Sunday, August 4, 2013

Characters in Flight-Hot Air Balloon at Walt Disney World

current balloon, as of October 2012
original balloon, April 2009
In April of 2009, Walt Disney World added a new and exciting experience to the Downtown Disney West Side.  Aerophiles, a French-based company specializing in building and operating
tethered helium gas balloons developed a relationship with Disneyland Paris and decided to expand their relationship to Walt Disney World.  In 2012, a new and improved balloon came from Paris that included 7 characters:  Dumbo, Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, Buzz Lightyear,
Aladdin, Jasmine & their Flying Carpet - yes, the Flying Carpet is indeed a Disney Character.  Aerophiles currently operates 58 balloons world-wide.  The balloons are always tethered and always helium.  Primarily the company operates in Europe and Asia, but they are very excited to be a part of the happiest place on earth at Downtown Disney.  The balloon holds 29 people in perfect weather conditions and goes up 400 feet.

The amount of passengers and height of altitude depends on the wind speed and pressure.  They have a computer system on the top of the balloon that tells them all the necessary information.  Normally the ride is around 10 minutes with a 2 minute ascent and descent.  If you get there early in the day and if no one is waiting for the next flight, they told us that we are more than welcome to have an extended flight - beyond the normal 8-10 minute flight.  Our flight was 17 minutes before descent.
Our Pilot told us that the "best time" to come is summer mornings.  Aerophiles offers an "Early Bird Special" that is offered to everyone 365 days a year for $10 before 10am.  After 10am, prices are $18 per adult/$12 per child.  Disney Vacation Club Discount is $15 per Adult / $10 per child.  The balloon operates most days from 8:30am - 12am.  
I felt completely secure with our FAA certified hot air balloon pilot.  There is a railing that came up to about my chest and a net that went up from there.   There was plenty of room in the netting to put your camera lens through and get good pictures. 

 You can get good pictures from the outside and inside view, as the platform is in the shape of a donut that allows views down from both sides of your walkway.  Another good part of our experience was that by going early in the morning, There were only three people on the balloon:  My husband, me and our Pilot.   As you can tell, you can see all over Disney Property,
other local area resorts and even Sea World.  I truly enjoyed our time in the air.  The only thing to note for people who are a bit nervous is that at first movement and landing there is a bit of a bump and your Pilot will instruct you to hang onto the railing for support.  After that bump, it was completely smooth sailing for our ride and even a bit cooler at 400 feet in August than it was on the ground.  

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