Travel & Tourism
Adventure Awaits at Missouri Theme Parks PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Stephen Foutes   
Friday, 26 April 2013 09:40
Enjoy the Ride at Missouri's Theme Parks

Jefferson City, Mo. — Missouri’s collection of theme and amusement parks supplies countless thrills and chills. Without exception, these parks are anchored by the most exciting rides of all — roller coasters. In Missouri, our world-class roller coasters literally reach new heights.

Kathleen Olsen’s first memory of a roller coaster is from a family trip to Six Flags Over Mid-America (now Six Flags St. Louis) in 1976. Back then, passengers were loosely secured on the car’s bench seat by a belt across their laps. At the time, the brand new Screamin' Eagle was billed as the world's tallest, longest, and fastest roller coaster. The train of cars traveled on rails utilizing steel strips mounted onto a wood superstructure.

“There were no loops or corkscrews, but the drops from high in the sky were exhilarating,” Kathleen recalls.

As she tells it: “Mom wore her hair in what we now call an updo, with a wiglet attached to enhance her elaborate hairstyle. Quite the high fashion in those days.” Yes, you guessed it – the wiglet came loose during the ride.

“Not all the way off,” Kathleen chuckles. “It was still attached in the front, so it flapped wildly in the wind as we zoomed along. Imagine Mom’s embarrassment.”

It’s been some 37 years since the ‘updo incident,’ and Kathleen Olsen has evolved into Katie Steele Danner, director of the Missouri Division of Tourism, and her perspective of and respect for theme parks and roller coasters has evolved as well.

“The Screamin' Eagle is still operating,” she pointed out, “but coasters as a whole have come a long way, to put it mildly.”

Most modern roller coasters run on a tubular-steel framework, easily bent to allows the cars to rocket through loops, corkscrews, and huge drops; however, wooden coasters are still being built. Missouri’s three, world-class parks boast both types of construction.

In 2013, two new roller coasters begin thrilling, even challenging, brave riders in Missouri. One sets two new world records.

“I am eager, and admittedly a bit anxious, to give both a try,” said Danner. “Six Flags, the hair-raising location of my youth (no pun intended; well, maybe a little), has added its ninth coaster.”

Boomerang is a nerve-racking, steel roller coaster that flings you through a combination of intense and ferocious sensations. First, you and 37 other riders are slowly pulled backward, 125 feet into the sky; after a short pause, you are released to rocket along 1,650 feet of twisting steel track, at speeds reaching 50 mph, through loops and cork-screws, before climbing a second hill where the track ends. At that point, you pause in mid-air before running the full route again — backwards.

But wait! That’s not the end of the story at Six Flags. The eight themed areas of the park expose visitors to a collection of 49 rides and attractions, 18 food options, and numerous gift and souvenir shops. Plus, six theaters present a constant variety of top-name entertainers, concerts and special events throughout the season. And – as if that’s not enough to keep you exhausted – Hurricane Harbor waterpark (included with Six Flags admission) is home to water slides, a wave pool, a lazy river, and nearly a dozen waterborne activities.

The Six Flags St. Louis complex is located in Eureka, 30 miles south of downtown St. Louis. Six Flags welcomes adventurers April thru September; Hurricane Harbor is open late May thru early September. Check the website for specific days and times.

World records are not broken very often. That said, a new ride at Silver Dollar City in Branson has broken three, this year. Outlaw Run – billed as the world’s most daring wood roller coaster includes the steepest drop for a wood coaster anywhere on earth – 162 feet, almost straight down at 81 degrees (world record No. 1); a double barrel-roll, making it the only wood coaster in the world to get you upside-down (world record No. 2); the first outside-banked turn on a wood coaster (world record No. 3). And reaching a top speed of 68 mph, it is the second-fastest wood roller coaster on the planet.

After you catch your breath, this 1880s-themed park includes 30 fun-filled, family friendly rides and attractions (some dry; some wet) to keep you entertained. Among them is Marvel Cave, a Registered Natural Landmark, with one of the largest subterranean entry-rooms in the United States. Also, Silver Dollar City is home to 60 shops, with 100 resident craftsmen and artisans, demonstrating their talents. And don’t miss the dozen delightful restaurants showcasing a unique style of country cooking, rated among the best theme park food in the nation by Amusement Today Magazine.

Tired yet? They put on more than 40 live shows spaced throughout the season, including six world-class festivals which are among the most attended themed-festivals in the country. As a Golden Ticket Awards winner, Silver Dollar City shows have been rated among the best in the entire theme park industry.

Silver Dollar City is open select days in April and May, daily June and July, and select days August thru December. Check the website for specific days and times.

Need more thrills? Travel to Kansas City to experience Missouri’s third major theme park, Worlds of Fun, themed around the Jules Verne book, “Around the World in Eighty Days.” For a single entry ticket, enjoy both Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun waterpark.

At Worlds of Fun, you can scream your head off on Mamba, one of the tallest, longest and fastest roller coasters in the world. Mamba is a state-of-the-art coaster, where riders climb 200 feet before plummeting toward the earth at 75 mph, through nine drops, racing along 5,600 feet of steel track. Add to that nearly 100 rides and adventures; 33 food and snack options; Charlie Brown and the whole Peanuts gang roaming the park; and plenty of amazing performers from across the country. The newest attraction is Dinosaurs Alive! The multi-sensory, interactive dinosaur park features more than 35 life-sized dinosaurs (no, they don’t bite), including the world's largest animatronics dinosaur, standing nearly 40 feet tall and 72 feet long (hey, that’s another world record).

Oceans of Fun features 60 acres of drenching water attractions, including a twisting raft adventure; the wave pool; water playhouse; 33 water slides; a lazy river; and a monsoon.

Worlds of Fun thrills visitors April through October; Oceans of Fun will cool you off mid-May through mid-September. Check the website for specific days and times.

So get out there and be thrilled; but mind your hair …. and your hat, and anything else that might drop off. Ride on the wind this year, in Missouri. Enjoy the show.

For listings of other things to see and do in Missouri, go to VisitMO.com. Order your free copy of the Official Missouri Travel Guide at 800-519-4800.

About the Missouri Division of Tourism
The Missouri Division of Tourism (MDT) is the official tourism office for the state of Missouri dedicated to marketing Missouri as a premier travel destination. Established in 1967, the Missouri Division of Tourism has worked hard to develop the tourism industry in Missouri to what it is today, an $11 billion industry supporting more than 281,000 jobs. For more information on Missouri tourism, go to http://www.visitmo.com.

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Delta announces mainline jet service for first time in history to Quad City International Airport PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Cathie Rochau   
Tuesday, 16 April 2013 14:08

(Moline/Quad Cities) For the first time in history, Delta Air Lines will provide mainline service to the Quad City International Airport.  Airport officials were informed late last week that Delta will use an A-319 Airbus once per day, for one departure and one arrival.  The aircraft seats 126 passengers- twelve in first class, and 114 in coach.

Flights will be to/from Atlanta, and will depart the Quad Cities at 6:00 a.m., arriving in Atlanta at 8:51 a.m. The evening flight will depart Atlanta at 9:21 p.m., and arrive in Moline/Quad Cities at 10:17 p.m. (All times local.)  These flight times are already in the current schedule, along with two other daily arrivals and departures offered between Moline and Atlanta by Delta.

Bruce Carter, Director of Aviation, says “We are very excited that Delta is inaugurating service with a mainline aircraft.  This opens up more opportunities for operating larger aircraft from the Quad City International Airport.  We have already made the investment in special ground handling equipment to support the A-319 operations,” Carter adds.  “We know our leisure and corporate travelers, in particular, who use these flights for domestic and international connections through the Atlanta hub, will enjoy and appreciate the upgraded aircraft.”

The flights utilizing the A-319 will begin June 10, 2013.  Delta currently serves the Quad Cities with three popular hub, or connecting cities: Atlanta, Detroit, and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

The Quad City International Airport strives to make travel an easier experience. There are four airlines serving travelers from throughout eastern Iowa and Western Illinois. There are currently 10 nonstop destinations,  with dozens of daily departures and hundreds of connections beyond. Visit qcairport.com.

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Quad City Segway - “Rollin’ on the River” PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Jessica Waytenick   
Monday, 15 April 2013 08:02

Davenport, Iowa – What better way to welcome a long-awaited Spring season in the Quad Cities than by rolling along the Mississippi River on a two-wheeled Segway personal transporter.  Surprisingly effortless, these 2-wheeled transporters are not only the latest fun outdoor group activity; they are the ultimate in green and environmentally-friendly transportation!

Open for business as of April 1, 2013, the Quad City Segway Tours are set to roll!  Locally owned and operated by a Quad City family, Quad City Segway is based out of the Visitor Center at Union Station, 102 South Harrison Street, Davenport, Iowa.

Guests can choose between either a one-hour, or a two-hour guided tour with a Special Tour Guide leading the way.  The tours run along the beautiful Mississippi Riverfront from Davenport out to Credit Island and back.

This fabulous experience will introduce guests to many points of interest and history along both the Iowa and Illinois sides of the Mississippi River.  It is a wonderful activity for families and groups of two to ten people, ages 14 and up.

For more information and reservations, visit www.quadcitysegway.com, or contact Cole Chaplin at 563-594-8839 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Quad City Segway Tours are ideal for celebrating a Special Occasion, for entertaining out-of-town guests, for renting for Corporate Events, or just getting out and enjoying a sunny afternoon along the Mississippi River.  The fun and possibilities are endless, and the memories created will be priceless!  Come and learn “The Segway Smile” with Quad City Segway Tours….It’s how we ROLL!”

Contact – Cole Chaplin, 563-594-8839 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 
Governor Quinn’s Trade Mission to Mexico to Boost Illinois Tourism PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Ryan C. Woods   
Thursday, 04 April 2013 08:01

Mexican Travelers Contribute $103 Million Annually to Illinois’ Economy

MEXICO CITY – Governor Pat Quinn tomorrow will meet with travel officials in Mexico City to promote Mexican tourism in Illinois, already a $103 million business. The governor is currently on a trade mission to Mexico, as part of his agenda to drive Illinois’ economy forward and create jobs. The governor will address members of the travel industry at a breakfast in Mexico City to showcase Illinois and Chicago as a visitor destination and advance Mexican awareness of Illinois’ rich cultural heritage.

“Mexico is Illinois’ third largest international market for visitors to our state, with 100,000 arriving by plane alone each year,” Governor Quinn said. “But we can’t stop now, and this mission will strengthen our economy by increasing the number of Mexican tourists to Illinois.”

Governor Quinn will headline the Illinois tourism breakfast held at the Torre Mayor, one of the tallest buildings in Mexico City. In his address, the governor will highlight the great and varied tourism opportunities available in Illinois, from the city of Chicago to the Abraham Lincoln and Route 66 sites, and the Shawnee National Forest. Joining Governor Quinn is a host of Illinois businesses and organizations, including Chicago-based United Airlines and Choose Chicago, to encourage travel to Illinois.

Illinois and Mexico have strong social ties. There are 1.6 million persons of Mexican origin in Illinois, representing 12.5 percent of the state’s population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Yet, many Mexican tourists come to Illinois to visit family and friends without taking advantage of the diverse activities in the state.  One of the trade mission’s main objectives is increasing Illinois’ market share of Mexican visitors to the U.S., as there is great potential. Mexican travel to the U.S. is expected to grow 17 percent by 2017.

“Mexico is critical to our tourism sales, marketing and public relations strategy,” Don Welsh, Choose Chicago president and CEO said. “Visitation out of this market is essential as we continue to work toward Mayor Emanuel’s two key goals for leisure tourism – to grow annual visitation to exceed 50 million visitors annually, and to elevate Chicago to be among the top five most popular US cities for international travel.  Mexico’s travel trade community, and its travel writers and influencers have now discovered the most American of American cities. We look forward to continued success in this region.”

“As tourism traffic from Mexico to Chicago continues to grow, United is excited to be a key partner in efforts to connect these two great destinations for business and leisure travelers,” Rolf Meyer, United Airlines’ managing director of sales in Mexico said. “This marks our 47th year of service to Mexico, and we look forward to continuing to explore new opportunities in the local markets.”

According to Google, from 2011 to 2012 the highest increase of online users searching for Illinois information came from Mexico, a 23 percent increase. Since attractions throughout the state are very popular with Spanish-speaking families, Illinois has launched a re-imagined www.disfrutaillinois.com, the state tourism website for Spanish-speaking audiences. The Spanish-language guide can be downloaded for free on the website.

More than 90 million domestic and international travelers visit Illinois every year, supporting more than 290,000 jobs. The Illinois tourism industry generated a record $31.8 billion in 2011, up 8.4 percent from the previous year, fueled by a record increase in leisure travel. The 2012 results, slated to be released this summer, are expected to show another strong year. The robust results emphasize the critical role tourism plays in fueling Illinois’ economic growth, creating jobs and providing additional revenue to the state.

The top markets for international visitors to Illinois, in order, are: Canada, United Kingdom, Mexico, Japan, the People’s Republic of China and Germany.

The Mexico trade mission, from April 3 to 6, is the latest by Governor Quinn as he seeks to promote Illinois to an international audience. Past missions include China and Japan in 2011, and Canada and Brazil in 2012.

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More Women are Flying Solo to See the World PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Thursday, 28 March 2013 15:10
5 Tips for Getting Off Your Settee & Joining Them

So you’re a woman and you want to see the world – on your terms.

Join the crowd!

More and more women are traveling alone or with girlfriends; an estimated 32 million in the past year, according to the Travel Industry Association.

“It’s the new trend in travel and, really, it’s a no-brainer,” says Ruth Yunker, an intrepid solo traveler and author of “Paris, I’ve Grown Accustomed to Your Ways,” (www.ruthyunker.com), a humorous recounting of her extended stay in Paris as part-time resident, part-time tourist.

“Women hold the purse strings, so to speak, and we don’t necessarily want to see and experience our travel destinations in the same ways men do.”

The numbers tell the story:

• 28 million single women ages 35 and older – a growing demographic, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
• Earnings for women with a college degree have increased 31 percent since 1979 while men’s grew just 16 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
• In 2011, 28 percent of married women made more than their husbands, up from 17.8 percent in 1987.

“We value our independence and we have the means to get up and go, so why not?” Yunker says.

If you’re a woman who has dreamed of taking off on a safari, jaunting across Europe or sampling fried seahorses in Beijing, Yunker offers valuable advice:

1. So you want to travel. You are dying to travel. You have a list of 10 favorite places you’re going to get to … one day. Buy the airline ticket six months in advance. A non-refundable ticket. Don’t fret. Don’t get stopped by all the details. Just do it. There. You’ve taken the first step. You can, and will, worry about all the other details later. But baby, with this ticket, you are now on your way.

2. Bring a few creature comforts from home. I bring my own pillowcase for the airline pillows, my ragged at-home comfy wear instead of new nightgowns for the hotel or apartment, and the clipboard for working crossword puzzles.

3. Pack only clothes you currently actually wear. Do not buy a ton of new clothes for the trip. A suitcase packed with new clothes is a trip doomed to tears, trust me. The old clothes fit you now. You know without thinking how to look pulled together. The new clothes are uncomfortable. They don’t go with anything yet. And they scream brand new traveler!

4. Bring some currency from your destination country with you. Do it. Everyone will tell you otherwise. They’ll say it’s so much cheaper to change your money once you get there. Maybe. But in the mayhem of the airport, suitcases going in every direction, do you really want to be finding the currency exchange? Just getting to the hotel/apartment will be job enough. So do arrive with Euros or whatever currency you need. It doesn’t have to be a huge sum, just enough to ease your arrival.

5. Once at the hotel, unpack your toilet articles and arrange them in the bathroom in the same order you do at home. It makes things so much easier. It’s so nice to be able to leave the hotel/apartment without having had a meltdown looking for misplaced mascara.

About Ruth Yunker

Ruth Yunker is an author, humorist, columnist, blogger and diehard world traveler. Her peripatetic childhood led to an adulthood always on the move; she has lived all over the United States, from Boston to Los Angeles, Brussels, Belgium and, for a short time, Paris. Her first book, “Me, Myself & Paris,” recounts her first experiences as a single woman living alone in Paris for three six-week stints. Her newest book, “Paris, I’ve Grown Accustomed to Your Ways,” continues the saga from a more City of Light-experienced perspective.

 
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