Updated for 2016!
If you made the trip to Orlando for some theme park visiting, it’s always a good idea to have a “free” day with no park tickets. We’ve devised the ultimate early morning plan for Disney Springs, leading you to an amazing coffee shop, an awesome and discounted balloon ride, followed by world-class Disney shopping. Sorry, roller coaster enthusiasts, but it may not get any better than this! Not for this price anyway…
So here’s what you’ll do for a morning at Disney Springs as you head over to climb aboard Characters in Flight.
- save time
- enjoy a snack
- ride 400 feet up in a balloon
- save money on your ride
- do some shopping
Traffic is so crazy at the new Disney Springs, with construction going on at every turn and intersection. The whole complex is really going to be fabulous upon completion, but parking and highways are a big mess right now. If you don’t get an early start, you could be headed for some major delays. By getting to Disney Springs before most stores even open, you’ll be looking at a relatively empty parking garage. Several hours later, traffic and parking will be congested and frustrating.
Arrive at Disney Springs by about 9 a.m.
Now walk straight to the new Starbucks right next to Characters in Flight, which is the balloon that takes guests up 400 feet in the air.
Enjoy a Snack
Have you been to the new Starbucks by the lake at Disney Springs? As much as I dislike the Starbucks that replaced the bakery on Main Street at the Magic Kingdom, I LOVE this Starbucks location. It’s not that I am anti-corporation or anti-Starbucks coffee. I just disliked how they removed the seating. Perhaps they noted my complaints and set out to rectify that mistake at Disney Springs.
Go in, order a breakfast snack or drink and take a seat. Starbucks prices are not unreasonable, and many drinks and snacks are part of the Disney Dining Plan. I’m not sure there is a coffee shop with a better view anywhere than this Disney Springs location. When you go to the Disney Starbucks early in the morning, I can’t tell you how relaxing it is, without having to wait for a seat or stand in line to order.
Sitting inside smells like coffee with a view. To see more pictures, use this link:
Outside seating, interesting on its own, has an even more fantastic outlook of the lake and the balloon. The combination of wood, stone, vegetation, and fire is soothing to the soul. Did I mention how much I LOVE this particular Starbucks? I don’t even like coffee, and I practically run from our car straight here.
To see prices from Starbucks menu, use this link:
Grab a table and enjoy the scenery!
Enjoy the Ride + Save $$
Finish your snack by 9:30, 9:40 at the latest, and then walk over to buy your tickets at the balloon.
Characters in Flight is an attraction that takes guests 400 feet up in the air on an Aero30 tethered gas balloon that was custom-built for Disney by Paris-headquartered company Aérophile S.A..
The yellow striped balloon has hand-painted silhouettes of Peter Pan, Dumbo, Aladdin, Jasmine, Buzz Lightyear, and Tinker Bell. On its 19-foot diameter gondola, up to 29 passengers and an Aérophile-certified pilot can take a ride straight up, floating skyward with the help of up to 210,000 cubic feet of helium.
Because the balloon is tethered, it will not travel beyond 400 feet at any time.
If you purchase your ticket and travel up by 10 a.m., ticket prices drop from $18 for adults to $10. For adults, that’s almost half off! You’ll save $2 per child’s ticket. It’s called the Early Bird Special. Kids under the age of three fly free everyday.
Now, this special could change at any minute with no notifications for you or me, but a Cast Member said this promotion had been going on for a long time.
So up you go, Early Bird, but first be sure you have read our ultimate guide to Characters in Flight.
Tips to Know Before You Go Up
The balloon will not fly if winds exceed 22 mph or if there is a storm.
Maximum balloon capacity will be affected by wind speeds.
Items that are not permitted aboard are bags, food and drink, smoking and strollers. You’ll need a place to secure these.
There is a safety net, but the holes are large enough that you could drop your camera or phone. You won’t save enough on Early Bird tickets to replace anything electronic that you drop, so hold on tight.
Do Some Shopping
Well, now you are now at the perfect time to do some shopping, assuming you are finished with the balloon by around 10 a.m. Stores at Disney Springs traditionally start opening at ten, so the crowds aren’t crazy yet. Temperatures in the summer start to rise at this point, so being in the air-conditioned stores will keep you cool.
There is so much to do at Disney Springs, you could easily spend half a day here. Even with the current construction woes, it’s a great place to spend some time on vacation.
Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you with an almost finished Starbucks coffee in hand, headed for the ticket counter.
Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!
Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Erin, our Disney Vacation Planner with Destinations in Florida travel. She offers promotions like Disney Trading Pin sets, autograph books, and free Mickey Mouse ear hats for kids under age 17. We know our readers love free…