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Six Flags Magic Mountain unveils Fright Fest 2014 mazes

As part of a multi-year Fright Fest expansion, Six Flags Magic Mountain will add more monsters, better mazes and additional nights to the annual Halloween event.

In hopes of keeping up with the twin beasts of Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood and Halloween Haunt at Knott’s Berry Farm, Magic Mountain’s Fright Fest 2014 will add three promising new mazes and remove the last of the camouflage-covered ride queue mazes that came to represent the annual event’s low-water mark.

Magic Mountain's revamp of Fright Fest began in 2011 with the addition of Aftermath, a massive outdoor maze that significantly raised the bar for quality.

A complete renovation of the perennial Willoughby's Haunted Mansion in 2012 saw the addition of elaborate visual effects and improved props and sets to a haunted maze that had grown tired and predictable over the years.

Last year’s “new” marquee maze proved a massive disappointment, with Toyz of Terror amounting to little more than a fresh coat...

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Airfare: EVA Air offers round-trip to Bali for $855

Your ticket to paradise just got a little less expensive: EVA Air is offering a round-trip ticket from LAX for $855, including all taxes and fees, to Denpasar, the capital of Bali, Indonesia.

Bali is about a mile from the island of Java but a world away. Unlike the rest of Indonesia, which is Muslim, Bali is Hindu, and life on the island reflects that, with numerous places of worship and contemplation. The arts are important too; singing, dancing, crafts and poetry are also part of life there.

There’s little time to think over whether you want to make this trip: You must depart between Oct. 13 and Nov. 27, and you may not stay longer than two months. The fare is subject to availability.

Info: EVA Air (800) 695-1188

Source: Airfarewatchdog

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Travel deal: 14 hotels on sale during first Hotel Week Los Angeles

Los Angeles takes a page from New York City in kicking off its first Hotel Week this fall. Bargain hunters will find rooms for $200 to $300 a night at select Southern California venues that are usually priced much higher.

Despite the name, the promotion lasts longer than a week -- and will be reprised in Manhattan this winter.

The deal: The promotion is intended to fill rooms at the time of the year when hotel occupancy is lower -- before and after the winter holidays. If you feel like an off-season stay, New York marks its fourth Hotel Week this January with more than 25 hotels participating. In L.A., 14 properties are offering discounts.

Here's how it works: The Hotel Week website lists venues and room prices during the booking period (see below). Reserve online using promotion codes listed on the website or call to get the deal.

When: Hotel Week in Los Angeles runs from Nov. 29 to Dec. 14 and in New York City from Jan. 3 to 18. Room prices are based on availability.

Tested: I...

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For Labor Day, 35 million U.S. travelers will pay more for hotels, gas

Almost 35 million Americans are expected to travel on Labor Day weekend, an increase of 1.3% from 2013. The small year-over-year increase doesn't mean airports and freeways won't be crowded. AAA Travel says 2014 will see the highest volume of holiday travelers since the 2008 recession.

"Consumer spending continues to outpace disposable income, indicating that Americans are comfortable using their credit cards to take one last summer vacation this year," Marshall L. Doney, AAA chief operating officer, said in a statement.

Of those holiday travelers, 86% will go by car and 8% will fly. AAA based its forecast on trips of 50 miles or more from home between Thursday and Sept. 1.

Airlines for America says the number of fliers will increase 2% to 14 million, up from 13.8 million, but it counts the holiday as seven days, beginning Wednesday and concluding Sept. 2.

Travelers can expect to pay less for gas -- prices in early August were lowest since 2010 -- and about the same price for car...

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Big Bear snowboarding in September

Big Bear gets a jump start on snow season with the 11th Annual  Hot Dawgz & Hand Rails snowboarding event Sept. 27 at Bear Mountain.

Snowboarding in September? Well, thanks to 140 tons of ice that will be brought in for the event. Admission is free, and gates open at 9 a.m.

The competition, which starts at 2 p.m., showcases 40 top professional snowboarders from all over the world on a course coated with chipped ice. Bear Mountain calls it a “sprawling urban-style layout.”

Judges for the competition include Bear Mountain professional team riders Joe Sexton, Chris Bradshaw, Scott Stevens and special guest judges to be announced.

In addition to watching the snowboarders, spectators can take part in a variety of games, enjoy live DJs and pick up promotional products.

“We’re very excited about hosting the largest winter kickoff event of the year,” said marketing director Rio Tanbara.

Hot Dawgz & Hand Rails offers the final opportunity to purchase a 2014-2015 winter season pass for Bear...

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Share your summer vacation photos with the L.A. Times Travel section

Summer may be winding down, but you still have plenty of time to submit your summer vacation photos for the L.A. Times' annual summer vacation issue. The print edition will be Sept. 21; many more photos will appear online.

We first asked readers in June to share their photos, and since then, they've been rolling in from areas as varied as La Jolla and Vietnam, Belize and Alaska.

And the photographers are as varied as their photos. In the submission guidelines, we asked that all photographers be amateurs, but we didn't quite expect entries from readers so young.

Here, then, are some of our favorite submissions from young readers. They might be amateurs now, but based on the quality of these photos, we're not sure how much longer that will be the case.

A peaceful moment at Lake Powell

Manhattan Beach resident Nicholas Thomson was on a family vacation to Lake Powell, which straddles the border between Utah and Arizona, that he says was more than a little hectic.

"To say it was chaotic is...

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United, TripAdvisor, Starbucks add Uber booking to their mobile apps

Despite its regulatory woes, Uber is extending its reach in the smartphone world big-time. United Airlines, TripAdvisor, OpenTable, Starbucks, Hyatt Hotels

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West Hollywood: Eclectic lineup of authors to read at Sunset Marquis

The Sunset Marquis in West Hollywood will add something new to its fancy pool deck this fall: writers.

The hotel has planned four Sunday salons at which guests and the public can come for readings and conversations with popular authors.

Read@SunsetMarquis events organized with the Agency Group are free and a lovely way to spend a day at the hotel's gardens and pool (no swimming, though). The hotel at 1200 Alta Loma Road has played host to rock 'n' roll stars since it opened in 1963 and says on its website that it also has served as a "peaceful retreat" for writers.

First up is Matthew Specktor, founding editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books, who kicks off the series Sept. 7 with a very Hollywood story. He'll be discussing "American Dream Machine," his book about fictional Hollywood talent agencies from the '60s and '70s and the power struggles that ensue.

Asa Akira on Oct. 5 will discuss her memoir, "Insatiable: Porn — A Love Story," which details her adult film acting career....

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Las Vegas Restaurant Week lets you eat well and help feed others

Great food is part of the Las Vegas experience and Restaurant Week provides an opportunity to savor some fine fare while helping a charity.

More than 150 restaurants featuring a variety of cuisines will participate Aug. 22-28. Proceeds help support Three Square, Southern Nevada’s only food bank.

Las Vegas Restaurant Week, now in its eighth year, offers diners the opportunity to enjoy prix fixe, three-course lunches and dinners at prices from $20.14 to $50.14.

For each meal sold, restaurants will donate between $4 and $6 to Three Square. Since Restaurant Week began in 2007, it has raised more than $850,000 for the food bank.

Most of the restaurants have previously participated in the event, and most are along the Strip. They include:

--Eiffel Tower Restaurant at Paris Las Vegas

--Mesa Grill at Caesars Palace

--Rose Rabbit Lie at Cosmopolitan

--The Steak House at Circus Circus

--Top of the World at Stratosphere

The twice-yearly event will feature 11 newcomers this month.

...

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Best places to see L.A. harbor's tall-ships parade, big Rubber Duck

More than a dozen tall ships and a six-story-high Rubber Duck are scheduled to sail into Los Angeles' harbor at 2 p.m. Wednesday (today) at the start of the Tall Ships Festival L.A.

The duck, an inflatable art project that's turned up in cities around the world, will lead the parade.

Before the event begins, ships are to gather around noon in the waters off Point Fermin Park at South Gaffey Street and Paseo del Mar before sailing into the main channel.

Best high points to watch the action: Point Fermin and Angeles Gate Park at the Korean Bell (Gaffey and 37th streets). Both should offer good views of the lineup.

Closer to the water, visitors can go to Ports O' Call Village, where it costs $5 to park (enter from Harbor Boulevard and 6th Street) or buy a ticket ($15 to $19) to enter the Festival Grounds and get a dockside view.

Rubber Duck, created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, will be "tethered to a heavy round barge" to keep it from blowing away and will be illuminated until 11...

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World War I network helps history buffs keep track of commemorations

The World War I Centennial Network is helping history buffs keep track of all activities and events in the United States related to the commemoration of the war's centennial. 

The network was founded two years ago by Paul Cora, the curator of Historic Ships in Baltimore. He said he hoped the network and its site would give travelers “any number of ideas about heritage destinations related to World War I.”

It lists upcoming, centennial-related activities on a monthly calendar on its website

These include an exhibition, on display through Nov. 2, of World War I propaganda posters at the First Division Museum at Cantigny Park in Wheaton, Ill., and, in 2016, an exhibition at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine in Arts in Philadelphia that will examine the impact of the war on American art. 

Coming in late September: The World War I Dawn Patrol Rendezvous, at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio.  It will feature original and reproduction World War I aircraft, vintage automobiles and period...

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New resorts, Keith Urban, boxing are all part of Las Vegas' Labor Day

Vegas visitors can celebrate the Labor Day holiday at three new resorts on the Strip, take in a concert by Keith Urban and more over the long weekend that begins Aug. 29. 

The party to mark summer's last (if unofficial) blast extends well beyond the newest properties, but they top the list of places to check out over the holiday weekend.

After a face-lift, THEHotel at Mandalay Bay morphs into Delano when it welcomes its first guests Sept. 1 (Labor Day).

The property is themed with elements from the Mojave Desert. A 90-ton boulder, split in two to allow people to pass through it, will greet guests as they enter from valet parking. In the distance, small rocks suspended from the ceiling form the core of a creative work by Korean artist Lee Jae-Hyo

Elsewhere, visitors will find touches reminiscent of the Delano’s namesake South Beach hotel, with its profusion of water and sand. The Las Vegas resort’s Delano Beach Club won’t open until 2015.

That’s also when changes to Mix, the...

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