Contrary to what The Wizard of Oz and its recent prequel (Oz: The Great and Powerful) have portrayed, private balloon flights are available, but most public-flight baskets hold 10-12 passengers (weight-permitting), plus a pilot. So get ready to snuggle up with some strangers!
Public (shared-basket) hot air balloon ride prices often range $200-300 per person. A private (2-person) ride’s exclusive coziness usually means the total cost falls around $750-850. Gratuity is not typically included in prices, and is greatly appreciated by the crew if you enjoy your epic, airborne excursion!
Wisely diverging from Oz shenanigans, hot air balloon rides are a strict no-go in any iffy or adverse weather conditions like rain, wind, weather currents high overhead, and so forth. (Fight back those tears, all you storm-chasing hopefuls out there.)
Patience and flexibility is the name of the hot air ballooning game. Your flight date may change on account of Mother Nature (see above!) — even while you are standing in the launch field (no joke!). Just remember: the pilot wants to fly as much as you do, but the safety of your sweet self is the top priority.
In order to time a flight with the day’s most magnificent debut or dismissal, launch times vary throughout the year. Keep in mind: juggling start times is an exceptionally small hot air balloon ride price to pay for such a priceless experience!
It’s surprisingly H-O-T during flight, thanks to the balloon’s burners and open flames — even in brisk winter temps. A good rule of thumb: think of a hot air balloon ride like standing beside a campfire, and consider how you handle that kind of heat. (And how you feel when you step away, to anticipate your comfort in pre- and post-flight ground temps.)
You’ll be on your feet for the entire ballooning experience, so wear sensible shoes. Athletic sneakers score an A+, as they’re incredibly practical for climbing in and out of the basket. So say “Sayonara!” to the awkward situations that heels invite to the ballooning party.
Unlike famed TV and film favorites, ballooning does not involve dramatic dives into the basket as it’s lifting off the ground. Quite the opposite. Launches —while still powerful and breathtaking— are a stable, gentle and gradual process. Baskets are loaded with all intended passengers well before take-off is initiated.
Hot air balloon rides are ridiculously peaceful outings — from the graceful ascension, to the craft’s shockingly smooth, quiet saunter across the atmosphere. The basket is steady as can be, even when folks shuffle around to snag some downright sweet snapshots and videos.
Speaking of pix and vids, adding a neck or wrist strap to your phone is a fantastic idea. You’ll capture some epic moments in the air on camera, without worrying about the freefall your gear/lifeline/memories/whatever-your-phone-may-be-to-you might take.
Landings are likely to be a wee bit bumpy and even a touch creative. You may need to lean, squat or otherwise contribute to ensure the basket’s ‘cushiest’ landing possible. Just listen to the pilot’s instruction, trust him or her, and have fun being a part of the grand finale!
Many cinematic ventures leave this last, festive ballooning detail out! Unbeknownst to many, a long-standing tradition of hot air balloon rides is to enjoy a champagne toast upon landing. Now there’s a great way to end an adventure well done, eh? Cheers!