Magic Kingdom top draw with 20.5 million visitors
Disney World's Magic Kingdom continues to be the top amusement park draw in the world with 20.5 million visitors in 2015, according to a report released Wednesday.
Disneyland in Anaheim, California, was No. 2 with an estimated 18.3 million visitors, followed by Tokyo Disneyland, which had an estimated 16 million, according to a report from AECOM and the Themed Entertainment Association.
Disney World, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld all saw a jump in attendance in 2015 over the previous year, according to the.
Epcot was sixth in the world in attendance with 11.8 million, a 5 percent increase from 2014. Disney's Animal Kingdom drew 10.8 million, also a 5 percent increase, and Universal Orlando saw the biggest increase, with a 16 percent jump to 9.9 million visitors.
"Last year we said everything was looking good in the Americas and poised for moderate growth — but 2015 blew the roof off moderate," Brian Sands, vice president of economics with AECOM, said in a released statement. "In theme parks, not only did the two top operators, Disney and Universal, both excel, the North American market as a whole did well, too."
Orlando had seven parks make the Top 25 in attendance worldwide, according to the report.
TVA opens new swim beach boat launch ramp at Boone
KINGSPORT, Tenn. — The Tennessee Valley Authority has opened up a new swim beach and boat launch ramp on TVA land just north of Boone Dam.
Boone Beach, which features a stretch of white sand, has walking trails, grills, a pavilion, picnic tables, restrooms and a volleyball court. TVA officials say there are also walking trails, picnic areas and parking spaces that accommodate people with disabilities.
The Tennessee Valley Authority is a corporate agency of the United States government that provides electricity to more than 9 million people in parts of seven southeastern states.
Senate votes to scrap catfish inspections
WASHINGTON — The Senate has voted to scrap a new catfish inspection program that critics have argued is wasteful and unnecessary.
The vote Wednesday came just after President Barack Obama visited Vietnam, a major exporter of catfish to the United States that has criticized the program. The Senate has approved by 55-43 a resolution that would void the regulations, if the House agrees and Obama signs on.
The inspection program was first created by Congress in the 2008 farm law and is championed by lawmakers from catfish-producing states, including Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss. The law took safety oversight of catfish and other ray-finned fish away from the Food and Drug Administration and gave that authority to the Agriculture Department, which does more frequent inspections.
USDA delayed putting the program in place for several years, but inspections started in March and are being phased in over the next year.
Supporters said the inspections are a necessary precaution against potentially tainted imports from Asia. USDA has already found illegal drug residue in some shipments.
"It is clear that the inspection rule is working as intended to protect consumers," Cochran said on the Senate floor, urging his colleagues to vote against the resolution.
Republican Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and other critics have said the added regulation is wasteful and solely intended to raise a new, higher hurdle for catfish imports from Vietnam and other nations. Besides the new catfish inspections, USDA has traditionally only been responsible for meat, poultry and processed eggs. FDA inspects most other foods.
Toyota plans second plant in Malaysia
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp. said Wednesday that it will build a second factory in Malaysia as part of expansion to meet rising local demand.
The new 2 billion ringgit ($488 million) plant will be built by Toyota and its local partner, UMW Corp. Toyota said that the plant, to be built in the central state of Selangor, will have an initial capacity of around 50,000 units a year.
The plant is expected to begin operations in early 2019 and will help double Toyota's production volume in Malaysia to around 100,000 units a year, said Akio Takeyama, deputy chairman of UMW Toyota Motor.
He said the new plant will focus on manufacturing passenger cars, including energy-efficient vehicles, while its current factory will churn out commercial vehicles.
Vehicle sales hit 666,674 units in Malaysia last year, making it the third-largest auto market in Southeast Asia after Thailand and Indonesia.