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California Welcomes 2018 with Major Openings and Special Milestones

California will welcome visitors with an abundance of new experiences and special events throughout 2018, with major hotel openings, new theme park attractions and milestone anniversary celebrations all on the horizon.

“California’s dream big spirit is reflected in the state’s continual growth and innovation — and 2018 will be no exception,” said Caroline Beteta, president & CEO of Visit California. “This year is the perfect time to plan an adventure in the Golden State.”

From the openings of beachfront resorts and a seaside roller coaster, to anniversaries celebrating sparkling cider, wine, baseball, art and more, the new year brings new reasons to travel to the Golden State. Read below for more details on what’s to come.

And for the most up-to-date news, plus fresh trip ideas and destination tips throughout the year, check out Visit California’s new blog, ‘California Now’ at visitcalifornia.com/now.

Major Openings

DreamWorks Theatre and Hello Kitty Debut at Universal Studios Hollywood in 2018
Universal Studios Hollywood introduces an all-new attraction in 2018, DreamWorks Theatre. The newly designed venue will play host to a variety of action-packed DreamWorks Animation themed attractions beginning with the multi-sensory adventure inspired by the global blockbuster franchise Kung Fu Panda. Hello Kitty, the beloved global pop icon created by the Japanese company Sanrio, also joins Universal Studios Hollywood in 2018.

Exciting New Adventures at SeaWorld
Slithering in just in time for summer 2018, Electric Eel, the tallest and fastest roller coaster in SeaWorld San Diego’s history, will accelerate to more than 60 mph in seconds and rocket skyward 150 feet, with an upside-down view of Mission Bay! Also new for 2018, SeaWorld will be the only place in California where guests can see a new neighborhood street party parade featuring everyone’s favorite Sesame Street friends in May and June.

First Autograph Collection Hotel Comes to Los Angeles
Debuting as the first Autograph Collection hotel in Los Angeles in January 2018, the 26-acre westdrift Manhattan Beach will offer 392 luxury guest rooms, 112 of which will feature private balconies with views of the golf course. The property includes a nine-hole executive golf course, a signature indoor/outdoor restaurant featuring a 360-degree bar, a CrossFit-inspired fitness center, and more than 35,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor meetings and event space.

Lido House Opening in Newport Beach
Just steps away from Lido Marina Village, Lido House will debut as an Autograph Collection hotel in Newport Beach in early 2018. The hotel will feature five custom three-story cottages, each designed by a local designer. The property will feature The Mayor’s Table, along with Topside, the only rooftop bar in Newport Beach. Other highlights include a saltwater pool with private cabanas, a luxury fitness center and Boost Spa.

Marriott Irvine Spectrum Debuts in Time for 2018
Opening December 2017, Marriott Irvine Spectrum will be the only full-service hotel in the Irvine Spectrum area. The property features 271 guest rooms including 50 Premier suites, a full-service restaurant, a 3,500-square-foot rooftop bar, and more than 13,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor meeting and event space. Located within walking distance of Irvine Spectrum Center, the retreat will be a sophisticated urban oasis and the new centerpiece of the Irvine skyline.

Monterey Conference Center Reopens
Monterey County will be celebrating an exciting new year with the grand reopening of the newly renovated $60 million Monterey Conference Center in January 2018. The Conference Center, located in the heart of historic downtown City of Monterey, will be a modern, LEED-certified meeting facility with more than 40,000 square feet of flexible meeting space and a capacity of 3,200 people. The facility is adjacent to the newly renovated Portola Hotel & Spa and connected to the Monterey Marriott.

Pasadena to Enhance Guest Experiences in 2018 with Multi-Million Dollar Hotel Renovations
Pasadena rings in 2018 with multi-million dollar renovations, more guest rooms, larger meeting spaces and new hotels. Among the changes in store are a $20 million renovation of guest rooms, lobby and meeting spaces at Sheraton Pasadena; a $25 million renovation of guest rooms, lobby, bar and meeting spaces at Hilton Pasadena; and a recently completed $11 million guest room beautification at Westin Pasadena; construction of a rooftop pool, meeting space, fitness center and 30 new rooms at DusitD2 Hotel Constance Pasadena; and a new 186-room upscale Hyatt Place hotel in Pasadena’s most popular retail and entertainment center, The Paseo, scheduled for completion by the end of 2018.

Rosewood Miramar Beach Montecito will Open in Summer 2018
Santa Barbara’s highly anticipated beachfront resort, Rosewood Miramar Beach Montecito, will open in summer 2018. Spread over nearly 16 acres, the resort will offer 124 guestrooms and 37 suites, many of which will be located in single-story cottages and bungalows. Amenities will include an oceanfront bar and restaurant, two swimming pools, a Sense® spa, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and one of the most beautiful and secluded beaches in Santa Barbara

Rugby World Sevens in San Francisco
In July 2018, AT&T Park will host Rugby World Sevens. More than 40 teams from six continents will descend upon San Francisco to play in the biggest rugby event to ever on U.S. soil.

Milestone Anniversaries

Cannery Row Commemorates 60 Years
In 2018, Cannery Row in Monterey will celebrate 60 years since its revitalization. Formerly a canning district, the “Sardine Capital of the World” was all-but-abandoned when the sardines disappeared. In 1958, the City of Monterey officially changed the name to “Cannery Row” in honor of John Steinbeck’s 1945 novel of the same name and the rebirth and transformation began. Today, Cannery Row welcomes approximately four million visitors each year to experience its luxurious waterfront hotels, enticing restaurants and captivating boutiques.

Historic Truckee Monument Celebrates 100 Years
Standing 22 feet tall to represent how high the snow was in 1846-1847, the iconic Donner Pioneer Monument will celebrate 100 years in 2018. This designated California Historic Landmark honors pioneer families who crossed the Sierra Nevada in search for a better life and is within walking distance of Donner Lake and the new state-of-the-art Donner State Park Museum and Visitor Center.

Martinelli & Company Celebrates 150 Years
2018 marks S. Martinelli & Company’s 150th anniversary. Founded in 1868 and still family-owned and operated, this well-known juice producer is headquartered in agricultural-rich Watsonville in Santa Cruz County. Visitors can sample Martinelli’s juices, sparkling ciders, mulling spices and limited-edition products in a family-friendly tasting room, while learning about its history. Once producing champagne cider using apples from California’s first commercial orchards, Martinelli’s shifted production once Prohibition was enacted.

City of Watsonville 150th Anniversary
The City of Watsonville is also celebrating 150 years in 2018 and will host a Birthday Celebration on March 30, 2018. Visit www.watsonville150.org for a complete list of other events throughout the year celebrating south Santa Cruz county’s rich history and cultures.

Laguna Art Museum Celebrates 100 Years
Unlike any other museum in the state, Laguna Art Museum collects only California art. The museum traces its origins to the Laguna Beach Art Association, formed in 1918 with artist Edgar Payne as president. In 1929, headed by Laguna Beach painter Anna Hills, the LBAA opened a grand, custom-built gallery which survives within the present museum building. The museum offers art education, presenting programs in music, dance, and film as well as the visual arts. To celebrate this legacy, in 2018 the museum will host a year-long series of exhibitions, special events, programs, and celebrations.

Oakland A’s Celebrate 50 Years in 2018
The Oakland Athletics will celebrate their 50th anniversary in Oakland with a season-long celebration in 2018, including appearances by A’s alumni, special promotions, events and giveaways. On April 17, 2018 – exactly 50 years after the A’s inaugural game at the Coliseum – the anniversary celebration continues with a 7:05 p.m. game against the Chicago White Sox that is free for all fans.

Temecula Valley Wine Country Celebrates 50 years
Temecula Valley Wine Country celebrates their 50th anniversary in 2018, recognizing the people, passion and perseverance that has made this Southern California destination a globally recognized and respected wine region. There will be special promotions and events all year long. Everyone is invited to come celebrate their 50th and receive a special souvenir. #cheersto50years

ABOUT VISIT CALIFORNIA:
Visit California is a nonprofit organization with a mission to develop and maintain marketing programs – in partnership with the state’s travel industry – that keep California top-of-mind as a premier travel destination. According to Visit California, spending by travelers totaled $126.3 billion in 2016 in California, generating 1.1 million jobs in the state and $10.3 billion in state and local tax revenues. For more information about Visit California and for a free California Official State Visitor’s Guide, go to http://www.visitcalifornia.com/.


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San Diego’s Seaworld Unveils Major New Attractions for 2017

SeaWorld has just announced an extensive list of first of it’s kind new rides, shows and events for it’s San Diego park for 2017.

The announcement includes a new Ocean Explorer section with five new family-friendly rides, a new Orca Encounter, Electric Ocean after-dark extravaganza  and numerous major entertainment options. Here are a few of the details:

Ocean Explorer: SeaWorld San Diego will unveil Ocean Explorer, a new 3-acre realm combining multiple aquariums, exciting rides and digital technologies. The area is designed to engage park guests in an experience centered on exploration and adventure, inspiring them to protect the wonders of our oceans.

In the signature attraction for the realm, called Submarine Quest, guests will be adventurers on a global expedition of scientific exploration, travelling aboard submarines to see Ocean Explorer’s remarkable undersea animals. Embarking on these mini submarines, visitors will become researchers on a mission to collect data and learn how they can help protect animals. This three-minute experience will include an onboard digital navigation dashboard, as well as a few other surprises along the journey, enhancing the riders’ understanding of our fragile ocean ecosystem.

The heart and destination of Ocean Explorer will be a series of undersea research bases housing specially-designed aquariums and interactive displays that showcase unique and elusive ocean animals like giant octopuses and dozens of moray eels, as well as huge spider crabs and spiny king crabs. Both crab species will be new to SeaWorld San Diego.

The Ocean Explorer realm will feature five new family-friendly rides in total, including an exhilarating wave swing ride where guests will fly through thousands of real bubbles in chairs suspended from the tentacles of a giant jellyfish.

New Orca Encounter: SeaWorld San Diego will introduce new, inspiring, educational orca encounters, rather than theatrical shows, as part of its ongoing commitment to education, marine science research, and rescue of marine animals. These live documentaries will focus on orca enrichment, exercise, and overall health. This change will start in its San Diego park next year.

Electric Ocean: Electric Ocean will debut next summer at SeaWorld San Diego as a brand new, end-of-day spectacle event. As the sun goes down, the lights and energy go up, offering guests a different kind of fun after dark. The ocean comes to life with bioluminescent lighting, music and pathway entertainment, immersing guests in a glowing sea of wonder.

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer & Friends: Beloved Christmas character Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and friends, including Clarice, Bumble, the Abominable Snow Monster and Yukon Cornelius, and Rudolph themed attractions will be returning for the 2017 season, with additional Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer-themed experiences for families to enjoy the Christmas spirit even more.

2017 Events: Seven Seas Food Festival, a popular music and food event at SeaWorld in San Diego is returning for 2017. Other park events include: Lunar New Year and Wild Days.


On the road? Why not take us with you. Our websites are mobile-friendly! Visit our growing family of exit guides:  I-4 Exit GuideI-5 Exit GuideI-10 Exit GuideI-75 Exit Guide, and I-95 Exit Guide. Detailed exit service listings… discount lodging, camping, food, gas and more for every exit along the way!