One of the Florida First’s that we experienced on our most recent Orlando vacation was the Characters in Flight balloon at Disney Springs.
I had seen an offer on Groupon so we managed to get vouchers for $10 entrance each which we all felt seemed reasonable – it was even cheaper than the normal child entrance fee (at the time we went $12 per child $18 per adult)
It is situated to the West Side of Disney Springs. We simply presented our vouchers and then joined the queue for the next ride. While in line we even spotted a juvenile water moccasin, (North America’s only venomous water snake), basking on the rocks below.
The balloon ride only operates when the wind speed is less than 22 mph and having been up I can understand why! I’m told that it is the largest tethered balloon in the world, filled with 210,000 cubic feet of helium. The balloon’s 19-foot-diameter basket holds up to 29 people. On our ride there were approximately 10 passengers so we have plenty of space to move around.
Our ‘Aérophile-certified pilot’ was very informative and reassuring. He told us what was going to happen, when potentially there could be a jolt, when the balloon had reached if full height of 400ft and when we were free to walk around the balloon basket if we wished (nobody did). We had a beautifully clear day – apparently you can see up to 10 miles away. We could see most of the Disney estate, however, you cannot see the Magic Kingdom or Castle 😦
The experience lasts for 8 to 10 minutes, and for me as it was a clear day it beat the Orlando Eye in terms of views but maybe not in terms of experience. I’m pleased that I have been on, more pleased that I got a discounted price, and would recommend it for all ages as something different (relatively low cost) to do outside of the theme parks.