4/16 Photos Onboard Characters in Flight; Paradiso 37 Construction
I finally ended up aboard Characters in Flight – the attraction was open from 10:30am until 2 yesterday, then closed due to winds “for an hour or two”, which ended up being for the rest of the day. I spent more time taking video than I did taking pictures.
Even when the winds feel fairly calm on the ground, sometimes it’s still too windy for the balloon to go up. I stopped by in the evening (to look into a night ride), and they kept saying it was supposed to be calm – but it never was. When I left, the balloon was being fully tethered. I did take a little video of that as well, to show what the balloon looks like at night.
When you buy a ticket, you are queued immediately to ride. I rode twice yesterday, and each time there was a group riding when I bought my ticket, and one other group “on deck”. I was told that Al Weiss had been riding an hour or so before I did.
I received a receipt as well as a boarding pass:
Looking around the dock, while one of the ground crew speaks to everyone waiting. They ask if you have any questions. I asked about the neat video I had seen showing the inflation of the balloon in time lapse photography. It turns out that the guy speaking to us had set up the video as well! 45 people – at one time, for 4 1/2 hours – were needed to get the balloon inflated.
Onboard, you are asked to hold onto your cameras (around the wrist) so nothing falls – and hold onto a bar inside the balloon – both going up and coming back down.
The balloon takes 3 minutes to get up, 4 minutes level at 400 feet, and 3 minutes back. It actually feels much longer. You are allowed to walk around, but my legs were too shaky to do much on my first of the two rides – I am afraid of heights and wasn’t sure what to expect, but my second ride up was a lot easier. There were only between 6 and 8 people on each of my rides (I can’t even imagine 30!) You are asked to make sure that when walking, not to bunch up with everyone as to keep the weight spread out. On my second ride, I was ready to venture around a little – but noone else was really moving, and I felt a little trapped by the groups on either side of me. I was on the Disney side both times, as opposed to looking towards Downtown Orlando. My Canon camera has a 20x optical, 80x digital zoom – the Contemporary would not be as easy to see otherwise. If you have a small set of binoculars, they’d probably be a nice addition to the ride.
I asked a couple of times over the past week what would happen if the balloon broke free from the tether. I was told this has never happened – but if it did, that the helium would be let out slowly. One of the ground crew members said that the balloon would be going up at “4000 feet per minute”, so hopefully the helium would not be let out that slowly. 🙂 I actually felt very comfortable with the pilot onboard and didn’t worry at all about that when in the air.
I asked about when a Grand Opening would be, and was told maybe April 26th or 27th – depending on weather. The weather has not held up well this past week, I hope that changes. The price is $16.00 including tax, and I think that is VERY reasonable considering this attraction needs to be staffed whether or not the balloon is currently in the air.