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New Characters in Flight balloon installed at Walt Disney World's Downtown Disney

Characters in Flight balloon

A new Characters in Flight balloon has been installed at Walt Disney World's Downtown Disney, and is expected to open to the public within a week.

The previous version of the balloon was closed over the summer season, after a similar balloon was involved in a serious accident in Hong Kong. Operator Aerophile brought forward plans to overhaul Characters in Flight following the incident, having originally scheduled a replacement for November 2012.

The new balloon features an updated color scheme, and is adorned by images of Tinker Bell, Peter Pan, Buzz Lightyear, Dumbo, Jasmine and Aladdin. Like the previous version of Characters in Flight, it will take guests on a tethered flight above Downtown Disney, offering views across Walt Disney World.

The incident in Hong Kong took place at Ocean Park, one of Asia's leading theme parks. It saw an Aerophile-operated 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 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. A similar attraction is also in place at Disneyland Paris, where it is known as PanoraMagique and was also closed temporarily following the Ocean Park accident.

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