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Happy hippos
Planning to take a spin on Disneyland's venerable Jungle Cruise ride?

Rest easy. The hippos are back under control.

For more than 40 years the mechanical hippos lunged threateningly out of the water at every boat that toured Disneyland's ersatz Amazon River, only to be repulsed by skippers firing their sidearms. Then, in 2001, political correctness appeared to accomplish what the hippos never could. The skippers were disarmed.

"When I was working there, the kids would start holding their ears when you started into hippo territory," recalled former Jungle Cruise skipper Rip Ribble. "It's a shame that in this day and age because of gang activity and political correctness and animal rights, people took offense to shooting at the hippo. But really, it was all make-believe."

Now Disneyland has rearmed the skippers, one of several actions officials say are aimed at "restoring the magic" as the California park approaches its 50th birthday next year.

The horses pulling carriages down Main Street USA are getting their name tags back, and plans are under way to put the gut-wrenching twists and turns back into the Mad Tea Party ride's teacups. Park employees in New Orleans Square are also getting more colorful costumes.

Historic holidays

The food and festivities of holidays past live on in Virginia at the Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center.

From Nov. 25 to 27, at Jamestown, you can learn how food was gathered, preserved and prepared on land and at sea by Virginia's English colonists and Powhatan Indians. At Yorktown, learn about typical soldiers' fare during the American Revolution and trace the bounty of a 1780s farm from field to kitchen. The traditions of a colonial-era Christmas will be the focus of tours and exhibits from Dec. 18 to 31.

For details, visit or call (888) 593-4682. Both places are closed Christmas and New Year's Day.

Gay-friendly sites

Travelers looking for gay-friendly destinations and resorts will want to check out and Out&About, a monthly travel magazine.

Out&About's November issue has recommendations for gay-friendly culinary vacations centered around food tours and cooking classes, such as a "Tuscan Country Cooking" tour or a cooking school package at Santa Fe's Inn on the Alameda. The issue also highlights five top warm-weather destinations for gay travelers looking for winter getaways - Palm Springs, Fort Lauderdale, Key West, Miami's South Beach and Hawaii - as well as the gay and lesbian scene in Mexico, including listings for gay-owned resorts.

Downloadable travel guides to dozens of destinations are available at Travel guides for three-day visits to cities like New York, Prague and Paris are $6; more comprehensive guides to U.S. destinations and a variety of countries around the world, from Canada to Australia, are $8.95 and up.

Features found at include advice on finding gay-friendly travel agents and which mainstream cruise lines welcome gay couples (Radisson, Crystal, Princess, Celebrity and Holland America were listed as the top five) with a look at vacation companies that offer all-gay cruises and resort vacations - Atlantis, RSVP and Olivia.

Associated Press