Characters in Flight hot-air balloon ride in Downtown Disney
Getting a sweeping view of Downtown Disney, Walt Disney World resort and even other areas of central Florida all at one time is an amazing experience on the Characters in Flight hot-air balloon ride. Stationed on the West Side of Downtown Disney (but closer to the East Side), the balloon is something you can see rising while you walk along the lakefront area, and even from some of the hotels.
The first time I saw the hot-air balloon featuring Disney characters known for flying, I had to take a ride! Unfortunately, weather conditions or family time needs kept me from the ride until the fourth try.
My husband and little boys didn’t want to ride Characters in Flight, so I was flying solo.
You walk to the end of a pier to the launch pad (balloon pad?), and enter a metal donut where you stand for the ride. Lifting off is the time I felt the most movement, but after a few seconds of getting used to the feeling, it was freeing.
It was fun to be up so high — we rose to about 400 feet. The hot-air balloon is tethered, so it can’t float away.
The pilot pointed out Epcot, which was easy to spot because of its giant ball. (I mean, the Spaceship Earth geodesic sphere.) You can also see other Epcot landmarks like The Land.
Why, look — there’s the Contemporary Resort (which blocks the view of Cinderella’s Castle in the Magic Kingdom).
You can see the Dolphin and Swan resorts, and to the left, the Tower of Terror in Hollywood Studios.
Looking out at landmarks is one thing … looking down through the hole in the donut/basket is another.
Everything looks pretty from above, doesn’t it?
A pilot runs the hot-air balloon, so you feel safer than being in a balloon with just some guy who has a few sand bags and a torch.
The ride is over all too soon, setting back down gently. As you would expect a hot-air balloon to do.
You can buy Characters in Flight tickets at a counter right at the hot-air balloon, weather permitting. Tickets are $18 for ages 10 and up and $12 for kids 3 to 9 (tax included). Children 2 and younger are free.