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Is This The Last Round-Up for Travelers?

Is This The Last Round-Up for Travelers?

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I don’t know how things are in your neck of the woods, but in most places the cost of a tank of gas for the family sedan has been taking a bigger bite of out our wallets week by week this year. Take for example, downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, August 13th. Unleaded Regular at the Chevron station across from the famed Olivera Street was selling for $3.08 a gallon. And that was before all of the constitutional uncertainties in Iraq and the effects of Hurricane Katrina! Back home here in Livermore, a few days later, I could fill up for only $2.63 a gallon. Just a bit ago, another check at another station found the price at $3.04 a gallon. Is it any wonder that I’m staying home this weekend and working the holiday to make a few extra bucks?

However, according to AAA, I may be in the minority. The California Automobile Association doesn’t see a let up in travel over the Labor Day weekend, with over 4.9 million Californians heading off on their end-of-summer excursions. In a press release, CSAA spokesperson Cynthia Harris (no relation to the former Disneyland president) offered this observation.

"We understand the high price of gas can really put a strain on consumers," said Harris. "But for many families, a final summer weekend together isn’t something they’re willing to give up and there are ways to cut costs and still have a good trip."

After the devastation along the Gulf states is truly counted up, I suspect that it won’t be all that long before I find gas prices at the local pump crossing the $4.00 line. Especially as I read of gas being sold for $4.99 a gallon in Atlanta today. Don’t believe me? Check out www.gasbuddy.com for prices around the country. Looks like that road trip may end up just being to the local video store soon…

Or how about the cost of airline travel? I know that many of the Colton clan traveling to Long Beach (and on to Disneyland) in October bought our seats on Jet Blue from Oakland a while back at $39 each way. But as the price of jet fuel is 80 percent higher today than it was last year, I suspect that really cheap seats will become extinct all to soon. If gas prices have gone up, jet and diesel fuel will soon follow.

Don’t believe it? Check out a round-trip fare from LA to Orlando for Thanksgiving on Travelocity right now. We’re talking 90 days ahead of time. $450 on the low end and as much as $1700… for just a coach seat! One flight priced at over $1300 only had two seats left at that price.

I’ve been reminded of an old joke by this whole thing.

The Captain of the Titanic is addressing the passengers soon after the ship collided with the iceberg. “Nothing to worry about. We’re only stopping to pick up some ice for the bar.”

I checked with a few folks who sell travel this week. They are concerned as well. Usually, the period after Labor Day has been the time when bargains were offered to entice us all to travel that extra bit. But with the way things have been going, it may become the best bargain staying close to, if not right at home.

I’ve also heard rumors of fewer advance bookings than usual in the Anaheim Resort area hotels along with similar concerns at other tourist destinations. While it is true that the weak dollar has helped bring overseas travelers here, if prices solidify at higher levels, even those folks will think twice before coming to see Mickey in Anaheim or Orlando. Even their airfares will creep up along with fuel prices.

One has to wonder that if all of this comes to pass, then will those people at Disney still be all so hot to slice away at the numbers of annual pass holders. Wonder if they will be reconsidering those plans? Seems like you would need to rely on the faithful fans to keep spending while the rest of the tourists won’t be in town. Only time will tell.

That raises another point to consider. Disneyland has already announced schedules that scale back the number of performances of shows and parades during the period between Labor Day and Thanksgiving, and along the same lines cast members have been informed that fewer hours will be available. Don’t be surprised to see that favorite shop or dining location is open fewer hours each week too. All planned in advance, but will deeper cutbacks be in order? Again, wait and see will be a good choice.

But looking on the bright side, those of us who have already paid for the big trip will find things a bit less crowded at our destinations. Maybe that means a comfy spot to watch the “Remember – Dreams Come True” fireworks will be a little easier to find come October?



The column that was promised for today on Disneyland and musical performances? Never fear, all but done and will appear here next Thursday.Now for a bit more serious concern from the staff of Jim Hill Media.

Hurricane Katrina left utter devastation in it’s wake. We all share in the hope that all of the survivors will soon all be safe and able to resume some semblance of a normal life.

Earlier this year, you all generously helped out by supporting the efforts toward relief of the victims of the Tsunami. If you can see your way to doing so again, the victims of Hurricane Katrina now face many of the same daily challenges for basic necessities. Even though this happened closer to home, the need is every bit as real and as serious. Consider a donation to the American Red Cross if you can. Every bit helps, especially now…

Your donations will add to that of the Disney Company, as it was announced that Disney will donate one million dollars to the American Red Cross for immediate relief efforts, one million dollars will be designated for rebuilding efforts targeted at children's charities, and the remaining $500,000 will be directed towards volunteer centers providing services to the communities affected by the hurricane.

"The devastation in the wake of Hurricane Katrina is simply heartbreaking and our thoughts are with those struggling in the aftermath of this disaster," said Michael Eisner, CEO, and Bob Iger, president, COO and CEO-elect of The Walt Disney Company. "We hope that our donation will aid emergency management teams and organizations in their efforts to provide assistance to those impacted."

‘nuff said.
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