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Ideas for military winter break

Disney deals and more

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It’s never too early to begin planning vacation trip plans for the upcoming winter leave in December. Most service members on Joint Base Lewis-McChord will have time off during the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s Day to rest and relax.

Through JBLM Leisure Travel Services, several travel options are discounted for the military community. Through a partnership with the Armed Forces Vacation Club, U.S. military personnel are able to book trips to popular travel destinations.

Perhaps the top choice is Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., which currently offers a military salute promotion. A three-day park hopper ticket for ages 3 and older is $153.25 compared to the regular $315 gate price. The four-day park hopper ticket is also discounted to $177.75.

“You have a lot of families who take advantage of that and book in advance,” said Alyssa Matthews, LTS manager.

In addition to active duty, tickets can also be purchased by retirees, reservists, members of the National Guard, 100 percent disabled veterans and spouses. There are also specials for hotel rooms at Disneyland and Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.

Disney’s Military Salute promotional rates are available through Dec. 19. Matthews said there should be new promotional prices for 2018 announced in November.

“(Prices) usually go up by about $25,” Matthews said.

The JBLM LTS also has military pricing on additional travel attractions in both California and Florida — including, but not limited to, Legoland and Sea World.

Matthews also pointed out that military families are able to secure great rates for trips to Las Vegas and Hawaii through the Armed Forces Adventure Club. It’s common for someone to secure a seven-day timeshare or condominium rental for less than $350, he said. Club membership is free through afvclub.com.

Some military service members and families choose to stay in Washington state during the holidays. One popular winter adventure is a day-trip to Leavenworth, a Bavarian town known for celebrating the holidays with German traditions.

The LTS is planning a trip for Dec. 9, during the second weekend of the annual Christmas Lighting Festival.

With about 100 slots available, two charter buses are expected to leave JBLM at 7:30 a.m. and return to the base at 5:30 p.m.

“We have customers who go every year who have been to Germany, and they say this trip takes them back to their time over there,” Matthews said.

Additional trips within the Pacific Northwest region are provided by JBLM Outdoor Recreation’s Northwest Adventure Center, such as snowshoe trips Dec. 16 at Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park in Port Angeles and Dec. 17 at Snow Lake near Snoqualmie Pass.

“Our real focus (for these trips) is on instruction,” said trip guide Brad Hinton. “Our goal is to get people to feel comfortable doing it on their own, but still come to us.”

There are also adventure trips for experienced outdoor enthusiasts, including backcountry ski adventures scheduled for two dates: Dec. 17 and 23.

Trip guides will provide the necessary avalanche safety gear, as well as the transportation.

Hinton said these kinds of trips are designed for experience skiers, who will have a much better time than a novice.

“The snow can be difficult to get through, if you’re not used to it,” Hinton said.

Updates on JBLM Outdoor Recreation trips can be found online at facebook.com/seeyououtsideJBLM.

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