Walt Disney World has removed the Characters in Flight balloon ride attraction from the Downtown Disney area, after a similar balloon was involved in a serious accident.
The balloon itself has been taken out of Downtown Disney, and all details of Characters in Flight have been removed from Walt Disney World's website. This has prompted speculation that the move could be a permanent one, although most reports suggest that the balloon is simply being inspected to ensure that it safe to return to action. The near-identical PanoraMagique attraction at Disneyland Paris has also been taken down for inspection.
The incident in Hong Kong took place at Ocean Park, one of Asia's leading theme parks. It saw the tethered helium balloon plummet to the ground after it began to leak, causing injuries to five guests. Four of the injured guests were in the balloon itself, with the other being struck by it after it fell to the ground.
Characters in Flight offers guests a birds-eye view of the Walt Disney World Resort, floating into the skies from its tethered position in Downtown Disney's Village Lake. It was one of a spate of minor additions to Downtown Disney in 2009 following criticism that the closure of the Pleasure Island nightclubs had reduced the area's appeal.
The balloon can hold up to 29 guests at a time, and currently holds the title of being the world's largest tethered gas balloon.