The “Characters In Flight” balloon at Disney Springs has been renamed to reflect the new look that was unveiled this past January. [Read more…]
By Don Gworek
New buildings and features in the transformation of Downtown Disney to Disney Springs are rapidly taking form. Let’s take a ride on the Characters in Flight balloon and see what’s behind the construction fences. [Read more…]
The Characters in Flight tethered helium balloon ride at Downtown Disney was removed for a thorough inspection last Friday night after an incident involving a similar balloon in Hong Kong. [Read more…]
The Summer 2009 issue of Orlando Attractions Magazine is now available for preview and pre-order.
It’s our first quarterly issue and the first of our new and improved editions featuring nearly 20% more pages, thicker paper, more high-quality photography, and more articles than ever before.
Feature articles in this issue include:
• COVER STORY: Hitch a Ride on a Giant Stingray
with SeaWorld’s Manta, Florida’s First Flying Roller Coaster.
• Slip Slide Away at Disney’s Water Parks
Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach offer cool retreats year-round.
• Skipper Ben’s Top 10 Ways to Beat the Heat
• Magical Memories
Contest winner looks back at his year as Disney’s Chief Magic Official.
• Africa, Animals and Art
Kidani Village expands upon the culture found at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.
• Africa meets India at Sanaa
Disney’s newest restaurant dishes up African cuisine with Indian flavors.
• Stitch invades Tomorrowland in Stitch’s SuperSonic Celebration.
And if you subscribe now at our new low price of $19.99, you’ll be among the first to receive the new Summer 2009 issue when it begins to mail out next week. But hurry or you’ll miss it!
Again, you can preview and pre-order the Summer 2009 issue here.
I finally got a chance to go up in the Characters in Flight balloon at Downtown Disney at night. I’d been up twice before during the day and got some great pictures, but I wanted to see the view at night. It was a particularly neat time to go, not just because it was dark outside, but because I had just finished watching the movie “Up” in 3D at the theater near by. (The movie was great.)
The top photo is looking up at the balloon from the que area. That’s the moon in the corner of the picture. [Read more…]
The balloon, operated by Aerophile, takes up to thirty guests 400 feet in the air for around five minutes, providing 360-degree views of all of Walt Disney World and the surrounding Orlando area.
One of the most-discussed aspects of Characters in Flight so far has been the fact that medium-to-high winds (which often feel like nothing more than a nice breeze) can ground the balloon for an unspecified amount of time. Until a couple of days ago, the attraction seemed to be closed more than it was open. Even on its official opening day, invited media were unable to ride due to the winds.
However, the winds have calmed down over the last couple of days and by 1 p.m. yesterday, Aerophile had already taken over 300 guests up into the skies above Walt Disney World.
But Orlando certainly has its fair share of windy days, so to help you figure out if a trip to Downtown Disney to take a ride on Characters of Flight is a good choice, we’ve included a handy wind watcher on our new Characters in Flight guide. The wind speed and direction are gathered from a meter located at the Reedy Creek fire station, just down the road from Downtown Disney, so you can get the most accurate wind information possible before venturing out.
So how far can you see when you’re 400 feet in the air? You can easily spot Spaceship Earth at Epcot, the Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the Contemporary Resort, Space Mountain at the Magic Kingdom, and even downtown Orlando in the distance – normally a 30-40 minute drive away from Walt Disney World.
For a better idea, check out this panoramic photo shot by Orlando Attractions Magazine photographer Matt Roseboom while up in the balloon. Be sure to click on the image below to open a larger version in our photo gallery.
In attendance at the Characters in Flight grand opening were vice president of Downtown Disney Kevin Lansberry, general manager of Aerophile Erik Garcia, vice president of operating partners Keith Bradford, and 2009 Walt Disney World ambassador Vanessa Rosas.
To hear what they had to say about the new high-flying attraction at the ribbon-cuttong ceremony as well as learn a few interesting facts about the balloon and see the sights from 400 feet in the air, watch this video:
You can also download a copy of this video in our Video section, in both standard- and 720p high-definition.
For more great Characters in Flight pictures, visit our photo gallery here. And if you know anyone who is going to attempt to take a ride, be sure to send them to our Characters in Flight guide first to check the wind speed.