Ripley’s Believe It or Not! is giving tourists a bird’s eye view of Pattaya with the opening of Thailand’s first tethered helium balloon.
Called “Ripley’s Sky Rider,” the balloon ride on the roof of Royal Garden Plaza opened to the public April 3 after undergoing tests since December. Manufactured and operated by France’s Aerophile SAS, the 72-meter-wide balloon’s 6,200 cu. meters of air can carry 30 passengers 150 meters in the air.
Somporn Naksuetrong, deputy managing director for Royal Garden and Ripley’s, said the balloon is Aerophile’s first to be operated from a rooftop. Three Thai pilots trained in France will operate the ride and are supervised by Aerophile’s Herve Moine.
Somporn Naksuetrong, deputy managing director for Royal Garden and Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, answers questions from the media regarding the Ripley’s Sky Rider after calling an unofficial press conference on the giant balloon.
The ride is Ripley’s eighth attraction to open at the South Pattaya mall and cost the company 80 million baht to install. The company hopes to recover its investment by charging Thais 1,000 baht and foreigners 1,500 baht for each 10-minute ride. Until Sky Rider officially opens in May, Ripley’s is running a morning special, offering rides for 300 baht each from 7-11 a.m. From 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Ripley’s offers a buy one-get one free discount ticket offer.
The Aerophile AERO30NG used is currently the world’s largest tethered balloon model and is used in six other amusement parks around the world. A larger balloon, the Cloud 9 in Las Vegas, previously held the record for the largest tethered balloon. Despite charging half of Ripley’s ticket price, it went out of business in 2010.
Somporn said there is no restriction on age or height of passengers, although he warned wind conditions might limit how many people can fly simultaneously.
Ripley’s Sky Rider offers passengers a bird’s eye view of Pattaya.
Ripley’s Sky Rider heads up into the sky above the Royal Garden Plaza.