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Everything to know about Georgia's "Little Grand Canyon"

Everyone is familiar with Arizona's Grand Canyon, but many Georgians aren't aware of the state's "Little Grand Canyon," which is formally named Providence Canyon.

5 things to know about North Georgia's newest and largest zip line tour

Compared to its more famous counterpart, it may be relatively small, but by any other measure, the gullies are massive.

Located about 150 miles southwest of Atlanta, the canyon is south of Columbus, about seven miles west of Lumpkin. It's situated in an outdoor recreation area that encompasses 1,103 acres and 16 canyons.

The canyons were formed by poor farming practices during the 1800s, when farmers taking no steps to avoid soil erosion. Ditches several feet deep were formed, and as a result, runoff and the rate of erosion increased. Over the years, the flow of water and sand has helped create amazing pinnacles that are almost vertical.`

Explore the history and beauty of Georgia's covered bridges

Although the reasons for Providence Canyon's formation weren't exactly positive, the result is a spectacular site that includes canyons forged from sandstone as well as chasms, cliffs, and a wide array of colored soil that includes red, white, purple, pink and orange.

In addition to sightseeing and taking photographs, Georgia's Little Grand Canyon offers the following activities:

Hiking

The state park has 10 miles of trails to hike, with all beginning and ending at the visitor's center.

One of the most popular, the Canyon Loop Trail, circles nine of the canyons and takes about two hours to hike almost five miles. Rated easy to moderate, it travels through a shady forest and reaches the canyon floor at a quarter-mile, according to Atlanta Trails.

Canyon 8 is a favorite at the site. With its towering walls and defined pinnacles, hikers reach it at the 2.75-mile mark. Lightweight, waterproof hiking boots are recommended for the canyon's sandy and wet trails, which can be slippery.

You may want to allow extra time beyond the estimated two hours to explore a historic church and cemetery you'll encounter on the opposite side of the road. The cemetery has gravestones that date back to the 1800s.

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Camping

You can camp overnight at Providence Canyon by making a reservation at one of three pioneer or six backcountry campsites. Pioneer camps are private camping areas suitable for groups, and they're equipped with pit toilets and usually have water spigots and amenities such as picnic shelters and grills. Backcountry sites are undeveloped, and you'll have to bring everything you need, including water.

Other activities

Bring a picnic to enjoy at the canyon's two shelters, or attend one of the site's occasional astronomy nights. The lack of light pollution makes Providence Canyon an ideal setting for stargazing. In addition, the park also hosts "Geology Days", with a ranger-led tour of the canyons and their geological history.

What else you need to know about Providence Canyon

It costs $5 to park at Providence Canyon State Park, and annual passes are available for $50. If you're 62 or older, you can get the annual ParkPass at a 50 percent discount, and active military and veterans with a valid ID can get 25 percent off.

The park is open from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. from Sept. 15-April 14 and from 7 a.m.-9 p.m. from April 15-Sept. 14. The visitor's center is generally open on Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Picnic shelters cost $35 to rent, pioneer campsites are $40 to $80 and accommodate 50 people per site, and backcountry campsites can be reserved for $10 a person.

Where is the park? The address is 8930 Canyon Road,  Lumpkin, GA 31815. It’s in Stewart County.  GPS Coordinates for Providence Canyon are N 32.064445 | W -84.921913

Massive indoor water park opens Friday in North Texas

The high temperature is expected to be 47 degrees Friday in Grand Prairie, Texas, but that will not deter the grand opening of an 80,000-square-foot indoor waterpark.

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Epicwaters opens at 10 a.m. CT, and while 13 mph winds outside will make 32 degrees feel like 29 when the park opens, the water will be warm at the North Texas park, WFAA reported.

The park will feature 11 waterslides, an outdoor wave pool, a surf simulator, an arcade and a lazy river. Food and beverages also will be sold.

The park, with a retractable roof, was funded by the taxpayers of Grand Prairie.

The is part of a larger complex that includes a fitness center, theater and media center, KTRK reported.

Disney’s Magic Kingdom closes gates after reaching capacity again

For the second time in a week, the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World has reached capacity and is not accepting guests, the company said Sunday.

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The company put out a notice to guests through the My Disney Experience app saying the park was not accepting new visitors at this time. 

The park also reached capacity on Christmas Day.

Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom are not affected by the closure, the company said.

Disney legend, visionary Marty Sklar dies at 83

Disney Imagineer Martin A. “Marty” Sklar, who helped craft the vision that produced Walt Disney World and Epcot, died Thursday, the Walt Disney Company announced in a blog post. He was 83.

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Sklar worked at Disney for 54 years and "was instrumental” in helping Walt Disney create and expand his vision for theme parks.

“Everything about Marty was legendary – his achievements, his spirit, his career,” said Bob Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Walt Disney Company. “He embodied the very best of Disney, from his bold originality to his joyful optimism and relentless drive for excellence. He was also a powerful connection to Walt himself. No one was more passionate about Disney than Marty and we’ll miss his enthusiasm, his grace, and his indomitable spirit.”

Sklar was recruited to create The Disneyland News for the California theme park in 1955, when he was a student at UCLA. After graduating in 1956, Sklar joined Disney full time. He retired as executive vice president and imagineering ambassador on July 17, 2009, on the 54th anniversary of Disneyland’s opening.

Disney building the world's first Marvel hotel

It’s a hotel that Disney is hoping guests will marvel at.

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Disney’s Hotel New York, a 565-room property near Disneyland Paris’ Disneytown. will be renovated to feature the props, drawings and costumes from Marvel films, television shows and comic books, Travel & Leisure reported.

The Art of Marvel will be the first Marvel Comics hotel. It will boast a skyscraper facade and likely will include Stark Tower, Travel & Leisure reported, continuing Marvel’s expanded presence among Disney properties. 

The Walt Disney Company acquired Marvel Entertainment in 2009, and has opened two attractions -- Guardians of the Galaxy, Mission Breakout! at Disney’s California Adventure; and Iron Man Experience at Hong Kong Disneyland. Walt Disney World’s Epcot park in Florida will be opening a Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster soon, while Avengers attractions are being proposed for the Disney California Adventure park, Travel & Leisure reported.

WATCH: Woman tumbles from bungee ride; ropes prevent deadly fall

A woman riding a bungee-style ride at a fair in central Paris narrowly avoided serious injury, and possibly death, when the seat belt on the ride failed. 

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Luckily her legs got caught up in the ropes, which prevented her from falling to the ground, but the video of the episode shows her head was just inches from an elevated platform as she swung back and forth upside down.

The crowd was stunned as the accident unfolded. A bystander quickly tried to grab the dangling woman as she swung by, eventually grabbing hold of her hand to slow her momentum down.

The ride was part of an annual street fair at a park in central Paris.  

WATCH: Bird slams into face of shocked thrill seeker on roller coaster

Roller coasters are supposed to be frightening as they move at high speeds through twists and turns, up steep inclines, and twice as fast down heart-stopping hills, but a bird strike isn’t supposed to be part of the terror.

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But that’s exactly what happened on a roller coaster in Spain billed as Europe’s fastest coaster.

It was all caught on camera, too, at the new Ferrari Land in Barcelona.

A pigeon struck the shocked coaster rider in the face at the top of a 367-foot vertical track on the Red Force roller coaster while traveling more than 100 miles an hour, according to the Huffington Post.

The thrill seeker, who was in the front seat of the coaster with a friend, looked stunned when the bird first hit him, then the force of the ride pinned the pigeon to the man’s neck before it was able to flutter away.

Although he did have a little blood on his face, the rider recovered quickly and seemed to enjoy the rest of the ride.

It’s unclear if the blood belonged to the man or the bird.

Video shows worker at Disney resort using dirty mop to clean tables

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Video of a worker at Walt Disney World mopping the floors of a restaurant at the Art Animation Resort and then cleaning the tables with the same dirty mop is gaining some attention.

“Anybody with any kind of common sense can see that is unsanitary,” said Jesse Arias, the man who took and shared the video with WFTV. “It’s just really disturbing that they were doing something like that and exposing us to diseases. There are thousands of people that walk those parks a day.”

Arias said the resort manager comped him for the cost of his hotel, but he said it still bothered him. Afterward, he wrote letters to Disney, but he said he never got a satisfying response.

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A spokesperson for the resort said that when workers found out about the incident, they immediately took action.

The spokesperson said it was an isolated incident.

Disney officials said the woman in the video works for a third-party vendor and she is no longer welcome on Disney property.

Paul Cook, a retired health inspector, said he had never seen anything like it.

“I would have immediately closed that place and had them come in and say, 'You have to retrain your employees on properly cleaning, sanitizing food service equipment and properly cleaning the floor,” Cook said.

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation website listed a few minor violations since the resort opened in 2012. None involved the food service area. 

Six Flags Over Georgia sets Guinness World Record

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Six Flags Over Georgia has set a Guinness World Record for Most People Kissing Under Mistletoe.

According to a press release, 402 people (201 couples) were part of the historic event.

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The kisses lasted for at least 10 seconds, the release said.

The event was sponsored by Mistletoeing.com, which provided the sprigs of mistletoe; DenTek, an oral health company; and the amusement park.

7 ways to celebrate Harry Potter's birthday today

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Thirty-five years ago today, the boy who didn't die was born.

Witches, wizards and muggles everywhere will be celebrating the birthdays of Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling, author of the books about the boy wizard.

Here are a few ways to mark the day:

1. Make some Harry Potter-themed snacks: From butterbeer to Harry's favorite treacle tarts, you can treat co-workers, friends and family to food so good it's magical. [Get recipes here | and here]

2. Since you've made all that food, why not have some people over for a movie marathon? [Click here for the movies, in order, with trailers]

3. Prefer the books? Gather your army and find your room of requirement, then take turns reading "Harry Potter and the Scorcerer's Stone," in which Hagrid brings Harry a birthday cake. [See the full list of Harry Potter books]

4, Have you read the books and seen the movies too many times to count? Maybe you should host a Harry Potter crafts party. [make a house scarf | hold a potions class | make a golden snitch | make a flying key]

5. Play muggles quidditch: Chances are you don't own a Nimbus 2015, but that doesn't mean you can't catch a gold snitch. There are now more than 300 quidditch teams around the world you can join (or start your own team). [rules of the game]

6. Play the Harry Potter version of the board game Clue: A member of the Gryffindor house is missing. Was it Draco Malfoy in the trophy room with a vanishing cabinet? [available on amazon.com | check out the  game]

7: Visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Unless Hermione has loaned you her time turner, it might be too late to do that today. There's always the weekend. [Florida's park | gallery of grand opening]

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