The Dark Ride Project is an initiative that wants to preserve the dying history of the classic carnival ghost train ride by setting out to capture as many as possible in 360 video before they disappear forever.
The classic ghost train, a staple of fairgrounds and carnivals the world over, is rapidly dying out. Rides that have entertained punters for upwards of a century are shutting down or falling into disrepair. In the 1930’s for example, the Pretzel Ride company built nearly 1700 rides for amusement parks across the United States, nowadays only three of those rides still exist.
For Joel Zika, whose studied these types of entertainment for over a decade, this was a saddening state of affairs, so much so that he decided to start The Dark Ride Project, a movement that is looking to visit as many of the still functioning rides as possible and document them for posterity. Not content with merely filming them in two dimensions though, Zika plans has begun to film each one in 360 degree video, so that people can experience the rides and their jump scares immersively via VR headsets.
“I did it because the rides are disappearing and there are only a handful left, VR seemed like a good way to get people engaged,” says Zika, “It worked and we’ve had thousands of people support us online.” It’s certainly one of the most ingenious and effective uses of VR video that I’ve come across, and 360 video does seem an ideal fit for the project.
The Dark Ride has already begun capturing these rides, but the project is as yet not commercially backed – relying on donations to fund progress. So, Zika has launched an IndieGogo crowdfunding campaign to help him continue his work. Zika’s looking for $60,000 to ultimately produce a TV series featuring the immersive videos, with backers receiving access to the 360 films as thanks for their support.
You can head over to The Dark Ride’s IndieGogo page here to pledge your support right now. As of writing the campaign has 2 months to run, giving you plenty of time to snag access to those videos. You can also track the project via it’s dedicated Facebook page here.