Las Vegas is a real sports

Las Vegas expects to attract a wave of ‘sports tourists’ as the city establishes itself as one of the USA’s leading centres for sports fans.

VUSA

For decades, Las Vegas lacked a professional sports team to call its own. Then, last year, ice hockey’s newest team, the Vegas Golden Knights, arrived for the start of the 2017-2018 season. They defied low expectations and made it all the way to the Stanley Cup finals. They play at the T-Mobile Arena on The Strip.

Ice hockey was quickly followed by soccer and basketball teams – respectively USL’s Las Vegas Lights FC, who play at the Cashman Field in downtown Las Vegas, and the women’s WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces, who arrived from San Antonio.

But the move that is most exciting the city’s sports fans is the arrival of the NFL’s (American Football) Raiders, who will move from their home in Oakland and take up residency in a new stadium - The Las Vegas Stadium - on The Strip, south of Mandalay Bay. The stadium should stage its first game in 2020.

“We’re a major city and major cities have sports. It provides identity to the community,” said Brett Lashbrook, owner of the Las Vegas Lights. “I think it’s silly how long it took for pro sports to come but the floodgates are open now.”

Steve Hill, the CEO of Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and also chairman of the authority that approved the building of the Las Vegas Stadium said: “We are a real sports city now. Professional hockey is here, the NFL is coming and we think a new Major League Soccer (MSL) professional team will also be be part of the new stadium. I hope the next few years will see an NBA (basketball) team and MLB (baseball) teams arrive.

“As our visitation numbers continue to increase, sports tourism will become a key element in our attractions mix,” added Hill.

visitlasvegas.co.uk

Twisting again in San Diego

SeaWorld San Diego guests will feel the power of the ocean in 2019 when the park launches its all-new Tidal Twister roller coaster.

Universal

Described as a duelling coaster, the ‘horizontal ride’ will see visitors accelerate to up to 30 miles an hour.

They will twist and bank as they ride a tide along a tight, figure-8 track that will include a dynamic Zero-G roll at the centre section.

Two trains, holding 16 passengers each, load at opposite ends of the figure-8 and cross in the centre, with guests facing both forward and backward on the trains.

A lower-height requirement of 48 inches makes this a ride aimed at younger guests and families.

“There is no other coaster experience in the world like Tidal Twister,” said Marilyn Hannes, SeaWorld San Diego’s park president.

“The two trains duel one another and guests will see the excitement on the faces of other riders. They will almost feel like you can reach out and touch them. The tight turns, the inversion and the airtime hill will leave our guests wondering which way is up.”

Tidal Twister, elevated 16 feet off the ground, will be located adjacent the Aquaria touch pool and aquarium in the northwest corner of the park.

Expected to open in May, Tidal Twister will join Electric Eel and Manta as SeaWorld San Diego’s other coaster-style ride experiences.

The best-value ticket for visiting SeaWorld Parks in California is the 2-Park SeaWorld and Aquatica California Ticket, which includes unlimited admission to both parks for up to seven consecutive days.

The ticket can only be used in the summer season when Aquatica San Diego is open. Prices start from £69pp.

seaworldcalifornia.co.uk

Grand celebration in Arizona

One of the U.S.A’s most popular national parks is gearing up to celebrate turning 100 in 2019.

Phoenix

Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is planning a calendar of events to celebrate its centenary.

The park, which welcomes around six million domestic and international visitors each year, will mark its ‘official birthday’ on February 26.

On that day, the Grand Canyon’s Founders Day celebration will kick off with cake and a concert by the Flagstaff and Grand Canyon schools choir, cultural demonstrators, and cake at the Historic Village, Visitor Center, and Desert View.

Visitors can stop by the visitor centre to sign the park’s birthday card, share their favourite Grand Canyon memories at the oral history booth - and have some cake.

Following the park’s birthday, at a special evening programme speakers will talk about the important relationship between Grand Canyon and the park’s 11 traditionally associated tribes.

“Grand Canyon National Park will commemorate the past and inspire future generations to experience, connect with and protect the park's unique natural, cultural, and historic resources," said a spokesperson for the country’s National Parks service.

Elsewhere in Arizona next year, there will also be events to mark 50 years since the first moon landing, which will highlight the fact that the 11 Apollo astronauts were trained in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Also, Petrified Forest National Park has been designated a Night Sky Park, which will help it attract a new generation of ‘stargazers’.

visitarizona.com

flagstaffarizona.org

Delta's double Scotch

Delta Air Lines is to double its flights from Edinburgh next summer by adding a new service to Boston’s Logan International Airport.

Philadelphia

Effective May 24, the seasonal flight will complement the airline’s existing daily service to New York-JFK.

Delta has scheduled a 163-seat Boeing 757-200ER aircraft between Edinburgh and Boston, with16 fully flat-bed seats in the Delta One business class cabin, in-seat entertainment for every passenger, wi-fi access and free mobile messaging.

The flight will leave Edinburgh at 10.55, arriving into Boston at 13.02.

The return flight will leave Boston at 22.15, arriving into Edinburgh at 09.25 the following morning.

Delta and partner Virgin Atlantic will jointly offer up to 25 weekly flights from Scotland to the U.S. in summer 2019, representing a capacity increase of 25% versus this year.

The airlines’ shared network includes: daily flights from Edinburgh to Boston and New York-JFK, operated by Delta; daily service from Glasgow to New York-JFK, operated by Delta; and up to four weekly flights from Glasgow to Orlando, operated by Virgin Atlantic.

delta.com

Norwegian’s latest USA route

Norwegian’s latest U.S. route, between Gatwick and Tampa International Airport, has started operations.

Miami

The twice-weekly service began flying with fares starting from £165 one-way in Economy and £519 in Premium.

The Tampa service offers holidaymakers a convenient option to Florida’s Gulf coast, a region known for its award-winning restaurants, diverse neighbourhoods, and St. Pete/Clearwater, with 35 miles of award-winning white-sandy beaches, exotic nature trails, culture and arts.

Norwegian has also increased its winter services to other Florida destinations from Gatwick.

The airline now offers a daily service to Fort Lauderdale, increasing from three flights per week, and five weekly flights to Orlando, up from three per week - that's a total of 14 flights a week to the Sunshine State.

Norwegian’s long-haul flights from Gatwick are operated by the airline's new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, which feature a revamped extended Premium cabin with 60% more seats.

norwegian.com

Complete easy riding in 2019

Next year sees the 50th anniversary of a movie that inspired generations of motorcycle riders – and operators are lining up to offer tours.

Maverick

Easy Rider saw Peter Fonda, as Wyatt, and Dennis Hopper, as Billy, move from Los Angeles to New Orleans, in the process making the freedom of America’s open road synonymous with motorcycle riding.

Complete North America has two 14-night Easy Rider guided motorcycle tours in 2019, departing May 22 and September 18.

Riders will meet up in Los Angeles, pick up their Eagle Rider bikes and head down the road to the spot near LAX where the infamous drug deal that funded the two stars' journey in the movie was filmed before riding the 292 miles to Death Valley.

Next up will be the famous Route 66 town of Barstow; the vast expanse of the Mojave Desert, visited by Billy and Wyatt in the movie; and Needles, which provided an overnight stop for the crew during filming. Here an Easy Rider historian will share some behind-the-scenes knowledge.

Also included is Flagstaff, where the Pine Breeze Inn, made famous from an opening scene in the movie, still stands today. Then it's back on the bikes for another 193 miles to Monument Valley, through Navajo Indian lands, where wide open spaces lend themselves to beautiful stretches riding.

Riders will wind through the Wupatki National Monument and visit the Indian ruins where Billy and Wyatt camped, as well as the Sacred Mountain location from the famous gas station scene. Other stops will include Durango, Taos, Amarillo, Abilene, Lake Charles and New Orleans.

The deal includes flights, 14 nights' accommodation, motorcycle, riding jacket and helmet, national park fees and a farewell party.

completenorthamerica.com