Winter flight cancellations were a record
NEW YORK (AP) - It's official: This winter was the worst for fliers in the 20 years that the government has been collecting data.
During the first three months of this year, U.S. airlines canceled 4.6 percent of their flights, the Department of Transportation announced Tuesday.
Mother Nature is mostly to blame, with a relentless wave of snow and ice storms paralyzing airline traffic across the nation.
But airlines are also quicker to cancel flights these days, sometimes a day in advance of a storm. The shift in strategy came in response to new government regulations, improvements to overall operations and because canceling quickly reduces expenses.
Details emerge about new Harry Potter ride
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - The centerpiece of the new Harry Potter-themed area at Universal Orlando Resort will take visitors into Gringotts bank to help retrieve a magical object and re-create a scene from the wildly popular book and movie series.
Universal executives announced Tuesday that the ride will be called "Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts." It re-creates a scene from the final Harry Potter book and film.
"It takes you into one of the great moments of the fiction," said Mark Woodbury, president of Universal Creative.
The ride and the themed area - called the Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Diagon Alley - will open in the summer. It will double the size of the Harry Potter landscape in the park.
Among the features of the new ride: a 60-foot dragon atop Gringotts Wizarding Bank, a labyrinth of Gringotts vaults, and a marble hall with goblins. Riders will be taken into a world as part of a quest to retrieve a magical object to defeat Lord Voldemort.
The ride will use 360-degree themed sets, digital high-definition animation, 3-D projection systems and live special effects.
Woodbury said the goal was to use new technology and intensely detailed storytelling to thrill Harry Potter fans and entice those who haven't read the books or seen the movies.
The new themed area will be located at Universal Studios Park. It will be tied to the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter area at Universal's Islands of Adventure via the Hogwarts Express train.
During the train ride, riders will spot characters and magical creatures from the book. Among them: Hagrid on a flying motorbike, the Weasley twins on brooms, and the Knight Bus in London traffic.
Universal's team worked with a group from the Harry Potter films on the new themed area.
If fans want to see both parks, a two-park ticket will be required. For adults, a two-park ticket for one day costs $136; for children, it costs $130.
Phoenix airport boasts record numbers in March
PHOENIX (AP) - More than 4 million passengers passed through Phoenix's international airport during the month of March, setting a record.
City officials announced Monday that March marked the busiest month in the history of Sky Harbor as well as a 3.2 percent increase over the numbers recorded in March 2013.
Phoenix Aviation Director Danny Murphy says spring training, students on spring break and Arizona's weather helped to attract visitors in March.
In the first three months of this year, the airport saw a 3.3 percent increase in passenger numbers compared to the same time period in 2013.
Officials say April statistics for Sky Harbor are not yet available.
Hotels and resorts throughout the valley also saw a nearly 3 percent increase in occupancy in March compared to the same time last year.
Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk re-opens
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - The Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk has reopened following a 16-month renovation.
Media outlets report the museum reopened Saturday. More than 1,000 people attended a preview party Friday night.
The $24 million project included a redesign of the museum's interior and the addition of two wings. The new wings will house galleries for American and European painting and sculpture and provide more space for a glass collection.