Chris Caskey, The Union Democrat

Whether or not it's the end of the world as we know it, a handful of local businesses are looking to get in on the fun this week.

So, instead of waiting around for the end of times, Mother Lode residents might want to hit the slopes, catch some tunes or even win a prize. Local entertainment and hospitality folks are offering a number of specials and promotions this week to recognize the apocalyptic forecast for Dec. 21, 2012, which lands on Friday.

"We'll have some fun stuff going on," said Diane Dunigan, who runs The Rock in Twain Harte.

The bar and grill will host a special event with live music and appetizers for attendees on Friday, with Canadian songwriter Billy Manzik providing the soundtrack. Dunigan said the restaurant usually holds a similar event every year on the Friday before Christmas, and the international hype surrounding the end-times tale was hard to resist.

"We just incorporated the end of the world into it," she said.

The 2012 doomsday speculation is tied to the Mayan calendar, which comes to an end on Friday after a 5,125-year cycle known as the Long Count. The Maya didn't say much about what would happen next, so into that void have rushed occult writers, bloggers and New Age visionaries foreseeing all manner of monumental change, from doomsday to a new age of enlightenment.

The 2009 disaster flick "2012" helped spark doomsday rumors, with its visions of Los Angeles crashing into the sea and mammoth tsunami waves swallowing the Himalayas.

Some governments and scientists are mobilizing to avoid actual tragedy. Even the U.S. space agency NASA intervened earlier this month, posting a nearly hour-long YouTube video debunking apocalyptic points, one by one.

But many of the responses worldwide, and in the U.S., have been businesses looking for a hook. Hotels in Central America are offering Mayan themed packages, and hotels near the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza have been sold out.

In the U.S., hotels and other destinations across the country are offering special promotions. Even national chain TGI Fridays is advertising special parties at multiple locations around the country.

In Tuolumne County, the Black Oak Casino has already been counting down to the end of the world with special promotions. The Tuolumne City resort has been hosting a "Final Countdown" since early November, hosting special prizes and giveaways every Friday and Saturday.

The casino will have a final one on Friday, when someone will win a Fiat 500.

At Bear Valley, the popular ski resort pushed up its opening day to Thursday Dec. 20. The resort will have a free ski day for all who come, "just in case the mystical doomsday prophecy … comes true," an announcement on the company website reads.

Companies around the world are looking to cash in on the apocalyptic forecasts that call for the end of time on Friday, Dec. 21.

None of that sound like a way to spend the end of the world?

Lisa Boulton, director of the Calaveras County Visitors Bureau, didn't know of any other big events scheduled for the apocalypse. But early this week, she offered another idea. "I think it would be a great opportunity to do something you are terrified of doing," Boulton said. "You might as well."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.