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The Palace of Versailles is open for virtual reality visits


Globetrotters quarantined at home can teleport themselves to France and back to the 17th century with a virtual reality-powered visit to the Palace of Versailles.

a statue of a person: The Palace of Versailles, France

Your trip to France canceled because of Covid-19? Or need to keep a child in your home occupied for an hour? There’s a virtual reality experience for that.

“Experience Versailles” isn’t new. But it’s enjoying renewed interest among Francophiles and households on lockdown for offering an alternative way to experience Versailles from thousands of miles away.

For kids, the experience is an educational one, teaching players about Louis XIV and French sovereignty. Players also infiltrate a sumptuous masked ball held by Louis XV and can explore the palace grounds, moving through the Royal Courtyard, to the Hall of Mirrors and the King’s Apartments.

For parents, it’s an hour or two of distraction.

The “Experience Versailles” is free, powered by Steam and works with VR headsets like HTC Vive or Oculus Rift.

Related video: Time for a ‘staycation!’ Museums around the world offer virtual tours (Provided by Buzz60)


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Delta is having technical issues rebooking flights as travelers deal with the coronavirus outbreak and the US ban on some travel from Europe


Some travelers looking to change their flights on Delta Air Lines on Thursday were asked to call back later if their travel was not urgent, as the airline deals with technical problems ticketing and rebooking flights.

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Delta’s technical problems come as travelers around the world are scrambling to manage the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, and the chaos caused by President Donald Trump’s ban on travel from some European countries, which was later clarified by the White House to exempt US citizens and permanent residents.

Customers calling Delta on Thursday afternoon received this message:

“Thank you for calling Delta Air Lines. We are currently experiencing intermittent technical difficulties and extremely high volume. Our current wait times exceed six hours. For those customers who do not have an urgent need to travel within the next 48 hours, please visit delta.com or call back later.”

A Delta spokesperson was not immediately available to comment on this specific issue, but said the company is doing everything it can to help travelers dealing with the pandemic.

An earlier message on Thursday told customers: 

“Thank you for calling Delta Air Lines, we are currently experiencing intermittent technical difficulties in processing ticket changes and new bookings. Our current wait times exceed four hours. For those customers wishing to book or change a flight, please call back later or visit delta.com. For other questions, you can stay on the line or attempt your call later.”

Other airlines were also dealing with a high volume of calls as travelers rushed to book or rebook flights. Customers calling American Airlines were asked to call back later if they’re not traveling within the next few days.

WATCH: Coronavirus causes travel industry to pivot, airlines to cancel flights (provided by USA Today)


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How Coronavirus Is Impacting Disney World and Disneyland

With the busy spring break season upon us and COVID-19, aka novel coronavirus, today declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, families with plans to head to Walt Disney World and Disneyland have a lot of questions about how the virus could or should impact their travel plans.

Internationally, four Disney parks remain closed in Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Shanghai, although Shanghai has begun reopening its shopping and dining district. A Disneyland Paris worker tested positive for coronavirus but that park remains open.

Domestically, Walt Disney World and Disneyland also remain open for business. Dr. Pamela Hymel, Chief Medical Officer, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, said in a statement on the Disney Parks Blog that “Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort are open and welcoming guests and we continue to implement preventive measures in line with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as state and local health agencies.”

What Steps Is Disney Taking to Keep the Parks Safe?

In her statement, Hymel detailed the additional steps Disney is taking to prevent the spread of coronavirus and other diseases in the parks, including “frequent cleaning and disinfection of targeted areas,” “easy access to handwashing facilities and hand sanitizers,” and “frequent cleaning of outdoor locations, including walkways and queue.”

Hand sanitizer stations have been added throughout the parks, and today new portable handwashing stations began showing up at Walt Disney World. Disney has published the locations of many of the hand sanitizer stations at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

Should Travelers Keep Their Plans to Visit Disney Parks and Resorts?

It’s well known by now that the CDC is recommending that high-risk individuals, mainly older adults and those with serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease, avoid crowds, cruise travel, and non-essential air travel.

But, for healthy individuals, it remains more of a personal choice. A statement by a coalition of 150 travel-related organizations issued by the U.S. Travel Association seeks to reassure healthy travelers:

“Though the headlines may be worrisome, experts continue to say the overall coronavirus risk in the U.S. remains low. At-risk groups are older individuals and those with underlying health conditions, who should take extra precautions. The latest expert guidance indicates that for the overwhelming majority, it’s OK to live, work, play and travel in the U.S.”

A Doctor’s Take

We asked Dr. Colleen Nash, Assistant Professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Rush University Children’s Hospital and Medical Director of the Pediatrics Antimicrobial Stewardship Program for her advice on how families should decide whether to take a Disney vacation. She recommends families evaluate the potential outcomes.

“Visiting a theme park or partaking in any activity involving very large crowds always poses a risk of (any) infection transmission,” she says. She suggests those considering travel evaluate the health of those in their party as well as family members back home and how illness could potentially affect them.

Even for healthy individuals, she recommends considering “how coronavirus infection (if it were to happen) could impact your family and if that is a tolerable risk and potential time away from school, work, normal daily activities, say, if you had to undergo quarantine.”

For those comfortable with those possible outcomes, there aren’t currently any official recommendations that go against proceeding with travel plans.

What’s It Like to Be at Walt Disney World Right Now

I visited Walt Disney World last week and found almost no discernible difference in the experience from other times I’ve visited the parks. This week, aside from the noticeable uptick in hand-sanitizing stations and handwashing stations, it feels like business as usual for vacationing families. Meet-and-greets, buffet meals, and other higher-contact experiences haven’t been reduced.

Len Matela of Western Springs, Illinois, is currently at Walt Disney World with his wife and three sons and said the main difference their family noticed was that guests were utilizing personal hand sanitizer and hand-sanitizing stations more frequently.

“We’re not germaphobes so it’s not stressing us out,” Matela says. “If you didn’t watch the news or look at your phone and continuously see new information about the virus spreading, you wouldn’t notice any changes.”

Matela says concerns about the virus haven’t impacted their vacation at all. “We’re having a blast,” he says, noting that worries don’t seem to have had an effect on crowd levels yet. “Selfishly we were hoping for smaller lines and less of a crowd!!”

What If Disney Does Decide to Close Walt Disney World or Disneyland?

Should the spread of coronavirus or official government recommendations lead the domestic parks to make the decision to close, as was the case in Asia, it’s safe to assume Disney will offer refunds of park tickets and resort stays, as they’ve done in Asia. Should guests electively cancel a Disney vacation, standard resort cancellation terms will apply. Park tickets are changeable but non-refundable.

Now that most major airlines have issued waivers and have given travelers the flexibility and peace of mind to change their flights without fees, guests who are planning or looking forward to planned Disney vacations should feel reassured that any official park closures will likely see them fully reimbursed or able to change their vacation plans without fees.

How to Stay Healthy During Your Disney Vacation

We asked Dr. Nash what families can do to stay healthy during a Disney trip, and they are much the same as recommendations you’ve been hearing across the news media—mainly, wash your hands!

She recommends frequent, meticulous handwashing or hand sanitizing before and after meals and regularly at the parks, particularly after each ride.

“I cannot stress enough the importance of washing your hands (and doing it well, at least 20 seconds, with soap and water OR using alcohol-based hand sanitizer) and not touching your face (eyes, nose, mouth),” she says. “This provides so much protection against many infectious diseases and cannot be overstated.”

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Travel

Orlando is most popular spring break destination in US this year


College students in the US are increasingly opting for city getaways over beach vacations, according to the latest ranking of most popular spring break destinations.

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While old standbys like Orlando and Fort Lauderdale top CheapOair’s list for 2020, the results also show that post-secondary students are increasingly using their spring break to visit cities like Los Angeles, New York and Phoenix. 

Budget-conscious travelers looking for a cheap and cheerful spring getaway are advised to travel on off-peak days like Tuesday and Thursday, and to consider flying into neighboring airports rather than major hubs to take advantage of lower average airfares. 

“It’s no secret that Spring Break could be an expensive time to travel but there are a few things you travelers can do to save money and still have a great time. First and foremost, I’d recommend packing lightly and if you can avoid checking a bag – definitely do so,” said Tom Spagnola, Senior Vice President of Supplier Relations in a statement. 

Here are the top 10 most popular spring break destinations for US travelers this year: 

1. Orlando 2. Fort Lauderdale 3. Las Vegas 4. Tampa 5. Los Angeles 6. New York 7. Fort Myers 8. San Juan, Puerto Rico 9. Phoenix 10. Miami

WATCH: Tips for smooth spring break travel (provided by Buzz60)


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