Florida with its year round sunshine makes an ideal place for a hot air balloon ride and you will find companies throughout Florida.
If you do not mind getting up early in the morning then a hot air balloon flight can make a great change from the usual round of theme parks and beaches.
As an alternative you can now go up in a tethered balloon at Downtown Disney.
There is something very magical about taking a hot air balloon ride in Florida, watching the sunrise as you float serenely over orange groves, lakes, fields or the theme parks away from all the hustle and bustle of life below
Nearly all balloon flights take place at sunrise when the winds are most favourable, though a couple of companies are able to fly in the early evening; it really depends where you are in the State. Therefore if you want to go on a hot air balloon flight you will need to rendezvous with the balloon company around 6 o’clock in the morning depending upon the time of year. Note that some companies offer a hotel pickup service at an extra charge.
Once you arrive, you will attend a pre-flight briefing where you are given safety instructions. You are then taken to the launch site.
Do’s and Don’ts on Hot Air Balloon Rides
You should dress as if you were going on a walk with comfortable shoes; do not wear shorts, open toed shoes or high heels. You need to be able to climb in and out of the wicker basket (chest height) and you will typically be landing in a field where the grass is probably going to be wet.
Even though you may be flying at several thousand feet, the propane burners ensure that it is not cold though it may not be that warm that early in the morning so dress the same as if you would normally for that time of day and take several layers of clothing.
Make a reservation, ring the night before to check on the weather and don’t forget to set your alarm!
Particularly if you are doing a hot air balloon ride in Orlando, the company will try to find a suitable launch site that will take you over the Walt Disney World Resort but at the end of the day the wind direction will dictate your eventual flight path.
When you get to the launch site you can usually help prepare the balloon for take-off which involves inflating the envelope with a fan to start with and then the propane burners are lit to fill it with hot air.
You climb into the basket, the flight begins and you will then take off and let the wind take you where it wishes. Depending on wind strength and direction you can find yourself flying at anything from tree-top height to several thousand feet.
Most flights last around one hour and then comes the fun as the pilot has to find a suitable site to effect a ‘landing’. All the time you are airborne the chase vehicle will be tracking you from the ground ready to meet you at your landing site.
After the balloon is deflated and packed away, most companies will then offer you a champagne toast to celebrate your successful flight and a certificate of flight as a memento. Most companies also include a complimentary picnic or breakfast, either at the landing site or back at their offices.
It is best to book your flight early in your holiday so if the flight is cancelled due to inclement weather you stand more chance of rescheduling.
Prices are typically around $175-$200 per adult (children are usually around half price) including breakfast and reservations are essential.
If some members of your party don’t want to fly, you may be able to ride in the chase vehicle
Make sure you take plenty of film with you as you will not be able to buy any more once you are airborne!
For the romantics amongst you, can you think of a better place to ‘pop the question’
You should not be affected by motion sickness or vertigo as the balloon flies very calmly and you do not have a reference point like you do if you were looking down from say a building or a bridge. It is more like looking out of an aeroplane window.
As an alternative to a hot air balloon flight, you can also consider sightseeing aeroplane flights or helicopter tours.