Welcome to the Frequently Asked Questions page.
Below you will find a list of many of the questions past passengers have had. We have arranged links into the phrase you are most likely to begin with when asking a question. Below each phrase you will find links to the answers for the actual questions you may have. Please take a moment to look for your answers. You are most likely only ONE click away from your answer. Thank you.
What / If ?
Q. Where do we meet?
8390 Champions Gate Blvd, Davenport, FL 33896
Q. When do you fly?
A. AT SUNRISE 7 DAYS A WEEK (WEATHER PERMITTING) Our meeting time is around 6am all year round. You must call the (night before your flight) between 5 and 7 pm. At this time we will.
Confirm that the forecasted weather conditions for your flight are satisfactory.
Reconfirm you have proper directions to our meeting location.
Inform you of the specific time we would like you to be there.
If you are getting picked up from your hotel we will confirm the pickup time when you call in the night before.
Q. Why do you fly so early?
A. Hot air balloons are completely dependent on light and stable wind conditions. These conditions occur most often at sunrise. Once the sun comes up it will begin to heat the earth. This will cause the atmosphere to begin to rise and fall and become unpredictable. Think of it like a pot of water on the stove, When the sun comes up you just turned on the burner and it won't take long before that pot of water begins to boil. We want to be back on the ground before that happens.
Q. How rough is the landing?
A. A hot air balloon will land at what ever the speed of the wind. We do not have control over the wind speed at landing time. Air has many similar qualities of water. We could descend into relatively calm conditions near the ground or we could descend, for landing, and find ourselves increasing in speed. We have no brakes, in other words we land the balloon by dragging the basket on the ground. I have seen days where I could point out a manhole cover three miles away and land directly on it and I have seen days were I have drug along the ground the length of a football field before I got the balloon stopped. Overall we are very careful of the conditions we choose to fly in and safety is our top priority, however, we are dealing with mother nature and can not predict what the weather can or could do.
Q. Where do we fly?
A. We have about 30 different launch and landing sites in the Disney area. Each day is different. Which launch and landing sites we will use on any day is determined by the speed and direction of the wind that day. Even during the flight these conditions can change. Today's launch site might be tomorrows landing site or we might not go back to that site for weeks.
A. We will go as far as the wind will take us. We have seen days where we flew for one hour and 15 minutes and went one mile! Other days we have flown 10-20 miles. Each day is completely unique. Here is an image of a flight were we flew for over an hour and landed across the street from where we launched. As we have said, each day is unique, Mother nature is in charge of the flight each morning.
Q. How long will we fly?
A. We will fly for about 45 minutes to an hour depending on launch & landing sites and wind speeds. Our safe weather conditions normally last for about an hour after sunrise. We plan our launch and landing sites biased on wind forecasts as well as observations we take at the meeting location before we leave. Our goal is to choose launch and landing sites that are about 45 minutes to one hour of flight time apart. Keep in mind we do not promise any specific flight length. If the forecast tells us that we will find 14 mph wind speed and we get up in the air and the winds are 21 mph we will be arriving at our landing site sooner than later.
Q. How high will we fly.
A. When the passengers start to pass out from lack of oxygen it is time to go back down. The altitude we fly at depends on many variables. Wind speeds, Wind Directions. We say speeds and Directions in the plural, because they all change with altitude. The wind speed and direction will be different at 1,000 feet then it is at 400 feet. Combine that with the different locations of launch and landing areas and you have a literal 3D puzzle the pilot must navigate. We try to do a little of everything on each flight from flying up high to even down just above the trees. Each flight is unique and there is no specific flight altitudes.
Q. Do you fly at any other time?
A. NO, Sunrise is the only time of the day when weather conditions will allow us to fly safely here in Florida. In other parts of the world you may fly a flight in the late afternoon just before sunset, however, here in Florida the sun is so strong that the atmosphere does not calm down enough for us to fly another flight.
Q. How often do you have to cancel a flight?
A. WE HAVE FLOWN UP TO 275 FLIGHTS A YEAR. THIS AVERAGES ABOUT 5 FLIGHTS PER WEEK.
But weather is weather, there is no way of knowing for sure. It is very much like flipping a coin. You have just as much of a chance of being right as you do being wrong. Even with this average we still must cancel flights occasionally due to inclement weather. Choose a day early in your trip so as to have backup days available just in case.
Above you can see the same month on two different years. One year we fly almost every day. The other year less than half the days were flyable. (Red and Orange marked days were Un-Flyable) Even WE DON'T KNOW!
Q. How many people can go in a balloon?
A. Balloons vary in capacity from 2 to 22 adults. We do not like the larger balloons for several reasons. Most important is your flying pleasure! We just do not like the Tour BUS mentality. Yes we could make more money that way. Our goal is to create wonderful memories for YOU and not try to put more 0's on our bank balance.
Q. How do we get in and out of the balloon?
A. Our balloon baskets have steps built into the side of the basket. Getting in and out of our baskets is rather simple. Put your foot into the step and grab a corner pole and climb in. Think of it like getting into a bathtub shower. Getting out is even easier, just hit the trap door button and Wala your out.
Q. Can we get a balloon just for a couple?
A. Yes, that's all we do! Flip Flop Fantasies is your premier private hot air balloon company.
Q. Does a persons weight matter?
A. Yes it does! In a hot air balloon you, as a passenger, represent a significant percentage of the total aircraft weight load. On an airplane you represent only one out of 250 people so if you are overweight by 100 pounds then the total average weight per person, only changes by less than half a pound. Some people have more than that for lunch. In a balloon one person can represent about 50% of the total passenger load so 100 pounds changes the per person weight by 50 pounds each! That is the weight of a small child. Imagine if someone showed up with 2 extra kids that we did not expect! We would not be prepared for that and could not take them flying that day. Currently we do not make an additional charge for additional weight but we do reserve the right to decline to fly someone on any given day if that persons weight significantly changes the total passenger load for that flight. Please if you are significantly overweight let us know.
Q. Will we fly over Disney?
A. We try as often as we can to go over the parks. Balloons float with the wind so we don't get to choose the direction we may travel. Mother nature will choose our flight path. Many times we do fly over part of the Disney World property. We don't always go OVER Disney but you can see the parks from most all of our flights. Keep in mind how big Disney is, you could go right over the Magic Kingdom and still be FIVE MILES away from Epcot. Disney is the size of a CITY. We could fly over your city and still be miles away from your house.
Here is a great analogy.
Take a roll of pennies and set a coffee cup on a table about 30 feet away. Now start throwing the pennies at the cup, BUT WAIT… Before you start to throw pennies, tell me how many of pennies you are going to make it into the cup and better yet tell me exactly which ones will go in. That is like asking us if we will fly over Disney, we have no clue. There is no way to forecast when we will go over the parks, or predict what day or what part of Disney we may go across. Anyone who thinks they can is blowing smoke up your coffee cup…
BUT... If you have a way to make the wind blow in the direction you choose please back away from the computer and call me right away. I want to talk to you!!!
Q. What if we do not have a car?
A. We offer hotel pickup.
Just let us know that you need picked up when you schedule your flight and we will arrange it. The fee is $15 per person and that is round trip. We will pick you up and take you back after. This is about 1/2 what a taxi will cost you!
Here is where you can go and find out what the estimated cost of a taxi would be. Taxi Fair Estimator Remember this is "One Way" and also remember that on the way back there will be heavy theme park traffic so the cost will be even higher! Another thing to consider is that the Taxi driver may not know where he is going, and that it is not uncommon, for a taxi to be late, especially at that time of morning. Remember Sunrise will NOT wait. Sure would hate for you to miss your flight because a taxi was late picking you up. We will not wait!
Q. What time do we meet and when will we be done?
A. The entire program takes 3 to 4 hours. We meet around 6 am and you will be done around 9:30. About the time when the Disney Parks begin to open.
Average mornings time span. We start with a pre-flight briefing where we explain the mornings program from start to finish (about 10 minutes) we then launch a small helium balloon and see what the wind speeds and directions are. (about 10 minutes) This determines what launch and landing sites we will use for that day. We load up in our vehicles and head out for a launch site. (2-20 minute drive) We inflate the balloon (about 15 minutes.) Take off and fly 45-60 min. Land and pack up. 15 minutes. We celebrate with the traditional Champagne toast. 15-20 minutes. Load up and head back to the Meeting Location. Plan on being done around 9:00 - 9:30am
Q. Can we bring camera and video gear?
A. YES.... Bring lots of film or batteries and memory cards. You will love the photos you take! Please remember you will need to be able to safely store your gear for landing. Flip Flop Fantasies will not take any responsibility for broken or damaged personal gear you have brought along.
Q. Do we have to make some sort of deposit?
A. Yes a deposit is required. You will place your deposit after you choose a flight date. You can see our cancellation policy for specific details about Deposits, Refunds and Cancellations. After your flight you may pay your balance in any fashion you wish.
Q. If the weather is bad do I get my money back.
A. Your deposit is good for 6 months. If the weather is bad on your first flight date we simply ask that you choose another flight date. If you try several times during your 6 month time allotment you will receive 50% of the deposit as a refund. Specific details are found on the Cancellation Policy page.
Q. Will we be cold up there?
A. Actually you will be WARMER in the balloon. HOT air balloons float with the wind so there is no wind chill. Generally in the morning as we climb the air actually gets warmer by a few degrees.. You may want to wear a hat to protect your head from the radiant heat of the balloon burners. On the average you will be 8 to 10 degrees warmer in the balloon than if you were still on the ground. As we like to say, "There's a reason we call them HOT Air Balloons".
Q. What should I wear or how should we dress.
A. Imagine if you were going to the park or out on a hike in the woods. We will be out in open pastures and fields. The grass in many cases is tall and wet from the morning dew. We suggest you dress as if you were going for a hike in the woods or a walk in the park. Because we will be out in open and most often un-kept areas we do not suggest open toed shoes such as sandals and flip flops. You feet will most likely get dirty and wet.
This is an outdoor sport! Balloons need large areas to launch and to land. This means open fields like Farms, Cattle Pastures and hay fields and large open and often UN-KEPT land. This means tall grass, Cows, Bugs, Ants and many other items associated with large open areas. O did we say OUT DOORS..
We do not choose what fields happen to be lined up with the wind direction on any given day. SO... Assume your shoes will be soaked and have mud all over them and your pants will be wet all the way up to your knees.
THEN when we land somewhere nice you will be thrilled and when you wear sandals or flip flops you will understand why we are all laughing. O did we say OUT DOORS..
On a serious note. Fire Ants are everywhere in Florida. Watch where you walk and where you stand. If you stand near a colony or on a mound they will swarm and begin to bite you. They are painful and if you are bitten enough you may need medical attention or an antihistamine to combat the swelling.
O an by the way. There are no snakes.. We put a sign up that says "No Snakes Allowed"
Q. Do you ever have blackout dates?
A. Yes, There are days when we need time for maintenance, inspections, attending an event or providing an exhibition or for other reasons to mark days on our calendar as "Unavailable". We try to keep these to a minimum. When these events are scheduled we mark the calendar well in advance. Our reservation calendar makes it nearly impossible for you to choose a day we would have to decline your flight.
Here is a website where you can find real balloonists who offer balloon rides nation wide and avoid the middlemen.
Q. Can we get discounts for Military or Florida resident?
A. No. The balloon does not know the difference. Hot Air Balloons age per hour of flight time regardless of who is on board. To give discounts for any special group of people means that we favor them over someone else. We would also have to charge someone else more to be able to give you the discount and that too is something we frown upon. Why should someone else give up there hard earned money to pay for any part your balloon ride?
You are welcome to ask someone else to chip in for your flight but please do not ask us to do that for you! Stealing money from those who have earned it and giving it to those who have not earned it is the job of our government and not ours.
The next problem is who do you give the special discounts to? What makes someone worthy of special treatment over someone else? Here again we get into a sticky mess. My group is better than your group and so on. We just go by one simple slogan,
"We don't play games with our prices and we don't play games with your life"
If you want cheap we are simply not it. We do this for a living and not a hobby.
Q. Do we need to be on time? What if we are late?
A. YES... YES you must be on time. We can not express this enough. Our timetable is dictated by sunrise. We can not stop or slow down the sunrise. Once the sun comes up it will begin to heat the earth and take away the calm that we need for safe flight. WE MUST FLY during the first hour of daylight to be safe. After that the winds will increase and so will the risk of being hurt. If you are running late CALL US RIGHT AWAY and we don't mean 10 minutes after you should have shown up. Please understand when we must leave we will. We do not care if you are only 10 minutes away we must leave and the pilots are the only ones who have the training to make that decision so it does not matter if YOU think we could or should wait. If you call and ask if we can wait, do not be surprised if we ask, if you can stop sunrise.
Be 15 minutes early just to be safe.
Q. Why are some balloon rides cheaper?
A. We like to point out the old saying, "You get what you pay for!"In downtown Disney they have a big helium filled balloon on a cable that you can go up and down in for very little money. They call that a balloon ride too! Some of the other hot air balloon companies in this area fly 18 to 24 passenger balloons so you can get a discount if you want to fly with 20 other people at the same time. You can also find some guys here that have a balloon in a trailer, or a balloon in their garage and flying a balloon is a hobby for them. They try to earn a little extra money by taking people for rides. They are less expensive too!
All of them are less expensive and offer all kinds of discounts. If that is what it takes to get your booking then please call them. We are simply the best of the best.
Q. Can I come along and WATCH?
A. Yes! We know that occasionally there is someone who just does not want to FLY! Please keep in mind that we have a limited amount of space in our recovery vehicle. If you have someone who wants to come along and watch please use the "Details" section on the book a flight page to let us know in advance.
Q. DO I NEED RESERVATIONS? How far in advance should I BOOK!
A. YES..You need a reservation. We recommend you chose a date a week ahead for a week day flight and two weeks ahead for a weekend flight. Our booking calendar will easily show the dates available for you to make a reservation. Do not show up for a flight without a reservation. PLEASE
Q. What about small children?
A. We do not take children. We offer premier private adult flights only.
Q. How do I make a reservation?
A. Reservations are easy and take only a few moments. Simply go to our reservation page. Select a specific date you would like to fly, fill out the details and select "save my date". You will then be taken to the deposit page were you an use any credit/debit card to make your flight deposit. Once your deposit has been made you will receive an email with all your flight details and instructions. NOTE: When making a reservation, Please double check that you have provided us with a good email.
Q. Is it SAFE?
A. Safety is the corner stone of our business. We have been operating hot air balloons for OVER 40 years. We simply will not fly unless the conditions are right. We maintain our aircraft to the highest standards. Even above the standards required by the FAA! When we must cancel a flight we tell our passengers one simple thing.
"We hate to disappoint someone but we refuse to hurt anyone".
This includes us since we are going up there too.... you are in the safest hands possible with an average flight experience of more than 40 years.
Q. What if the weather is bad?
A. WE DON'T FLY! If the weather forecast does not look good for your flight we will simply ask you to choose another day. Re booking instructions will be in your Balloon Deposit Confirmation Email. Our pilots are the best and we respect their decision. They are the ones trained to make the decision to cancel a flight. Over the years we have gotten real good at reading the weather. We have lived the weather for over 40 years now. If there is a chance of flying we will go out but if there is no chance then we will not drag you out of bed for no reason.
Q. How do we find out if the weather is bad?
A. All passengers, are asked to call the night before the flight to check the weather forecast for the next morning's flight. We ask that the passengers call 407-616-6662 between 5 and 7pm the night before your flight. One of our Pilots will be on duty to let you know what the forecast looks like for the next mornings flight. If you fail to check in the night before you may just end up at the meeting location all by yourself. If the weather forecast is bad we will not be showing up at the meeting location.
Q. Why do the passengers have to call in? Why don't you call us?
A. We tried calling our passengers and it did not work. Many of our passengers are out to dinner or at a theme park or doing something where they can not hear the phone or do not have service. So we could make dozens of calls all night and not get a hold of you. So... YOU CALL US!! We are always here and only you know when you are available to make a call. If for some reason we are not available you will still get a message that will tell you the flight status for the next morning.
Q. Is the phone the only way to find out if the weather is bad?
A. Yes, We want to talk to you the night before your flight. It is very much like the courtesy call you get before a doctors appointment. We want to talk to you so we can go over the details for the next morning. If we have to cancel a flight due to poor weather we want the ability to explain to you personally what the forecast says and why we think we should stay on the ground. It also allows us to answer questions you may have as well. So YES we want to talk to you the night before the flight. In addition to everything above it also provides us with the phone number you have called us on so if we need to return your call the number is stored in our phone.
Q. How much does it Cost?
A. The Flip Flop Fantasies Balloon tour is $800.00 per couple. We require a $300.00 deposit to reserve a flight date. You may pay the remaining $500.00 balance after your flight.
Q. How can we pay?
A. You may use a credit/debit card to make your reservation online here on this site. After your flight we accept Credit/Debit cards and or cash. You can also split the balance any way you wish if that is helpful.
Q. Will I like it?
A. We are sure without a doubt you will LOVE IT !!! Over 45 years and tens of thousands of passengers and never once did someone not love it.
Q. What if we are coming from a long ways away?
A. Leave early! We meet just a few miles south of Disney World. The address is
8390 Champions Gate Blvd, Davenport, FL 33896 You can see a map of our location on our Meeting Location page. Please plan accordingly for the proper travel time. On Highway 192 there are nearly 150 hotels to choose from. Just do a google search for the Disney Maingate area and then choose an hotel of your liking. Please do not ask us to recommend a place to stay. Remember WE LIVE HERE, we do not stay in hotels here, but I know a nice Red Roof hotel in Phoenix AZ. If you are planing to make a trip over to see us on the morning of your flight and expect a long drive time let us know in the "Details section" on our balloon flight booking page. If you are driving from a long ways away we may be more critical about our Go/No go decision the night before. We do not want you to make a long drive on an "Iffy" weather forecast.
Q. What if someone can not stand for an hour?
A. Maybe a balloon flight is not for you! Hot air ballooning is an outdoor activity! When we say activity we mean exactly that. We will be outdoors for two to three hours. We will be getting in and out of our vehicle as well as in and out of the balloon. There will be lots of walking and standing and HEAT! Not only heat from the balloon but we are in Florida, as soon as that sun comes up things will heat up very quickly. So be prepared for a fantastic adventure but also be aware it will be physical!
Q. Can we bring our own champagne?
A. No, Unfortunately the FAA requires us to be able to lock a door between the passengers consuming alcohol and the pilot operating the aircraft. A balloon basket does not have doors. But I promise you will survive the flight with out the champagne and we will serve you champagne as soon as we get back to mother earth. Our ground team does a nice job of keeping it ice cold while we fly!
Q. What if I get motion sickness easy
A. Have no worry. A Balloon simply can not cause Motion Sickness. The hot air balloon moves so slowly that there is no sensation of motion at all. Seriously if you had your eyes closed you would never know you were moving at all. In 35 years of flying we have never had anyone get motion sick. The balloon floats. Imagine you were in a canoe floating down a river. You feel like your sitting still but you can see by the banks of the river that you are indeed moving. A balloon floats with the wind and moves smoothly up and down. Truly a float and no feel of motion at all.
Q. Are there fumes from the fuel for the balloon?
A. No. In a hot air balloon we burn propane to create the heat to fly the balloon. The same propane you use in your Bar-B-Q grill at home. No one ever worries about the fumes from their Bar-B-Q grill. Propane is one of the (if not THE) cleanest fuels we have. Propane burns 99.8% clean. No residue no fumes no nothing. If it did create fumes or some sort of residue our balloons would look horrible after a few flights yet after years of use there is no build up of anything. Think of it this way, If you left your Bar-B-Q grill on by accident you could sit near it and not even know it was on unless you felt the heat from it. There are, No fumes from the balloon burners at all.
Q. What if someone is AFRAID OF HEIGHTS?
A. There are three things that cause people to be afraid of heights and NONE of them happen in a balloon.
First natural fear is motion, that butterfly in the stomach feel like you get in an elevator or on a Ferris wheel. The balloon is so large and moves so slowly there is no sensation of motion at all! If you had your eyes closed you would never know you had left the ground.
Second is the fear of falling. This is like when you are on a ladder or the edge of the roof where you know if you make one wrong step you are going to hurt yourself. This is also referred to as "Impending Peril". The sides of the balloon basket are high enough that you would have a hard time jumping out let alone falling out so that fear does not happen.
The LAST one is centrifugal force. The earth is a spinning object and the farther away you get the faster you spin. Some people have such a sensitive inner ear (Balance) that when they go up in a high place they feel like they are going to fall. This is because they are spinning faster and their balance is being thrown off. We have all heard someone say "I don't need to go near the edge or look out the window just being up here makes me feel funny" That's because looking out is not the problem. They are spinning faster and their inner ear has not become accustom to it. In a balloon we are no longer attached to the spinning object. In a balloon you actually spin LESS than if you had stayed on the ground! This disarms the inner ear.