Another Orlando First…The Largest Hot Air Balloon in The USA Comes to Central Florida

Filed under: Orlando Attractions,Orlando News |

Orlando is leading the way again as our friends at Orlando Balloon Rides has now introduced its new jumbo 24 person hot-air balloon. The balloon is designated as the largest hot-air balloon flying in the United States and stands at 112 feet high, about the size of an 11-story building, and 90 feet wide when fully inflated. It holds 425,000 cubic feet of hot air and that’s more than four times the size of a standard four-person balloon.

The big balloon was custom-ordered from Ultramagic Balloons of Spain and although this size balloon is common in Europe, it is the first of its kind in the U.S.  The balloon isn’t exactly light either, as the basket weighs 1,600 pounds and the envelope (the  balloon),  is 1,000 pounds.

The basket, or gondola, also sports higher-than-average walls, which are made of aircraft-grade stainless steel that’s wrapped in wicker, and they have partitions that divide the standing space.

“These are like the Bentley of hot-air balloons with these partition baskets,” said Jason Schulke, CEO of Orlando Balloon Rides, “The cost of the new balloon and related expenses was about $275,000.”

A large part of the thinking that went into making the purchase was simply a numbers game. Orlando Balloon Rides annually carries 18,000 to 20,000 people and when you consider over 50 million people visit Orlando, there simply wasn’t enough capacity to take everyone who wants to do a balloon ride.

Today marked the first time the balloon had been fully inflated since leaving Spain and the first passengers on its maiden voyage were made up of contest winners and combat veterans. The balloons traveled west from a spot on the edge of a golf course for Reunion Resort and Club on County Road 532, then crossed above Interstate 4.

Rides cost $175 per person for a four-hour experience. The experience includes a champagne breakfast, inflation time and packing time and about an hour of air time, depending on flight conditions.

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