Memorial Day Weekend: Lower Gas but Higher Ticket Prices


NEW YORK (MainStreet) — As Americans honor our fallen war heroes this Memorial Day weekend, we also seek to shed our collective cabin fever and celebrate the soon-to-be-summer season. And when it comes to this weekend's warm weather pastimes affecting your pocketbook, we've got some good news and bad news: lower gas but higher ticket prices.

Also See: The Coolest Army Jobs for Civilians This Memorial Day

AAA is forecasting the second highest travel volume since 2000 with a post-recession high of more than 36 million Americans traveling during the holiday. Airfares are expected to be some 6% higher, with an average round-trip, discounted fare for the top 40 U.S. routes costing $227. Mid-range hotels will cost an average of $169 per night, a 2% increase. Car rentals will be incrementally higher as well, averaging $44 for a weekend daily rate – up just 1%. But road-trippers might get a break on gasoline prices due to rising supplies. Memorial Day weekend pump prices are expected to be equal to, or slightly less than, last year's national average of $3.63 per gallon.

However, in what will likely more than offset any travel savings, summer season recreational ticket prices are going into effect. Walt Disney Co. has hiked its single-day ticket price for visitors 10 or older to Disneyland and the Disney California Adventure Park to $96, a $4 increase. Parking also rose from $16 to $17.

Disney's Magic Kingdom in Orlando beat the summer rush and raised its ticket prices back in February to a starting rate of $99. Additional Disney World parks, including Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, all saw price hikes to $94 for single-day admissions.

Tickets of another variety can also be costly this Memorial Day weekend as many states and municipalities take advantage of the increased travel volume to step up law enforcement. The average cost of a speeding ticket is $152, according to Statistic Brain, with the top driving citation states including Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, California and Texas.

Seat belt laws will particularly garner stricter oversight as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launches its annual "enforcement mobilization" across the nation, beginning today and running through June 1. The venerable "Click It or Ticket" campaign includes national and local advertising targeting men ages 18 to 34, who the NHTSA says are less likely to wear seat belts.

The agency reports fatalities for unrestrained passenger vehicle occupants rose for the first time in five years. In 2012, more than 10,000 unbuckled travelers died -- including 62% of 18- to 34-year-old passenger vehicle occupants who were not wearing their seat belts.

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