Characters In Flight Balloon Officially Up, Up, and Away

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A ribbon awaits its severing for the grand opening.

Although the winds of fate prevented any actual guests from going up, up, and away, the new “Characters in Flight” balloon from Aerophile officially opened Tuesday morning in Downtown Disney, Orlando.

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A single tether connects the balloon to the launch platform.

Many who have been on the ride during its soft opening days, claim it’s the best deal in Downtown Disney. Of course, the problem is that sometimes the ride isn’t open. Wind gusts can keep the balloon grounded. This has led to some issues with guests who get upset they can’t experience the ride. Disney has to put safety first even if the guest is leaving for the airport in 30 minutes.  So plan accordingly and perhaps visit the balloon early in your trip.

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Prices at the ticket booth.

Another problem is the unfortunate name of the attraction. The name “Characters in Flight” has led some guests to expect actual characters on the flight for a meet and greet. Alas, that’s just not the case. With all the other possibilities to name this attraction you have to wonder why they chose one that would be so misleading. Kind of like Disney marketing insisting on calling “Toy Story Midway Mania” Toy Story Mania, which makes it sound like a soft horror film instead of the fun midway games it actually is.

More info and photos below the cut:

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The Aerophile president’s flight was delayed, so a letter was read instead.

The fun soars to new heights at Downtown Disney West Side with an iconic new tethered balloon that takes guests on ascents of up to 400 feet above the waterfront.

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Keith Bradford (vice president for operating participants), Kevin Lansberry, VP of Downtown Disney, and Erik Garcia, general manager, cut the ribbon.

Characters in Flight operated by Aerophile is a 72-foot-diameter balloon with a whimsical design featuring silhouettes of a dozen of Disney’s “flying characters” – such as Mary Poppins, Peter Pan and Dumbo. The vibrantly colored balloon can lift up to 30 guests at a time on a six-minute trip – thanks to its enclosed volume of 210,000 cubic feet of lighter-than-air gas. The ascents, by day or night, provide guests with an unparalleled, 360-degree view.

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The size of the cage is more evident in this close up.

Guests board a gondola beneath the 105-foot-high balloon from a landing platform on Village Lake at the end of the main promenade at Downtown Disney West Side. Riders can catch flights seven days a week. Hours Sunday-Thursday are 10:30 a.m.-11 p.m. while ascents Friday-Saturday are 10:30 a.m.-midnight. Tickets ($16 for ages 10-up and $10 for ages 3-9) can be purchased on site. Availability is on first-come, first-serve basis.

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The balloon is taken for it’s first official flight by the manager, wind gusts kept guests off the attraction. (all photos by Stacey Frost)

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