Virtual Reality and Roller Coaster Parks
If done right, virtual reality and roller coasters can be a powerful combination. But they come with a few hurdles that have to be cleared for parks to fully capitalize on their potential.
First, the rider has to be properly synchronized with the virtual environment. This is achieved with a series of sensors attached to the coaster car.
VR has revolutionized the entertainment industry, bringing new levels of immersion and excitement to video game and movie audiences. It has also made its way to amusement park rides, enabling thrill-seekers to vr roller coaster experience virtual adventures that transcend real-world physics and the limitations of traditional roller coasters.
VR is most often used to add a virtual element to existing physical rides such as roller coasters, water slides and drop towers. As you climb aboard the ride, you’re given a headset equipped with LED screens that sync up with the movements of the physical ride.
As you’re swept along in the swoops and swerves of the ride, you’re engulfed in high-definition imagery and a 360-degree virtual view. There’s even a story line to follow, adding a whole new level of immersive fun to the ride.
The addition of VR can even make squeamish riders more willing to ride some of the more terrifying roller coasters on offer at amusement parks. That’s because, unlike the fast and erratic motions of a normal roller coaster, vr roller coasters are synchronized with the g-forces of the physical ride.
Using sensors to track head movement, the VR system adapts to the ride vehicles in real time and displays the appropriate visuals and information accordingly. Because of this, it’s important to adhere to age and health restrictions and always wear the provided safety equipment.
Wide Age Demographic
In an era when VR headsets have become cheap enough to allow many people to experience them, virtual reality roller coasters are beginning to make waves. This year and next, about 20 VR rides are set to open in Europe, Asia, and North America—including the space-themed Galactica at Alton Towers, designed by UK-based Figment Productions. These immersive experiences can help to revitalise steel roller coasters that are getting older or generating less interest and revenue.
Thrill-seekers are driving the market growth as they seek new and innovative experiences that offer edge-of-the-seat thrills. Strategic partnerships with intellectual property owners for themed rides also drive the market growth. Meanwhile, increased safety regulations are pushing manufacturers to design safer products.
The immersive nature of VR allows users to step into the shoes of their favorite characters, enabling them to feel more connected to the story and the action. This draws in a wider age demographic, including children, teenagers, and adults—all of whom are eager to try out the technology.
Sam Rhodes, the director of design at Six Flags, believes that VR will be a game-changer for the industry. His office in Texas is full of Rifts, Cardboards, and Vives—and he’s a self-proclaimed “full-blown VR nerd”. But it was only when he met the team behind Germany’s Vector VR that he realized how they could make their concept work for roller coasters.
Entertainment for Spectators
Having a VR roller coaster at your party will not only be a great thrill for the rider but it is also a fun way to entertain spectators. This is because they will be able to see what the person wearing the headset is experiencing. Having such an experience at your event will be something that your guests will talk about long after your party has ended.
Adding VR to pre-existing rides has the added benefit of allowing theme parks to change experiences from year to year without constructing new multi-million dollar rides, which can be costly and time consuming. But the technology also has its drawbacks. The headsets can be uncomfortable, and the process of strapping them on and removing them takes up a lot of staff time that could otherwise go to other park operations, such as ticket sales and cleaning up.
The synchronization of the visuals to the movements of the ride can be difficult to perfect. Initially, Wagner’s students used Oculus Rift headsets that had to be tethered to laptops. This caused the computers to vibrate, which made the video look choppy and out of sync.
In addition, the headsets are prone to malfunction and the technology can make riders queasy. Some of the visuals can appear primitive, low-resolution or dark, which can further disorient passengers. The headsets can also come loose or fall off during the ride, and can sometimes fail completely. However, VR overlays that are designed by internal theme park companies can address these issues and may prove to be a more viable solution.
The inclusion of virtual reality in roller coasters is a great way to appeal to a wide age demographic. From tweens to retirees, VR offers something for everyone. As an on-trend technology, VR coasters are perfect for parties hosted by technology businesses or events geared towards the 18-24 demographic. They’re also an ideal activity to promote on social media.
The immersive VR experience adds another dimension to the thrill of a roller coaster. The physical movement of the ride synchronizes with the action on the screen, creating VR Arcade a feeling of full immersion. VR is a powerful tool for improving amusement rides, but it isn’t the only answer.
For example, using a VR headset can make it hard to tell where your head is in the real world, which is an important aspect of navigation for many people. Additionally, some VR scenarios may be emotionally distressing. A study using evoked EEG found that stress from simulated movement in VR was associated with a decrease in the alpha rhythm power of the middle and posterior cingulate cortex. This is a strong indication that VR can cause psychological stress in some people.
Roller coasters with VR experiences are popping up around the globe this year. For instance, Six Flags is launching the New Revolution at Magic Mountain. It will open to season pass holders Saturday, and then will be available to the general public later this year.