by Disney Magic Diva
For many years on our trips to Walt Disney World Resort, I’ve wanted to take a ride in that “hot air balloon” in Disney Springs. It looked so fun! But we never made time for it in our schedule, and frankly didn’t think making it to Disney Springs (or Downtown Disney, as it used to be called) was a vital part of our itinerary. With the reformation of Disney Springs, however, that philosophy has changed. If you haven’t visited Disney Springs lately, you are missing out on an unbelievable hot spot of food, shopping, entertainment, and just plain magic! We make it a point now to spend at least a few hours in Disney Springs every trip, and each time we discover something new and amazing!
We finally had a chance to ride in that “hot air balloon,” and while it has been operating at Disney Springs for years, it, too, has undergone a small transformation. The balloon has a new name and design! We were so happy when our plans finally worked out so that we had an opportunity to take a ride.
Aerophile – The World Leader in Balloon Flight as it is officially known(formerly called Characters in Flight) is located in West Side of Disney Springs. It operates daily from 8:30am-midnight, depending on weather. Tickets can be purchased at the ticket window, and prices at the time of this publication are $20 for adults (10 and over), $15 for children ages 3-9, and children 2 and under are free.
Diva Tip: Watch for a Groupon or other discount offer. We were able to get a Groupon for almost half price!
The balloon is filled with helium, and tethered so that the maximum height you will reach is 400 feet. Depending on wind conditions, you may not even be able to go that high. Under optimal conditions, about 30 people ride at a time, but this number is reduced depending on the weather. On the day we visited, the winds were moderately light, and we had about 20 people on board.
There are restrictions as to who should ride. Children under 9 years old must be accompanied by an adult. Anyone susceptible to motion sickness, vertigo, heart problems, or any condition aggravated by height should probably stay on the ground. Pregnant women should not ride. Guests in a motorized scooter must transfer to an available wheelchair. Strollers, food, drinks, and shopping bags are not permitted.
As we were standing in line waiting to redeem our Groupon at the ticket window, we were given a tablet with a waiver to complete. Each person must sign their own waiver. Then, once we had finished at the ticket window, we were ushered out to the waiting area for our flight. Thankfully, there were canopy umbrellas to shield us from the hot sun.
When it was our turn to board, we first had a photo op moment of our group just prior to boarding. It’s a nice photo they take with the balloon in the background, and it is available for purchase when you disembark.
Diva Tip: Aerophile is not operated by Disney, so this is not part of the Disney PhotoPass service. If you purchased Memory Maker, this will NOT be linked to your My Disney Experience account. If you want the photograph, you will need to purchase it.
As you board the balloon, you will see it’s not a giant basket like hot air balloons you may have seen in movies. Instead, it is a ring, similar to a doughnut, with about a 3-foot walkway all the way around. There are bars and rails you can hold onto as you soar above Disney Springs. I was a little surprised to see wheels on the bottom of the ring. This totally makes sense once you see it up close, but I had just never given it that much thought. The wheels help with a smooth take-off and landing. Your expert pilot will “glide” you off the landing area, and up above Disney Springs. You will be advised to hold on to the railings during take-off and landing, but once you are at a “cruising altitude” you will be free to safely walk around.
What spectacular views! We had a fairly clear day, and could see Expedition Everest, Tower of Terror, Spaceship Earth as well as the Swan and Dolphin hotels. Literally, we could see for miles! Watching the Amphicars driving around in the lake below was amazing. While we were in flight, there was very little feeling of movement. My husband and son, neither of whom is a fan of heights, had no problem with our flight. We were in the air for about 5-8 minutes, and then safely and calmly returned to the ground. Both take-off and landing were relatively smooth – no jerks or bumping. They both would recommend it, and said they would be happy to do it again!
How about you? Are you ready to take a flight? Leslie at Pixie Vacations can get you there! Her services are FREE to you, so contact her today to make your Walt Disney World Resort reservations! And be sure to wave to all the people below while you’re flying high in Disney Springs!
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