Maybe nobody should go on vacation this summer

Maybe nobody should go on vacation this summer

Posted by Sean Stangland on Tue, 06/10/2008 - 19:38

A few days ago, I solicited your help in determining what I should do with the nine days off I have coming up, and, after estimating what all the options would cost me, I've pretty much decided that the dreaded "staycation" has to happen. Whether or not I put forth the effort to get a second job remains uncertain, but you can probably guess which way I'm leaning.

Airfares are simply ridiculous right now, and that's the chief reason this panicky piece was written about Walt Disney World perhaps having to close certain parks on certain days. I for one can't imagine that such a thing would happen; the result would be disappointed customers and unbearable crowds at the parks that remained open. The story, by miceage.com's Kevin Yee, does raise a very interesting point that I hadn't thought of: Disney World has an incredible amount of vehicles that run on gasoline. And that's not just in the parks -- the resort doesn't charge guests for its bus services that run from the Orlando airport and between the Disney parks and hotels.

But I don't really care how much Disney is paying for gas. How much would I pay to go there? How much would it cost for just one person to go to Disney World for, say, four nights, with a park-hopper?


I'm not counting on seeing these in person anytime soon.

I searched Travelocity for a trip on my available dates, June 29 to July 3, which I'm guessing are dates a lot of people looked at this year. Then I selected the cheapest Disney World resort there is, the uber-tacky Pop Century. The flight and the airfare cost $765. The Three-Day Magic Your Way Park Hopper + 2 Days FREE ticket (that's exactly what Travelocity called it) costs $264.12. Add in the tax, and the trip for one person comes out to $1,029.59, which is just about my entire savings account. If I wanted to take my girlfriend from L.A. with me -- and of course I do -- I'd have to add another $264.12 for her ticket and somewhere around $450 for a round-trip flight from LAX to MCO. A couple I know just took their 2-year-old daughter to Disney World for four nights, and they paid somewhere around $2,400 -- and that falls under what Disney marketing calls an "affordable" trip! (And doesn't include how much you're going to spend on their overpriced food and souvenirs.)

So how can anyone afford to go to Disney World in our time of $4 gas, expensive airfare, and ludicrous luggage charges? Are those truly "affordable" prices for most people?

My guess is Disneyland will start getting a lot more business in the coming months and years. It is far cheaper to go there, mostly because you can reasonably expect to see everything in two or three days, depending on what time of year you go. Heck, I went right after Thanksgiving last year, and we saw everything in a day and a half. You also don't have to stay on Disney property to be close -- there's an affordable Holiday Inn, for example, about a half-mile from Downtown Disney. The only problem there in Anaheim is that their second park, Disney's California Adventure, is on the cusp of a major overhaul that will take several years, and most of that park is frankly lame. (Although it does have two must-ride attractions, Tower of Terror and California Screamin'.)

The worst part about all this is my aforementioned girlfriend will be going to Disneyland -- for free -- on Thursday. Hopefully she'll send me some lovely pictures...

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