You thought they'd go for yellow and pink, for giant Disney character faces? Well, we don't blame you. And if you didn't believe a word of our April fool, we don't blame you either. There were some words of truth in there, however -- a new balloon, an illuminated balloon, no less...,
Aérophile, the balloon’s operators (they also run the similar Characters in Flight at Florida’s Downtown Disney), dropped a casual mention of this new illumination effect into a recent news article describing how their two French balloons had stood up so well to storm “Xynthia” on 28th February.
Congratulating its helium-filled efforts, they described “a beautiful performance for this brave fighter which will soon take a deserved rest to get replaced by a new illuminated balloon.”
And so five years on from its launch in April 2005, weather beaten and colours faded, PanoraMagique mark I slowly, very slowly, disappeared…
…And it was a long wait for the replacement.
But then, on the crisp sunny day of 5th April, it appeared:
The next afternoon, work began to inflate the balloon from the ground up. The colours already looked brighter — and thankfully close to their original 2005 design — but what would we see as the balloon raised up from the platform on Lake Disney…?
First change — the stars are navy blue/black, instead of the original white…
Second change — white line between the two blues gone, sunburst design seems more pronounced…
Third change — balloon graphics in the main emblem changed from deep red to a light yellow…
Then, around six hours into the work, the new balloon was finally ready to be raised up, and the original passenger cabin fixed in place below.
Approaching midnight, the new lights inside the balloon are switched on, the spotlights on the platform switched off and we see another change to the balloon’s design — a rather monstrous-looking Tinkerbell, presumably enlarged (and changed from her original full-colour design to a single dark colour) to provide a good silhouette against the balloon:
If they had balloons in Tron, they’d probably look something like this.
Et voilà – PanoraMagique mark II ready to take to the lovely blue skies over Lake Disney.
Though you can see why Characters in Flight landed in Florida, it’s easy to say that PanoraMagique has the upper hand. Not only does it have a more tasteful, classic livery (ignoring the new Tinkerbell flying ant), its location right in the centre of Disneyland Paris makes it perfect for looking out and seeing Disney landmarks close by, from above — not far away on the horizon.
One thing to remember when you’re 100 metres up, visible from 22 kilometres all around: don’t look down!
Images via PanoraMagique live webcam (Aérophile/Disney).