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“Go with a different company!!”

Unicorn Balloon Company
Ranked #38 of 54 Tours in Phoenix
Attraction details
Reviewed August 17, 2012

I am not impressed with this company, and they caused us to have a terrible experience with Adventures Out West/Unicorn Balloon Company.

To start off, I made reservations for my balloon ride three months in advance. I planned this as a birthday gift for my mom's 50th birthday. All she'd wanted to do for her birthday for the longest time is ride in a hot air balloon. So, this was supposed to be an exciting, memorable event! At the time of reservation I was told I was the first one to reserve for my specific day, and that there wouldn't be any problems.

About 4-6 weeks before the balloon ride, I received a phone call from the company telling me they were overbooked for our specific date, and they asked if I'd be able to reschedule since we had the smallest group that day (3 people). Well, I was driving out from Albuquerque just to be there, and there weren't any other days we could do it since I was only in AZ for such a short time, so I told them we couldn't reschedule. I was then told that wouldn't be a problem, that we would still be able to have our balloon ride that day.

So, the day of our balloon ride I woke up at 3am, drove an hour to get to the meeting spot, and it wasn't until we were there I was told my name wasn't on the schedule for the day. The balloon was full and we wouldn't be able to ride. What? We we SO mad!!!! How did they mess up our reservation? Apparently the office staff is incompetent and someone simply forgot to take note of the final conversation we had and our names didn't get on the schedule. I wasted all the time and gas money to get out there, plus several hours of sleep, to get nothing. And, it ruined my mom's 50th birthday.

If I hadn't purchased the balloon rides through Groupon for half off, then I absolutely would have requested a refund and gone with a different, more reliable, company. I hope this was just a rare occurrence for something like this to happen, but for a professional company where people are paying them quite a bit of money for their service, this should NEVER happen. I was offered a refund, or the option to reschedule, which we did for the following month. But then I had to drive all the way back out, wake up early again, etc. I was also told they would upgrade our flight so that we'd get a video as well as continent breakfast, but they didn't follow through with that either. I didn't push the issue because frankly, it wasn't worth the bother. I just know I'll never use their company again, and I will steer any friends and family away as well.

One good thing was the balloon pilot, John. He was great. He was very competent and made the flight enjoyable.

More negative things (sorry, I'm on a roll): at the end of the flight you do get a champagne/orange juice toast, but most of the other companies I looked in to also provide breakfast. Seems like a simple thing to provide. Another company landed next to us, and we watched as they at yummy breakfast on picnic tables with table cloths they had set up. After waking up at 3am and spending a few hours out there in the hot dessert, you get pretty hungry! And another thing: if you weigh more than 200lbs they charge an extra $50. Pretty ridiculous it seems, and I didn't notice other companies charging that.

So, do your research before you settle on Unicorn Balloon Company, as I think there are better options out there!

14  Thank melwall
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviews (8)
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2 - 6 of 8 reviews

Reviewed June 19, 2012

As my friend and and I drove from SE Chandler area, to the NW Cave Creek area at 3:30 in the morning we questioned our wisdom. Here we were ...two middle aged women .... driving to meet a fellow (we don't know) in the corner of a parking lot , half an hour before sunrise so he could drive us in a van out into the desert somewhere, presumably to go for a balloon ride !!! This sounded crazy even to us. HOWEVER : let me tell you - this is a memory that will forever be kept amongst my favorite memories of all time. Pilot John Bagwell and his crew were fantastic. You could see their skill and expertise throughout the experience. John was wonderful and funny, and kept even the most fearful amongst us smiling. He shared his knowledge of the desert and told us about the vegetation and the animals. We saw wild burros, deer and rabbits. The desert would soon be in bloom and we were close enough to see the flower buds on the Cacti. At the end of that spectacular flight, we shared Champagne and Orange Juice with the other passengers while John entertained us with a humorous story about the first balloon ride ever taken. After a lovely toast we all got into the van to be returned to the (now well lit) parking lot ... wondering how on earth we were ever going to match this experience again. Thanks to the Unicorn Balloon Company. Fantastic Ride !!!!

3  Thank Check-My-Bucket-List
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 29, 2012

We have had ballooning on our bucket list for a long time and so took the opportunity of the good weather in Phoenix to give it a try. What a wonderful experience. We'd gladly take another ride, although not in the desert - we just aren't desert people - that isn't a reflection on the experience, however, merely that we aren't in love with the bleakness. Our pilot was very experienced, humorous and had some great stories. There were two things that could have improved our trip - on the search to find a suitable launching site, our pilot (who was driving the van) had a near miss with a car that was making a turn in front of us - our pilot was busy trying to find a spot to launch and wasn't paying attention to the road - maybe the crew ought to be driving and the pilot watching for the correct conditions. Another improvement would be a strict no cell phone call policy (I know that people use their cells for cameras, and that isn't annoying at all). While we were on our trip one of the passengers got a cell phone call and it spoiled the mood of something that should be magical because of the quiet. The post flight ceremony with champagne was wonderful, and the explanation of how ballooning started in France was really interesting.

1  Thank Mel H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 25, 2012

Pilot John Bagwell is well experienced and quite humorous. This was the experience of a lifetime, surreal, serene with a quiet that I have never heard before. The views of the desert were awesome. Like John said now that I crossed this one off my bucket list I need to add two more, going to be hard pressed to find two things as good!

1  Thank Donna D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 18, 2012

Unicorn Balloon Company took me on my very first hot air balloon ride, and I had an absolute blast! I opted for the sunrise ride, and despite the very early meeting time (7am in Cave Creek, which is about 45 minutes away from Phoenix), it was completely worth it to see the first glimmers of dawn spread over the desert, splashing pink hues over every surface.

We wound up taking off near about 15 other balloons (although this is not always the case) and it was sensational to see all the other balloons speckled brightly against the sky.

The basket fits up to 12 people, and though it is a tight fit, it's not uncomfortable and everyone gets a great view.

After the ~1 hour flight, the pilot, John, offered up a champagne toast (or OJ for non-drinkers).

I felt completely safe from start to finish and simply fascinated by the balloons!

PARTING THOUGHT: Must be pretty cool to live in the surrounding area and see the balloons go up every day!

4  Thank IdaFats
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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