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Disney World’s Updated FastPass+ Aims to Eliminate Long Lines

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The Walt Disney Company is now helping visitors avoid long lines at Florida’s Walt Disney World. According to Disney Parks Blog editorial content director Thomas Smith, Disney Parks is expanding its FastPass+ and MagicBand programs to make it easier for visitors to book a reservation for popular attractions, shows, and Disney character meet-and-greets.

“Since launching FastPass+, millions of guests have been able to reserve access to their favorite Walt Disney World experiences in advance, allowing families to begin the Disney fun before they even leave home,” Smith wrote. “And now you will have even more opportunities to customize how you make FastPass+ selections—even while exploring and enjoying the parks.”

Guests of the park can make reservations for all their planned activities up to 30 days in advance of their visit, while guests staying at one the park’s Walt Disney World Resorts can their make selections up to 60 days in advance.

Here’s how it works: Guests can launch the My Disney Experience mobile app and login to FastPass+, then choose the date and time they want to visit a specific attraction or show. Guests can now book specific reservations for up to three attractions (previously, they had to choose all three at once). After their initial three reservations are made, guests can reserve a fourth and fifth activity through the mobile app. All of which will make it easier for visitors to ensure that they get the chance to meet their favorite Disney characters, and hop aboard the most popular rides and attractions, in a much more efficient way (read: without those long lines). Dreams really do come true at Disney World.

FastPass+ is free for all park guests and only available at Walt Disney Resorts, which include Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and Disney's Animal Kingdom.

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Win a Trip to Any National Park By Instagramming Your Travels
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If you're planning out your summer vacation, make sure to add a few national parks to your itinerary. Every time you share your travels on Instagram, you can increase your chances of winning a VIP trip for two to the national park of your choice.

The National Park Foundation is hosting its "Pic Your Park" sweepstakes now through September 28. To participate, post your selfies from visits to National Park System (NPS) properties on Instagram using the hashtag #PicYourParkContest and a geotag of the location. Making the trek to multiple parks increases your points, with less-visited parks in the system having the highest value. During certain months, the point values of some sites are doubled. You can find a list of participating properties and a schedule of boost periods here.

Following the contest run, the National Park Foundation will decide a winner based on most points earned. The grand prize is a three-day, two-night trip for the winner and a guest to any NPS property within the contiguous U.S. Round-trip airfare and hotel lodging are included. The reward also comes with a 30-day lease of a car from Subaru, the contest's sponsor.

The contest is already underway, with a leader board on the website keeping track of the competition. If you're looking to catch up, this national parks road trip route isn't a bad place to start.

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Live Smarter
The Best Way to Fight Sky-High Gas Prices This Summer
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Thanks to crude oil prices and increasing demand, it's getting very expensive to operate a motor vehicle in the U.S. In Connecticut and New York, gas prices have hit over $3 a gallon. According to AAA, the national average—which fluctuates on a daily basis—is hovering around $2.90. As a result, motorists might spend up to $200 more fueling up in 2018.

Whether that will translate into fewer people taking road trips this summer remains to be seen. But you don't necessarily have to be at the total mercy of Big Oil every time you pull up to the pump. While credit card programs and other discount offers can shave pennies off a refuel, it's what you do once you leave the station that has the greatest impact on fuel economy.

Automotive expert Ron Montoya of Edmunds, an online automotive information hub, spoke with NBC News recently and suggested that drivers can anticipate significant savings based on one simple rule: drive less aggressively.

Depending on the model, cars tend to maximize fuel economy around 50 miles per hour (mph). When a car joins the racing flow of traffic on a highway, accelerating from 55 mph to 75 mph, fuel consumption speeds up right along with it, shaving up to 15 miles per gallon (mpg) off the vehicle's fuel efficiency. Even going 65 mph will eat up four to eight mpg more. Overall, the act of threading through traffic by speeding, braking, and rapidly accelerating is responsible for a 15 to 30 percent reduction in gas mileage. It's like paying 20 cents more per gallon for every 5 mph driven over a cruising speed of 50 mph.

In addition to maintaining a moderate speed, road trippers may also want to consider leaving cargo off the roof—it increases drag—and sticking with regular unleaded. Most cars don't need premium, even if it's "recommended" on car doors. Only use more expensive fuel if the manufacturer labels it "required."

As for those credit card deals? They vary by issuer, but paying cash usually results in a 10 to 15 cent savings per gallon because gas stations don't have to cover transaction fees. If you don't normally carry a lot of cash, consider paying with a debit card—but make sure the station will treat it as cash, not credit.

[h/t NBC News]

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