'Midnight Ride' Brings The Twilight Saga to Life

August 19, 2021, 4:29 PM · The Themed Entertainment Association is honoring its Thea Award winners with Digital Case Study presentations again this year. Over the next few weeks, I will be covering the sessions and bringing you highlights from these stories where the award-winning design teams talk about how they brought these attractions to life.

First up is "The Twilight Saga: Midnight Ride" at Lionsgate Entertainment World on Hengqin Island, China. Created under the direction of Thinkwell Group, Midnight Ride is a virtual reality motorcycle ride through the woods of the Pacific Northwest, where werewolves and vampires fight.

Lionsgate Entertainment World is a "vertical theme park," an indoor facility with tight space constraints. That made a motion base VR experience a compelling option for a thrill ride. But actually packing those thrills into a tight space remained a problem.

"How can we actually get a really dynamic experience of a media-rich experience with high resolution and stereo sound and a dynamic motion base while not getting not tripped over cables?" Lionsgate's Jerry Sabatini asked. "How are we going to do this? We weren't sure, but we knew we really wanted a ride like this."

To deliver, Thinkwell enlisted help from attraction engineers at CAVU Designwerks and DreamCraft Attractions and computer animation specialists at Framestore to create Jacob Black's garage in real life. Real dirt bikes, enabled with motion base tech, provide the ride, while VR units tethered to the garage's ceiling provide the show. An automated process brings down the VR units, which magnetically connect to rider's headsets to speed loading time.

Guests can take multiple paths through the ride, though the system is designed to bring them back to specific waypoints in order to maintain a cohesive, cinematic narrative. To help sell the attraction as a shared experience, riders can see other riders on their bikes during the adventure - which required additional design coordination and programming.

"All the bikes couldn't just be the same plain black bike that Jacob rode," Sabatini said. "We had to have identifiable markers so that when you saw your friend in the physical space sit down on yellow number nine, once you were immersed in the VR space, you will see your friend sitting on the yellow number nine. There were identifiable markers we chose to include in the physical space to make the digital immersive experience that much better."

You can buy tickets via the TEA's website to watch the complete session on demand, as well as future sessions in the series.

And for discounted tickets to the park, please visit our international travel partner's Lionsgate Entertainment World tickets page.

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Replies (1)

August 20, 2021 at 3:18 PM

If the ride ends at the Cullens' and Edward comes out and purses his lips at you, I'm IN.

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