After our first hot air balloon ride over Orlando was cancelled due to the winds picking up, I was even more eager to get up in the air. Luckily it was worth another 5am start, because the second attempt was a success!
If you want to do a hot air balloon ride over Orlando, you have to be committed to doing it. It requires leaving the hotel at the incredibly early hour of 5am, and I have no idea how the staff at Orlando Balloon Rides manage to wake up at that time every day!
Unfortunately on our first hot air balloon ride didn’t go ahead. The weather forecast had looked promising, but when we got to the launch spot, the winds picked up and we had to turn around and go back. Whilst it was disappointing, the crew were only concerned for our safety, and I would rather be safe than sorry.
We rescheduled our balloon ride for the last day of our trip, which meant another 5am start.
Trust me though, it was worth it!
On the morning of our balloon ride, we were collected from our hotel by a minibus and taken to another hotel, where we were assigned to our groups and requested to sign a safety form.
From there, we were driven to the launch spot with the balloon baskets in tow. Once everything was given the go ahead, some of our group members were asked to assist with blowing up the balloon. Orlando Balloon Rides has the biggest balloons in the USA, and it’s difficult to describe just how BIG these balloons actually are.
As the burners were fired up it was difficult to hear anything over the loud roaring noise, but it was certainly a nice way to warm up on a chilly Orlando morning! Once the balloon was inflated and ready, we all climbed into the basket and began our ascent into the sky. I would suggest wearing trousers or a pair of shorts so that you don’t flash everyone when getting into the basket!
The view of the sunrise on the horizon was spectacular, and as we rose up in the sky, we could see the other balloons below us. I’m a little afraid of heights sometimes and in the beginning I thought to myself ‘what happens if this thing just drops to the ground?’ but after a few minutes in the air I felt fine. If you are a little scared, I think it’s better to stand closer to the centre of the basket near the burners, than at the edge in the corners.
A little tip: it can be quite cold and misty early in the morning, so take a light cardigan or jacket just in case! Once you’re in the basket it’s actually quite warm and toasty because of the heat produced from the burners!
Soaring high in the skies above Orlando, I was amazed at how quiet and serene it was- a major contrast to the chaotic theme parks below us. It feels like you aren’t even moving, just hovering in the sky, with the view of lush green trees below. When the burners aren’t roaring, everything is incredibly silent.
Coming into land felt like we were part of a video game, skimming over the treetops below. As the trees got closer and closer, I wondered how on earth we were going to land in the right spot, but with our pilot Damian in charge, I knew we were in safe hands. Crew members were on the ground ready to grab hold of the basket and pull us safely to the ground. We landed and then took off again slightly a couple of times, but generally the landing was very smooth without a bump.
Once we landed safely, everyone had to muck in and pack the hot air balloon away. We had to walk on the balloon to get the air out and then help to stuff it into this giant bag. It reminded me of packing my sleeping bag away after a sleepover as a kid! It comes out of the bag so easily, but getting it back in again is a tricky task!
Once that was done, the crew simultaneously popped the corks on a few bottles of champagne and made a toast. After such a beautiful balloon ride, it was nice to savour the moment with a glass of bubbly (or two!) Of course after all that activity so early in the morning, we were eager to dig into the delicious hot buffet breakfast and fill our stomachs!
If you’re looking for something to do in Orlando besides theme parks, a hot air balloon ride is an incredible experience, and definitely something you should do once in your life!