Florida Guide > Other Activities
If you are looking for a very different and thoroughly enjoyable way to experience Orlando then we can't recommend enough taking in a hot air balloon experience.
It is definitely worth the early start - we started off by meeting up before dawn with our pilot for the trip who then whisked us away to the take off site, with some lively banter on the way.
Once there the balloon and equipment were unpacked and we got to help a little while the balloon was inflated. There were a whole bunch of other balloons all taking off from the same area which made it quite a spectacle watcing them all fill up and get ready to take off.
Once our balloon was fully inflated we jumped into the basket, had our photo taken and with a blast of the hot air we started to rise slowly up from the ground, gradually climbing up as the first rays of the sun also put in an appearance.
We found it a very calming and relaxing experience as you lose all sense of urgency while floating serenely above the ground, carried along by the breeze watching wisps of ground mist gradually disappear as trees, grass and lakes pass underneath you.
One thing you get from this is to realise that the built up theme park areas only make up a very small part of the overall Orlando area which has a surprising amount of green areas.
As you are being carried along on the breeze you don't actually feel the wind at all which is why you don't get the sense of motion that you might expect, perhaps this is why it is such an enjoyable and calming time.
All the pilot's seem to enjoy having a little play and while ours let the balloon drop down so that we were just above the tree tops at one point , we saw another balloon taken down to give a little splash on a lake before climbing up into the sky again.
After a very pleasant hour and a half or so (which passed all to quickly) the sun started to climb and it was unfortunately time to land as the wind speed at ground level starts to pick up as the sun gets stronger. There are a number of different landing sites and we basically landed at whichever we were closest to when the time came.
One bit of advice is to make sure that you crouch down in the basket and brace yourself firmly inside the basket when you land as it is at this point that you very firmly realise how quickly you have been travelling. We would also recommend that you wear a hat in the basket as the gas burner can be a bit hot on the back of your head.
After landing we were treated to a champagne toast and a delicious buffet of fresh fruit, cheeses, cookies and other nibbles before being handed a certificate and a copy of the photo taken just before we lifted off.
We found the whole experience to be very special and though expensive it was certainly worth every penny.
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Page added on: 19 March 2007
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