If you think you have already seen a lot of the usual tourist attractions and are looking for a new adventure and for something to tell your friends back home about, then you should take a hot air balloon ride over the skies of Orlando.
You can enjoy a panoramic view of the lakes, wildlife and skylines of Central Florida’s cities and attractions in a balloon that reaches a height of 1000 feet. The balloons are huge, 90,000 and 120,000 cubic feet in volume and over seven stories tall, and riding in a basket with four to six other passengers you will be able to get a thrilling view of Disney, Epcot, Kissimmee, and Orlando skylines as well as the many lakes in the area.
Flights are offered on a daily basis and generally begin at dawn to avoid mid-day thermals. In the winter late afternoon flights are sometimes launched. Weather permitting you can get a balloon ride 365 days a year.
This adventurous outing takes about three hours. You will be driven to a launch site (picked according to weather conditions) and will watch as the balloon is set up and filled with air. The flying time is about one hour and then following the flight many operators offer a champagne brunch. After the brunch the balloon is packed into a vehicle and everyone returns to the starting location.
The balloon does not go high enough to make a big difference in temperature, so you can dress as you would on the ground according to the season you travel in. However, skirts may not be suitable for some of the landing spots. Sneakers, comfortable flat shoes, or hiking boots are the preferred footwear. You can bring cameras, camcorders, sun glasses, and a hat if you wish.
While you are up in the sky there is a chase crew following the flight below. The chase crew is in radio and cell phone contact with the pilot at all times and follows the balloon while you are in flight. The same air conditioned van that took you to the launch point will be there to pick you up when you land, and you can sometimes see it from your flight.
You won’t have to worry about motion sickness on this flight. The ride is very gentle and you can even put a glass of water on a table in the passenger area, and not spill a drop of water. This is a great ride but it is not cheap. Current rates are $175 per person or $90 per child under 90 pounds. If you want a romantic ride for two then it will cost you $475. These prices include a post flight champagne toast, an all-you-can-eat brunch, souvenir champagne glass and a photo flight certificate.
In addition to the normal touristic rides, it is also possible to hold special events in the balloons. Weddings are sometimes performed before a flight right at the launch site and if conditions permit, you can even have a private launch from your locale.
One of the big and reputable balloon operators of the area is Bob’s Balloons so check them out and get ready for a ride to write home about.