Tag Archives: disney world

Snowbirds Flock to Cost2Drive Amid Soaring Gas Prices

                                                           Thousands of Florida-Bound Car Travelers Turn to Cost2Drive.com for Help  Planning Trips as Gas Prices Reach Historic Highs

As travelers begin planning their winter vacations in earnest, each week thousands are turning to our popular fuel calculator website and iPhone app for help planning their car trips as gas prices reach historic highs for this time of year.  Visits to Cost2Drive.com have doubled as a result and so we decided to examine over 10,000 trips entered on the site during the first week of January to find out where all these travelers are heading in the new year.

The Migration Pattern of the Snowbird

It turns out that over 20%  of all the trips entered on Cost2Drive.com in the first week of 2012 have somewhere in Florida as the destination.  So where are all these sun worshipers coming from? Most are snowbirds coming from the Midwest and Northeast driving down to Florida to escape the long cold winters up north.  New York was the state with the largest volume of routes representing 11% of all Florida-bound trips, followed by Michigan at 7% and Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania, all at 6%.

Snowbird Migration Pattern as Entered on Cost2Drive.com

Car travelers from Boston, New Jersey and Texas represented 5% of all Florida-bound routes, followed by road trippers from Wisconsin, Indiana and neighboring state Georgia at 4% each.

Top Florida Destinations

The top Florida destinations being searched on Cost2Drive are pretty much the ones you’d expect, with Orlando (and Walt Disney World) capturing the majority of traveler interest as 40% of all the Florida-bound routes had Orlando, Disney World or Kissimmee as the destination.

Top Florida Destinations for Snowbirds

The destination rankings break down as follows:

  1. Orlando/Kissimmee: 40%
  2. Miami/Fort Lauderdale: 16%
  3. Tampa/Saint Petersburg/Clearwater: 11%
  4. The Florida Panhandle (Pensacola/Panama City): 8%
  5. Northeast Coast (Jacksonville, Daytona Beach): 7%
  6. Naples/Fort Myers: 7%
  7. Cape Canaveral/Palm Bay: 4%
  8. Florida Keys/Key West: 3%
  9. Sarasota/Bradenton: 3%
  10. All Others: 1%

The Atlantic versus the Gulf Coast

It’s common knowledge that you can determine the destination of a Florida-bound snowbird by its departure location, with Northeastern snowbirds alighting on the rough Atlantic coast while the Midwestern snowbirds prefer the calmer shores of the Gulf of Mexico.  We decided to test this hypothesis to see if the trips entered on Cost2Drive followed this same pattern.

Migration Patterns of the Midwestern and Northeastern Snowbird

We were delighted to learn that our results validated the hypothesis as the Midwestern Snowbirds were more likely to choose a Gulf Coast destination whereas the Northeastern Snowbirds were more likely to choose the Atlantic Coast.  We were surprised, however, to discover that Midwestern Snowbirds were also more likely to choose a Gulf Coast destination over Orlando/Disney World whereas Northeastern Snowbirds prefer Orlando over Atlantic Coast destinations by a fairly wide margin.

What’s your favorite Florida destination?

Happy Driving!

(no snowbirds were harmed in the undertaking of this study)

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Dodge Caravan Is King of the Magic Kingdom

The Top Vehicle for Vacationers Driving to Disney Parks in 2011

As millions of people across the US and Canada begin planning their annual trek south for the winter many will have a Disney theme park as their final destination.  You can literally draw a line down the middle of North America to predict which parks these travelers will visit with the western half visiting Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park in southern California and the eastern half visiting Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

North America divided by two realms of Disney

What’s harder to predict are the types of vehicles these travelers will be driving on their epic road trips to Disney, and so we thought this would be an interesting study to undertake given that Disney World is the most popular attraction entered on our flagship Website Cost2Drive.com, a site used by over 300,000 people in 2011 to help plan car trips.  Nearly 10,000 of these road trippers entered a Disney theme park as their destination providing us with an ample supply of routes from which to analyze.  Below are our findings.

The Top 10 Vehicles Driven to Disney Parks

We don’t know if anyone has ever conducted a study like this, but since users of Cost2Drive enter their vehicle information on the site we’re able to identify the most popular cars that people are driving to Disney World and Disneyland.   Not surprisingly, the top four vehicles are minivans which are ideally suited for the traveling family.

Based on 10,000 routes to Disney parks entered on Cost2Drive.com

What is surprising, however, is how different this list is from the top vehicles entered on Cost2Drive overall in 2011.  Well be sharing that list in a future post, but don’t expect minivans to populate the top positions.  It is interesting to note that SUV’s didn’t crack the top five, though a number did make it into the top 20 rankings.  The Dodge Caravan took the top slot, capturing 10.5% of all the trips to Disney World and Disneyland on Cost2Drive, followed closely by the Honda Odyssey.  Rankings of the all of the top 10 are as follows:

  1. Dodge Caravan (10.5%)
  2. Honda Odyssey  (9.6%)
  3. Chrysler Town & Country (6.3%)
  4. Toyota Sienna (6.0%)
  5. Toyota Camry (5.1%)
  6. Ford Explorer (5.0%)
  7. Honda Civic (4.9%)
  8. Honda Pilot (4.3%)
  9. Honda Accord (4.2%)
  10. Ford Expedition (4.2%)

Average Trip Distance by Vehicle

People are always amazed when we tell them that average distance of routes entered on Cost2Drive is over 800 miles each way, and that expands further for trips to the Disney theme parks where the average trip distance is over 1,000 miles.  The average trip length varies significantly by vehicle type with minivans and SUVs outpacing sedans in terms of trip length.

Average distance driven to Disney theme parks (one-way)

In this case its the Chrysler Town & Country that takes the crown with an average trip length of 1165 miles each way.  The overall average trip length was 1,065 miles with the top 10 rankings as follows:

  1. Chrysler Town & Country – 1,165 miles
  2. Dodge Caravan – 1,149 miles
  3. Toyota Sienna – 1,118 miles
  4. Honda Odyssey – 1,104 miles
  5. Ford Expedition – 1,027 miles
  6. Honda Civic – 1,008 miles
  7. Honda Pilot – 985 miles
  8. Ford Explorer – 969 miles
  9. Toyota Camry – 964 miles
  10. Honda Accord – 841 miles

Cost of Driving

Because gas prices are at record highs for this time of year one of the most important considerations for consumers is how much they will need to budget for gas to get to the Disney parks.   We entered a typical trip from Chicago to Disney World  into our trip cost calculator on Cost2Drive.com to compare the cost of driving the 2011 models of the four leading minivans (note that the Dodge Caravan is now the Grand Caravan):

Driving costs based on 2011 model year vehicles using EPA MPG estimates

In this scenario its the 2011 Honda Odyssey that ends up with the crown being the most fuel efficient of the four minivans, costing only $144 each way to drive from Chicago to Orlando.

If you’re planning a winter road trip check out the Cost2Drive trip calculator to help you plan the trip.  It will quickly calculate fuel costs based on real time gas prices along your route and help you save money by locating the cheapest gas at refueling points along the way.  It also displays the cheapest airfare so you can see if its cheaper to fly or drive to your destination.

If you have an iPhone you can download our new Cost2Drive iPhone app that gives you all the great features of the Website plus it lets you save and compare up to five vehicles in the app.  Download it today and never again wonder what it will cost to drive places.

Happy New Year and Happy & Safe Driving in 2012!