The Disney Parks Balloon: Classic Souvenir or Problematic Waste?

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There’s one Disney merchandise item that I see during every visit to the Magic Kingdom. It’s something I’ve always wanted, but never purchased – a main street balloon. I mean, look how gorgeous they are. No matter the season, they just sing “festive” to me.

I’ve never purchased one of the balloons for purely practical reasons. I have to fly to visit Walt Disney World and I stay in hotel rooms, which means they would take up space in the tiny confines of my room, and that I’d have to murder them at the end of my stay (too sad) or deflate them to get them home (which I understand is possible, but not something I’d realistically do).

The price point has been another deterrent for me. The basic balloons are $13.00 each and the specialty balloons are $17.00 each. That’s about the price of a ceramic mug that I could enjoy my coffee in for many years. Seems silly to end up on the disposable end of that equation.

But more important than my personal concerns, there are several environment issues with balloons. We’re in the middle of a global helium shortage. While The New York Times says that party balloons aren’t the problem, they’re not helping either, and is it ethical to use a scarce resource for entertainment when it could be used for medical or scientific purposes.

Additionally, balloons, like the plastic straws that are now vanishing from theme parks, are designed to be used only briefly and then discarded forever. Plastic and mylar take a looooong time to decompose.

And if you do buy a helium balloon and it escapes from your clutches, it can become a danger to wildlife who may inadvertently consume it (part of the reason you can’t bring balloons to the Animal Kingdom or Animal Kingdom Lodge).

The list of reasons to avoid balloons is clearly long, but they do so much to add to the joyful mood at the parks. Is that worth keeping them? Should they be purely decoration and not an item to sell to guests? Should they go the way of the plastic straw?

What do you think, balloon sales yay or nay? Let us know in the comments.

Erin Foster

Erin Foster is an original member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel at DisneyWorldMoms.com, a regular contributor to TouringPlans.com, and co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line. She's been to WDW, DL, DL Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, Aulani, DVC Vero Beach, and DVC Hilton Head. She's a Platinum DCL cruiser and veteran of 10 Adventures by Disney trips. Erin lives near New York City, where she can often be found indulging in her other obsession - Broadway theater. Erin can be reached on Twitter @MsErinFoster.

11 thoughts on “The Disney Parks Balloon: Classic Souvenir or Problematic Waste?

  • August 6, 2019 at 10:22 am
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    Good points. I have seen people take them home on the airplane inflated. I was shocked no one stopped them!!

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  • August 6, 2019 at 10:23 am
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    The balloons will disappear as soon as Disney Parks finds a profitable alternative, like those crazy straws that will *definitely not* wind up in the trash after a trip when someone finds them filled with gross crap.

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  • August 6, 2019 at 11:18 am
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    They have brought great joy to our kids over the years. Yes, they may be cumbersome to bring around the park, but, I think worth it! At the end of our trip we always find someone with little kids in our hotel lobby to give the balloon to, which also brings us joy. And if your balloon is deflating you can bring it back and they will give you a new one.

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  • August 6, 2019 at 11:20 am
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    The helium shortage is a real problem. Fill Disney balloons with hydrogen! you Could work the release and ignition of the balloons into all of the night time spectaculars. Are you with me?

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    • August 6, 2019 at 12:29 pm
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      Oh the humanity!

      Coo what a sight

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  • August 6, 2019 at 11:46 am
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    Balloons are one of the greatest joys in life! I would be sad if Disney stopped selling them. Of course, I may be biased since I’m a Professional Balloon Artist!
    FYI Latex balloons are 100% Biodegradable (breakdown rate is about the same as an oak leaf).

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  • August 6, 2019 at 12:35 pm
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    Back in the days of yore when I worked balloons they were .50 each!! Eventually balloons will become as much a part of lost Disney as affordable entry into parks…how very sad indeed.

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  • August 6, 2019 at 2:23 pm
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    Great points. I feel like the helium aspect isn’t getting enough consideration from people.

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  • August 6, 2019 at 3:17 pm
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    The balloons are really cool to look at horrible for the environment. We need to do away with things like this that are destroying the environment. We are such a disposable generation it’s gross. I shamefully include myself in that group but I’m trying to be better. To have something for a few minutes hours or days and then just toss it away because you don’t want it any more is mind set we need to change. Plastic doesn’t go away and latex balloons are only sort of biodegradable- they take forever to breakdown and are detrimental to marine and wildlife. I think the balloons are beautiful but my conscience won’t let me vote to keep them.

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  • August 7, 2019 at 12:54 am
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    Disney got rid of straws (and lids) because they cost money, under the guise of “saving the environment.” If they really cared about the environment they would stop selling the balloons, which are more wasteful and can cause just as much, or more, harm. But at 13 to 17 bucks apiece? I think the balloons are here to stay.

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  • August 7, 2019 at 7:26 am
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    Because we drive, we’ve always brought the balloons home with us. They really do last a long time. So for us, they’ve been worth it!

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