Tahlequah Daily Press

Checking It Out

April 30, 2008

Travel tips for heading east or north

TAHLEQUAH DAILY PRESS — With gasoline prices at incomprehensibly high levels, area residents are scouring the Internet, looking for economical ways to take family trips this summer.

It’s not going to be easy, but it can be done. The tourism industry is hurting as bad as the rest of us, and many sectors are offering deep discounts to compensate for the sticker shock brought on at the pump.

Heading East

As I’ve said before, a trip to Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Orlando, for all intents and purposes) is not what anyone would call cheap, but with its Magical Express shuttling visitors to and from the airport, it does offer a way to lodge a protest against gas prices – by simply refusing to pay them outright. Never mind that the cost of someone’s fuel is probably built into other fees and charges; it’s worth it to know you won’t have to get behind the wheel.

But if you insist upon at least renting a car during a trip to Central Florida, there are a number of other family destinations you shouldn’t miss. There are plenty of great amusement parks, and these will be among the best deals this summer.

Right now, Universal Orlando (www.universalorlando.com) is offering a two-park unlimited admission ticket for only $81, which will get you seven days of fun at both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. We spent one day there recently, and that’s hardly enough to enjoy all the attractions.

The Universal parks compare to Disney in their elaborate theming, and by that I mean that standing in line is part of the attraction. Film clips, scenery, sounds and other trappings tell part of the story of what’s to come. But the parks are still comparatively small, well-laid-out, and not at all intimidating, even for folks who tend to get lost or confused in such environments. I’ve said before that Islands of Adventure is one of my favorite parks if only for its ambiance, but it has two of the best roller coasters in the country: The Hulk, and Dueling Dragons. It also has the multidimensional Spiderman ride and several other surprises for guests of all ages. (One thing you can get at most theme parks: Adults can find refuge in one of several bars while the kids continue exhausting themselves on the ride.)

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