CORRECTED: 6th Annual Travel Weekly Readers' Choice Awards


Busch Gardens
Williamsburg, Va./TampaBusch Gardens' Adventure Parks comprise two family vacation destinations with widely divergent themes. The Williamsburg park has an Old World theme, and the Tampa park has an African wildlife theme. New at the Tampa park is Jungala. a four-acre attraction that mimics the Congo. In Williamsburg, a Sesame Street attraction opens in the spring, adding a new village adjacent to the England section of the park. 

DisneylandAnaheim, Calif.Walt Disney Co. last year began a five-year, billion-dollar overhaul of its California Adventure theme park next door to Disneyland. The investment is intended to help make the greater Disneyland resort area a vacation destination and not just a one-day jaunt. Disney's California Adventure Park offers attractions, live shows, shopping and dining experiences in four lands: Hollywood Pictures Backlot, Golden State, Paradise Pier and "a bug's land."  At Disneyland Park, guests can explore eight themed lands.

Six FlagsHeadquartered in New York, operates in 14 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates
Six Flags is the largest regional theme park company in the world. Its 23 entertainment destinations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates are composed of theme, water and zoological parks. Last year, 25 million guests spent a combined 250 million hours at Six Flags parks. Upon its founding in 1961 with the opening of Six Flags Over Texas, Six Flags became the first theme park company to feature one-price admission.

Universal Studios
Orlando/Hollywood, Calif.
Universal Studios parks are more than theme parks. Their website calls them the No. 1 movie- and TV-based theme parks in the world. At Universal Hollywood, visitors can see the sets of actual movies and go behind the scenes via thrill rides. New at Universal Hollywood this year is the Simpsons Ride, voted World's Best New Attraction for 2008 by the readers of Universal Orlando offers three parks in one venue: Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure and Wet 'n Wild. Vacation packages include stays at any of three on-site hotels or at other accommodations in the Orlando area.

Walt Disney World
Four theme parks and two water parks comprise the sprawling Walt Disney World in Central Florida. The theme parks are the Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, Disney-MGM Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom Park.Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon constitute the water parks. (Typhoon Lagoon is closed for refurbishment until March 22.) In a rare gesture, now through Dec. 20, Walt Disney World is offering a discount on a hotel and ticket package. Guests who book a four-night, nondiscounted Walt Disney Travel Co. Magic Your Way hotel and ticket package, for stays from Jan. 4 to April 4 and April 19 to June 27, get three extra nights of hotel accommodations and three more days added to their theme park tickets. Guests traveling on this package from Jan. 4 to March 29 will also receive a free $200 Disney Gift Card. With this offer, a family of four can get a seven-night stay at a Disney Value Resort and a seven-day Magic Your Way base ticket for each family member for $1,271. The package must be booked by Dec. 20.


American AirlinesNominated: Domestic, International 
American Airlines and its regional affiliates serve 250 cities, with a combined fleet of more than 900 aircraft. It carries more passengers between the U.S. and Latin America than any other airline and is also strong in the transcontinental market. American operates scheduled flights throughout the U.S. as well as flights to Canada, the Caribbean, China, India, Japan, Russia, Latin America and Western Europe. American Eagle and American Connection are regional airline partners of American Airlines. American Airlines is a founding member of the Oneworld airline alliance.

British AirwaysNominated: International
British Airways is the U.K.'s largest international scheduled airline and one of the largest in Europe, flying to more than 550 destinations. The airline boasts of its growing efficiency at its new Terminal 5 at London Heathrow. With its planned acquisition of Iberia and proposed antitrust immunity alliance with American, British Airlines has been expanding its footprint in Europe and across the Atlantic. Airline CEO Willie Walsh said the antitrust request with American, which has failed twice before, is more likely to go forward this time, given approvals for other alliances and mergers. The airline would like to entertain a commercial relationship with Italian airline Alitalia.

Continental AirlinesNominated: Domestic, InternationalContinental Airlines is the world's fifth-largest airline. Together with Continental Express and Continental Connection, it has more than 2,500 daily departures throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia, serving 134 domestic and 131 international destinations. More than 675 additional points are served via alliance partners. Continental has hubs serving New York, Houston, Cleveland and Guam and together with Continental Express carries 69 million passengers per year.

Delta Air LinesNominated: DomesticThe big news in the airline business this fall was the merger of Delta Air Lines and Northwest, creating the largest airline in the world, a title formerly owned by American Airlines. The new company is named Delta and is headquartered in Atlanta. Northwest's planes will lose their red tails over the next two years. Northwest is a subsidiary of Delta. The airlines expect to be fully integrated over the next 24 months, but they have had codesharing capability from day one.

JetBlue AirwaysNominated: Domestic 
JetBlue Airways flies to 52 cities in seven countries: Aruba, the Bahamas, Bermuda, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, the Netherlands Antilles and the U.S., including Puerto Rico. It is adding its 53rd city and eighth country on Jan. 29, when it starts service to Bogota, Colombia. In October, JetBlue moved into its newly built passenger facility, Terminal 5, at New York's Kennedy. T5 boasts 26 gates throughout three concourses and a central marketplace.

LufthansaNominated: InternationalLufthansa is the German flag carrier and the world's sixth-largest airline, operating flights to 194 destinations in 79 countries. Lufthansa has its primary hub at Frankfurt Airport and a second hub at Munich Airport. Lufthansa is a founding member of the Star Alliance, formed in 1997 together with Thai Airways, United Airlines, Air Canada and SAS. That alliance has a network of 21 members offering 18,100 flights a day to 975 destinations in 162 countries. The German carrier bolstered its presence in Europe in 2008, buying the majority stake in BMI and looking to gain even more control over Brussels Airlines and Austrian Airlines. 

Singapore AirlinesNominated: InternationalSingapore Airlines partnered this year with Pleasant Holidays to launch a new brand, Singapore Airlines Vacations. Singapore Airlines had been working with Asian Affair Holidays of El Segundo, Calif., to provide vacation packages, but this new partnership marks the first time that the Singapore Airlines Vacations brand will be marketed and sold.

Southwest AirlinesNominated: DomesticSouthwest Airlines serves 90 million passengers a year, offering service on 535 aircraft to 64 destinations. The airline reported its first quarterly loss in 17 years during the third quarter of 2008, but the carrier still opted to expand. Noted for its cautious moves and reluctance to enter international or congested domestic hubs, Southwest veered off its normal course in 2008, announcing plans to go into Canada and Mexico with future codeshare agreements with WestJet and Volaris. On the domestic front, Southwest decided to start service in Minneapolis-St. Paul and put in a bid to buy slots at New York's LaGuardia.

Virgin AtlanticNominated: InternationalFlying 5 million passengers each year on 30 long-haul routes around the globe, Virgin's face is that of airline President Richard Branson, who named the business-class section Upper Class and wanted to call the economy class Riff-Raff. The airline flies to 30 destinations, has 38 aircraft and the largest single European order of new Boeing 787 Dreamliners. The carrier saw some early profits in 2008 thanks to botched baggage-handling problems at the new terminal operated by competitor British Airways. Virgin spent a good part of 2008 trying to block the proposed antitrust immunity deal between British Airways and American, fearing the duo would control too much of Heathrow takeoff and landing slots.


AlamoNominated: Domestic, International 
Alamo Rent a Car started in 1974 with four locations in Florida, pioneering the concept of Unlimited Free Mileage. In 2002, Alamo partnered with Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort, making Alamo the official car rental company of the most frequented tourist attractions in North America. Alamo operates through a network of more than 1,200 locations in Canada, the Caribbean, Europe, Latin America and the U.S.

Auto EuropeNominated: International 
Auto Europe has 4,000 locations worldwide. Its Global Agent program gives agencies an online booking engine and the ability to track bookings. The website enables agents to keep up to date on incentives and programs.

AvisNominated: Domestic, International 
Avis is the third-largest car rental brand in the U.S. based on revenue. More than half of its locations are in the U.S. In all, Avis serves business and leisure customers at nearly 2,000 locations in the U.S., Australia, Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America and New Zealand.

BudgetNominated: Domestic 
Budget Rent A Car System is the owner and franchiser of one of the world's best-known car rental brands. Cendant Corp. owns Budget Rent A Car assets in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand, where Budget has more than 1,800 locations. This year, Budget Car Rental launched World-Class Drives in Vietnam. The program features trips originating in Ho Chi Minh City and others that allow for excursions farther afield. It also allows customers to build their own itineraries.

EnterpriseNominated: DomesticEnterprise entered into a strategic alliance agreement with Europcar this year. The agreement enhances a transatlantic alliance entered into by Europcar in 2006 with National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car. Both are subsidiaries of Vanguard Car Rental, which Enterprise bought in 2007. In January, Enterprise, National and Alamo launched the industry's largest customer carbon-offset program. Customers can opt to pay $1.25 per rental to purchase a carbon offset. Enterprise uses the funds to purchase certified offset projects.

EuropcarNominated: InternationalIn September, Europcar, the No. 1 car rental company in Europe, signed a strategic alliance agreement with Enterprise Rent-A-Car. The agreement enhances a transatlantic alliance entered into by Europcar in 2006 with National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car. Enterprise had purchased the National and Alamo brands in North America in 2007. Together, Europcar and Enterprise offer a fleet of more than 1.2 million vehicles at more than 13,000 locations in 162 countries to form the world's largest car rental network.

HertzNominated: Domestic, InternationalSetting Hertz apart from competition are its product and service innovations, such as Hertz #1 Club Gold, NeverLost satellite navigation systems, Hertz in-car DVD Entertainment and unique cars offered through the company's Prestige, Fun and Green Collections. In 2007, Hertz Corp. introduced a low-cost, no-frills car rental company in Orlando called Simply Wheelz. Hertz has since expanded the product to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego, Miami and West Palm Beach, Fla., airports. Simply Wheelz renters book at, at major online agencies or through travel agents. Customers can choose from a limited vehicle selection that includes minivans, convertibles and SUVs. Renters use a self-service kiosk at the airport to print out the rental agreement before proceeding to their vehicle.  


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