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    A lonely yucca plant gets attention from a visitor in White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. Park rangers lead hikes through the park, about 15 miles southwest of Ala­mo­gordo, where dunes of gypsum sand cover 275 square miles of desert. White Sands opened as a national monument in 1934 and today is seen by more than 600,000 visitors every year.
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More Harry Potter at Universal

ORLANDO, Fla. » The centerpiece of the new Harry Potter area at Universal Orlando Resort will let visitors help retrieve a magical object and re-create a scene from the popular book and movie series.

Universal executives said Tuesday the ride will be called Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts and was inspired by the final Harry Potter book and film, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows."

The ride and the themed area — called the Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Diagon Alley — will open in the summer. Among the features of the new ride: a 60-foot dragon atop Gringotts Wizarding Bank, a labyrinth of Gringotts vaults, and a marble hall with goblins. The ride will use 360-degree themed sets, digital high-definition animation, 3-D projection systems and live special effects.

If fans want to see both the new themed area and the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Island of Adventure, a two-park ticket will be required. For adults, a two-park ticket for one day costs $136; for children it costs $130.

Marriott to debut Moxy Hotels

New York » On the heels of hotels like Yotel and Aloft, a crop of new brands is designed for millennial travelers.

Marriott International recently announced that this summer it will open Moxy Hotels, a high-style, value-priced chain featuring relatively small rooms — about 170 square feet — with wall-size art and large windows that provide a sense of space. To balance these, public spaces are generous, designed as social settings for work and play, with ample outlets for charging mobile devices and free Wi-Fi.

The first Moxy will open at Milan’s Malpensa Airport in August, with five more scheduled to open in Europe through 2015.

International outlets are also coming to the U.S. The Dutch-based citizenM opened a 230-room Times Square location in April, featuring rooms with digital art and tablet computers, and a convivial lobby where guests check themselves in. Carlson Rezi­dor Hotel Group plans to start Radisson Red in capitals worldwide in 2015, with a goal of 60 by 2020. Guests will check in, order food and adjust room temperature with a mobile app.

 

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