Conner Prairie’s 1859 Balloon Voyage launched in 2009, and is still transporting guests up, up and away a decade later. Taking flight this July, passengers will travel to a maximum height of 370 feet (taller than the Statue of Liberty and the Soldiers and Sailors Monument) in a matter of a few minutes in an all-new green and white striped balloon symbolizing the growth of Conner Prairie’s relationship with Reynolds Farm Equipment. Relax — because the balloon stays tethered the entire time, there’s zero chance of floating away.
The round metal gondola that hangs off the bottom of the balloon ride can accommodate as many as 20 riders at a time, and the ride itself lasts 10 to 15 minutes. On a clear day, passengers get a gorgeous panoramic view of the Conner Prairie grounds below, Hamilton County and all the way south to the downtown Indy skyline.
The trip up and down is smooth, and pilots are good to alert guests as to when to expect any mild stop-and-start bumps along the way. Make sure to stand still and hold on to the railings during ascent and descent — once at the top, guests are free to move around the gondola at will.
Be aware, the balloon ride does drift back and forth with the breeze, but passenger safety is always the top priority and flights are grounded if there’s ever a weather issue. Even agoraphobics find the overall experience enjoyable, but nervous flyers might want to choose a day with calm winds and wait to hit the snack bar until after the ride is over.
1859 Balloon Voyage excursions run weather-permitting during regular Conner Prairie hours. Balloon ride tickets are in addition to regular Conner Prairie. For rates, reservations and more information, visit connerprairie.org.