Back in 2009, I arrived at Saratoga Springs late one night and checked into my room. Dead tired from the long, late night flight I fell into bed and went straight to sleep, not even taking time to check out the view from my room. The next morning when I pulled open my curtains, I was greeted with an amazing view of the Characters in Flight balloon at Downtown Disney. Ever since then I have wanted to take a ride in the giant helium-filled balloon. Last month I finally got my chance!
The tethered balloon now sports a new design. Tinker Bell, Peter Pan, Buzz Lightyear, Dumbo, Jasmine and Aladdin now fly around the 72-foot circumference of the red, yellow and blue colored balloon.
Characters in Flight was custom-built for Disney by the Paris-headquartered company Aérophile S.A. The balloon’s 19-foot-diameter basket holds up to 30 people, including its Aérophile-certified pilot.
Each flight lasts about 8-10 minutes and costs $18 per person ($12 for ages 3-9). Here’s a money saving tip: before 10 am it’s only $10.
Depending on the weather conditions, the balloon will go between 200-400 feet in the air for a breath-taking view of Walt Disney World. With a wind of 22 mph or greater, the balloon will not operate so be sure to take advantage of it when you see that it is aloft – otherwise you may not get another chance! Here are some photos of the view that I took on my flight. The balloon operates from 8:30 am to midnite, again, depending on the weather conditions.
I absolutely loved going up in the balloon and would definitely do it again. In fact, I’d love to time it so that I could see the fireworks from Magic Kingdom or Epcot from way up there. I went with a friend who is nervous about heights and has a problem with motion sickness – I know, what were we thinking? But actually, she had no problem and really liked it too. She said that the design of the basket made her feel safe. You’re pretty much surrounded by safeguards to keep you from falling out of the basket.
Once the balloon is fully raised, you can walk all the way around the basket to get a 360-degree view.
Looking down through the center, you can see the water below and the launching pad that the balloon is tethered to.
Looking up, you get a fantastic photo op of the underside of the balloon!
Characters in Flight is located at Downtown Disney Westside, near the bridge that connects to Pleasure Island. From the parking lot, the closest entrance is at Planet Hollywood.
I thought Characters in Flight was a lot of fun and I’m glad I finally got the chance to try it out. If you’re still not sure if this attraction is for you, I came across a video on the Aérophile site that is worth a watch. Here’s the link.
Have you been up in the balloon? I’d love to hear what you thought of it – leave us a comment below.
~ Barrie Brewer, Social Media Director