China plans second Disney theme park for Shanghai

China's planning agency has approved plans for a Disney theme park in Shanghai, part of a government push to develop China's biggest city into a global services center and tourist destination. There is already a theme park in Hong Kong. The Shanghai park is estimated to cost $3.5 billion, though an official figure is not available.

The addition of three new theme areas in Hong Kong's park will enlarge the resort by nearly a quarter over the next five years. The $465 million expansion, announced in July, was considered a long-overdue move to lure more young adults and other visitors by addressing complaints the park was too small. It opened in 2005 to great fanfare only to suffer disappointing attendance its first two years. However, visitor numbers in its third year grew by 8 percent, the Hong Kong government says.

Zagat updates its guide to Vancouver

Just in time for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, Zagat has released an updated guide to Vancouver, with recommendations for restaurants and attractions in the city as well as for the ski resort town of Whistler and for beautiful Vancouver Island, which is reachable from Vancouver by ferry and air.

The most popular attractions in Vancouver, according to the 2,721 surveyors who participated in ratings for the guide, are Stanley Park, Vancouver Aquarium, Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, the Capilano Suspension Bridge through a forest of tall trees and Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.

The most popular nightlife spots, according to the Zagat surveyors, are the Opus Bar, the Commodore Ballroom, Bacchus Lounge, Celebrities and the Shark Club.

Top food ratings went to La Belle Auberge, Vij's, Cioppino's, Le Crocodile, ToJo's, Bishop's, West and Shiro Japanese.

The new pocket-sized Zagat guide costs $6.95.

Cheeca Lodge reopens after fire

A popular luxury Florida Keys resort has reopened almost a year after its primary building was ravaged by a New Year's Eve fire.

Guests began checking into the 27-acre Cheeca Lodge & Spa last month as workers completed finishing touches on a new main lodge. The new structure features 62 concrete, oceanfront modular suites trucked to the Keys from Okeechobee.

The 840-square-foot rooms were delivered with fully equipped bathrooms, electrical wiring and communications cables. The modules are energy-efficient, partly fabricated from recycled materials and built to withstand a Category 5 hurricane. Details: cheeca.com.

Planetarium draws visitors to Georgia

The planetarium at the Tellus Northwest Georgia Science Museum is seeing three times the normal attendance for an attraction that size.

The digital planetarium passed 100,000 visitors in mid-December after less than a year of operation. The 120-seat planetarium runs four different shows multiple times throughout the day on topics from the history of space travel to an animated children's show.

The new museum in northwest Georgia has drawn nearly 200,000 visitors since it opened in January. It features mineral and fossil galleries, hands-on exhibits where visitors can dig for shark teeth and a gallery dedicated to aviation.

It was previously called the Weinman Museum. Details: tellusmuseum.org.

Compiled from Times wires

China plans second Disney theme park for Shanghai

01/02/10 [Last modified: Saturday, January 2, 2010 3:30am]

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