Rode the VR Superman ride at Six Flags America a couple days ago. It appears that VR is a real mixed bag.
Positives: genuine excitement among riders who had ridden the coaster many times before; adds thrills when you can’t see the track in front of you; tremendous re-rideabilty.
Negatives: takes forever to load the cars (teaching everyone how to attach and calibrate headsets); VR world not HD crisp; headset hurts those with glasses like myself; no sounds makes the immersion less believable (appears that Hulk will have sound).
“VR Coasters” just brings up that little hydraulic VR Coaster ball that used to be the big attraction at DisneyQuest–
What’s the -point- of building track a hundred feet in the air for real, if you’re going to have your eyes shut and pretend you’re somewhere else?: “Wow, the G-force is JUST LIKE I’m plummeting 90 feet on an alien landscape! Wouldn’t it be great to do that for real?”
Yes, parks build coasters for coaster-heads, but not ALL people who ride mega-coasters are so core-jaded that actual real-life plummets and velocity don’t impress them anymore.
I agree with Eric on this one. VR is going to ruin the ride experience for a lot of people should Universal choose to go with it. If they wanted to do that they should have torn down the coaster track and made something more like Mission Space in Epcot. You would get the same thrills pretty much, and it would be far simpler to operate and get everyone through in a timely manner.
I get that Universal wants to create a more immersive experience and tell a story while your on the ride, which is hard to do on a coaster, but I really don’t think that VR is the answer.
I believe that theme parks have been shying away from practical effects and going more virtual ones because they are new exciting and cheaper than practical effects, but they’ve gotten it all wrong. Take the new Frozen ride for example, between the projected animatronic faces and the entire walls of projector screens that ride is mostly projection with a sprinkling of practical effects.
When are theme parks going to realize that all virtual effects isn’t a good thing? Carrying on with the Frozen example, quite honestly, if I wanted to watch a projection of the world of Frozen, I would just stay home and watch the movie because I won’t have to wait in line forever and it will be a higher quality viewing experience. People go to theme parks to be immersed in worlds of movies they love, not to watch them again.
I do feel like there are places where these technologies could help the theme park experience, but designers really need to work hard to make it blend in better with the physical worlds they worked so painstakingly to create.
Look what JJ Abrams has done with Star Wars. He used CGI only where he had to to get the effect he wanted and everything else was practical. I believe that this is one of they reasons the movie did so well; practical effects are on the whole more convincing as long as they are done right even when it’s on screen.
They should definitely add it as an OPTION, but not make it mandatory to ride. I love the idea of them using the Toon Lagoon amphitheatre as it will allow guests who don’t want to ride the option to ride it virtually. Exciting stuff!
I experienced this at Universal Orlando and they said that it was going to be a considered option for people who cannot physically ride the roller coaster. The VR would instead be used to allow these people to feel like they have experienced the ride, without actually being on it. They said that if there was enough positive feedback, they were going to further extend it to other rides at their theme parks. Personally, I thought there was too much 3rd person and that it should be based all within 1st person. The bits that were within 1st person were very good. It might also be used in the future to gather more feedback on new rides.
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