When it comes to family entertainment there are few things as engaging and fun as theme parks. These multi-million dollar facilities are created through the hard work of carpenters, welders and mechanics, having some roller coasters cost as much as $350 million dollars! Virtual experiences are not new at theme parks but with the recent explosion in VR technology theme parks are jumping in to VR rides with renewed vigor.
Virtual Reality Rides
The Simpsons ride, for example involves mechanized chairs with a huge screen in front of riders. The chairs move and shake and include atmospheric effects synchronized to the video experience. The ride is quite immersive and at the same time, has the side effects of a motion simulator.
With new goggle, haptic, and control technology we’re starting to see new types of rides and experiences come to the theme parks.
Theme Parks Who Are Already Planning VR Rides
From Six Flags, to Sea World and Even Buena Vista! VR Rides are the new craze for Theme Park attractions! Buena Vista is making a really cool attraction called “Ghost Town”. Sixteen visitors strap on a headset and enter a battlefield to defend a Ghost Town from… Robots?
Universal Hollywood is creating rides with motion simulating chairs for Harry Potter and Despicable Me.
Six Flags is giving headsets on roller coaster, so that people can see themselves flying and shooting down alien aircraft during the ride in a semi-augmented reality experience.
And finally we have Sea World, who is making a complete revamp of their theme park.
Sea World Adopting VR Rides
Sea World has announced that it will discontinue it’s captive Orca breeding program. Animal activists and costs finally managed to force Sea World into shutting down the program. Now, Sea World believes there is great potential in VR technology, specially for their particular theme.
Sea World’s CEO said that “We see great potential for virtual reality use across the parks,” and that “We’re also looking to have a version of virtual reality for our animals where guests can see them live and other things you typically can’t see as a human today except through virtual reality.”
Perhaps Sea World is planning to place 360 cameras on the Animals Spaces, and stream the content online? That would be a lot of fun.
Sea World is already offering a VR Ride with the help of it’s amazing Kraken Ride. Wearing a VR Headset while riding the Kraken makes for one amazing ride. The Kraken is already thrilling and VR makes people experience an underwater race.
AR or VR Rides
As exciting as VR Rides sound a lot of customers are worried about an abuse of the tech. VR is fun, but if I pay for a theme park I want to ride an actual roller coaster right?
For instance Sea World or Bush Gardens offer amazing experiences that can’t be replicated by VR.
Watching dolphins or lions can’t quite be replicated by VR right now either , and while VR Rides seems like a great thing, we will see how far visitors want to go.
Image Credit Jeremy Thompson