Q I have tried the usual Web sites for tickets to "The Lion King" in May and have come across only exorbitant scalpers' prices. Any suggestions?

Arlene Hewitt


A In New York, tickets to many May performances of this Disney production are available from the New Amsterdam Theatre box office or its off-site agent, Ticketmaster. Prices range from $35 for rear balcony seats to $100 for orchestra seats. To purchase tickets by phone, call Ticketmaster's Broadway theater hotline (800-755-4000). Tickets are also available online at www.ticketmaster.com. If you know someone who lives in New York, tickets can be purchased at the theater on Broadway and 42nd Street.

Standing-room only tickets are available on performance day when the box office opens (10 a.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m. Sunday). Also, tickets that suddenly become available due to cancellations are sold two hours before curtain time.

In London, purchase tickets by calling 011-44-870-606-3441. Tickets for performances through March are available online at www.ticketmaster.co.uk. For general info, go to www.disney.co.uk/musicaltheatre/TheLionKing.

My daughter and I will be visiting friends in Scottsdale, Ariz., and would like to visit a spa for three or four days. We are budget-minded and looking for a place that is rustic but comfortable. We will have a car.

Stephanie Fink

Silver Spring

The Scottsdale area has many resort spas, but most are five-star properties and pricey. But you can sometimes score good deals, especially if you're willing to visit on weekdays or book just a few weeks in advance. Many of these deals come and go based on demand, so it's a good idea to keep checking. Recent deals have included:

* A three-night spa package for two at the Radisson Resort & Spa in Scottsdale for about $1,150, including accommodations, breakfast and a half-dozen spa treatments. Info: 877-MIST-SPA, www.themistspa.com.

* A Web-only room rate of $191 per night at the Boulders Resort, home to a Golden Door spa, in Carefree, Ariz. Info: 480-488-9009, www.wyndham.com.

* A two-night package at the CopperWynd Resort in Fountain Hills, Ariz., for $1,055 for two, including lunches, two spa treatments per person, fitness classes and use of gym. Info: 877-707-7760, www.copperwynd.com.

If these prices are still too rich, drive two hours north to Sedona, where many upscale inns join forces with local day spas. Casa Sedona Bed & Breakfast, for example, is a four-diamond property that offers a two-night spa package for two starting at $565, including room, breakfast, afternoon appetizers, spa treatments at Fango's Day Spa, champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries. Info: 800-525-3756, www.casasedona.com.

I am exploring travel to Japan and am particularly interested in gardens, art and culture. Kyoto would be an important part of the itinerary. Are there organized tours of this area?

J. Ware


Many large tour companies offer trips that won't break the bank. They include:

* Sita World Tours (800-421-5643, www.sitatours.com), which is offering a six-day tour of Japan, including three days in Kyoto and Nara, for $2,395 per person based on double occupancy, including air from Los Angeles, land transportation, accommodations, guides and breakfast.

* Globus (866-755-8581, www.globusjourneys.com) offers an 11-day "Discover Japan" tour that visits Tokyo, Matsumoto, Takayama, Kanazawa and Kyoto starting at $3,049 per person double, including air from San Francisco, intra-tour transport, lodging and most meals.

For more upscale trips, choices include:

* Smithsonian Study Tours (877-EDU-TOUR, www.smithsonianstudytours.org) offers several tours of Japan, including a 13-day "The Art and Craft of Japan" tour May 5-17. The trip, which includes six nights in Kyoto, is led by an expert in Japanese gardens, art and culture; cost is $6,775 per person double, including air from New York, private tours, first-class lodging and meals.

* Cross-Culture (800-491-1148, www.crosscultureinc.com) offers a 14-day tour Nov. 3-17 that visits Kyoto, Nara and Tokyo, and concentrates on museums, temples and gardens. All-inclusive price is $4,660 including airfare from New York.

You could also put together your own trip; a good resource for finding Japan-based tour operators is the Japan National Tourist Organization, 212-757-5640, www.jnto.go.jp.


Astronomer Joseph Lazio of Alexandria has another idea to add to Travel Q&A's suggestion that a school group travel to the Four Corners region (Nov. 17). "In New Mexico and Arizona are some of the world's premier telescopes, including the Very Large Array (www.aoc.nrao.edu/vla/html) and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (www.noao.edu). If he contacts them well in advance, he may be able to arrange a more detailed tour than what the drop-in visitor sees."

Jim Richards of Callaway, Minn., wants readers interested in cross-country skiing (Travel Q&A, Nov. 17) to consider a trip to his resort in northern Minnesota. "We started here just over 30 years ago and our total focus has been to be the best destination cross-country ski resort possible." Info: 800-654-7711, www.maplelag.com.

Send queries by e-mail (travelqa@washpost .com), fax (202-912-3609) or U.S. mail (Travel Q&A, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington D.C. 20071).