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Characters in Flight hot-air balloon ride in Downtown Disney

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Characters in Flight hot-air balloon ride in Downtown Disney

The Characters in Flight hot-air balloon is a centerpiece 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 Characters in Flight hot-air balloon goes up to 400 feet on calm days

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.

The Characters in Flight balloon

My husband and little boys didn’t want to ride Characters in Flight, so I was flying solo.

The view from inside the Characters in Flight basket -- the liftoff

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 view of Downtown Disney from above

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.

You can see Epcot from the Characters in Flight balloon!

Why, look — there’s the Contemporary Resort (which blocks the view of Cinderella’s Castle in the Magic Kingdom).

Look for Disney resorts from the air

You can see the Dolphin and Swan resorts, and to the left, the Tower of Terror in Hollywood Studios.

Check out the Dolphin and the Swan from on high

Looking out at landmarks is one thing … looking down through the hole in the donut/basket is another.

Afraid of heights?

Everything looks pretty from above, doesn’t it?

Take in the view before the balloon descends

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 hot-air balloon is operated by a licensed pilot, who offered to "do something pilot-y" for a camera pose

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.

  1. So very happy you clarified that Epcot remark. :)

  2. This was something hubby and I had hoped to do on our solo trip in August/September. When we were there with the kids, there just was not enough time to stop. We will have to make sure to get these since your photos look amazing. Thank you so much for sharing the experience.

  3. These pictures are awesome. I am thrilled to view the beautiful pictures and reading the blog. Thanks!

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