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Six Flags Magic Mountain turning wooden coaster into Twisted Colossus

Six Flags Magic Mountain plans to convert a classic wooden coaster into the world’s longest hybrid coaster that adds two barrel roll inversions and a first-of-its-kind in the U.S. “high-five” element.

Dubbed Twisted Colossus, the massive makeover is to transform the now-closed 1978 Colossus racing wooden coaster into a 4,990-foot-long wood-steel hybrid ride with two separate lift hills and a pair of near-vertical drops.

Set to debut at the Valencia amusement park in 2015, the Magic Mountain ride is to be built by Idaho-based Rocky Mountain Construction, which has converted a number of wooden coasters into hybrid rides with looping inversions typically associated with steel coasters.

Twisted Colossus sounds like it could be an epic ride.

Departing from the station, the train will navigate a series of bunny hops before ascending the first of two 121-foot-tall lift hills.

Following an extreme 80-degree drop at 57 mph, riders will travel through a “high five” element where the tandem trains...

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Six Flags unveils new attractions for every park in 2015

Six Flags has unveiled its 2015 lineup of new roller coasters, thrill rides and water slides at the amusement park chain's 13 locations.

Additions are to include three roller coasters, five thrill rides, two dark rides and two water attractions.

Among the highlights:

Six Flags Fiesta Texas (San Antonio)

By far the biggest addition at any Six Flags park for 2015 is Batman: The Ride planned for Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio.

The new first-of-its-kind ride is described as a cross between the Green Lantern fourth-dimension coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia and the X-Flight wing coaster at Six Flags Great America in the Chicago area.

Sitting on a compact footprint, the 120-foot-tall 4-D wing coaster is top feature an elevator-like lift hill, forward and reverse inversions and beyond-vertical freefall drops.

Six Flags has used the Batman: The Ride name on several Bolliger & Mabillard inverted coasters, including one at nearby Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington.

Six Flags Magic...

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New Mexico: Author D.H. Lawrence's ranch near Taos reopens to visitors

British author D.H. Lawrence described his connection to New Mexico as "the greatest experience I ever had from the outside world. It certainly changed me forever." The rustic ranch northwest of Taos where he spent a brief part of his life during the 1920s recently reopened to visitors.

How did the author of "Women in Love" and "Lady Chatterley's Lover" wind up in the Land of Enchantment? He had been invited by socialite Mabel Dodge Luhan, a woman who counted Georgia O'Keeffe, Alfred Stieglitz and Ansel Adams among her circle.

It was Luhan who subsequently gave the Lawrences the 160-acre ranch that sits at 8,500 feet in elevation, according to a University of New Mexico ranch history. (It's also known as the Kiowa Ranch, named for the Native Americans who once lived there.)

Of three buildings that remain at the site, the couple moved into what's called the Homesteader's Cabin. It was a simple but rundown three-room affair, the history says. Lawrence worked to fix it up with the help of...

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Hawaii: Google Maps makes it possible to visit Oahu, if only virtually

Stunning 360-degree views of various Oahu attractions are available online, thanks to a partnership between Hawaii officials and Google Maps.

The website features virtual visits to 15 sites, including such destinations such as Byodo-In Temple and the Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail plus world-famous Waikiki Beach. The site, which launched Wednesday, is operated in conjunction with the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau.

A similar page featuring Hawaii island locations was launched last year. The Big Island scenes include Crater Rim Trail at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area  and Akaka Falls State Park

The ventures mark the first time Google Maps has partnered with a third party to provide imagery. The 360-degree scenes were captured with assistance from the staff of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.  

Crews used a high-resolution camera with 15 lenses, the same equipment that Google uses to take its Street View images.


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Travel deal: $9.99 a day for Enterprise car rentals on weekends

Enterprise Rent-a-Car is rolling out a weekend special after Labor Day that's good for folks planning a getaway in fall or even next spring. Compact and economy cars cost $9.99 a day. Airport locations are excluded, but this should work for those willing to rent their car once they're in the city.

The deal: This weekend deal is available at most of Enterprise's more than 5,500 locations around the U.S. (again, except airports). When you search the deal online, you'll see which Enterprise offices are participating in the offer.

Some rules: You have to rent Friday to Monday (three days), and you receive 100 miles a day, or 300 miles total for the weekend. After that, you'll be charged.

When: The offer is good Sept. 5 through May 18.

Tested: I found rental cars at the $9.99 price at several sites while checking random dates. For example, I found a compact or economy car available Dec. 5 to 8 at locations in Phoenix and Los Angeles, including one at 7100 Beverly Blvd.


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Dining outdoors in Vegas on National Eat Outside Day -- or any day

With its typically clear skies and dry weather, Las Vegas is an ideal place to dine outdoors after the sun goes down or when the misters turn on and the umbrellas go up.

Although most visitors to Vegas probably won’t need an excuse to dine alfresco, here’s one, just in case: Sunday is National Eat Outside Day. Forecast: 101 degrees. But it's a dry heat.

Several restaurants offer front-row seats to let you enjoy the colorful lights, and the equally colorful people, along the Strip.

From street level and perches high above the Strip, restaurateurs will greet Sunday celebrants with food and libations. Mon Ami Gabi at the Paris is offering ringside seats for viewing the throngs as they make their way along Las Vegas Boulevard.

Kitty corner at Caesars, Serendipity 3 is welcoming guests to a recently extended wraparound patio.

If you can’t eat outside over the holiday weekend, most Vegas eateries are open 365 days a year.

Follow us on Twitter at @latimestravel

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Labor Day: Watch out, distracted driving more likely in nice weather

Raise your hand and take this pledge: I promise not to sip from my coffee cup or pick up my smartphone while driving this Labor Day weekend. Yeah, right.

With the nice weather, we're all likely to be more distracted behind the wheel -- and more likely to have a near-collision, a report released Tuesday says.

Almost 4 million Californians are predicted to hit the road this weekend, most of them driving, and good weather could be a recipe for disaster. The National Safety Council estimates that 395 people will die in car crashes and an additional 42,300 will be injured in accidents between 6 p.m. Friday and 11:59 p.m. Monday.

Experts at Lytx, a San Diego-based company that specializes in driver-safety products, have analyzed billions of driver miles over a two-year period.

"Our data shows there are nearly double the number of near-collisions when the weather conditions are clear than when it's stormy," Del Lisk, the company's vice president of safety services, said in a statement Tuesday...

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What would a dog do with a GoPro camera? Now you can find out

Maybe your dog will shoot better vacation videos than you do -- and certainly from a different angle. A new harness developed by video camera maker GoPro lets dog owners see life through their pet's eyes. Mount a camera on Fido to capture a Frisbee moment or his mad dash into a lake.

GoPro, based in San Mateo, Calif., designed the Fetch dog harness with two camera mounts: one that affixes to the dog's back and another for its chest. It's the first product that GoPro has made for pets.

The harness is adjustable and fits dogs from 15 pounds to 120 pounds. It costs $59.99 (cameras start at $199).

"We designed Fetch to meet the unique needs and usage for pets and can't wait to see the images and videos that owners will capture and share ..." Paul Osborne, senior director of product management, said in a statement released Tuesday.

To see a little of what dog-made videos look like, check out GoPro's

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New Biggest Loser Resorts coming to Illinois and Florida

Those who want to shed a few pounds in style will have two new Biggest Loser Resorts to choose from this fall.

The fitness and weight-loss regime modeled after the TV show will be coming to luxury hotels in the Chicago area and Amelia Island, Fla.

The "resorts" aren't stand-alone properties; rather, parent company Fitness Ridge Worldwide contracts for space within bigger hotels and resorts to run the Biggest Loser drill.

Guests have their own check-in, their own eating area, their own chef, and they don't interact with other guests unless they're enjoying other amenities, such as the golf course or the pool, a spokeswoman said.

Wannabe big losers spend $2,995 and up for a room plus a week of kickboxing, circuit training, water aerobics and toning classes as well as nutritious meals and cooking demos, and wellness education.

Like the TV show, the accent here is on being fit, eating well and education on how to keep it up.

Biggest Loser Chicago will open Sept. 6 at the Hilton Indian...

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Catalina: New operator sought for Inn at Mt. Ada

The search is on for a new operator for the Inn on Mt. Ada on Santa Catalina Island.

The iconic bed-and-breakfast inn, onetime home of chewing gum industrialist William Wrigley Jr., is closing Nov. 30. All rooms are booked for the remaining nights, but cancellations are possible.

"The operators did not want to continue to operate the inn," said Bob Reid, chief development and communications officer for Catalina Island Conservancy, which oversees the property along with USC.

Brian League, executive director of Real Estate Development at USC, said the university is working with the conservancy to find an operator to run the inn, adding that the current innkeepers indicated that they did not wish to continue their lease.

League said the university and the conservancy want the inn to stay open.

The hillside Avalon mansion was completed in 1921 and overlooks the town and its harbor. Wrigley, who bought Catalina Island in 1919, named the home after his wife, Ada.

During their heyday, the...

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Travel deals: Why you should book Thanksgiving flights by Labor Day

If you haven't bought airline tickets for Thanksgiving yet, get searching. Travel planning websites say airfares drop around Labor Day -- and those who wait until October or November could pay a lot more for their Turkey Day getaway.

It's also a time when bargain hunters planning year-end and winter vacations could score discounts on hotels, ski lift tickets and tours.

Airfares: Consider booking your airfare now. Travel booking website

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SLS Las Vegas, the newest Strip resort, opens its doors

Prepare to be impressed at the Strip’s newest resort, the 1,600-room SLS Las Vegas, which welcomed its first guests during the weekend.

Southland residents  may feel as though they never left home.

Aug. 26, 3:12 p.m.: An earlier version of this post misspelled the last name of the president and chief operating officer of the SLS Las Vegas. It is Rob Oseland, not Oselund. 

SLS is the result of a $415-million renovation of the old Sahara resort, which opened in 1952 and closed in 2011. In homage to the original hotel, the new carpeting just inside the valet entrance features the Sahara’s iconic logo. But beyond the old parking garage, most of the property has been gutted and rebuilt.

Owing to smaller size of early resorts, the SLS Las Vegas is about half the size of many newer properties. That alleviates the seemingly endless hikes you have to make at other resorts. All of the restaurants and clubs are on the edges of the casino, and it, too, is...

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