The US theme park Six Flags has announced it’s to partner with Samsung to bring VR roller coasters to a selection of its theme parks in 2016 using Gear VR headsets.
It seems 2016 is the year theme parks cottoned onto VR in a big way. What with UK theme parks Alton Towers and Thorpe Park already planning major VR based attractions to open this year, it feels as if these traditional venues of family entertainment are looking for ways to refresh their line up with a sprinkling of immersive magic.
Interestingly, in the case of Six Flags, the VR element is very much a toe in the water for the company. They plan to offer optional Gear VR headsets for riders who wish to experience pre-exiting physical roller coasters with VR experiences designed and rendered to match. That is, every turn and hill of the roller coaster in reality is synced to the virtual visuals displayed in the Gear VR.
The VR option is to be offered first to season ticket holders in a “technical rehearsal” before opening it up to the public at large.
The VR portion of the experiences apparently offer both a futuristic battle to save Earth from alien invasion and a Superman-themed experience where riders will witness the superhero battle Lex Luthor over the city of Metropolis.
It’s perhaps understandable theme park operations are being drawn to VR as an option to draw audiences. Offering a VR ‘companion’ experience for pre-existing physical roller coasters is a smart and cost effective way to generate interest in their rides again. What’s more, with the digital VR experiences potentially much more cost effective to add to or replace, parks like Six Flags can refresh their offerings forever without engaging in costly new ride constructions.