Monday, August 8, 2016

DS Update: Is The Balloon Ride Safe?

This is the Characters In Flight balloon ride at Disney Springs.  In light of last month's crash of a hot air balloon ride in Texas, you might wonder if CIF is safe?  First of all, the balloon involved in the Texas incident was a hot air balloon.  It usesd an open flame to heat air within the balloon, giving the balloon lift.  The balloon at Disney Springs is not a hot air balloon, it's a helium balloon. Helium being already lighter than air, gives it the lift to take it up.  Second, the balloon in Texas was a free floating balloon, being moved about by the wind with input from the pilot.  Characters In Flight is a tethered balloon meaning it's at all times connected to ground and can't float away! CIF has been operational since March, 2009 without any incidents that I'm aware of.
However, this does not mean zero risk any more than there is zero risk riding a roller coaster.  Pictured above is the original CIF balloon featuring Mary Poppins.  It operated without incident to my knowledge.  However in June, 2012, a tethered balloon ride of similar manufacture as this one sprang a leak at a theme park in Hong Kong, causing a quick loss of altitude and injuries.  The Mary Poppins balloon at then Downtown Disney was immediately grounded and replaced in September, 2012 with the new design shown in the top picture.  Characters In Flight, owned and operated by Aerophile, has very professional pilots and staff and they take safety seriously. I've flown with them so many times (over 40) that I wished they gave frequent flyer miles!

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