2014 was record year for National World War II Museum

NEW ORLEANS — The National World War II Museum is celebrating a record year.

The 515,000 visitors in 2014 broke the previous year's record by 14 percent, said spokeswoman Kacey Hill. She said March set the museum's all-time one-month record with 56,100 visitors — up from 54,300 a year earlier — and December's attendance set a record for that month at more than 46,000.

"We fully expect March of this year to exceed March of last year," she said.

Hill said more people are aware of the museum. "And we're really doing more to attract more visitors in the city who maybe hadn't made us part of their plans."

That includes getting brochures and fliers into airports, taxicabs, hotel rooms and tourist corridors, she said.


"And, of course, increased New Orleans tourism has been great for us, too," she said.

The museum marked its 4 millionth visitor in July, about a month after its 14th anniversary.

Its newest building, Campaigns of Courage, opened Dec. 13 with nine galleries about the European theater. Pacific theater galleries will open there this December, with the Liberation Pavilion, the last building in the current $325 million expansion, to be finished by late 2017.

"The goal is to complete the 6-acre campus while there are still veterans left to see it," a museum press release said.


Dubai claims title of world's busiest international airport

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The city with the world's tallest building can now boast that it's home to the world's busiest airport for international passengers too.

Dubai's airport operator released figures Tuesday showing that 70.5 million passengers streamed through the sparkling halls of Dubai International last year. That's a 6 percent increase over the 66.4 million that the Gulf city's main airport handled in 2013.


The rapid growth puts Dubai squarely ahead of London Heathrow for the first time on a full-year basis as the world's busiest international air hub. Heathrow reported handling 68.1 million international passengers in 2014.

Dubai pulled off the big gains despite having to redirect flights to the city's second airport, Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central, while it overhauled the airport's two side-by-side runways over the summer.

Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths predicts Dubai International will handle a record 79 million passengers this year as it offers "more flights connecting more people to more destinations."

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport remains the planet's busiest passenger airport overall.

But Dubai International is expanding fast, fueled by the growth of hometown airline Emirates and smaller budget carrier FlyDubai. They benefit from Dubai's position between major population centers in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.


Organizers end Wyoming hot-air balloon fest after 2 decades

CODY, Wyo. — Organizers of an annual hot-air balloon festival in Wyoming reluctantly have decided to end the event after 19 years.


Mikki Smith, organizing committee president, says the 12-member panel voted unanimously Jan. 21 to end the Wild West Balloon Fest in Cody.

Organizer Jack Way tells the Cody Enterprise ( that the chief problems with the August event are a lack of major sponsors and the high cost of insurance. But he says a decline in ballooning in Wyoming and the rest of the country also hurt.

Way says the festival has lost money for the past several years, and the committee decided it didn't want to be subsidized or borrow money.


Atlanta Cyclorama continuing Civil War anniversary events

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Cyclorama and Civil War Museum is offering special programs to continue commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

City of Atlanta Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs Director Camille Love said in a release that the museum will present guest speakers and special film screenings between February and June.

Officials say authors William F. Moore and Jane Ann Moore are scheduled to deliver a free lecture on President Abraham Lincoln and the abolition of slavery on Feb. 12.


Officials say their book, titled "Collaborators for Emancipation: Abraham Lincoln and Owen Lovejoy," explores the relationship between President Lincoln and Lovejoy, an abolitionist, and the impact their bond had on politics.


Imagine Dragons to give surprise performance on plane

NEW YORK — Imagine Dragons is ready to rock you — in the sky.

The Grammy-winning band and Southwest Airlines announced Monday that the group will perform a surprise Live at 35 concert at 35,000 feet on a Feb. 24 flight.

Southwest will launch a sweepstakes on Feb. 3 for a fan and three friends to win tickets for the flight as well as concerts on the ground.

The Ultimate Destination Dragons tour also will visit venues in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, where the rock band is based.

Imagine Dragons will release its sophomore album, "Smoke + Mirrors," on Feb. 17. It's the follow-up to 2012's multi-platinum "Night Visions," which includes the hits "Radioactive," ''It's Time" and "Demons."

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