Conner Prairie is located in Fishers, IN which is about 35 minutes from where we live and well worth the drive. If you have never been there and live within a few hours drive you need to visit. There is so much to see and do and so many areas to visit while there. Prairie Town, where the residents are living lives in 1836! The civil war reenactment, Discovery Station and Craft Corner, Lenape Indian Camp, Playgrounds, Animals and my kids favorite, the Balloon Ride. This “interactive history park” has something for everyone and offers a unique adventure every time you visit.
The Balloon at Conner Prairie has been flying for the last 6 years and it is quite the sight to see. In fact it is one of the first things you see when you enter Conner Prairie. Tucked away just behind trees and the welcome center you either see the top part of it sticking out or you see it up in the sky as you approach. My daughter was very excited when she first saw the balloon and the entire time we visited Discovery Station she kept mentioning the balloon. Of course we had to go. One problem though…I am afraid of heights.
I have been since I can remember but it was never that paralyzing fear that caused me to freeze and not breath properly. It was more of the butterflies in the stomach, slightly nervous, don’t want to go high up kind of feeling. I have never let it stop me from going on roller coasters when I was a kid or in tall buildings or anything like that. Being a firm believer that it is ok to be afraid but we don’t let it stop us I knew I was going to have to go up in that balloon with my daughter that day.
We spent about an hour and a half in the Discovery Station and I was hoping she had forgotten the balloon…but she didn’t. We ventured over to check it out with me telling her maybe not today but knowing I would give in and ride the thing with her. When we got over to the ticket area she was so excited that I simply couldn’t tell her no we couldn’t go. So we bought our ticket and the pilot came over to chat and let me know that we would go up a few feet off the ground and make sure the skies were clear and safe. This did NOT help my fear.
It was windy so I wasn’t sure how high we were going to go but was told at least 80 feet up. I was ok with 80 feet but as we were loading in they started telling us about safety and mentioned 200+ feet. I was less thrilled at that point but got on with my Diva as excited as ever. We were instructed to hang on to the brown bars or the gray walls. My daughter was holding on to the gray wall trying to peek over the entire way up. I on the other hand was holding on to a brown bar in each hand with both feet firmly pressed against a wall. My left foot against one wall and the right foot against the other while holding on to bars on either side and trying to keep my daughter from climbing the wall.
Yep…that’s my Diva. As we started going up my stomach dropped and I was extremely nervous. The rocking motion didn’t help but I was doing ok and determined not to freak out and demand to be taken back down. Although, if anyone gets scared they will go right back down and drop that person off and continue with the trip. After they tested the skies around 10-12 feet off the ground we went up around 200 ish feet in the air. Once we got to our max height we were allowed to walk around.I decided walking was not a good idea since I only felt ok with at least one leg touching a wall and one hand on a bar at all times. I DID record video and take a few pics as proof and in case I decided never to do this again. They give you about 3 minutes to walk around, take pictures and enjoy the beauty of being up in the air. It is beautiful. I was so glad I overcame my fear and went up…well pushed through it anyway because it was still there. The Diva was thrilled about the trip and watched the whole time we descended while I tightly gripped the walls and bars again.
It was worth the trip and I was glad I did it but I was also glad I wouldn’t have to go again. Then we told my son about the trip and I heard him say he didn’t want to go because he didn’t like being high up. I realized then that I had to go back up for him, well with him and help him at least face it and see me face it. We talked about going up off and on for a week and then went back one week after I took my daughter. Our plan was to visit all of the Prairie and do the balloon trip too.
Here is a gallery of pics of the trip. Well the last three trips really…
He said he was scared so I reminded him that it was ok to be afraid but we don’t let it stop us and that being brave means being afraid and going anyway. Clearly nervous, and not alone there, he walked with me to the ticket counter. We got our tickets and waited for our turn with my son and I staring nervously at the balloon as it came down to the ground. This time it was easier to get on the balloon though.
We got on board and the pilot explained the safety rules. My son asked why we had to go so high and she responded with “so that we can see as far as we can”. She was extremely patient and understanding with kids…and scared adults. He was right by my side and holding tight as we started to go up. When we paused at the 10-12 foot mark he let go with one hand and looked down. “This isn’t so bad” he said with his eyes wide with that beautiful wonder that only kids seem to possess. I knew he loved every second.
As we began to climb higher and higher I was still holding on tight but he was marveling at how small things were getting and how far away they must be. Pointing out our car (which he actually found from 300 ish feet in the air) and animals, buildings and things around the Prairie made up our entire trip to the top height. I think she said 377 ft in the air this time. Yeah my heart did that little flutter it does when it gets a shock.
It was easier to go up this time, although still scary and nerve wracking. My Gentleman on the other hand was not only doing great but having the best time ever up there. Having never been that high in his life he was so excited to be in the sky and to see all those things so far away. He kept swearing he could see our house from up there but I assured him that we lived a bit further than he could see right now.
As we started to go back to the ground we talked about how he wasn’t scared any more with him assuring me that there wasn’t anything to be scared of anymore. I told him I was still a little scared but I would go again if he went with him to help me through it. He promised he would and told me it was ok to be scared mommy but you did a great job! I love that kid.
We ended up doing a special before school started trip to Conner Prairie JUST to ride the balloon again before school started. I would say we conquered that fear of his for good, however, mine is still there. It was a LOT easier the third time up and I even walked around with only one had on the bar. That was a huge improvement…and I was forced to since both my kids walked all over the place asking questions and talking to everyone on board. Always helpful those two.
I made this video of all three trips sort of put together and included some Q&A with the pilot. She was nice, patient and very informative and reassuring. Check out the video below.
Now that you can see how beautiful (breathtaking in real life) it is and have heard first hand how safe it is you should make the trip yourself. I pushed past fear to take my kids up and helped my son conquer one of his. Conner Prairie’s balloon ride will forever hold a special place for me because of that but never mind my mushiness. It truly is a magnificent, although short, trip up and one you should experience yourself at least once.