Six Flags to Add Virtual Reality to Nine Coasters This Year
Six Flags announced this morning that it will add virtual reality headsets on nine of its roller coasters across the country this year — and some will have interactive game play.
The New Revolution coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain, which was undergoing renovations to celebrate its 40th anniversary as the world's first steel looping coaster, will get a storyline where riders are piloting fighter jets in a battle against alien invaders. From Six Flags' announcement:
Taking in the view around them, riders will see other aircraft in an underground secret bunker. As the aircraft moves to a landing pad, it begins to launch its thruster engines, lifting the craft straight up through the roof. During the ascent, riders can test fire their weapons using the world’s first-ever interactive gameplay technology on a roller coaster. As riders clear the roof, they realize they are on top of a skyscraper and about to launch off the edge of the building diving straight down on the first drop of the ride. The aircraft races through the city until reaching the edge of the skyline where riders see the mother ship hovering above. The mother ship is heavily protected by drones and the mission is to get past the drones, fire on the mother ship and destroy it.
The New Revolution will open to season passholders for a sneak preview on March 26. The alien invasion story line also will appear on five other coasters:
Shock Wave at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington, opening March 10 for sneak preview Dare Devil Dive at Six Flags Over Georgia, opening March 12 for sneak preview Ninja at Six Flags St. Louis Steamin’ Demon at The Great Escape Goliath at La Ronde
In addition, Six Flags is adding VR to three of its Superman roller coasters. In this story line...
[Riders] will be fully immersed in the 360-degree comic-book world of Metropolis. Guests will be taken on a leisurely (or so they think) tour of the city of Metropolis, courtesy of Lex Corp Sky Tours. Just after departing the station riders encounter Lex Luthor who uses an anti-gravity gun along with his army of Lex Bots to create chaos throughout the city with cars, taxis and buses floating in mid-air around the rider’s vehicle. As the Lexbots continue shooting at the vehicle, Superman uses heat vison to destroy the anti-gravity gun, causing all objects to suddenly fall, including the train as it takes the first giant drop of the roller coaster. Riders then soar alongside Superman as he battles the evil Lexbots through hairpin twists and turns, loops, dips and dives before ultimately defeating Lex and the Lexbots, and returning safely back into the station.
The three participating coasters will be:
Superman Krypton Coaster at Six Flags Fiesta Texas Superman The Ride at Six Flags New England Superman Ride of Steel at Six Flags America
On all nine coasters, riders will wear Samsung Gear VR powered by Oculus headsets. The nine will be the first virtual reality coasters in North America, according to Six Flags.
Let's put this idea to a vote:
Update: I went up to Magic Mountain this morning to try out the VR headsets and take a look at the current status of the track and new trains.
I like the inventiveness (and I'm a big believer in the VR revolution), but I can't imagine how sweaty and nasty the headsets would get. Not to mention the potential to transmit pink eye, or the like.
Sounds. Can't. Wait!
How do you put on the headset before riding?
I am in shock right now. I will comment later once this information sinks in
A coaster is sth *real* - that´s the whole idea behind spending millions of dollars on real track. Anything that distracts from the reality of the experience is thus contra productive. If I want video games, I can stay at home. Comic book world? Sorry, completely uninterested.
I agree with everything Blake said.
The gross factor of using something that was on another person aside, do we have to digitize everything today?! The experience of going up a lift Hill and glancing out over a park is part of the thrill and beauty of coasters. Not to mention, theme parks make you leave all loose articles with another person or in a locker (so conveniently located at the entrance of almost every coaster) due to safety concerns, how can they rationalize this tech gear as safe? I'm sure this will appeal to some but at the ripe old age of 42 I just don't get it. :)
Oh this seems like a good idea.....WAIT WHAT?
I voted terrible idea. Coasters can be sickening for some people (myself included) and motion simulators can be sickening for some people (myself not included). The idea of combining the two sounds, well, even more nauseating. I worry that parks are going to start switching to VR for more rides and will allow them to "cheap out" in other areas of development such as aesthetics and environment (such as we've seen with the tired screens debate). At the end of the day, it's just a pair of goggles. If I'm paying top dollar for some rides, I'd like to actually see them and everything around me too.
I have some concerns.
I think an augmented reality system would be much better for a coaster experience. One of the great things about a coaster is not only the physical thrills, but seeing all your surroundings. Especially on Revolution, weaving in and out of the trees, following the landscape. Imagine adding an alien attack, not to a virtual world but to Magic Mountain itself.
Nice comments so far...
A few questions/comments:
Sounds like fun. I'm old (52) and am always up for new stuff! The VR goggles are totally optional. As for myself, the main draw will be riding Revolution again WITHOUT SHOULDER RESTRAINTS as it was originally designed. Most likely there will be designated seats for goggle users as different parts of the train will reach twists and curves at slightly different times and in order to minimize motion sickness, the VR projections have to sinc up EXACTLY with what your body is experiencing physically. I think the VR goggles will be an up-charge experience that only a few will opt for once the initial thrill has worn off. I'm wondering just how much this up-charge is going to be for the 5 minute "rental". I don't see this as an imposition to the rest of us who are riding the coaster sans goggles.
Interesting that so many people have opinions about VR used on roller coasters. I have personally never had experience with VR, and the thought of combining technology of that sort with a roller coaster seems completely natural (given that it is synched well with the ride). I would love to see how it goes once the change is rolled out!
I can't imagine using a VR headset on a hot humid day. It will fog up and I won't be able to see anything.
Great! Just what we need. Longer wait time as putting these things on and off and cleaning them will slow loading times. Let's not forget Six Flags love to run one train at a time with 75% of the train filled.
I think that this is a godawful idea. VR headsets strike me as extraneous and I can't see how they could fail to detract from the overall ride experience. By adding them, the park will be depriving guests of the PURE experience of riding a roller coaster. The experience will necessarily be distorted. At least this is optional; were it not, I'd skip the coasters in question entirely. I decided to wait until this year to ride Wicked Cyclone so that I could also reap the benefit of the newly repainted Superman f/k/a Bizarro and now they're doing this to Superman? Give me a break!
Let me see if I understand this correctly.
Pure and simple, this is a gimmick. It is something that will probably be interesting in the short term, but I don't see it lasting more than one season on the same coaster. However, it would be real easy to move the headsets to different coasters each year until every ride has had a VR experience. I don't know if it will be an upcharge or not, but I do know that it will be completely optional and (at least at SFMM) there will be separate queues for VR and non-VR, so the effect should be limited on those who don't want to use it.
Ninja at Six Flags Saint Louis is a neck breaker of a coaster. If you aren't bracing yourself, you're dead meat. I worry that someone is going to suffer serious injury on this ride if he is watching a video game instead of bracing for injury inducing turns.
Sylvain, notice how anonymous #3 said "As with any of our rides and attractions, we follow manufacturer's guidelines." This came from a Six Flags pr person. At least TPI is getting attention paid to it by the big boys. Is it a good or bad idea? We'll know by the end of the opening month, possibly opening week.
I don't like the idea of wearing one of these on a coaster. I love the climb up a lift hill, the views, and the thrills of being on a roller coaster. If I can still ride those rides without the headsets I will be ok with it, but man otherwise it will ruin the experience for me.
Big concerns. Lots of em. More than I can count.
This literally sounds like the worst thing in the world. Let's start with the basics. First, if people wanted to ride a ride that is motion simulated, than they'll just ride a motion simulator ride. Second, these VR headsets are a bacteria magnet. I can't even imagine how disgusting they'll be on a summer day when they're covered in sweat and hair product. Not to mention if somebody has a contagious illness like pink eye or some kind of skin virus, it'll instantly be transferred to you. I really don't care how well the park says they'll clean them, because in reality they can never eliminate 100% of the bacteria and viruses on there and considering how close these devices are to your eyes, I would be very worried.Third, this will make the line sooooo much longer. Ordinary people can't even figure out how to buckle a seatbelt on a roller coaster, let alone strap on a complicated headset. Fourth, Most people will get massive motion sickness with these headsets on. This will lead to many more people having an unpleasant day and a lot more vomit throughout the park. Fifth, in the long run, they'll be extremely expensive as the constant head banging will eventually break the devices. Sixth, many people go to Six Flags parks specifically because they have physical coasters that allow you to watch the track and just be able to look around. Six Flags needs to stop trying to be like Universal.
Don't knock it till you try it!
Although I do not like this idea I do remember reading somewhere before that Cedar Fair was toying around with this Idea before Six Flags decided to implement it so this does not come as a complete shock to me.
Think this is brilliant! Check out some other articles about it. The video will be hooked up with each train and all banks and dives will be incorporated into the VR world so the rider braces themselves for the upcoming twists turns and drops. Just really surprised this is the first day I'm reading of this. Think it could be a game changer. The possibilities are off the chart!
Check this out. Six Flags vid of fighter pilot VR coaster ride
If nothing else the idea of spreading a disease via the headsets will make a great plot for a horror movie!
Wow, so many potential problems with this:
Can't wait for someone to take the VR thing off during the coaster ride because it was bothering them.. And of course they drop it plummeting to the earth at something like 32 ft per second, per second..
I'm not sure how I feel about this technology, because I have not personally experienced it. However, the one thing that strikes me about this move from Six Flags is that I'm SHOCKED that they're not selling this as an "upcharge". The cost of the equipment, extra crew to staff the coasters with this technology, and the maintenance of the system as a whole is going to be HUGE for Six Flags. While that total probably is minuscule to the raw cost of building a new roller coaster, it seems odd that they're going "all-in" on this concept across the country instead of testing it out on one or two rides first.
While I will wait and see the details of how this will play out before commenting on the success of the idea, I'm not overly concerned with the hygiene aspect of these goggles. The 3-D glasses being used in theme parks are reused every single day, but there isn't an outcry about their cleanliness. While cleaning VR goggles will take more care than stacking 3-D glasses in a washing machine, I'm not worried about getting somebody's germs.
I think this is a good idea to use on smaller coasters or older ones that don't have the same thrill as newer giga and strata coasters. However, the visuals are going to need be be constantly updated to keep up with the current pace of technology. What looks like great VR graphics now is going to look like trash in 5 years.
totally agree that this is one big giant bad idea...when i first read the article i thought what are they thinking? i get that they are probably trying to increase ridership on some of these relics but this will probably cause more problems in the long run. james rao, you are right...some of these coasters are ROUGH rides and you need to be prepared to brace when necessary and not have a blindfold over your eyes! lol
something i really WISH six flags would implement is single rider lines!! it is maddening while waiting in a 90 minute line watching raging bull or goliath, titan, et al dispatched with scores of empty seats
Lots of great questions. The roll out will indeed be memorable. Can't wait to see what kind of train modifications will be needed? Onboard Video/Audio/CPU, power, synchronization. Or keep it simple stupid. Which begs me to ask, if I get stuck on the lift do I get to watch something interesting or get a do-over. Could be interesting like running Batman backwards for a season. Technology can wonderful or a bag of problems. One thing is certain it will work or disappear as quickly as it appeared.
They all laughed at Christopher Columbus when he said the world was round, they all laughed when Edison recorded sound.... Well hahaha who has the last laugh now.
@ 126.96.36.199 Well,if you think that Columbus wanted to prove the Earth was a globe (a well known, completely undisputed fact then!), then I´d say that *we* have the last laugh...) He was laughed at because he thought he could reach Asia by going west, which he thought because his math was terribly wrong).
I cannot wait to try it out, although I am a bit worried about the wait times as the coaster chosen to feature this at our park already has a hideous wait time, without this new feature.
The Superman Coaster in Fiesta Texas is in my top 5 coasters simply because it is one of the best in simulating the sensation of flying. Why mess with that? If they want to play around with one of the outdated low traffic coasters or one that has cluttered scenery around it I guess that makes sense but leave Superman alone!
I see a pandemic waiting to happen... but then again it could be the goal; and thus I am missing the whole point.
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