It would be this past weekend that I would get the text message that would challenge me to something I had been avoiding for some time. On every vacation, and then after I became a FL Resident, that darned balloon loomed over head every time I was near or in Downtown Disney. It would take a good friend to ask “Hey, we are doing this Tuesday, why don’t you come with us?” To my surprise, I texted back a “Sure!” because honestly, it has been a year of being fearless. You only live once, and you listen when opportunity knocks. Here’s how it went down….and up I guess.
Okay, I am a glorified, 100%, Ride Chicken. I am proud of this, and I can own it because it is the gospel truth. If it dips, flips, drops, flops…I am not having it. But, I am all for trying things once. Once I have tried it, all opinions by others are off the table because I at least tried. Today was one of those days, where you wake up knowing you are going to do it and even though you may be shaking in your sandals, it’s going to happen.
I met Laurie and Alonso at the ticket booth, and it was a very quiet and peaceful morning today. It was mucky out when I woke up, but when I got to DTD the clouds opened up and the sun was shining in the bright blue sky. The conditions couldn’t have been more perfect, and for that I said a quiet thank you to Jesus for making it so.
Before 10 am, it costs only $10 a person. With a groupon Laurie had and the 10 before 10 deal, we had tickets in hand and were soon walking down the ramp to the waiting balloon. I can’t lie, I was ready to pee myself. I was scared, and once we walked onto the metal standing area which we would be viewing from…I had that last moment of “WHAT AM I DOING?”
The CM Operator shut the door, and that was it. I was locked in, and I knew, actually I prayed, that it would just all be ok. Not even joking, the Operator tells us all “Oh, we lost the remote signal to lift the balloon.” Ummmm excuse me? I actually said it out loud to which he heard me….”Why when I am on it?” It soon was moving and with a couple of bumps they warn you about, we were headed to infinty and beyond!
Because of the clouds clearing and the morning hours, we had little to no wind. They even told us it would feel like an elevator going up and down, and they were correct. We eased up slowly, climbing the 300 feet in the air. First you saw the roof tops of DTD area, then Walt Disney World, then Orlando, and then even the Airport!
As we topped off, we sat up there for a good 10 minutes. I thought the balloon rotates, but it was the wind moving us slowly in a circular motion. Now, we got in last so we were forced to be on the Downtown Disney side of the viewing deck- I would have rather been on the left side which was the rest of Disney World side. Once we were at the top, we were allowed to move around where one of the fellow passengers thought it would be funny to jump up and down….I didn’t think it was funny. In fact I tell him that on the video I took. Sorry, but it’s seriously rude when there are others riding with you, if you want to do it while you are alone, go for it- not when I’m on it.
As the balloon moved in the air, it really didn’t whip around or move as much as you would think. Again, we had little wind, but once we got up there you can see in the pictures and hear on the video the wind. I can’t imagine being up there in 20-40 mph winds…it would be like living the real “Oz the Great and Powerful” balloon moment.
There wasn’t really anything to hold onto, like a bar or anything, it’s just the metal grating that encircles you, in front and behind, and then the metal red floor. I just put my fingers through the grating and held on that way, along with bracing myself with my legs against the wall. The Operator actually showed me his “book of shame” which were of passengers who were laying flat on the floor- I assume they gave him permission to take the pictures or maybe they gave them to him. Nonetheless, I wasn’t one of them.
I managed to walk around half of the viewing area, only because I really wanted to see the other side. It is an odd feeling walking while 300 feet in the air. In an airplane you feel completely surrounded, like a bus, but in a balloon, which by the way has a hole in the middle of the viewing area, it is a surreal feeling.
On the way down, they again warn you of any bumps coming. It was more like a small jerk than a bump, but after the one it was smooth sailing, and it was very gradual- no Tower or Terror here. We got to the ground and they said we would be swaying into the landing, but when you are so close to the ground, it’s more of a fun ride at that point. Laurie and I high fived each other, thankful we did it and were alive to tell the tale.
Would I do it again? YES! I know, I bet you are surprised by that, but I honestly think I could handle it again. Now, if it had been swaying crazily at the top, I probably would have white knuckled it and never went near it again- we were lucky and blessed with the weather conditions today.
Please keep in mind I am terrified of heights, and I did it! You have to remember that it IS caged in, it IS tethered (you shouldn’t be going anywhere but up and down, with the sway in there), and it is only an 8-10 minute ride. The experience of saying you did it, and the VIEW is outstanding, is so worth the trip. I highly recommend it, and even if you don’t have a Triple A or CM discount to ride, take advantage of the 10 before 10 deal and you will probably not only have it all to yourself, but he did tell me they will also let you enjoy it longer if you wish because it’s so slow in the morning.
I hope you try it out, and have enjoyed reading about my experience- thanks to Laurie and Alonso again for letting me be a part of their experience, day, and vacation- love you both!
For more information on how you can experience this, check out the official site with the up to date information HERE.
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Going from “What If? to “Why Not” is my life motto and I work hard at living that every day. I share everything from moving to Florida to live near Disney World to road trips across the States. I love the cool, quirky, and crazy stuff that I can find on my Adventures, and every dollar you donate helps support my efforts and hard work. Thank you to ALL who support me!