Let me start out by saying that there are two things you need to know about me before I being this story.
#1- I have a fear of falling that has progressively increased the older I get, and #2-I usually NEVER pay full price for anything! This is not to say that I am cheap, but I am a bargain hunter.
When I was planning my last trip to Walt Disney World this past May, I was constantly in search of a great deal on my resort, which of course I picked to stay at the new Art of Animation Resort, and it was not offering free dining, so I got no specials there. This meant I had to find my deals in the other parts of my travels. I checked the Southwest Airlines website 2-3 times a day for great airfare, which I finally found about the end of January.
Then, one of my Facebook Disney pals posted something about a Groupon for Characters in Flight...Operated by Aerophile which runs at Downtown Disney. I had wanted to do this on our last trip in October of 2012, but we just simply ran out of time. The cost for this per adult is normally $18.00 per person. However the Groupon I got was for $11.00, saving me $7.00. Hey, you gotta save where you can, right?
Let me digress for a moment. Back on that trip in October of 2012, my husband and I took a very special trip to Walt Disney World, and on our first cruise aboard a Disney cruise ship, and we sailed on the Dream. We also did the Wild Africa Trek at Disney's Animal Kingdom. This was a real challenge for me. With my fear of falling, I was not sure how I was going to do on the rope bridges. Fear of falling is quite different from having a fear of heights. I am great in an airplane. I could go into outer-space, and not have an issue. Get me on a ladder, or looking off the edge of a building, and my knees turn into butter, and my heart races. So, on the Trek, I challenged myself to not be afraid, and I actually did really well. I was the first in the group across the bridges, and I didn't flinch even a little. I was very proud of myself.
Now, getting back to Characters in Flight. So, the last day of my trip comes around and I had planned on shopping at Downtown Disney to kill some time. My flight home was not leaving until 5:30pm, so I had many hours before my dreaded Magical Express trip back to the airport. I got my bags picked up around 9am and my porter and I headed over to the express check-in for the airlines. This is such a nice feature that is offered. You don't have to worry about hauling your bags through the airport with you. They are already there waiting to go on the plane. I then jumped on a resort bus and headed to Downtown Disney. As I shopped through the different stores I wanted to hit, I was also psyching myself up to get on that balloon. First off, I was thinking of the money. Ok, so I paid $11.00, but I never want to waste $11.00 for anything from not using it. Also, the challenge was there once again to conquer the balloon, and conquer it I did!!
This is a picture I took looking up at the balloon from inside the basket.
I am so glad I did this! What a wonderful experience. The balloon was "up" when I arrived, so I had to wait for the next "flight." It was only about a 10 minute wait, and there were only a few people there. I think I remember there being about 12 people with me.
It was a very breezy day, so they only took us up 300 feet, and the balloon has the ability to go the full 400 feet up if conditions are right. Even at 300 feet, it gave a breath-taking view of the surrounding area, and it was a beautiful clear day. I hope you enjoy the pictures I took from below the balloon before I got on, and my pictures from my "flight."
In closing, I highly recommend this experience to anyone. It was well worth the cost, even if you don't have a coupon!
From the Walt Disney World Website:
About the Balloon
Custom-built for Disney by Paris-headquartered company Aérophile S.A., the Aéro30 illuminates to showcase the silhouettes of its beloved Disney characters and is filled with 210,000 cubic feet of helium. The balloon’s 19-foot-diameter basket holds up to 29 people plus one Aérophile-certified pilot per “flight.” Guests on board will be treated to stunning vistas up to 10 miles away!