Nightly News | December 29, 2011
>>> now to what may be a sign of the times and americans' pent-up desire for some fun. this week at some theme parks including those owned by nbc universal , the crowds were so huge, many people were initially turned away. apparently it's an escape that's worth the wait. nbc's kerry sanders reports.
>> reporter: packed in like times square on new year's eve, but this is orlando . for the second day in a row disneyworld's magic kingdom and universal orlando resort had to limit access telling people to come back later. yesterday, even the just opened legoland in orlando was at capacity. some economists say the huge crowds may be americans are tired of doing without. theme parks are proof, at least this week, vacation spending is back. the bellinger family who last took a vacation ten years ago said it's much needed therapy, even if finding way to finance it took creativity.
>> we did dig deep. very deep. deep, deep.
>> reporter: how deep? the average cost of a family of four with children to enjoy five days costs $460 for hotel, $698 for food. other expenses like transportation and tickets to the theme parks , $2,281. for a grand total of $3,439. the spinotle family from connecticut said it took the entire family's efforts one nickel at a time to fund their escape to disneyworld.
>> i work at a university. some of the students there give us their cans and bottles which in connecticut they're worth five cents. we cashed them in and we were able to afford the trip.
>> reporter: when they got there the waits for rides in some cases were up to 90 minutes long.
>> we have plenty of opportunities if the wait is longer than they prefer. we'll direct them to areas to enjoy the rest of their experience and perhaps they can come back later in the day.
>> reporter: orlando , the top tourist destination in winter had 51 million visitors last year. this year they project 53 million will come.
>> i think what's happening is consumers are releasing some of the pent-up demand from a long and harrowing recession.
>> reporter: another reason so many folks are in town? football bowl games . now, parks say no one is completely turned away from the day. just their entrances are delayed. they stagger folks coming in as people leave and the parks are staying open later tonight so that everybody can be accommodated. harry?
>> kerry sanders in orlando tonight, thank you.