Spring Break Poll: Travel Up Slightly Despite High Gas Prices 

Travel, Gas Prices
(LOS ANGELES – March 21, 2012) – Slightly more Southern Californians plan to take at least one spring break trip compared to last year, despite the higher gas prices, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California’s third annual Spring Break Travel Poll. Gas prices may also be motivating theme-park-bound travelers to aggressively seek out ticket discounts, according to the poll.
Fifty-seven percent of those polled said they plan to take at least one leisure trip in March or April – up two percent from the 55 percent last year who said they planned at least one spring trip. And the percentage of undecided travelers is also up from last year – 19 percent vs. 13 percent in 2011 – while the number of those who definitely won’t travel is down from 32 percent last year to 24 percent this year.
Spring break travel budgets are expected to be larger this spring, according to the poll. Forty-nine percent of polled Southern California travelers plan to spend $1,000 or more on their spring trips, compared to 41 percent planning to spend more than $1,000 in 2011.
“As we’ve seen in other years with high gas prices, travelers can be flexible with their budgets and travel distances to make their spring getaways affordable,” said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel products and services. “Travel providers have also been quick to respond this year with additional deals. For example, many more hotels are offering breakfast-inclusive packages. Pleasant Holidays is offering free car rentals and $100 off Hawaii bookings, and also a sixth night free when staying at Disney’s Aulani resort.”
Fifty-eight percent of traveling Southern Californians plan to take at least one spring trip in the Golden State, about the same percentage as last year.
The most popular cities to visit over spring break holidays, according to the poll, are:

  • Las Vegas
  • San Diego
  • Phoenix
  • San Francisco
  • New York

The most popular states to visit are Nevada (32 percent), Arizona (27 percent), Utah (10 percent) and Hawaii (10 percent). Forty-five percent plan to drive their own vehicle (down from 54 percent last year), 37 percent plan to fly, and 10 percent plan to rent a vehicle for their spring break trips.
One-third of Southern California travelers plan to visit an attraction such as a theme park, zoo or historical site on their spring trip, and among all those polled, half plan to visit at least one theme park in 2012.
Among polled Southern Californians who visit theme parks at least occasionally, 79 percent say they are unlikely to buy theme park tickets unless they are getting a discounted price. The top source for discounted tickets is a club membership such as AAA (82 percent), followed by the theme park website (44 percent), discount social media sites (36 percent), and a general internet search (34 percent).
“AAA discounts on theme park tickets have long been popular with our members, and now we have introduced even greater savings for members who buy theme park tickets in our branches,” said Pamela Shepherd, the Auto Club’s vice president for branch operations. “Just in time for spring break in response to huge member demand, we will be selling Disneyland® Resort theme park tickets at special AAA member prices in the branches for single-day, multi-day and Annual Passports.”   Included in some of the packages is free parking, which equates to a $15 member value per day.
In addition to Disneyland® Resort, Auto Club branches sell discount tickets to members for Universal Studios HollywoodSM, SeaWorld® San Diego, LEGOLAND® California Resort, Aquarium of the Pacific® in Long Beach, San Diego Zoo, and San Diego Zoo Safari Park. All tickets sold in branches are a bigger savings for members than AAA discount tickets purchased online or at the attraction’s main gate.
The top theme park destinations for Auto Club members over the spring break are:
  • Disneyland® Resort
  • Universal Studios HollywoodSM
  • Knott’s Berry Farm
  • SeaWorld® San Diego
  • LEGOLAND®  California Resort
The 2012 Auto Club Spring Gas Price poll was conducted from Feb. 13 to Feb. 23 and surveyed 623 Auto Club members. It has a margin of error of +/-3.9 percent.

Media Contacts

Marie Montgomery
(714) 885-2333