What’s the best way to see Central Florida? From a hot air balloon of course!
Riding in a hot air balloon is something I’ve wanted to do for a few years now, and I was so excited to learn that they had rides in Central Florida, just outside of Orlando. I originally tried back in June for my birthday with Orlando Balloon Rides. Unfortunately, the winds were too strong so they decided to cancel the flight. Safety first! I was a little upset, but it was an understandable reason to cancel. We ended up spending the day in Legoland, so it wasn’t a total loss. 😉
This time though, everything went as planned. We arrived at the Welcome Center at 6am and filled out some waivers. We were put in groups, got into vans, and rode out about 15 minutes to the field where the balloons were readied. It was a little chilly, and pretty misty, which added to the mystique and excitement. After a quick safety brief and instructions on how to get into the basket, we watched as the balloons were filled and slowly began to rise. Ours wasn’t the only balloon that morning; there were some other companies there with balloons as well. It was really cool to see them all taking shape and rising.
Around 7:15am, we climbed into the basket. One thing I hadn’t realized was that the basket was sectioned off into 5 parts: 4 corner areas and a section in the middle for the pilot. In other words, I could not walk from one corner of the basket to the other. But that didn’t take away from the experience. While we were up in the air, the balloon turned so we had great vantage points at all times.
It was so peaceful and calm up there. Watching the sun peak through the clouds and looking down over the trees was amazing. Pat, our pilot, occasionally pointed out some landmarks and answered random questions. He was so funny, and really added to the experience.
In total, we were up in the air for an hour and six minutes. We traveled 8.78 miles and reached a max altitude of 2,476 feet. Our max speed was 13.3 mph and our average speed was 7.9 mph.
The landing was a bit interesting… I don’t know why, but I thought that perhaps there was more of a way to steer the balloons. Maybe I’ve watched too many movies? Or was thinking more of zeppelins? Either way, we were pretty much at the mercy of the winds. Pat and the other pilots were in communication the whole time via radio, figuring out where to land based on wind speed and direction.
We ended up finding a clearing in a corner of a residential community that was still being built. As we approached, we passed over occupied homes and a golf course, waving to the people below. Then we heard Pat say, “It’s gonna be bumpy!”
We held on to the straps on the rim of the basket and slightly bent our knees as instructed. Then we hit the ground hard and bounced. We hit the ground hard a second time, this time staying on the ground. I won’t lie, it was a rush and the thought did cross my mind that maybe the basket would roll. It was fun though! Like, roller coaster fun! I was laughing hysterically the whole time.
Then, we each got out of the basket and helped the crew (who had been following below in their vans) get everything put away. We were also given some champagne and orange juice so we could toast to anyone celebrating a birthday or anniversary. Finally, we all got back into the vans and headed back to the Welcome Center.
I can’t say enough how much of a great experience this was. It was so wonderful and magical. I think everyone should ride in a hot air balloon at least once in their life. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever done!
A few tips:
Would you ever want to fly in a hot air balloon?
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