This Thanksgiving, SeaWorld will take to the streets of New York as their “A Sea of Surprises” float debuts in the 87th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. [Read more…]
Since 2002, Universal Studios has partnered with Macy’s to bring elements of the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to Orlando during the holiday season. In addition to shipping down memorable floats featured in the annual New York parade, Macy’s brings several of the giganic balloons that have made the parade so popular over the decades.
But guests visiting Universal Studios have a chance to do much more than simply watch the parade pass by. Each day, park guests have the opportunity to actually become “balloon handlers,” helping to guide inflated characters through Universal’s streets. On Dec. 15, I (along with Orlando Attractions Magazine editor Matt Roseboom) had a chance to take part in leading Universal’s and Macy’s newest balloon, Big Man Santa, around the parade route to see what the balloon handling experience is all about.
Before I give you my impressions, here’s a summary video featuring interviews with Universal show director Michael Aiello and design director for Macy’s Parade Studio Jerry Ospa as well as a look inside the backlot building where they park the inflated balloons and a bit of balloon handler training… and a glimpse at myself and Matt as balloon handlers:
In short, being a balloon handler is a lot of fun. The “training” process begins as guests are each given a jumpsuit, gloves, and a Santa hat. Jumpsuits come in a variety of colors, depending on the balloon.
As you saw in the video above, we were assigned to Universal’s newest balloon, Big Man Santa, which apparently requires black jumpsuits. While they’re not the best color for dealing with Florida’s sun (yes, it’s hot even in December here), we lucked out with enough cloud cover to keep us cool. The padded gloves were even welcome as holding onto the “bone” (as they call it) attached to the balloon’s string would be horribly uncomfortable without them. And, of course, the Santa hat adds a little festive style to the otherwise bland costume.
By Andy Guinigundo
Washington, D.C. and Anaheim, Calif. – The first mention of a ceremonial turkey presentation at the Whitehouse (stop snickering, an actual turkey) was during the Truman administration. No mention is made in the literature about a Presidential Pardon. It wasn’t until the first George Bush’s administration in 1989 that the yearly tradition of “pardoning” the noble bird stuck.
For President Obama’s first Thanksgiving, a turkey named Courage won the turkey lottery and was pardoned. As with any major victory, whether in sport or for one’s very life, in an interview, Courage was asked, “Now that you’ve been pardoned, what are going to do?” Courage answered with an emphatic, “I’m going to Disneyland!” Indeed, every turkey since 2005 has taken the flight to a Disney park.
Courage was the grand marshall of the Thanksgiving Day Parade through Disneyland. He and 200 volunteers were honored. The volunteers were so honored to highlight next year’s promotion and initiative “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” that kicks off Jan. 1, 2010. Guests who volunteer a day will receive free admission to a Disney park in 2010.
Visitors coming to Disneyland can see Courage at the Big Thunder Ranch in Frontierland where he and his alternate, Carolina, will live out the rest of their days.
• Andy Guinigundo is the author of the Out of The Loop column in “Orlando Attractions Magazine”. Out of the Loop keeps you up-to-date with attraction news outside of Central Florida. Andy lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with his wife and three daughters. He grew up frequenting theme parks around Ohio and making trips to Orlando with his family. While for most of the year, he’s out of the Orlando loop, he tries to visit Florida at least once a year.