LEGOLAND Celebrates Halloween with Brick or Treat

If you’re looking to celebrate Halloween at a theme park with the family, LEGOLAND Florida Resort has you covered.

During seven dates in October, LEGOLAND Florida will host Brick or Treat, a Halloween party specifically designed for children, featuring a themed firework spectacular, trick-or-treating in the park, character meet-and-greets, LEGO building activities and more.

The park will be adorned with Halloween decorations and will include fun activities around every corner. New for 2017, LEGOLAND Florida will award guests for elite costumes, feature a new show at the Wells Fargo Fun Town Theater, provide photo opportunities inside a giant LEGO Halloween globe and more.

Visitors will be able to meet LEGO Halloween characters, including Lord Vampyre, the Mummy, the Mad Scientist, the Witch and Frankenstein. Guests will also be treated to candy and other Halloween treats, scavenger hunts and themed areas of the park.

The dates for the 2017 Brick or Treat events are October 14, 15, 21, 22, 28, 29 and 31. Hours for the festivities are between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. local time, except on October 31, which will be 10 a.m.-7 p.m. local time.

In addition to the Halloween festivities, LEGOLAND Florida will debut its Be-A-Minifigure Costume Shop on September 15 in the Fun Town section of the park. Visitors will be able to dress up like their favorite LEGO characters.

LEGOLAND Florida is also offering guests the chance to save $30 on a one-day ticket or a one-day theme park and water park ticket. Customers must make the purchase on or before September 15 and the visit between October 1 through November 19.

Hurricane Irma May Cost Florida’s Tourism Industry Millions of Dollars

Potentially catastrophic Hurricane Irma is barreling toward the Caribbean and Florida with winds topping 185 mph, making it the strongest storm ever to form in the open Atlantic waters. As it heads toward land, businesses in Florida are prepared to take a hit.

Tourism is Florida’s top resource, so closures at central Florida theme parks including Walt Disney Co.-owned Walt Disney World, Comcast Corp.’s Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Entertainment Inc.’s SeaWorld Orlando could dampen a usually busy pre-Halloween season. Further south, cruises leaving Florida ports and venturing into the Caribbean have been cancelled, rerouted and cut short.

Disney World doesn’t close often, but it shut its gates last year when Hurricane Matthew hit. Matthew sucker-punched the Orlando area in early October. If Disney has to shut down operations for any period of time, it’s expected to announce plans before the weekend.

Before it turns to park closures, Disney has an extensive emergency management plan in place. Disney World operates a disaster relief center, which is currently on alert with Florida under a state of emergency. The relief center employs trained professionals who are preparing for the worst-case scenario and will mobilize to secure guests as soon as Hurricane Irma becomes an imminent threat.

When a hurricane watch is in place for any part of central Florida within seven days of your planned visit, Walt Disney World waives the typical cancellation fee. If you booked your Disney World trip with an airline package, you’ll need to get in touch with your airline provider to consider cancelling, as Disney can’t forgive fees from other firms.

Universal Orlando Resort has an “affirmative, no-questions-asked” policy for guests seeking a refund or free cancellation because of a named storm affecting the Orlando area or the guests’ origin, a spokesman told the Orlando Sentinel.

SeaWorld Orlando also offers a “peace of mind” policy that allows guests to reschedule or refund vacation packages or park tickets free of charge.

But offering such policies as a potentially seriously damaging storm approaches central Florida can be costly. “During this time of year, particularly with the Halloween events going on, literally millions of dollars can be lost,” International Theme Park Services president Daniel Speigel told the Orlando Sentinel.

In south Florida, cruises leaving the ports of Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Cape Canaveral could be derailed.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. said it plans to cut two Caribbean cruises short this week to avoid the massive storm heading into their path. The voyages aboard the Norwegian Sky and Norwegian Escape will return to Miami on Thursday instead of the planned Friday and Saturday disembarkations. Guests will get a refund for missed vacation days and a discount on future Norwegian trips, the company said in a statement.

Carnival Corp.  has not yet cancelled any trips, but has revised the itineraries of four sailings to stop over in western Caribbean ports instead of eastern Caribbean ports. The company is “watching Irma closely,” a spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.  will also reroute a ship into the western Caribbean and is currently evaluating five trips in the Caribbean, Cuba and Bermuda.

Hurricane Irma, which is roughly the size of Ohio, is expected to tear through the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico starting Thursday and hit Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas and Cuba later this week, the National Hurricane Center said.

Main Fuel Pipeline Temporarily Closes, What’s Going To Happen To Gas Prices?

Hurricane Harvey’s impact on fuel prices nationally might be more costly than first anticipated: The country’s largest fuel system, the Colonial Pipeline, shut down its main fuel lines.

Colonial Pipeline announced Wednesday evening that it would temporarily close two of its fuel lines that send an estimated 100 million gallons of gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel from Houston to the East Coast.

According to Colonial Pipeline, Line 2 — which transports diesel and aviation fuel — closed Wednesday, while Line 1 — which transports gasoline between Houston and the East Coast — stopped operations today.

The company noted that the shutdowns were made “due to supply constraints caused by storm-related refinery shutdowns.”

Once Colonial is able to ensure that its facilities are safe to operate and refiners have the ability to move product, the systems will resume operation.

What’s It Mean For Your Wallet?

While many drivers have seen an increase in gas prices in the days following Harvey’s landfall, the latest pipeline closure could drive up costs even more.

The shutdowns have led to an increase in gasoline futures — the wholesale prices charged to gas stations — that are eventually passed down to customers.

As of Wednesday evening, gasoline futures jumped 7% to more than $2/gallon, CNN reports.

Although it might take time for the latest jump in futures to reach customers — likely in days or weeks — prices have already seen a slight increase since Harvey struck.

GasBuddy, a fuel tracking system, notes that fuel prices are up nearly $0.02 from yesterday, while the average price has increased $0.11 since last week.

Compared to this time last year, however, the price is up $0.24.

GasBuddy executives warned of the impending price increases shortly before the hurricane hit Texas, noting that the storm could lead to long-term issues in terms of gasoline supply for large portions of the country.

The company estimates that gas price increases could linger for one or two weeks after the storm.

Past Trouble

Hurricane Harvey isn’t the first event to wreak havoc on nation’s pipelines.

In Sept. 2016, a spill of gasoline from the Colonial Pipeline in Alabama resulted in higher gas prices. Repairs of the issue, which was declared a state of emergency in Alabama and Georgia, were delayed, causing shortages and further price increases.

Three months later in Dec. 2016, the Colonial Pipeline shutdown again after an explosion and fire killed a worker.

The Shallow Grave Announces Its Final Terrifying Haunted House Season

 

  

  

 

Solar Eclipse Could Cost US Nearly $700 Million in Lost Productivity

The total solar eclipse of 2017 could cost U.S. companies nearly $700 million in lost productivity on Monday (Aug. 21) when workers pause to watch the moon block the sun.

Based an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the worker outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. estimates that employers could lose as much as $694 million because of the solar eclipse, which occurs during a workday, company representatives said in a statement.

Challenger arrived at its cost estimate by using the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2016 American Time Use Survey. The company used survey data for the country’s average hourly wage data and number of full-time employed workers age 16 and higher to calculate what the lost productivity on solar eclipse day would cost if workers took 20 minutes out of their day to observe the total solar eclipse.

Andrew Challenger, vice president of the Chicago-based company, told NBC News that he estimates 87 million workers across the country will take a break to see the solar eclipse. But in the grand scheme, that potential $694 million in lost productivity isn’t a major hit.

According to NBC News, worker distractions from March Madness can reach up to $615 million per hour as employees take time out to track college basketball games, set up brackets or catch up on game highlights. And there is a benefit to companies that celebrate the eclipse together, Challenger said.

“Since this is happening over the lunch hours, the financial impact is minimal. It offers a great opportunity to boost morale. Employers could offer lunch to their staff, give instructions on how to make viewing devices, and watch together as a team,” Challenger said in his company’s statement.

In fact, Space.com’s parent company Purch is one of the many businesses doing just that.

The roof of our New York City office — the home of Space.com — will be open for employees of our sister sites (and the entire nine-floor building) to observe a partial solar eclipse. At Purch’s headquarters in Ogden, Utah, employees will head outside to experience their own partial eclipse.

“Building in time around lunch to mark the special occasion will encourage employees to interact and have something to be excited about,” Challenger said in the statement.

Visit Space.com to see the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, with a live webcast from NASA beginning at 12 p.m. EDT (1600 GMT).

Here’s A Giant List Of Solar Eclipse Promotions

On Monday, Aug. 21, people from Oregon to South Carolina will get to experience a rare total solar eclipse, with folks outside this path still experiencing a partial eclipse. And because every notable event must be accompanied by a marketing bonanza, there is no shortage of companies offering everything from eclipse-themed appliance sales to one-day-only donuts.

We’ve rounded up some promotions and freebies that you might find interesting. If you know of other promotions that we missed, please let us know so we can update this post before the event!

Home Appliances

Frigidaire: A “blackout sale” on matte black stainless steel appliances will run from Aug. 17 to Aug. 23. The collection will be at least 30% off at participating retailers, including online.

Food

Krispy Kreme: The hot doughnut chain is celebrating the eclipse by putting a chocolate glaze on its original glazed doughnuts for the first time.

“The Chocolate Glazed Doughnut is a delicious way to experience the solar eclipse — no matter where you are — and we can’t wait for fans to try it,” the company’s chief marketing officer said in a statement, leaving people who live in places with neither Krispy Kreme shops nor a full view of the eclipse bereft.

Pilot/Flying J Travel Centers: Get a free Milky Way candy bar or pack of Eclipse gum (of course!) with any beverage purchase. (You may have to download the chain’s rewards app to get this deal; we’re waiting for clarification.)

Pizza Hut: They don’t have an eclipse special, but did make an instructional video showing how to make a pinhole eclipse viewer out of a pizza box.

Dairy Queen: From Aug. 21 to Sept. 3, you’ll be able to buy one Blizzard and get one for $0.99, which somehow involves the eclipse.

Eyewear

Warby Parker: While most places are out of the special viewing glasses you’ll need to protect your eyes during the eclipse, Warby Parker is giving them away for free at its physical stores. Or, follow these instructions to make your own pinhole projector.

Stamps

U.S. Postal Service: The USPS is selling super cool eclipse stamps. They’re the first postage stamp in this country that uses thermocromatic ink that changes the image when you touch the stamp. The moon covering the sun disappears.

Booze

José Cuervo Tequila: The brand sent along some eclipse-themed cocktail recipes, including the “Total Especial Eclipse.” Here’s how you make it, and you now have two days to locate charcoal lemonade:

2 oz Jose Cuervo Especial
2 oz orange juice
1 tsp grenadine
1/2 oz. charcoal lemonade

Shake tequila and orange juice and pour into a rocks glass over ice. Mix charcoal lemonade and grenadine and slowly pour into the cocktail.

Regional events & parties

The eclipse cuts a swath across the country from the Pacific Northwest to the coastal Southeast, so there’s no way we can include every big eclipse viewing event or post-eclipse party. But there are some handy lists out there.

• Travel Oregon has put together this roundup things to do and see in the state on Monday.

• Here’s a massive map of the 100+ events going on in and around St. Louis on the day of the eclipse.

• This page at the Charleston Post & Courier site gathers together some of the best places to celebrate after the eclipse for people visiting the last city in the path of totality.

• And USA Today has its guide to events both in and outside the path of the total eclipse.

Watch in person

By air: Private plane operators and small airlines like Million Air have packages that will take you to a remote airport to view the eclipse for $10,000, according to Bloomberg News. Even private jet companies and commercial carriers like Southwest are giving away viewing glasses to passengers on flights that might get to see the eclipse from their windows.

On the ground: The American Astronomical Society has a handy tool for looking up local events taking place along the path of the eclipse, from astronomy club meetings to community festivals and live streams.

Watch from afar

NASA: If you don’t live somewhere where the moon will completely cover the sun and/or will be stuck at your desk, NASA has you covered: It will be streaming the eclipse from a weather-proof vantage point above the clouds. The space agency expects up to a billion people to watch.

The Weather Channel: Another option for watching the eclipse will be on The Weather Channel, which will be broadcasting live from seven locations across the country.

SolarEdge: If you’re wondering who is seeing the eclispe right now, solar energy systems company SolarEdge is also offering a stream that will show you the path of the eclipse and how it’s affecting solar energy systems.

How Millennials Are Killing Businesses and Things We Love

With smartphones in their hands and bloodlust in their hearts, millennials are dealing death blows to businesses, products, and even concepts right and left — at least, according to Twitter.

According to analysis released Monday by Brandwatch, users have tweeted that “millennials are killing” something over 1,500 times since the beginning of 2017. Topping the list of millennial victims is “chain(s),” which presumably refers to chain stores and restaurants, at a little over 450 mentions. Famous chains like Buffalo Wild Wings and Applebees also receive specific shoutouts.

And can it be mere coincidence that Nasdaq published an article advising stockholders to sell their shares in Buffalo Wild Wings on Tuesday, the day after this Twitter data was compiled and released?

This reporter thinks not.

According to these rankings, millennials are also killing diamonds, malls, and lunch. Brandwatch touches on the reason for this in their analysis: “It would be great to buy homes or eat out every night but financial hardship means they can’t.” Millennials are not in the market for diamonds because millennials sometimes spend an extra five minutes in CVS wondering if body wash is actuallyworth it.

Beer also comes in surprisingly high on the list of things that millennials are killing, due to both their preference for wine and their search for “quality, authenticity, and new experiences” outside of large beer brands like Anheuser-Busch and Pabst.

And, by the way, millennials are killing this stuff, too

In the past couple years, the millennial generation has been accused of killing off the entire golf industry, the concept of work/life balance, traditional marketing tactics like focus groups, and dinner dates.

But there’s more: millennials also have blood on their hands regarding paper napkinsrunning for sportbars of soapin-person conversations, sex, marriage, monogamy, “safe sex,” and cheating on one’s spouse.

Millennials also reportedly hate vacations, wine bottles they can’t twist open, like Philistines, the oil industry, traditionally owning a carHarley-Davidson bikeslife insurancefabric softenerthe lotterycerealcable channelsBig Macs, and cruise ships. Oh, and the generation also hates guns that aren’t in video games and hiring a good old-fashioned stripper for their buddy’s bachelor party.

But, ultimately, as most analysis concludes, this millennial murder spree is nothing new — it’s just the market talking, baby! And as millennials come of age and begin earning their own capital, it’s about time that companies start listening.

Amazon Introduces Instant Pickup for Faster Deliveries

Amazon has begun a small rollout for their “Instant Pickup” initiative that sees consumers picking up orders within two minutes of their purchase. The service is available on five college campuses in LA, Atlanta, Columbus, OH and College Park, MD, and is expecting to expand to neighborhood spots within cities by the end of the year.

The initiative comes to deliver items to customers who order via Amazon at even short wait times. Items for sale include phone chargers, snacks, drinks, and the like which sell at high volume from the delivery site.

Instant Pickup’s products are picked by Amazon employees on site at the pickup points and delivered to the lockers similar to The Hub, an alternative delivery service by Amazon for apartments. The recent acquisition of Whole Foods by Amazon could also prove to be useful for the Instant Pickup roll out.

Restaurant Jobs Are the New Factory Jobs

Donald Trump’s ideal economy is defined by brawn. He praises steelworkers, speaks wistfully of coal mining, and tweets boastfully about new manufacturing factories. But 200 days into his presidency, the most promising sector of the U.S. labor market isn’t steel-plating. It’s dinner-plating.

Restaurant jobs are on fire in 2017, growing faster than health care, construction, or manufacturing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics calls this subsector “food services and drinking places,” and the jobs are mostly at sit-down restaurants, which make up 50 percent of the category. Fast-food joints are the next-largest employer in the category, with 37 percent. Bars—wonderful, plentiful, but leanly staffed—account for just 3 percent. So, I’m just going to keep saying “restaurants” for short.

In some metros, restaurants are powering the entire economy. More than a third of Cleveland’s new jobs since 2015 are in restaurants, according to EMSI data. The same is true for New Orleans, but since 2010.

Unlike mining or manufacturing, which tends to cluster in a handful of regions, the restaurant boom is spread across the country. New fine-dining restaurants, which tend to require more waitstaff, are blooming in all the predictable places—San Francisco, Nashville, and Austin (the Texas capital leads the country in percent-growth of restaurant jobs). But restaurants are dominating local economies in a diverse range of places, from poor metros like Little Rock, to rich places like Washington, D.C., and military hubs like Virginia Beach.

How did this happen? As Justin Fox points out, the trend didn’t appear overnight. For the past three decades, restaurants have steadily grown, as part of the most fundamental shift in American work—from making things to serving people. Between 1990 and 2008, 98 percent of new jobs came from so-called “nontradable” industries that aren’t sensitive to international trade, according to the economist Michael Spence.

In 1990, manufacturing was almost three times larger than the food-service industry. But restaurants have gradually closed the gap. At current rates of growth, more people will work at restaurants than in manufacturing in 2020. This mirrors the shift in consumer spending. Restaurants’ share of America’s food budget has doubled from 25 percent in the 1950s to 50 percent today.

The phenomenon is speeding up. Four of the five best years for restaurant growth on record have happened since 2011. Restaurant jobs have grown faster than the overall economy every month since August 2010. (That’s more than 200 consecutive months!) It’s not just a redundant artifact of the service-sector economy, either. Almost every month between 1996 and 2000—years when job creation soared in a booming economy—restaurant jobs grew slower than the rest of the labor market.

The trend is speeding up, but it’s not clear that we should cheer it—or whether it’s sustainable. Jobs are jobs, but these ones don’t pay very well. The typical private-sector job pays about $22 an hour. The typical restaurant job pays about $12.50. That’s one reason why the Fight for 15 movement to raise the minimum wage has targeted the restaurant industry. What’s more, although it might feel like a golden age of restaurants in America, the truth is that the United States might have too many restaurants, particularly “family-casual” chains like Applebee’s, which have struggled to keep up with rising labor costs.

But the most important feature of the restaurant-jobs boom is not what it may say about the future, but rather the fact that it is happening in the first place. Trump and other politicians often say they want to help the common worker. But then they talk about the economy as if it were cryogenically frozen sometime around 1957. The U.S. still makes stuff, but mostly it serves stuff. To help American workers, it helps to begin with an honest accounting of what Americans actually do.

Buying Your Groceries Online Can Curb Impulse Buying & Ultimately Weight Gain

For people who just can’t seem to pass up the candy in a supermarket checkout line, perhaps grocery shopping online could help reduce these impulse purchases, a new study suggests.

In the study, college students who were asked to shop for groceries online made similar food choices to one another, regardless of how impulsive the individuals were.

The findings are preliminary, and more research is needed to confirm the results, but the study suggests that online grocery shopping could help people stick to a healthy diet, said lead study author Jaime Coffino, a public health researcher at the University at Albany, State University of New York.

Previous research shows that people who are more impulsive may be less healthy than less impulsive people, Coffino told Live Science. In a grocery store, that impulsiveness could lead to a shopping cart filled with junk food.

The new study looked at 60 college students who filled out questionnaires that assessed their levels of impulsiveness as well as how they respond to the presence of food. The students were then told they had $48.50 for grocery shopping, and were asked to fill an online shopping cart with “nutritious, affordable and tasty” foods.

When Coffino calculated the nutritional value of all the food in each person’s online shopping cart, she found that there was no link between the foods a person chose and how impulsive the person was.

“It didn’t matter how impulsive a person was,” Coffino said. “The nutritional outcomes didn’t vary.”

Online grocery shopping could one day serve as a type of dietary intervention, Coffino said. Often, when people buy groceries online, they need to search for each item they want, as opposed to strolling through a store and saying, for example, “Oh, those chips look good.” Online, more planning and thought is needed. In addition, online grocery shopping makes people more aware of how much money they’re spending, which could deter them from adding impulsive picks to their carts, Coffino said.

She noted that the study has limitations — for example, no control group was used — and much more research is needed. Future studies could compare online grocery shopping to in-store grocery shopping, she said.

The findings were presented here Aug. 4 at the American Psychological Association’s annual meeting. The research is part of a larger study that looks at how public health researchers can use online grocery shopping as a tool to encourage healthy eating. The findings have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.