The city of your Hallmark Christmas dreams, Yosemite is dropping reservations and more

Christmas trip. Illustrated | Getty Images

Welcome to The Check-In, our weekend travel feature.

Mickey’s Toontown at Disneyland is scheduled to reopen in March 2023

A whole new Mickey’s Toontown is coming to Disneyland — and guests can try it out starting March 8, 2023. Toontown, which first opened in January 1993, closed earlier this year for what Disney Parks called an “ambitious redesign,” and its reopening coincides with the 100 Years of Wonder Celebration honoring the 100th anniversary of The Walt Disney Company .

What can visitors expect in this new and improved Toontown? Disney Parks shared some renders of the new features last week, including Centoonial Park, a lawn where kids can play in a fountain with water tables or crawl around a giant tree with sculpted roots, and Goofy’s How-To-Play Yard, complete with a sound garden. There’s also a brand new attraction featuring the mouse himself: Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, opening early January 27th. For Walt Disney World fans, this ride is a familiar one — it opened there two years ago.

Mickey's Toontown at Disneyland

Mickey’s Toontown at Disneyland

Patrick Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Yosemite is ending park reservations before summer 2023

Reservations will soon be a thing of the past in Yosemite National Park. For the past three summers, visitors have had to make a reservation to gain access to the park to keep crowds down amid the COVID-19 pandemic and extensive infrastructure repairs. On November 15, officials announced that RSVPs would no longer be required as of summer 2023. “Yosemite has struggled with congestion — even traffic congestion — for decades.” The park tweeted, and in December it will “begin to seek your help to develop an approach that provides a great visitor experience while protecting Yosemite’s natural and cultural resources.”

Reaction to the news was mixed – some people say they’re glad they don’t have to plan a trip too far in advance, while others enjoyed having a little more breathing room. Mark Rose, the Sierra Nevada program manager for the National Parks Conservation Assn., said in a statement it was “disappointing that park managers have decided to pause a hugely successful reservation system … We don’t want to see a return to the days that visitors.” stuck in hour-long traffic queues before hiking crowded trails.”



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How to Fly, Drive and Ride on Rails over the Holidays

Whether you’re flying home to your parents’ house across the country or taking a car trip, the primary goal is to get from point A to point B safely and comfortably. Here are a few tips and tricks to make vacation travel a more enjoyable experience:

When you drive: To avoid surprises on your trip, take your car to the mechanic about a week or two before your trip. That way they can top up the fluids, check the brakes and check for problems – and have time to fix any problems. Sanna Boman, Editor-in-Chief of Roadtrippers, narrates Travel + Leisure It’s a good idea to download apps like Waze for traffic and driving directions and GasBuddy ahead of time, and remember to stop along the way, as “detours and unexpected stops are often the most memorable moments of a trip.” Make sure you have emergency supplies like jumper cables, extra water, batteries, phone chargers, and a first-aid kit in your car, and stock up on wipes, paper towels, and other cleaning supplies—you won’t want a sticky steering wheel get stuck if you spill your Frappuccino three minutes into your ride.

When you fly: Get a window seat on long-haul flights. It’s a great way to rest your head against the window when you get tired — and it also saves you having to get up when your seatmates need to use the bathroom, said Greg Geronemus, CEO of smarTours Reader’s Digest. He also recommends buckling up above the ceiling so the flight attendants don’t have to wake you up when things get bumpy and the seat belt sign comes on. Be sure to pack an eye mask, comfortable socks, lip balm, and a sweater—all items to use against the stale air and cold temperatures of the plane. Noise-cancelling headphones are also a good item so you can block out the chatter of your fellow passengers. If money is not an issue or you have a lot of frequent flyer miles to spare, consider booking a business or first class seat.

The inside of an airplane.

The inside of an airplane.

Cooper Neill/AFP via Getty Images

If you travel by train: Many of the same flight tips work for trains. If you’re on a shorter trip, stay in the quiet car, snuggle up with a blanket and neck pillow, and put on your headphones so you can listen to some relaxing music or a fun podcast. If you are on an overnight trip, reserve a sleeper room. Pack light and prepare for delays – it’s a good idea to allow yourself a buffer zone so your train doesn’t arrive 20 minutes before Christmas dinner. Bring your own food and drinks, and don’t forget to stand up regularly to stretch your legs so you don’t feel cramped and sore when you disembark the train.

5 Star Gift Idea: DAMDAM Cleansing & Hydrating Bento Box

After a long day of travel, there’s no better feeling than washing your face – and it’s even better when the products you use offer a zen experience. The DAMDAM Cleansing & Hydrating Bento Box offers a complete Japanese skincare ritual – two cleansers, a hydrating spray and a moisturizer – all in one container. The clean ingredients come from regenerative farmers in Japan and the products are good for normal, dry and combination skin. This travel-friendly set is a great stocking filler for the person who is scrupulous about what they put on their skin and wants to pack light.

The DAMDAM bento box.

The DAMDAM bento box.

Courtesy of DamDam

Plan accordingly: Upcoming events to add to your calendar

Christmas Town USA is the place to live out all your Hallmark Channel movie dreams. That’s McAdenville, North Carolina’s nickname, but it’s apt — this place comes alive in December, with most of the homes and hundreds of city trees all ablaze with Christmas lights and holiday decorations. About 600,000 people flock to McAdenville every December to see the dazzling displays, and there are two annual traditions that really draw crowds: the tree lighting ceremony, which takes place on December 1 this year, and the Yule Block ceremony, scheduled for December 15 December is scheduled.

Lights in Christmas City USA

Lights in Christmas City USA

Elizabeth W. Kearley/Moment Mobile via Getty Images

Hanukkah begins on the evening of December 18, and for all eight nights there is activity on Brooklyn’s largest menorah. The 32-foot-long, 4,000-pound menorah has stood at Grand Army Plaza since 1985 and is so massive that a hoist must be brought in to get to the top and light it. A kick-off event and concert are planned December 18, but every night there will be live music, hot latkes and gifts for the children in attendance.

The largest menorah in Brooklyn.

The largest menorah in Brooklyn.

Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

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