

Richard Nixon, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Lyndon B. Johnson and Jimmy Carter.
Stanley Chow Richard Nixon, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Lyndon B. Johnson and Jimmy Carter.

It's not Teddy Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt did a lot to help American tourism with his strenuous advocacy for national parks, but other presidents have him beat when it comes to actual tourists.

TIME looked at all the federal land each president established, according to the National Park Service — from national parks to battlefields to national historic sites — as well as each president’s library and monuments to him. (We did not count roadways.)

Totaling the annual visitor statistics for each location, the president who came out on top was Richard Nixon, with more than 31 million tourists visiting his sites in 2014.

Nixon may not have founded any of the gorgeous parks in America’s heartland that we tend to associate with this kind of tourism: Yosemite was Abraham Lincoln, the Grand Canyon was Teddy Roosevelt, and Yellowstone was Ulysses S. Grant, to name a few.

But Nixon has a trump card that launches him to the No. 1 spot: Golden Gate National Recreation Area, an 80,000-acre park in San Francisco with views of the bridge. It attracted more than 15 million visitors in 2014, dwarfing the Grand Canyon’s 4.7 million. (The park with the second-most visitors after Golden Gate is Great Smoky Mountains, established by Calvin Coolidge, which garnered more than 10 million visitors in 2014.)

Here are the leading presidents based on tourism numbers, and their top site:

1. Richard Nixon – 31,597,349/Golden Gate National Recreation Area

2. Franklin Delano Roosevelt – 27,110,229/Lake Mead National Recreation Area

3. Calvin Coolidge – 24,789,380/Great Smoky Mountains National Park

4. Lyndon B. Johnson – 19,997,226/Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

5. Jimmy Carter – 17,118,803/Vietnam Veterans Memorial

This article was originally published in the July 13 issue of TIME.

TIME Tourism

This Is the Best Beach in the U.S.

Justin Fantl for TIME

U.S. Coastlines receive some 62 million visitors annually

The U.S. coastline — from the rocky inlets of New England to the turquoise coves of Hawaii — receives some 62 million visitors annually. And there’s no doubt that there are at least 62 million opinions on what makes a great beach. Still, TIME set out to find the best strip of seashore using a mathematical method.

Our top pick? Huntington Beach State Park in Orange County, Calif.

Huntington, also known as Surf City USA, came in in at number one thanks to its combination of good beach weather, summer water temperature and accessibility. It also has a good reputation with the public — a metric we evaluated using reviews data from TripAdvisor.com.

Huntington can add this honor to another recent claim to fame: It set a record earlier this month for the largest surfboard ride in the world, with 66 surfers on one, 42-ft.-long board.

This article was originally published in the July 13 issue of TIME.

TIME South Korea

Here’s the One Piece of Good News if You Travel to South Korea and End Up Getting MERS

Struggles To Contain MERS Continue In South Korea
Chung Sung-Jun —Getty Images Disinfection workers wearing protective clothing spray anti-septic solution in a karaoke parlor on June 16, 2015 in Seoul, South Korea.

The government will pick up your medical bills

South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism announced this week that free insurance would be offered to foreign tourists to cover their medical expenses if they contract Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), while visiting the country.

The ministry also announced plans to stock tourist sites with sterilizing products and open a call center to cater to MERS-related inquiries from foreigners.

“We hope the measures will make foreign tourists feel that Korea is still a safe country to visit,” Vice Minister Kim Jong told reporters earlier this week, according to the Korea Times.

Approximately 100,000 foreign tourists have axed scheduled trips to the country since early June, reports Agence France-Presse.

The news comes as authorities announced that another individual diagnosed with MERS died on Wednesday morning, which ups the nationwide toll to 20.

However, the country’s Ministry of Health and Welfare says that 90% of the deaths attributed to the current outbreak have occurred with patients who already had pre-existing medical conditions, reports South Korean news agency Yonhap.

To date, 124 patients diagnosed with MERS remain in hospital in South Korea, while an additional 6,500 people have been quarantined since the outbreak first began spreading across the country on May 20.

TIME Nepal

Heritage Sites Damaged in the Nepalese Quake Have Reopened Despite Safety Concerns

Remains of a collapsed temple are pictured at Bashantapur Durbar Square
Navesh Chitrakar—Reuters Remains of a collapsed temple at Bashantapur Durbar Square, a UNESCO world heritage site, on May 7, 2015

Tourism chief insists they "should not remain closed forever"

Several Nepalese World Heritage sites previously closed due to earthquake damage were reopened on Monday, the result of nearly two months of work stabilizing structures and removing rubble.

But some United Nations officials expressed concerns that some buildings—damaged during the April earthquake that killed more than 8,700 people—were still too unsteady, the New York Times reports.

Nepal’s tourism secretary, Suresh Man Shrestha, nonethess told the Times “The treasures of the Nepalese economy should not remain closed forever.”

More than 700 monuments in Kathmandu and its environs were damaged in the quake, and the cost of rebuilding is estimated in the tens of millions of dollars. Some of the most notable reopened monuments include the plazas and courts of Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, as well as the central squares of both the ancient city of Bhaktapur (the entirety of which is a UNESCO site) and Patan, a traditional center for handicrafts.

Christian Manhart, the head of UNESCO Kathmandu told the Times that his organization had encouraged authorities to delay the reopening because of concerns that some buildings were still unsafe or vulnerable to looting.

“At Kathmandu Durbar Square there is the huge palace museum—one very big building which is totally shaky,” he said. “The walls are disconnected from one another so this big wall can fall down at any moment.”

In response, Nepal’s Tourism Department said that museum would not reopen and that other safety measures, such as providing helmets to visitors, would mediate these concerns.

But Manhart said that even allowing tourists in proximity to unstable buildings could pose a risk. He also told the Times that Archaeology Department director general Bhesh Narayan Dahal implied to him that he was under pressure to reopen damaged monuments in order to collect entrance fees to support reconstruction efforts.

Dahal was not available for comment.

[NYT]

TIME Tourism

SeaWorld Is Struggling to Keep People Visiting

Premiere Of Sea World San Diego's "Turtle: The Incredible Journey"
Jerod Harris—Getty Images A general view of the atmosphere at the premiere of Sea World San Diego's "Turtle: The Incredible Journey" on June 21, 2011 in San Diego, California.

While Universal is riding that Harry Potter high

In the theme park wars, 2014 was a clear victory for Universal and a drag for SeaWorld, with Disney coming up somewhere in between.

Let’s be clear: Disney World is still the biggest dog in the fight, attracting 70.9% of all theme park visits in 2014 — but that’s down from 73.3% in 2013, reports the Orlando Sentinel.

Disney’s market share was bitten into by Universal, which had a 22.6% share in 2014 compared with 19.3% in 2013, largely driven by the opening of the second outpost of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. Plus, plenty of people who came to experience the world of the Boy Wizard also bought tickets to Universal’s other park, Islands of Adventure, where the first Harry Potter area is still operating. There’s a “Hogwart’s Express” train connected the two parks, which can only be ridden if visitors have tickets to both parks.

SeaWorld, meanwhile, had market share of just 6.5%, down from 7.4%. The aquatic-themed park had its own problems to deal with, as negative publicity regarding its treatment of animals may still be hurting it at the gates.

The Orlando theme park market in general had a good year, with total visits increasing 6% to 72.6 million.

MONEY Travel

Inexpensive Alternatives to Top Vacation Spots

Want the fun without the crowds and cost? Visit these substitutes for well-known vacation destinations.

MONEY Travel

5 Ways to Save on a Trip to Paris

150523_EM_Paris
Chris Sorensen—Gallery Stock Louvre pyramid, Paris, France.

The City of Light is more affordable than you think

Piles of pastel macaron at Laduree. The steep steps of Montmartre. Masterworks at the Louvre. A long stroll along the Seine.

Paris is a city that many travelers pine for, dream about, plan a once-in-a-lifetime trip to. But with so much love comes plenty of high prices. In fact, Paris is one of the most expensive European cities to fly to: Hopper found that the average airfare to the City of Light comes in at just under $1,000 round trip.

Lucky for you, we found some easy ways to save money while planning a trip to Paris. From buying the right flight to staying in the right place, you can save some serious euro just by being smart.

Compare Arrival Airports

Charles de Gaulle is the main airport for Paris arrivals (and, since it’s the eighth busiest airport in the world, it’s the arrival and departure point for many visitors to Europe). However, it may not actually be the cheapest airport for you to fly into. Compare the cost of flights from your departure airport to both Charles de Gaulle and Orly, Paris’ secondary airport. You may find surprising savings.

Don’t Forget Budget Airlines

When looking for flights to Paris, you may skip the legacy airlines unless you find a great deal. At Hopper, we’ve consistently found the best savings on flights from the United States to Paris with airlines like WOW and XL Airways France. On the latter, we found flights from New York City to Paris from just $537 this fall.

Also consider Turkish Airlines: Our research uncovered flights from Boston to Paris from $712. They come with a free stopover in Istanbul and are certainly longer than Air France’s non-stop option — but they’re also at least $400 cheaper. Turkish Airlines is gaining steam as a surprisingly low-cost carrier with plenty of amenities, from luxe airport lounges to in-flight Turkish delight.

Watch Flight Prices

You could spend all day, every day, checking flight prices to Paris, waiting with baited breath for that flight price to drop. Unfortunately, flight prices nearly always increase in the last few weeks as your departure date approaches. So it’s important to keep track of price trends and know exactly when you’re getting a good deal. Also know the average flight price from your departure airport; the national average for a flight from the U.S. to France is $996, but depending on your location, it could be much higher or lower.

Comparison-shopping for flights is difficult, but you do have some tools at your disposal. Look into an airfare-prediction app (Hopper is one; Yapta is another that’s great for corporate or group travel) and set up a fare alert to Paris.

Find Alternative Accommodations

While you’re likely to spend the biggest portion of your budget on your flight to Paris, accommodations can be heart-stoppingly expensive. (A moderate three-star hotel can be as pricy as $389 per night.) So don’t overlook alternative accommodation options. Here are some favorites:

Airbnb seems to be the last name in vacation rentals, and its young, hip brand is perfect for Paris, where the average rental rate for an entire home is a wonderfully cheap $108. Another vacation-rental option is long-time favorite HomeAway, which has a roster of some 7,000 properties in and around Paris.

Other options include a bed and breakfast (we recommend BedandBreakfast.com, which lists 68 quaint B&Bs and inns in the metro area) or, surprisingly, hostels. No longer the smelly, smoky college-student-on-spring-break hangouts, you can find decent properties with amazing prices. Check them out on HostelWorld.

Buy a City or Museum Pass

Finally, if sightseeing is your number-one goal in Paris, look into the Paris Pass. While it doesn’t include entry to the Eiffel Tower, it does include admission to 60 attractions and tours. See the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, Centre Pompidou, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral, and even Versailles nearby. Two-day pass prices start at about $138 for adults and $47.50 for children, which offers a great savings opportunity if you plan to hit up a handful of sights.

This article originally appeared on Hopper.com. Hopper is a travel app that tracks and predicts airfare prices.

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