And now, in news you didn’t already know…Disney World is EXPENSIVE. Shocker! 😉Alright, that’s something you likely already knew and have experience with. But here’s the real kicker — it’s not just Disney. Travel in general is incredibly expensive right now.
We’ve already shared details about how rental car costs, ticket prices, flight costs, and more have increased over the past several months. But, are these increases keeping guests at home? You might think that high travel costs would equal less people out there on vacation, right? Well, the truth might surprise you.
Let’s start with a look at some of the MANY travel costs that have increased over the past several months.
If you feel like the cost of your Disney World hotel (or hotel in another spot) is more expensive than what you’re used to, you’re not wrong. According to CNN, U.S. Hotel rates averaged around $301 per night in March of 2022. That’s an increase of nearly $70 compared to March of 2019 (pre-pandemic).
According to Bloomberg, STR (a lodging analytics company) indicated that average daily hotel rates rose to $149.38 recently, which was the third-highest mark ever (just behind the week ending on March 19th and the week after Christmas in 2021).
Back in December of 2021, we looked at Disney World hotel rooms availability. From what we found, there were typically several options for hotel rooms available at almost any given time during the year. BUT sometimes those options were very expensive. In fact, we found that oftentimes the cheaper hotel options weren’t available at all, likely because those can fill up the fastest.
Disney itself has admitted to higher hotel prices. During the Walt Disney Company’s first Earnings Call of fiscal year 2022, covering their Quarterly Earnings Report for the period, they shared that guest spending had increased in the Disney parks. In fact, the Parks, Experiences, and Products Division hit an all-time revenue record during that time.
Disney specifically noted that part of the reason for this increase in revenue was higher average daily hotel room rates.
So, yes, you’re likely spending more on your vacation when it comes to hotel rooms. It’s not your imagination.
Planning on renting a car for your trip? That could equal some serious cash too! We’ve previously shared that renting a car could cost MORE than your Disney World ticket.
At the start of the pandemic, many rental car companies began to sell off their inventory, which has resulted in a major shortage of cars. Add in supply chain issues from the auto-manufacturing industry, and high demand, and you’ve got a recipe for PRICEY rentals.
News 5 Cleveland recently noted that rental car costs are skyrocketing, which could seriously impact your summer travels. One individual they spoke with, who rents cars weekly for work-related travel, shared that prices have increased. Another shared that they have noticed fewer options available. News 5 says that “The pent up demand is outpacing the supply or rental cars.”
According to CNN, figures from Kayak show that the average rental car is $76 per day, more than $20 more expensive than back in 2021 (pre-pandemic).
Trying to save a few bucks here? Begin planning for your rental early (like 8-10 weeks early for larger cars or 4-6 weeks for smaller options), and be sure to look for discounts through places like AAA, Costco, and more.
Airplane fares is another thing that has gone up significantly, and if you’re flying to Disney World you’re probably all too familiar with this already. Back in January, we shared that air travel costs were predicted to increase even as flights continued to be canceled due to the Omicron COVID-19 variant and the impacts it has had on staffing and more.
In early March, we also shared that airlines are grappling with some seriously expensive jet fuel costs. In fact, the costs are some of the most expensive seen in more than 13 years.
CNBC previously shared that jet fuel costs rose by a whopping 32% in just one week earlier this year. Experts are still somewhat divided as to whether those costs will trickle down to consumers, but most agree that ticket price increases would likely take a few months to materialize.
Most recently, we shared a look at just how some of these ticket prices have increased. Looks like price increases haven’t taken all that long to arrive. According to the Orlando Business Journal, which shared information from Hopper Inc., the average fare for a domestic roundtrip flight has increased by 22% in the last month. Since March 1st, airfare has increased by an average of $40. And experts aren’t expecting prices to decrease soon.
Aside from jet fuel, gas for just your regular ole car has also gone up — that could increase costs for your road trip or even just your drive around Disney World in the rental car.
In early April, we shared that gas price averages have JUMPED in Orlando. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the AAA Auto Club records show that the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas in Orlando costs $4.14 (as of early April 2022), which was 11-cents more expensive than the week before.
Average prices in Florida overall are even more expensive, with an average of $4.19 (up from $4.12 just the week before). But, things could change. National gas price averages actually dropped 2 cents last week. The price of crude oil also recently dropped following President Biden’s announcement to release millions of barrels of crude oil from the Reserve over the next several months.
Inflation could also dramatically increase the price of your trip this year. According to ABC News, consumer inflation has jumped 7.9% over the past year. That marks the largest increase since 1982. From January to February of 2022, inflation increased 0.8% (a bigger jump compared to the 0.6% increase from December to January).
Inflation has impacted prices for cars, food, furniture, gas, hotels, and so much more. And supply chain issues are only further complicating the situation. In many instances, companies have passed on their own higher labor and food costs to consumers.
CNBC shares that Andrew Hunter (a senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics) has said that they expect some factors, like partial easing of supply chain issues, to push core inflation lower this year. But it may remain high for quite some time.
According to Barron’s inflation may be peaking at this point, but that doesn’t mean prices will be going down soon.
Price Increases at Disney World
Aside from all of the other expenses we’ve discussed, things at Disney World itself are getting more expensive. Earlier in 2022, we saw literally HUNDREDS of food items impacted by price increases.
Some merchandise items have even gotten more expensive. And the addition of Disney Genie+ has essentially replaced the free FastPass+ system with a paid system, adding another cost to your growing list.
Disney has recognized just how much guest spending has increased in the parks. According to the recent Quarterly Earnings Report, the increased guest spending is due to higher average per capita ticket revenue, due in part to attendance mix and higher volumes in the parks due to increases in attendance.
Genie+, Lightning Lanes, increased spending on good, drinks, and merchandise, and higher average daily hotel room rates were also cited as reasons for the increase.
In other words, don’t expect to use your 2021 budget to plan for your 2022 trip.
Still, Travel Continues
You might be thinking to yourself, “if travel costs are so high, I’ll just wait to travel until next year and surely others will be thinking the same.” It isn’t unreasonable to think that increased costs would deter many folks from going through with their travel plans this year. That may in fact be the case for some, but for many others, increased prices have NOT impacted their vacation plans.
According to Bloomberg, “American travelers are raring to go, and rising hotel prices aren’t stopping them.”
Jan Freitag (a senior vice president at STR, a lodging analytics company) said “The pandemic has reminded people that life is short…They want to splurge, and they have a lot of pent-up savings. If a market has a leisure appeal, then the hotels in that market are doing well.”
A CNN video echos the same sentiment. In it some guests noted that the pandemic gave them time to save, budget, and plan for their future trips so they feel prepared to take them now. They also note that some families feel like they just have to “get out” after being under quarantine or stay-at-home restrictions for the past 2 years. Some note that they’ll just scale back later or adjust travel plans for later this year to make up for the price increases.
According to NPR, “an analysis of the Transportation Security Administration’s daily throughput data shows that an average of more than 2.1 million travelers have been going through airport security checkpoints each day over the past two weeks. That’s only about 9% fewer people than over the same two-week period in 2019.”
Vivek Pandya, lead analyst for Adobe Analytics, said that flight bookings in the second week of February returned to pre-pandemic norms, and they saw bookings actually cross that threshold. According to Pandya, that increase in flight bookings has continued, despite the rising costs. Pandya said, “At the moment, we’ve seen prices increase, but it hasn’t really dulled the momentum of airline travel…What we’re finding is bookings are up 26% and then airline and air bookings spend, the revenues are up 42% relative to certain periods in 2019.”
The New York Times shares that “the rise in gas prices is not expected to dampen the allure of the open road.” Individuals might take shorter routes, adjust their plans to feature destinations closer to home, or spend less on hotels and food, but many people who had planned a road trip are going through with their plans.
Cheryl Schutz (vice president of travel insights at a market research firm) said “Historically, gas prices have had very little, if any impact on travel…People may change what they spend money on, but they will still travel.”
According to Fox Business, the president of Omni Hotels & Resorts has said that there is “incredible demand” for travel, despite inflation.
CNN also notes that despite the high cost of fuel, “the travel industry says the extra premium is not deterring Americans from booking trips, especially after the coronavirus pandemic complicated travel for the past two summers.”
Travel to Florida certainly has been going strong. According to research from Visit Florida, their preliminary estimates for October to December of 2021 showed that 30.9 MILLION total visitors went to Florida during that time. That marked a 61.9% increase from the same period in 2020, and the numbers were actually just slightly higher than in 2019.
That quarter actually marked the second where Florida visitor numbers exceeded pre-pandemic levels.
Overall, Visit Florida shared that the preliminary estimates indicate that 122.4 MILLION visitors traveled to Florida during 2021. That’s more than a 50% increase compared to 2020, though still slightly lower than 2019. Domestic visitor levels, though, increased compared to 2019.
Granted, some of that travel took place before some of these larger price spikes for travel, but still took place at a time when other prices had increased.
Back in January of 2022, we shared that flights of several major airlines flying to and from Orlando International Airport from January through March of 2022 were up 36%.
According to Click Orlando, Tourist Development Tax collections in February of 2022 were up 173.9% compared to February of 2021. In other words, Click Orlando notes that these numbers show a “full rebound to pre-pandemic tourism in Central Florida.” Those February collections were higher than February of 2020 and were in fact the “third-highest monthly collections ever.” Click Orlando also notes that hotel occupancy rates in Orange County were at 73.7%, the second highest number seen since the beginning of the pandemic.
In some ways, the high demand is actually creating a more expensive environment for those looking to travel. CNN shares that “US airlines report that high demand is allowing them to raise airfares and offset the extra fuel costs.”
According to NPR, “consumers are continuing to book travel even as air fares continue to rise, and that increased demand, at a time when airlines still have somewhat limited capacity, is part of what is driving air fares higher.”
Even Disney’s CEO, Bob Chapek, shared that prices in the parks are going up because of demand. Chapek previously said that “This is a supply and demand business. Unfortunately, unlike say Disney+, we have a fixed supply.”
According to Chapek, one of the ways that they provide the “”best Disney experience” is by “taking those guests that want to have a more bespoke, more personalized, more customized, more expensive day and using that essentially to keep the lower prices on again, the second Tuesday in September. And so, it’s really demand that drives it.”
But some caution that the high prices will cost some people to reconsider their trips. One individual told CNN “If it became unreasonable, I think people would forgo traveling — it would just depend on how much it would be and how bad you want to go somewhere.” But, CNN shares “Airlines think they haven’t found the ceiling yet.”
What have you experienced? Have increased prices caused you to change your trip plans or are you going forward with your vacation? Tell us in the comments! We’ll keep an eye out for more travel news and let you know what we find.
Have increased costs caused you to change your travel plans? Tell us in the comments!