Filed under: adventure, family, flight, top-feature
Ballooning Experience with Fantasy of Flight
Our family had the great pleasure of visiting Walt Disney World (map)and the Orlando/Kissimmee area during our spring break in April. Wanting to experience a few things outside of the theme parks, I did as any travel lover would do, I searched the Internet for all the exciting attractions and activities that await guests to this area.
As I found things that looked interesting I would excitedly present them to the family always ending my pitch with an uplifting, “Doesn’t that sound like fun?!”
I have often led my family on what has, and sadly has not, turn out to be some pretty interesting family adventures. Because of my track record, these adventures have been nicknamed “wild goose chases” and so getting my family to jump on board can be a challenge.
Through my searching I found the family experience that would be so uplifting, I saved it for the last adventure of our trip, a three hour hot air balloon ride with Fantasy of Flight (map). Since the take-off of this venture was dependent upon the weather, I chose to keep this trip a surprise.
Awaking everyone before dawn and heading to the meeting spot as determined by a confirmation telephone conversation with our pilot, Bob, the night before, there was much speculation as to where we were going and many references to geese.
When we arrived at our location, several trucks and vans with attached trailers were waiting for other participants to arrive. I could keep my secret no longer as several of the vans advertised the balloon experience that awaited.
After some brief introductions it was time to begin the scientific process of determining our flight course. Rest assured that much research had been conducted the night before, but at this moment, it was time to pull out an accurate instrument, a helium balloon.
Releasing the balloon into the air and observing its course as it drifted off would solidify our flight plan for the day. Time was wasting and as daylight was breaking, vans, trucks and trailers headed to an open field and prearranged launch site.
Arriving here, and once our pilot had secured the hot air balloon to the basket, we became the volunteer crew. My oldest and I were assigned the task of holding open the balloon as a large gas powered fan was used to fill it with air. Sound easy? Yes, until the balloon reaches its capacity, then it gets a little more difficult.
One of my favorite parts came next, as we were allowed to walk around INSIDE the inflated balloon. It is at this point that I realized how enormous these beauties are and a renewed respect came for the pilots who fly them.
Enlisted into service again, our daughter helped with heating the air inside the balloon with an intense blast from the burner. After reassuring her, that she did, indeed, still have eyebrows, it was time to climb aboard into the basket full of trips and tales of past flights.
Lifting off from the ground, I was amazed at the calmness and peace of the flight, with only the brief blasts of the burner to disturb the stillness. Bobbing up and down occasionally to catch the wind, we were flying over the tops of the trees, inhaling the scent of an orange grove, laughing at the curious cows glancing skyward at our shadow and searching the swamps below for wildlife. It was a marvelous trip and a memory for a lifetime.
Once safely on the ground, the details of the landing I will save for another story, we joined another balloon party to share a picnic of champagne, orange juice, fruit, cheese, danish, and on this special day, a birthday cake.
To celebrate a special occasion, to celebrate the end of a wonderful vacation, to celebrate life, a hot air balloon ride with Fantasy of Flight is an amazing goose chase all the way around.
Photos: Personal Collection