Some of the innovative events launched in Albuquerque have focused primarily on spectator appeal, and a couple have become permanent fixtures of Balloon Fiesta. In 1981, gas balloons were invited and, for five more years thereafter, provided Fiesta goers with another side of ballooning. The significant cost of inflating these balloons and the fact that some spectators felt that watching a gas balloon inflate was akin to watching paint dry, stalled the continuation of this event. Some avid supports, however, still hope for their return. (Gas ballooning returned to the Balloon Fiesta in 1993 and has been an integral part of the Balloon Fiesta since that time.)
1987 saw the first Annual Balloon Glow become a permanent addition to the Balloon Fiesta repertoire. The goose bumps generated at the first Glow still rise those who witnessed their first "all burn" describe the experience. For many years Albuquerque had seen 15 to 20 glowing balloons during their famous Christmas Eve Luminaria Tour, but the sight and sounds of over 300 glowing giants crowded together on the field, amidst tens of thousands of spectators, left an indelible mark on the Balloon Fiesta experience.
Special Shape balloons have become a growing segment of the world's balloon populations for a number of years. In 1989 the AIBF decided that it was time to showcase these magnificent creations in an event of their own, the Special Shape Rodeo. Spectators now have an opportunity to see a giant cactus, tyrannosaurus rex, pink elephant, polar bear, space ship and over 35 others during an afternoon event that brings out the kid in everyone. This event quickly became the largest of its kind in the world, an appropriate status for Albuquerque's Balloon Fiesta.