Vote of the week: How do you see 3D?

December 16, 2012, 11:55 PM · Theme parks seem to love 3D - Transformers, Toy Story, Spider-Man, Mickey's PhilharMagic. Parks have been rolling out more and more rides and shows with 3D movie elements, and fans have been lining up to experience them.

But not everyone loves 3D. For some theme park fans, 3D's a headache, literally. When the projection's just a little bit off, or your eyes can't quite synch the images correctly, 3D leaves fans seeing "ghost" images, blurry action and even feeling headaches from the visual confusion.

It's worse for some visitors, whose eyes can't process 3D at all. Last month in Orlando, I spent a few moments with someone in the industry who had loved riding Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, but she was expressing her fear that Universal would put 3D into the new Gringotts ride. She couldn't see 3D at all, but didn't want to miss out on that new ride the way she would have to skip Transformers, the 3D motion-base ride Universal Studios Florida is opening this summer.


That conversation got me thinking about another aspect of this problem - accommodation. Theme parks, like all public places, are required by U.S. federal law to provide reasonable accommodation to persons with disabilities, including visual disabilities. Could this mean that parks might one day be required to provide a 2D version of a 3D attraction to accommodate visitors who can't handle those effects?

Perhaps this is interesting: When Universal invited me to walk through the new Transformers ride at Universal Studios Hollywood before it opened to the public, we walked through wearing the 3D glasses. But in one scene, the Universal Creative rep displayed the projection in 2D so that we could take still photos. I wonder if Universal or Disney could run 2D shows of its 3D attractions on certain times during the day, to accommodate people who can't see 3D? Obviously, that could become an operational challenge, so I totally understand why parks might want to avoid that if they could. But if parks saw that not offering a 2D option was costing them visitors (or someone sued), might they change their minds?

Let's make this a vote of the week. How do you see 3D?

Please tell us your thoughts about 3D, both in the theme park attractions and in movies in general. And thank you, as always, for reading and being a part of Theme Park Insider!

Replies (33)

December 17, 2012 at 12:33 AM · People who can't see 3D are typically blind in one or both eyes or have a vision problem that usually can be corrected by seeing a doctor. If both of your eyes work and you want to watch a 2D version you can just close one eye.

For those who have side-effects such as headaches and nausea from 3D probably suffer from motion-sickness so rides in general probably don't agree with you.

Since these rides are now using digital versus film projection it would be fairly easy to offer an alternate experience for an individual vehicle. The operator could tag the vehicle and then the brain of the ride should be able to follow that vehicle and alter the experience by showing alternate content. But what's the point?

However, what you're suggesting would essentially ruin the attraction. If you can't see 3D then you're already missing the experience and I don't understand how a 2D version would allow them to experience it. Transformers the ride without the 3D visuals - that's not going to work. Toy Story Midway Mania- you'd have a hell of a time hitting the targets and I can say that from experience.

You can also purchase glasses that will convert a 3D image to 2D. I believe they do this by just focusing both eyes on one of the two projected images. Parks could offer this, but I don't think you'd find much demand since the ride loses it's appeal.

Finally, I think you're also taking the definition of reasonable accommodation to a entirely new level that's beyond ridiculous.

Personally, I have no problems seeing 3D, but for movies I'll see the 2D version over the 3D version because I hate wearing those cheap glasses for two hours.

December 17, 2012 at 12:42 AM · I can't see 3D. I have severe lazy eye that keeps my eyes from focusing in the same place--even with a prism in my glasses, it doesn't work very well, because my brain didn't learn to properly combine the images into one (what my doctor called horror fusionis, which is a really cool name).

So when I ride Star Tours, I don't see 3D. When I ride Spaceship Earth I also don't see 3D.

How to accomodate me? Just give me the glasses. I'm used to double vision, I mostly ignore my weak eye except peripherally anyway.

If nothing else, like the above poster said, simply give out the glasses that convert it to 2D--they have the same filter in both lenses. Cheap fix to a problem that I can't imagine bothers too many people that badly.

December 17, 2012 at 12:45 AM · I get headaches from 3D over long periods of time -- like a 2-hour movie. Over short periods of time, like a ten-minute ride, I'm fine.

Lawsuits shouldn't be a problem, either. Accommodations need only be "reasonable" under the ADA. There are rides that require getting out of a wheelchair and coasters that can't be ridden unless one has all four limbs.

December 17, 2012 at 1:05 AM · They make me sick.. Not just a headache but actually nauseous. I cannot ride Star Tours or most of the rides at Universal Studios. Harry Potter Journey is miserable and I have ridden it the one and only time I have visited. I do not have any eye problems and the 3D effects are usually lost on me because of closing one eye to keep from being ill. I think the technology is fantastic and the effects are outstanding but they are not designed for me to enjoy. I do not get sick on roller coasters but cannot handle the spinning rides. I am told that I have a sensitive inner ear. I am also getting to where I am unable to enjoy Soarin' as the film is deteriorating to the point where it, too, is making me ill.
December 17, 2012 at 1:17 AM · I'm 99% sure (although some 3D projection systems are different) that there is a really simple solution to this.

Most cinema and ride systems use circular polarisation with the (slightly) differnt images being projected either clockwise or counter-clockwise.

The lenses on the glasses block out one of the two images (left eye blocks clockwise, right eye blocks counter clockwise).

Therefore, if a rider was given a special pair of glasses with the same lenses in both, they would only see one of the two images and therefore only see 2D.

December 17, 2012 at 1:58 AM · Those of us who suffer from birth defects do not have 3D as an option. I will go on 3D rides and enjoy them even though I loose the 3D effect. There are those of us who can never experience 3D and there are no corrections available to fix this. You learn to live with the cards you have been dealt but this does not have to stop you from enjoying rides at the theme parks. They are just different for you.
December 17, 2012 at 4:27 AM · i have no issue with 3d rides/movies/games, and frequently play games for hours on end for 3 days, much to the annoyance of most people i know i genuinely have 20/20 vision. but i would rather a 2d ride than a 3d anyday. the harry potter ride is a great example that you don't need gimicky 3d to make a ride great.

perhaps a 4th option? can see 3d, but really prefer 2d

December 17, 2012 at 5:44 AM · I love the 3D experience and can't get enough but I have a 7 year old boy who gets frightened by things coming out of the screen to him. I keep trying to talk him around but so far its not happened. The only one thing I managed to get him on was the Polar Express Experience at Seaworld in 2010 and even then he clung to me.
December 17, 2012 at 6:02 AM · Great article. The solutions is easy. Some cinema's already give you the option to wear non 3D glasses but you also can buy them yourself.
Awesome right? Yes a bit of the ride will lose it's excitement but you still can enjoy it with you family and friends and see what the screens are showing!
It's the same with the non motion bench at Dispicable me, it's awesom and a lot of fun if you don't want to sit on a shacking seat.
If only Disney could offer a non bumpy (for me very painfull) ride trough the kilimanjari adventure at animal kingdom, but I'm afraid that's only reserved for the driver.
December 17, 2012 at 7:11 AM · I can see 3D fine, but I think Universal needs to lay back on screens and 3D after Gringotts.
December 17, 2012 at 7:53 AM · I'm a huge roller coaster fan but I don't like 3-D rides. I'm not sure what it is but I always get extremely nauseous and strong headaches on 3-D rides. Since roller coasters never bother me I know my problem isn't motion sickness. Perhaps there is something with the "false" imagery that I can't process? Regardless, rides like Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey are just not options for me which is why I usually stick to the Hulk or Dueling Dragons at IOA. The ever growing preponderance of 3-D rides at theme parks causes me great concern for it seems that my theme park "future world" may only have a microscopic list of rides I can actually enjoy. Only time will tell what happens to our theme parks and subsequently what ultimately happens to my willingness to attended them.
December 17, 2012 at 8:37 AM · I like 3D attractions at theme parks, but I try to avoid the 3D at the movies because one is paying more to see the same movie. If a movie is good, it doesn't need the 3D. There are even movie theaters with seats that move with the onscreen action (like in Shrek). All those gimmicks belong to theme parks.
December 17, 2012 at 8:41 AM · Not only can't I see them, they give me a migraine. Seriously, anything longer than a few minutes is torture for me. And closing one eye does not work, neither does taking off my glassed. My eyes are too weak to be able to focus correctly, which damn near kills me.

Hence, while I would have loved to see The Hobbit in 3D, I just could not do it.

December 17, 2012 at 8:51 AM · Being inclusive to everyone is not only unpractical it's very dangerous. It's like the mentality that everyone should play and everyone should win kind of a thing. I'll give a perfect example, myself. I walk with a limp, my right hand does not work, and my equilibrium is shoot (that means I cannot drive a bike as well as other things. I don't use a cane and can operate like anyone else like work a decent job, drive a car with some minor modifications, and have and raise a family. I know for a fact I cannot ride some rides. The carousel like the classic Cedar Downs at Cedar Point I can't ride without heavy assistance or log flumes are getting difficult for me. Getting into coasters is fine but getting out of some I need minor assistance. Now am I going to sue Cedar Point, Disney, or Universal cause I can't ride a certain ride hell no because there is other things that I like to do and that's why I go to these parks. People are too big or tall to ride certain rides so your saying that maybe the park needs to change their ride cars to fit them. I say hogwash to that.

These parks bend over backwards to make sure that everyone has a good time. Everyone is going to have some sort of issue with some sort of ride. I think it's selfish to want to experience everything at a park in the expense of others. You can have a great time in these parks with a disability. To say that a ride has to be dummy down to a persons comfort level is purely ridiculous and what if that is the case. Will they have to cut all the legs of the classic wooden horses so I could ride? Or how about a motionless motion dark ride? How about for the people with clasterfobia (fear of being in tight spaces because I don't know if I spelled that correctly) riding a dark ride open air? How about cutting 250 feet off a coaster so everyone can ride it? You know height limits are no good either because a 4 year old should experience the same kinds of thrills that I do so there should be booster seats for roller coasters. What point is this getting ridiculous? Like a previous writer wrote you play the cards that you were dealt. I'm okay watching my family ride cedar downs without me because I know without injuring myself I couldn't ride that ride.

The article in itself makes the disabled look like idiots and chooses to lesson the great rides to make accessable to the few without asking them if they even care. There's warning signs on everything now and you should make your own individual discision to ride any ride with height, weight, and disability restrictions.

December 17, 2012 at 9:14 AM · They are fine. If you like them. Just let the people that love them, enjoy them! There would be an outrage if they were done away with. It's like taking all the rides away that aren't in all languages, because people that don't speak english can't understand it. De nada.
December 17, 2012 at 9:19 AM · I don't want to sound mean, but the fact of the matter is that no one is forcing those who can't see 3-D to go to theme parks. If you can't see 3-D, and don't think the few 3-D attractions that a park has make the admission not worth the price, then don't go.

What about those who are chlosterphobic or get easily sea sick, are theme parks supposed to substantially alter their attractions to accomodate them? If the ADA was expanded to include all sorts of "disabilities" like the inability to see in 3-D, then parks would spend more time making accomodations than they would make attractions. They would also be opening themselves up to lawsuits from every Joe-Shmo on the planet that doesn't feel that he gets the same experience as the guy next to him because of some obscure condition. While 3-D attractions seem to be propogating like a virus, there are still far too many attractions at just about every theme park in the world to offer to those who cannot appreciate 3-D technology.

If parks start making concessions to non-3-D seers, what's next, a walk through of Pirates of Carribean for those who get nauseous when riding in a boat or a lights-on version of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey to those who have a pupillation disorder?

Parks are still grappling with Large American Disorder, which is always a hot button issue, and I think catering to those who cannot see in 3-D is way down the list of "disabilities" parks are concerned about.

December 17, 2012 at 10:57 AM · Trying to be all things for all people would result in a pretty bland product.
December 17, 2012 at 12:24 PM · I would also like to say that, even though I don't get much notable benefit from 3D rides, I still enjoy them. I just can't do movies. In small doses, 3D is ok (even though I rarely 'get' the effect), it's the large doses that kill me. But, as long as they have the option to see movies in 2D, I am fine. :)
December 17, 2012 at 1:13 PM · A LOT of people can't ride roller coasters. Theme parks can't/don't make special accommodations for them.

I can't ride the famous Tea Cups. There are no special concessions for that.

Fact is, theme parks have a lot of different attractions for this reason. Every ride isn't for every person.

December 17, 2012 at 1:43 PM · At Universal Orlando, all of the 3D attractions offer a no-glasses card for riders who don't want/can't process 3D imagery.
December 17, 2012 at 6:13 PM · I am fine with 3D, but I wear glasses and find that often the provided 3D glasses do not fit that well over my prescription glasses.
December 17, 2012 at 6:15 PM · 3D glasses over regular glasses never worked correctly for me. Since my eye surgery I haven't tried to watch a 3D movie or ride so I don't know if I could see the effects.
December 17, 2012 at 7:31 PM · As far as movies go, I rarely pay the extra money to see a 3D version. I wear glasses and wearing ANOTHER pair of glasses on top of my glasses to see a movie in 3D which I am usually not THAT impressed by for the effects of 3D is not worth it to me.... especially when I have to pay like $4 extra dollars for the movie.

I still think the movie having an actual story and being entertaining is more important than the effects, atleast when it comes to movies in the theaters.

December 17, 2012 at 7:37 PM · Even though I don't normally pay extra for the 3D feature at movie theaters though, I do see it fine for the most part at amusement parks.

I agree with the person who said 3D is fine in small doses. Most amusement park rides / 3D things are about the right length for this technology to me. The Star Tours 3D version I rode this past year was the best 3D I have ever seen, and was probably the perfect length of time for tolerating 3D effects.

December 17, 2012 at 8:06 PM · I am a huge movie fan as I watch several a week, sometime three in a row on movie nights. I am also big into technology, but 3DTV / Blu Ray gives me a major headache about 20 minutes in.

I can see it fine, my eyes just don't like processing all that information trying to trick my brain that is is looking at 3 dimensions.

This is why I love the 3D rides at any park. Most are 5 minutes or less and they arent normal 3D. They are rendered at a moving point of perspective to match the vehicle, so it is even more convincing. The physical elements allow you to take your focus off the screen for a few seconds (Pumkin Bomb).

This video explains the difference between Spider-Man, Transformers, and more than likely Gringotts vs Despicable Me / Shrek 4D / T23D. At 2:45, you can see why it is so convincing.

The classic movie look on a projector / screen is so different than watching on an LCD or plasma with it's oversaturated colors and ultra deep black levels. It is sort of like how book aficionados prefer a real paper book vs an e-reader.

I love watching sports, documentaries, basically anything other than full length movies on today's unrealistic TV's, but movies need to be as close as the theatrical release as possible, at least for me, which means projection, but no 3D.

I have only seen two theatrical releases in 3D, and both times I left with a severe migrane and couldn't enjoy the movie at all.

December 17, 2012 at 9:37 PM · I would think it would be tough with 3D attractions and blind people. Then again, wouldn't it be a problem on nearly every attraction.

The only one I can think that a Blind person can enjoy just as well as others is Sounds Dangerous which is, eh, gone.

December 17, 2012 at 9:59 PM · I have no problem seeing 3D images, but to me it honestly doesn't matter whether it is in 2D or 3D. In fact, unless the 3D is required for interaction to make sense, I'd rather have a 2D attraction so I don't have to wear the glasses. For something like Transformers, 3D is needed for the attraction to feel right, but if something like Star Tours no longer had the 3D it would be almost as good (a couple small changes would probably be necessary, but for most of the attraction there is no interaction with the audience). If Soarin' was refilmed in 3D, I personally would dislike it because it wouldn't do anything for me.

For movies, it's similar to rides. If the film is a 4D movie with audience interaction, I don't mind the 3D, but if it is a normal movie shown in 3D it is just a 3D image in a normal movie theater and therefore I'd rather not have to deal with the glasses. I've only seen a major motion picture in 3D twice since the revival (saw Avatar and Tron: Legacy), and both times I felt that the minimal quality increase was not worth the $5 extra I paid with the ticket ($10 extra for Avatar since it was IMAX 3D). I'm planning to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in HFR 3D, but that is mainly because I want to see how the 48 frames per second looks.

In short, I don't mind 3D, but I think it should be reserved for applications where it makes sense and not just thrown onto everything to make it look cool.

December 17, 2012 at 10:47 PM · I wish people would STOP posting YouTube videos in the comments section. It's lame. If you must post a link, but don't post the video! If Robert is failing to do his job and missing relevant videos then email him and maybe he can hire you, but those of you who resort to videos in the comments just kill the discussion. My two cents!
December 18, 2012 at 2:28 AM · N D: Sadly deep blacks are more realistic. The clever processing in your retina allows a far broader range of exposures than current cameras can deliver. It is familiarity and nostalgia that keep people consuming media through older delivery systems. I agree, however on your point about saturation.

There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding what is delivering a 3D image. If one eye is closed there is no difference focussing on the remaining visual that with old fashioned 2D projection. A 3D ride with one eye is the same as a 2D simulator. A degree of our perception of 3D comes from non binocular effects (ie independent of seeing with one or two eyes). In 2 dimensions you still experience things like depth of field (some objects in focus, some not) and motion parallax (when moving objects closer move quicker across the field of view). Hence why Soarin, Star Tours (old version), etc. work.

Your brain processes your position by integrating data from your body, eyes and ears. It is the disparity between the 'real' data from your ears and body vs the synthesised visual data that causes nausea in simulators. The same mechanism as sea sickness.

Some people get unwell simply from the motion of rides and its effects on the balance sensing gear in the ear. A last group become unwell simply from current 3D technology. This is overlaid, in all cases by a persons subjective experience and emotional state.

December 18, 2012 at 3:54 AM · @Mickey Black
Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey has no 3D in it.
December 18, 2012 at 3:40 PM ·, I know all about color gamuts, image processing etc.... I just prefer the look of the movie theater when watching movies. You can never have a great black level when projecting an image on a white or silver screen, just like your local theater.

I just prefer that look over gangstered colors and ultra deep black levels that are beyond reality. That is probably why I like the 3D rides so much as all of it is projected...

I even prefer to watch older movies in 480P vs remastered HD/Blu Ray versions.

December 18, 2012 at 3:24 PM · My problem is rather unique. I was born without irises, so my vision was compromised from day one. My left eye is considerably stronger than my right eye, so 3D was always a bit dicey. On top of that, I had a detached retina a few years ago, and the surgery to repair it weakened the muscles in my right eye so that the eye no longer lines up properly. It can be fixed, but only by weakening the muscles in my good eye. Because of all this, 3D simply does not work for me. I wish it did, because 3D in real life is just as elusive. I run into things a LOT... Still, I managed to score the highest among my wife, daughter, and myself when we went on TSMM. Go figure!
December 19, 2012 at 12:22 PM · I have a friend who lost one eye. As soon as she sees that something is 3-D she simply ignores it and gives it a pass. If there is a way to compensate, great. Otherwise, for people like her it appears to be of little use.

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