Six Flags to Use Gear VRs on New VR Roller Coaster Experiences

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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.

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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.

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  • Rollercoaster and VR are in fact a great experience. In Germany exists the “Alpenexpress VR-Rides” since late 2015 and is quite a success. More information http://www.arvrzone.com/wrap-up-htc-vive-verspaetet-alpenexpress-puenktlich/ (German).

  • care package

    Is it a ‘bring your own phone’ scenario? Doesn’t seem like a good idea to me until the mobile tech gets better, like what Google is working on. If it’s not a ‘bring your own phone’ scenario, then you’d have to buy a bunch of phones just to use in VR?. Article needs to say more.

  • James MacDonald

    Not a good idea until someone comes up with a hygienic face / headset interface for heavy duty public use. I was in Wieliczka Salt Mine and I saw a VR display in the multimedia section. I happily stuck my face in and was immediately hit by the stench of unwashed hobo and then noticed the ring of crusted foundation on the foam padding. I had to put up with the smell until we left the museum and I could pop into a shop and buy face wipes. I didn’t get to see what was in the headset. I thought it was great that they already had a VR display but it made me think it is still very early days and things like how to keep the viewers clean with 1.2 million visitors a year smooshing their faces in there have yet to be figured out. That’s a cool, dry, 14°C static display in a back section of a museum that not many people carry on to after the main tour. I can imagine the state of the masks on a high octane rollercoaster ride in hot sunny California. I’m sure they’ll work something out though.

    • Falcon195

      Not much more of a challenge than supplying 3-D polarized glasses for the theatre industry. A detachable and recyclable face-device interface combined with a commercial grade base unit is certainly forthcoming.