Six Flags Adding VR Technology to 9 Roller Coasters in 2016
The future is now, at least if you’re Six Flags.
In a story for USA Today from About.com’s Theme Park Expert Arthur Levine, Six Flags announced today that they are bringing virtual reality headsets to nine coasters throughout their chain.
“This will blow people away,” Brett Petit, senior VP, marketing and sales for Six Flags, told Levine.
The nine Six Flags that will be receiving “VR Makeovers” in 2016 are:
- Superman The Ride at Six Flags New England (Intamin Mega Coaster)
- Superman: Ride of Steel at Six Flags America (Intamin Mega Coaster)
- Superman Krypton Coaster at Six Flags Fiesta Texas (B&M Floorless)
- The New Revolution at Six Flags Magic Mountain (Schwarzkopf Looper)
- Daredevil Dive at Six Flags Over Georgia (Gerstlauer Euro-Fighter)
- Shock Wave at Six Flags Over Texas (Schwarzkopf Looper)
- Ninja at Six Flags St. Louis (Vekoma MK-1200)
- Goliath at La Ronde (B&M Hyper)
- Steamin’ Demon at The Great Escape (Arrow Looper)
Through the Virtual Reality headsets, the three Superman Coasters will “embark on a hyper-realistic journey in the city of Metropolis,” as Superman takes on super villain Lex Luthor. The other six coasters will experience “New Revolution,” a futuristic fighter plane experience that will feature a futuristic battle to save planet Earth from an alien invasion.. Coaster riders will get to be the heroes who save the planet from annihilation.
The Virtual Reality experience will be available to all riders ages 12 and over, and there will be no additional charge to use the VR headest. If you’d like to experience the ride without the headset, you can do that as well.
According to Levine, there will also be an interactive element for these coasters while ascending the lift hill of the respective coaster. “It would be hard for passengers to be heroic without any weaponry,” he wrote. “Six Flags will have you covered. The VR headgear will include controllers that riders will be able to use, video game-style, to fire virtual guns. The shooting will only be enabled while the trains ascend the lift hills. By incorporating VR, the lift hill will become an essential part of the coaster experience.”
Levine continues. “The VR will actually begin before the trains leave the station. Once passengers get into their seats and don the headsets, they will have a fully realized, 360-degree, 3D view of the alternate reality. It won’t be a fixed video. It will be a virtual landscape that will be linked to the trains’ motion and will respond to the passengers’ head movements. According to the team working on the rides, the headgear will not include audio, but there will likely be external sound effects blasted from speakers set up around the coasters.”
Six Flags will be working with German-Based company VR Coaster, who “cracked the code to make the concept viable and compelling.” Each VR headset will consist of a Samsung Galaxy smartphone clamped into a Samsung Gear VR headset. The goggles were designed in conjunction with VR innovator, Oculus. They will include modified head straps and chinstraps to help secure the equipment during the rides.
The Samsung Galaxy phones are in use due in part to Samsung’s designation as the “Official Technology Partner” of Six Flags, a partnership that was announced today.
“The phones will be loaded with a proprietary VR Coasters app that will run autonomously in the headsets. To keep the virtual experience tethered to the real coaster experience, the phones will be wirelessly connected via Bluetooth to a “black box” mounted on the train.”
The ability to precisely track the motion of the train is critical. The VR visuals will match the coaster layout. If the coaster train is about to bank left, the perspective from the virtual fighter plane that passengers will see in their headsets will also bank left. “Everything is more intense and more heightened than reality,” says Thomas Wagner, the CEO of VR Coasters. “But we’ve designed the experience in a way that riders always know what is coming.”
“The modified headgear will include anti-microbial leather on all surfaces that will come in contact with riders. Six Flags crew members will wipe and sanitize the gear between each use. There will be about five headsets for every seat on a coaster to allow for a steady supply of cleaned and charged units.”
This is the second major Virtual Reality announcement of 2016. In January Alton Towers announced that their former “Air” Flying Coaster will feature VR Technology as “Galactica” this year.
For the full USA Today Article, Click Here.
For more on the partnership between Samsung and Six Flags, Click Here.
Are you excited to ride one of these VR Coasters now that they’re coming to North America full time? Let us know in the comments below!
Information from USA Today was used in this report. All Images via Six Flags and USA Today.