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Disney World Updates Reservation System Ahead of Reopening

Walt Disney World Resort has announced a series of updates for new ticket sales and hotel reservations; dining and experiences and FastPass+ and Extra Magic Hours ahead of the attraction’s phased reopening beginning on July 11.

The parks will manage attendance through a new reservation system on DisneyWorld.com that will require all guests to make a reservation in advance of their visit in order to gain entry.

Disney is temporarily pausing new ticket sales and Disney Resort hotel reservations so it can prioritize existing tickets and reservations. Those guests with existing tickets and Annual Passholders can make a reservation before new tickets are sold and will be contacted with additional details.

New ticket sales and Disney Resort hotel reservations will resume at a later time, with reservations limited due to attendance restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 impact.

Upon reopening, some offerings, including restaurants and behind-the-scenes tours will also be limited in capacity. Disney has canceled all existing dining reservations and experience bookings, including Disney dining plans included in packages, but plans to reopen a limited number of dining and experience bookings closer to reopening.

What’s more, Disney is moving from a 180-day booking window to a 60-day window for dining and experience bookings so that guests can secure plans much closer to their visit.

Finally, Disney announced that its FastPass+ service will be suspended for the time being so that it can use the additional queue space to manage capacity and maintain social distancing. Existing FastPass+ selections will be automatically canceled as a result and Extra Magic Hours will be temporarily suspended.

Disney is reaching out to affected guests to provide them with additional information and details on what their options are, including refunds.

Contact your travel advisor or visit the “Know Before You Go” hub at DisneyWorld.com/Updates for the latest information.

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Air New Zealand prepares for $560 million loss, massive changes

Air New Zealand has confirmed it expects to report an underlying loss for the 2020 financial year while estimating hedging losses and aircraft impairments of up to $560m.

The airline, which said today it has yet to draw on the government’s $900m loan, says while the recent move to Alert Level 2 allowed it to get its domestic engine turning again, it is clear that it will take some time for demand to return to pre-COVID levels.

“We are preparing for a scenario in which the airline is still 30 per cent smaller than pre-COVID levels in two years’ time,” says chief financial officer Jeff McDowall.

For the second half of the 2020 financial year, Air New Zealand’s network capacity is expected to be approximately 50 per cent lower than the prior comparative period, driven by a reduction of approximately 90 per cent in the fourth quarter.

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Air New Zealand have estimated hedging losses and aircraft impairments of up to $560m.Source:istock

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In light of this and the fact there was very little revenue coming in during Alert Levels 3 and 4, the airline is now expecting to report an underlying loss for the 2020 financial year.

It currently has $640 million of short-term liquidity, versus $1 billion prior to the outbreak. That doesn’t include any of the $900 million government loan facility.

“We have not yet needed to draw down on the government loan facility, as we continue to use all available levers to reduce our cash burn and right-size the business to reflect the expectation that, for some time, our airline will be smaller than it was pre-COVID-19,” says Mr McDowall.

In a market update, the company said it would feel the impact of $85m to $105m from fuel hedging de-designation, aircraft impairment charges of $350m to $450m, and reorganisation costs of up to $160m in the full financial year.

CASH BURN

Measures taken to minimise cash burn include slashing 4000 jobs or 30 per cent of the workforce, which is expected to drive annualised savings of $350 million to $400 million.

It has deferred or cancelled almost $700 million in expected capital expenditure to December 2022, including deferrals of planned A321 NEO deliveries.

The combination of these and other measures mean it expects to reduce its average monthly cash outflows by approximately $50 million to $60 million for the 2020 financial year.

More changes are likely, including possible further job losses.

“We will continue to seek out further opportunities to consolidate facilities, reduce capital spend, review fleet composition, supply chain costs and adjust our labour base further,” said Mr McDowall.

For the second half of the 2020 financial year, Air New Zealand’s network capacity is expected to be approximately 50 per cent lower than the prior comparative period.Source:istock

He added, however, “we know that demand for air travel will eventually rebound, so we are cognisant of striking the right balance between removing cost from the business and ensuring the airline is in a strong position to ramp up as demand recovers”.

UNPARALLELED IMPACT

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unparalleled impact on the aviation industry, and the future landscape of the airline will look vastly different to what it does today, chief executive Greg Foran says.

“This is without a doubt the most significant challenge our airline, and indeed the entire aviation industry, has ever faced,” he said.

“The implementation of domestic travel restrictions and border closures have been incredibly effective at slowing the spread of COVID-19 in a number of countries, including here in New Zealand, but they have also had a profound impact on demand for air travel.

Air New Zealand is preparing for a scenario in which the airline is still 30 per cent smaller than pre-COVID levels in two years’ time.Source:istock

“Throughout this pandemic, Air New Zealand’s focus has first and foremost been on protecting the health and safety of our customers and our team, while also taking swift and decisive action to protect the long term viability of the airline and preserve liquidity.

“We are doing everything in our power to ensure Air New Zealand emerges strongly from this crisis.”

It did not provide specific guidance due to uncertainty regarding demand for air travel under New Zealand’s alert level 2, the period of time in which social distancing will be required on the aircraft and the timing of a shift to alert level 1.

Mr McDowall said demand for air travel will eventually rebound.

“So we are cognisant of striking the right balance between removing cost from the business and ensuring the airline is in a strong position to ramp up as demand recovers.”

This article originally appeared on the New Zealand Herald and has been republished with permission

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UK holidays: Cornwall summer hotspot opens doors for ocean activities – will you visit?

Holidays in the UK are gaining popularity due to travel restrictions and bans in place across multiple countries worldwide amid the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, the Landmark Trust has already reported a surge in bookings. The sudden change in holiday trend is likely to be down to travel restrictions both in the UK and abroad.

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With 14-day quarantine travel rules likely to come into play next month, British tourists could be looking at having to book off weeks for just a weekend away.

For example, if you book a week away in Spain you could be looking at having to book five weeks off work due to Spain’s own quarantine rules.

However, for those who are happy to travel in the UK, one holiday hotspot in the sunny southwest has opened its doors to tourists.

If surfing, bodyboarding and kayaking are your activities of choice then this may be the holiday spot for you.

Newquay Activity Centre on the stunning north coast of Cornwall in the southwest of England is offering British holidaymakers the opportunity to take part in some new experiences in the sea.

Newquay Activity Centre said: “Following new Government guidance for providers of outdoor facilities on the phased return of sport and recreation in England we are pleased to say that we are OPEN for business again.

“In light of it being Mental Awareness week, this return to ocean activities is well timed.

“We know that the water is hugely beneficial for our mental and physical state and will leave you feeling calmer, more positive and energised.

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“We are able to deliver our award winning activities from a safe distance and by taking the following measures.”

They added: “Only individuals, couples, families or small groups that have been isolating together will be in the same session.”

However, to ensure people remain safe, the outdoor activity provider is offering its customers enhanced safety measures.

One of the measures will be “staggering customer arrival times and limiting the number of guests per day”.

Others include: “Increased cleaning throughout the centre; asking customers to be prepared (with swimwear under clothing so that we can reduce the need to use changing rooms); increased wetsuit and kit wash; all equipment sterilised and rotated before their next use; new considerations of safe ocean conditions to maximise safety; new rescue protocols; and increased signs and reminders.”

There will also be new measures in place for staff supervising customers.

The new measures include, “training in new session delivery, wearing PPE where required and social distancing in the workplace”.

The centre added that the number of customers being taken each day is now “limited” because of the coronavirus.

They added: “With smaller-than-average groups all guests will be receiving fantastic value and a great experience.

“The number of customers that we can take each day is currently limited so we urge you to contact us if you would like to safely enjoy the huge benefits of the ocean this spring and summer.”

The Newquay Activity Centre offers customers the chance to experience surfing, coasteering, kayaking, bodyboarding and paddle boarding.

Some 53,000 jobs depend on hospitality and tourism in Cornwall.

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Extra UK bank holiday could help remedy £37bn loss to tourism, MPs told

The UK tourism industry could lobby the government for an extra bank holiday in October, to extend the season, as it predicts the sector will take a £37bn hit from Covid-19.

Patricia Yates, the acting chief executive of the official tourist agency VisitBritain, believes there will be a £15bn drop in income from visitors coming to Britain from overseas, combined with a £22bn impact from lost domestic tourism.

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At the start of the year, before the pandemic struck Europe, VisitBritain had estimated the sector’s income to reach £106bn.

“Every time we do the modelling, the figures get worse,” Yates told MPs on the Commons digital, culture, media and sport committee.

The predicted slump in income for the UK’s tourist sector does not include the impact of a possible 14-day quarantine for all visitors coming to Britain.

The tourist organisation welcomed the extension of the government furlough scheme to support businesses in the sector, which often depends on the summer season for most of its annual income.

Yates told MPs that usually businesses in the tourism sector would have begun trading around Easter, and would therefore need to extend their season beyond September to try to recoup some of the lost trade.

“Because the industry has lost the benefit of the two May bank holidays, I think that’s an idea that is being considered, to have an October bank holiday around half-term, because what we are going to need to do is generate people not just in July and August,” she said.

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Foreign travel restrictions are expected to remain in place for some time, and the British tourism sector hopes income from domestic visitors will partially replace money that would have been spent by foreign tourists, although Yates cautioned that Britons were still reluctant to travel within the UK.

“Given that it has to be the year of domestic tourism, there’s a real job to be done there in convincing people that it is socially responsible to travel and enjoy a holiday, and that it is safe to do so,” Yates said.

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The 5 best family lodges in Tanzania – A Luxury Travel Blog

As we know, holiday plans around the world are on hold at the moment due to Covid-19. What better way to get through these troubling times, than to look forward to when this is all over and we can take that family holiday we have been dreaming of. I cannot think of many better countries in the world to enjoy a once in a lifetime family holiday, than in the wild safari parks of Tanzania. Here is a run down of my favourite family friendly lodges on the continent.

Ikuka

Ikuka is perched up high amongst the towering Ruaha baobabs. From your room and the main area, you have stunning views of the park below. The atmosphere is what sets Ikuka apart from all the other lodges in Tanzania; being owner-ran it is truly intimate, and offers a timeless safari experience. If you would like your family to have an authentic safari with amazing guides, a relaxed atmosphere and beautiful big rooms then Ikuka is for you. The wildlife in Ruaha is also exceptional, and you should look at visiting in our summer months of July – October when the park bursts to life and the wildlife is best. Its authenticity means that Ikuka is fairly open-plan, so is probably better for families with teenagers rather than very young children.

Nomad Lamai

Nomad Lamai is a beautiful lodge set in the iconic Kjopes of the northern Serengeti. Aside from the world class Serengeti wildlife, this lodge is particularly appealing for families because of the seperate private property which you can have all to yourself; Mkombe House. Here, you have one of the most enviable family holidays on the continent. Time it right, and your game drives could be filled with hundreds of wildebeest in the Great Migration hurtling themselves across the Mara River (which is just on your doorstep). To be in with a chance of witnessing the river crossings, you must stay at Nomad Lamai from July to October when the wildebeest are (usually!) in the area.

Sand Rivers

The watery and blissful Selous Game Reserve is only a short 45 minute hop from the beautiful beaches of Zanzibar. A combination of beach and safari has never been easier here, and has also never been more memorable than if you were to choose Sand Rivers. This is a lovely lodge with a great atmosphere, huge authentic wooden rooms, and is a great place for families to unwind. The wildlife is also fantastic in the summer months, and importantly, here you can enjoy boating safaris as well as fishing, which makes this a very diverse safari option. Sand Rivers is the Selous’s answer to Ikuka!

Serengeti Safari Camp

Serengeti Safari Camp offers the quintessential East Africa safari experience. This camp is part of an array of “mobile” camps, which move two to three times a year to be in the right location to see the Great Migration herds. Serengeti Safari Camp is my personal favourite, due to its authentic and safari mad approach to the whole experience. The guides are fantastic, and Nomad as a company offer an unrivalled experience across the continent for a certain style of safari; no unnecessary frills but a world class hospitality experience, Serengeti Safari Camp is a true gem. Interconnected family rooms mean that this camp is ideal for families of all ages.

Jabali Ridge

Jabali Ridge is a beautiful and modern lodge, but one which harmoniously fits in with its wild Ruaha surroundings. Like Nomad Lamai, Jabali has a private house too which makes it one of the most elegant, exclusive and sought after family safari houses in East Africa. Jabali is for those who love life on the luxurious side, and want their family holidays to be remote and on the wild side.

Marc Harris is Managing Director of Tanzania Odyssey. Tanzania Odyssey is a leading tour operator that has specialised in Tanzania since 1998.

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Disney Springs Announces Needs to Know for Phased Reopening on May 20

Walt Disney World Resort today released plans for a phased reopening of its Disney Springs shopping, dining and entertainment complex, to begin on May 20, 2020.

A number of its retail and dining locations will reopen their doors on this date, while Disney Springs looks to open more Disney-owned shops and eateries, such as the World of Disney store, D-Luxe Burger (for mobile orders only) and the Marketplace Co-Op, on May 27. Select locations will initially operate with reduced hours, there are currently no entertainment offerings scheduled and high-touch, interactive features on property are unavailable.

Based upon the latest guidance from government agencies and health authorities, such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the venue is implementing numerous new safety measures in response to COVID-19. Disney, therefore, has announced six key “things to know” before arriving at Disney Springs, once it reopens. Cast Members, employees of third-party Operating Participants and Guests alike will observe changes in:

Guest Parking and Entrances:

—During the initial reopening phase, all surface parking lots will remain closed and Guests will be directed to self-park in the Orange and Lime garages.

—Guest entryways will also be reduced to four locations—via the Orange and Lime garages, the Hotel Plaza Boulevard Pedestrian Bridge and the rideshare location. There’ll be no guest access to Disney Springs available from the Grapefruit garage.

Temperature Screenings:

—All incoming Guests will undergo temperature screenings upon arrival at Disney Springs at one of the following locations: Orange and Lime parking garages’ second-floor exits and the Marketplace Entrance (to serve Guests from the Hotel Plaza Boulevard Pedestrian Bridge and the rideshare drop-off lot).

—As per official guidance from health authorities, anyone with a temperature of 100.4 F or higher (as well as those in their party) will be denied entry, being rerouted to another location for more advanced screening and assistance.

—Cast Members and Operating Participants’ employees will also be required to complete temperature checks and health screenings prior to coming in for their shifts.

Limited Contact:

Temporary adjustments are being made in terms of Guest Services policies to limit person-to-person interactions in alignment with recommendations made by the government and medical community.

—Face Coverings: Guests ages three or older, Cast Member and third-party employees will be required to wear masks or appropriate facial coverings (which they must bring themselves) at all times, except while dining.

—Physical Barriers: In areas where there may be difficult to maintain strict physical-distancing measures (such as at cash registers or Guest Relations), physical barriers have been installed to maintain proper distancing.

—Cashless Transactions: At this time, Guests are advised to stick to cashless/contactless payment options (e.g., credit or debit cards, Disney Gift Cards, Disney Rewards Redemption Cards or mobile wallets, such as Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay.

Physical Distancing and Curbed Capacity:

—For any given location within Disney Springs, the number of Guests, and Cast Members or other employees, permitted to be present at one time will be monitored and limited. Other physical distancing measures include:

—Signage: Ground markings have been applied to help promote proper social distancing in queues and common areas, and direction signage will assist Guests to move responsibly throughout the property.

—Training: Select Cast Members are also being trained to engage with Guests in common areas and queues to further encourage adherence to social-distancing guidelines.

Cleanliness and Sanitation:

—Cleaning and disinfection protocols are being increased in such high-traffic areas as restrooms, and public elevators and escalators; as well as high-touch surfaces like handrails, benches, tables, handles, etc.

—Hand-washing stations and hand-sanitizer dispensers will be installed in key areas throughout the property, which Guests are highly encouraged to use while visiting.

Cast Member Training:

While the COVID-19 situation is unprecedented and undoubtedly calls for an evolving strategy, Disney Springs will continue to provide updated training for its Cast Members and Operating Participant employees for the health and safety of all, as it navigates the reopening phases as responsibly as possible.

For more information, visit disneysprings.com/reopening.

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Australia travel: I’m a Daydream Island believer

But put in a little effort (well, 9,692 miles to be precise) and those plucky pigeons and marauding female dogs with the unfeasibly long teats are a thing of the past. 

On Daydream Island, just off the coast of Eastern Australia in the famous Whitsunday Islands, emerge from your room and you may well see a wallaroo bounce past you in the corridor. 

Have dinner and see a rainbow lorikeet or a cockatoo glide along looking for any scraps. You can even pet a stingray like it is the hotel dog. 

After that little menagerie, are you still missing that one-eyed cat? 

Wallaroos are a coming together of wallabies and kangaroos. They’re actually rarer than you think, despite the two closely related animal groups being rather common in Australia (but, if you’re stuck on a remote island together, what else are you going to do?) 

Well, for humans, the answer on Daydream is plenty. The plush new holiday complex is ideal for families, with its collection of swimming pools, restaurants and fun things for children to do as you paddle board or just laze in the sun. 

You’ll never forget you’re at the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef – and that’s because of one other unique feature of the island resort.

All through the complex – recently rebuilt after the devastation of Cyclone Debbie in 2017 – is the “living reef” which ties the whole hotel together. 

Walk through reception and you’ll see Perspex glass where shovel-nosed rays drift past you. 

Large cod, sea cucumbers and the rest of the 140 species found there will glide through at some point. 

As you walk over to your rooms via linking bridges, black-tipped reef sharks glide underneath. 

You can even dive with what dwells beneath as you take a guided tour around the reef learning about everything you need to know. 

There you’ll feed some of the main players, including Lu-Ann – the “friendliest stingray in the southern hemisphere”. 

More like a puppy than a feared ocean creature, which often have a bad reputation after the death of TV wildlife expert Steve Irwin, playful Lu-Ann will happily come to take cockles out of your hand and she loves to be petted.

Feeding sessions and marine talks are common as children of all ages are invited to learn more about the real residents of the Whitsundays. 

Head of marine development Johnny talks passionately about what’s in the living reef he created – plus he’ll share some fantastic imagery and tales from his dives along the Great Barrier Reef. 

There’s even an underwater viewing observatory in the centre of the hotel, where you can saunter down and see your new friends close up in a more natural environment. 

It’s also used for the most peaceful of yoga sessions, although sometimes you might just want to wander down and read a book or, pardon the phrase, “sleep with the fishes”. 

After all that it may seem a little rude to enjoy fish for your dinner. But hey, you’ve got to eat. And on Daydream, thankfully there’s a few options. As well as the obligatory buffet restaurant, Inkstone offers traditional hearty meals such as chicken burgers and pasta.

Upstairs at Infinity it’s a little more classy with meaty kingfish starters, fantastic fish specials and the excellent Wagyu beef fillet – so good I had it twice. 

So what next? Well, be warned, this place is not party central but you can get a late drink at Tonic bar. But you’re not here for late nights – you’re here for the best Australia has to offer. 

If you’re fed up of the beach or the pool head up for a rainforest walk to look-out point where you can see the rest of the islands as well as hunt for more hidden wildlife of the island including tree snakes if you’re really daring. Walk down to Lovers Cove, a more secluded white coral beach and catch an amazing Whitsunday Islands sunset. 

But there’s lots to do in the complex too. While there’s more to come – it only opened a few months ago – there’s a well-stocked gym and a makeshift spa, soon to be replaced by a purpose-built affair. 

Rooms are large and well-equipped with a large selection of free films if you want to relax in front of the TV. Outside are hammocks which look out to sea and you’ll invariably be joined by some of your new wildlife pals. 

With wallaroos bouncing along and cockatoos taking food from your hand, Daydream is sometimes aptly named. 

Let’s be clear, this is not the place you would travel 24 hours just to spend your entire two weeks. 

But as Daydream is close to Cairns and Brisbane, and just a few flying hours from Melbourne and Sydney, it is a good stopover to recharge your batteries on a longer tour of Australia. It was also unaffected by the Australian bushfires earlier this year. 

An iconic Australian holiday destination in the 1970s and 80s – it was levelled by Cyclone Debbie almost three years ago and left with an uncertain future. 

It’s amazing how Daydream has been completely rebuilt with wildlife at its heart. 

But it’s all about bouncing back. Just ask a passing wallaroo. 

GETTING THERE:

Royal Brunei Airlines (royalbrunei.com) offers return flights from Heathrow to Brisbane from £630 return.

Airlines that fly from Brisbane to Hamilton Island include Qantas (qantas.com) and Virgin Australia (virginaustralia.com) with fares from £71 one-way.

Ferry from Hamilton Island to Daydream Island from £42 (one way) and from Queensland (Airlie Beach) to Daydream Island from £20 with CruiseWhitsundays (cruisewhitsundays.com).

Daydream Island Resort (daydreamisland.com) offers doubles from £207 on B&B basis. 

Tourist info: visitbrisbane.com.au; queensland.com

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Songs that make me misty-eyed: Róisín Murphy’s Irish playlist

John McCormack: The Meeting of the Waters

This reminds me of home. I first heard about John McCormack through my grandma,” Murphy says. “It’s about Avoca, which is near Arklow in County Wicklow, where I’m from. I got a bit misty-eyed when I was listening to it this morning. It made me want to be out walking around Avoca and down to the water. Of course the pubs wouldn’t be open, which would be a tragedy.” McCormack, a renowned operatic tenor from Athlone, recorded the song in 1940, with lyrics from a poem by Irish poet Thomas Moore. “My da used to sing this song too. He has a lovely voice and knows hundreds of songs. He used to play a game with us: ‘Name anything and I bet you I know a song about it,’ he’d say.”

Luke Kelly: Raglan Road

“The arrangement of this track is stunning. Luke Kelly is like the Irish Frank Sinatra – he has a certain level of tonality, and a multitude of frequencies that are unbelievably soulful and pleasurable. Like with many of these songs I have no idea where I first heard it – I grew up with it.” This is another track based on a poem, this time by Patrick Kavanagh. It tells of a love affair on Raglan Road in Ballsbridge, Dublin. It was turned into a song after Kelly, of The Dubliners, met Kavanagh in Dublin pub The Bailey. “My cousin’s traditional Irish band The Whole Shebang, do an incredible rendition. He’s a real music head – his first toy as a toddler was a record player.”

Christy Moore: Fairytale of New York (Live on Jools Holland, 2006)

“When you hear this track done like this, stripped down to its absolute marrowbone, its pure roots, you really can appreciate it and get a lot of joy from the new context. He syncopates with his west Irish accent. It’s so rhythmical. There’s a hard attack on the syllables – I bet if you put a drummer on it you’d find he’s more or less keeping perfect time.” In the intro to this track, Moore refers to an encounter with a man from Tipperary, the hometown of Shane MacGowan, who co-wrote the song, first released by the Pogues in 1987. “There’s no one like Christy Moore: he’s a heavenly artist, off the scale. You’ll cry when you watch this.”

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Van Morrison: You Don’t Pull No Punches, But You Don’t Push the River

“At the start of this song, he sings, ‘When you were a child, you were a tomboy’. I was a tomboy (I still am). I had total freedom as a child and got into some right scraps: fighting, swearing, smoking, shoplifting, wearing boy’s clothes. I even got my long blond hair cut off when I was 11, into a tiny flat-top marine do, which I had for my confirmation. My ma bought me a lovely peach outfit – white handbag, white shoes, and a peach straw plonked on top of that short hair. The nine-minute track is from the 1974 Veedon Fleece record, which also includes a track called Streets of Arklow – Murphy’s hometown – and is one of her favourite albums. Years ago I was put off of this kind of Celtic music. You know how it is, when you turn away from your own and want to learn new things. I used to think it was cheesy, but now I find it cosmic and psychedelic.”

Thin Lizzy: Don’t Believe A Word

“This is where the watermark of Irish music starts to not be Irish music. This is rock music from Ireland. There’s a dissonance. Like when I was in Moloko, people said, ‘How can she make this? She should be making nice folky music – she shouldn’t be making this electronic music with the bad boys in Sheffield’. It can make it difficult for artists from Ireland. But all those doors have been broken down now.” Thin Lizzy, who formed in Dublin, may have had that problem too, she acknowledges, “but they were like heroes in Ireland … they were a massive touring band and it was like they were coming home from winning the World Cup.”

Brendan Behan: The Auld Triangle

This track is used to introduce Behan’s 1954 play The Quare Fellow, set in Mountjoy Prison, where Behan. at 16, was incarcerated for IRA affiliation, as told in his autobiographical novel Borstal Boy. “He was only a kid when he was put away, and in the book he describes how he fell into it so easily and how disproportionate it all was. He describes a world that he grew up in – working-class people who were self-starters, unionists, well-educated. He was surrounded by books, talk of politics, poetry, song everywhere – people gaining pleasure and meaning from a collective purpose. Through song at the time, Irish people were passing secret code to each other … There was this idea of there being this innate intelligence in Irish people. It’s there when you listen to him sing it, too.” The last verse in particular, about going into the women’s prison, reminds Murphy of her dad who “sang the line ‘that auld triangle go jingle-jangle’ with a twinkle in his eye”.

Mano Le Tough: Your Heavy Head

“I was introduced to Mano’s music by my German friend DJ Koze, who has a label called Pampa, which Mano is signed to. Mano is a brilliant producer, DJ and classic big handsome cuddly Irish fella. If you were his mammy you’d be very proud – I’m sure she’s beaming.” The international electronic DJ is now based in Zurich and does sets at clubs including Berlin’s Berghain. Murphy was in the north of England when she got into electronic music, but says the current Irish club music scene is going strong, along with rave and soul. “They’re all just mad for music. You put a little transistor radio on in front of people after a few drinks and they start singing.”

Róisín Murphy: Simulation

“I picked this track because it is so not Irish – it’s future paddyisms, this one.” Simulation was released in 2012 and is included on the new album, due out in August. “DJ Parrot aka Crooked Man, who produced this track, is the guy I’ve done all my recent tracks with, including [two other singles from the new album] Murphy’s Law and Incapable. I’ve known him since I was a kid in Sheffield. It represents the beginning of the era that we are now in.” Beyond this, Murphy says she has nearly finished writing another album, has an “off-piste project on the go” and is “making lots of amazing club music” – despite the fact that “there are no clubs open now”. The swelling slow-mo disco track was remixed by Mano Le Tough the same year, as well as by others including New York DJ Eric Kupper.

The Dubliners: Monto (Take Her Up to Monto)

“You can’t get better than the Dubliners in full swing, all real men every one of them. Oooh to get in a rugby scrum with that lot.” Popularised by the Irish folk band in 1958, Monto is short for Montgomery Street, the red-light district in Dublin that was shut down in the mid 1920s. Murphy says she named her fourth album, Take Her Up To Monto, after this song. “Walking down the street with my da, he would invariably start singing this song, because it’s walking pace. It’s a very fun song, especially if you put the emphasis in the right place: that’s where I learnt what a growler was.”

Margaret Barry: The Flower of Sweet Strabane

“I had a nice chat with Shane McGowan about Maggie Barry once. We’re both big fans. In this recording there’s no backing music, so there’s a bareness of the song carrying itself to you with a message – a part of the identity and the character of the person talking to you.” Barry, an Irish traveller, singer and self-taught banjo player from Cork, was popular on the UK folk scene in the 1950s. Murphy says that, like Barry, many of the people she grew up around sang other people’s songs, which is why Murphy herself became a songwriter: “It was like living in an MGM musical. People bursting out into song any time of day. Each person would know one or two or 10 songs without accompaniment – even if they weren’t musical. The songs were part of them: they become part of how you identify with someone.” Barry is like Billie Holiday singing the blues, Murphy says: “She transmits the Irish sorrow”.

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Construction of Universal's Epic Universe Delayed, Among Others

Amid the current coronavirus pandemic, Universal Parks and Resorts has made the decision to halt the construction of Universal Orlando’s fourth theme park, Epic Universe, which was originally scheduled to open in 2023.

In a report by Travel Weekly, CEO of parent company Comcast Corp., Brian Roberts, spoke on the state of current and future parks during Comcast’s Q1 earnings call. Roberts stated the construction at Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka has also been delayed. The theme park was originally scheduled to open this summer and is now expected to be pushed back a few months.

On a more positive note, Universal’s new theme park in Beijing is expected to open on schedule in the spring of next year.

Although all of Universal’s parks are currently closed, Roberts is looking at the future optimistically.

“There is no doubt that our theme parks will reopen, and when they do, I believe we’ll benefit from strong, pent-up demand,” Roberts said. “We love these businesses. They have been one of our fastest-growing for the last 10 years. They are extremely profitable, historically resilient and enjoy high barriers to entry.”

Comcast reported that theme park revenue was down 31.9 percent to $869 million in the first quarter. If we see no change among the spreading of the coronavirus, parks could remain closed through the entire second quarter, resulting in a $500 million loss.

When asked what capacity would be needed for the parks to break even, CFO Michael Cavanagh said typically 50 percent, but any capacity is better than a complete closure.

Cavanagh also stated that visitor safety is a top priority and Universal will not push attendance when the parks do reopen.

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Luxury travel news this week: Coronavirus update – A Luxury Travel Blog

Here’s a round-up of luxury travel stories that have caught the eye this week. To make sure you receive these new weekly alerts in your web browser, please click on the red bell icon in the bottom right hand corner of the page and click ‘subscribe’ (works on desktop only – for other ways to subscribe, please click here). This will also alert you to any other posts on the blog. Should you wish, you can unsubscribe at any time, by clicking on the icon again and selecting ‘unsubscribe’.

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