Mickey’s 60th Birthday Celebration – 1988

Birthday Mickey Flies Over Niagara Falls
In 1988 the Company celebrated Mickey’s 60th birthday with a brand new hot air balloon that made appearances and flights throughout the country. One of the highlights of that celebration was the balloon flight over Niagara Falls, an event I will never forget.

Birthday Mickey was launched early that morning from a schoolyard on the Canadian side, and I was in a helicopter that had been granted special permission to fly low, documenting the flight of the balloon. The wind was brisk, and there was tremendous excitement surrounding what was to be a remarkable adventure.
Birthday Mickey Flies Over Niagara Falls
As balloon pilots David Justice and Bob Carlton flew over Horseshoe Falls and dipped low into the river gorge, they were hanging off the gondola, waving their arms and celebrating every second! They landed safely a few miles downstream on a golf course, creating quite a stir among the warmly dressed golfers who could barely believe their eyes.

The photo of Mickey going over the falls was widely published around the world.


  • Great shots Gene (love the framing in the first photo)…these are what I was referring to in our conversation about the “History” of Disney photography! These types of shots and the stories behind them are invaluable. 🙂 I’m sure you had a wonderful time taking the photos…thanks so much for sharing the memory!! Look forward to seeing and reading more!

  • WONDERFUL photos.. I remember Horseshoe Falls very well from when I was a teen. My family used to travel there from Ohio and Michigan to the falls and it was amazing. We stayed at a Holiday Inn right AT the falls and we’d ride the tall sky towers in the area, shop, eat and check out all the tourist sites. Including the incredible falls of course. I remember how absolutely wet we’d get standing near the falls while our parents stood across the street. 🙂

  • I remember Mickeys 60th birthday and the balloon, didnt they fly over Walt Disney World too? I also remember a Donald Duck ballon!Thanks for the memories!

  • What incredible photos!! And what a great opportunity for you to be in the helicopter to view the beautiful sight.

  • Seeing these great photos reminds me that I can’t wait until my next trip to WDW. I will be first in line for the new CHARACTERS IN FLIGHT balloon ride.

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