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For those people who find that travelling 100 mph while falling 400 feet on a roller coaster just isn’t exciting enough, Samsung and Six Flags Entertainment have announced a collaboration that will enhance the experience by bringing virtual reality to the theme park rides.
Starting this month, nine Six Flags parks across the US will introduce a feature where riders get to wear Samsung’s Oculus-powered Gear VR headset while on a roller coaster.
Six of the rides will feature the New Revolution VR experience, which places participants in the co-pilot seat of a jet as they battle alien invaders. The other three offer up a Superman story, where the coasters' drops and twists mimic the VR experience of flying alongside the Man of Steel as he battles Lex Luthor’s army of Lexbots.
Wearing the headsets on the rides will be optional, and there’s no extra fee for those who want to use them. Six Flags assures people that because the VR visuals are synchronized precisely with the roller coaster, riders won’t experience motion sickness. Each car contains a ‘black box’ that syncs with its passengers’ headsets, so it can send the right images (via Bluetooth) at the right times.
To alleviate customers’ fears that pressing the same VR headsets against so many different people’s faces could pose a health risk, Six Flags points out that all parts that touch a rider will be “covered with an anti-microbial leather and cleansed between every use with anti-bacterial wipes.”
The Gear VR’s used on the rides will be custom made and feature an extra chin strap to make sure they don’t fly off your face as you’re travelling around the track at high speeds. “We’ve actually tested these at 5.9 G’s and there’s no problem with those,” Six Flags Senior VP of Marketing Brett Petit told Mashable.
Similar virtual reality rides have already been announced in other parts of the world. In the UK, theme park Alton Towers is set to open the Galactica VR roller coaster in April that also uses the Samsung VR headset, and Surrey, UK-based Thorpe Park plans to open a ghost train that uses the HTC Vive, which sounds particularly terrifying. Described as a "mind-bending thrill ride," the thirteen-minute attraction has twelve different story lines and two possible endings.
Here is a list of the parks and their roller coasters that will be offering the VR experience. There’s also a Six Flags video (below) showing what to expect from the rides:
New Revolution Virtual Reality Coasters
- Shock Wave at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington (opening March 10 to Season Pass Holders as a special sneak preview)
- Dare Devil Dive at Six Flags Over Georgia outside of Atlanta (opening March 12 to Season Pass Holders as a special sneak preview)
- The New Revolution at Six Flags Magic Mountain near Los Angeles (opening March 26 to Season Pass Holders as a special sneak preview)
- Ninja at Six Flags St. Louis in Eureka
- Steamin’ Demon at The Great Escape in Lake George, New York
- Goliath at La Ronde in Montreal
Superman Virtual Reality Coasters
- Superman Krypton Coaster at Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio
- Superman The Ride at Six Flags New England in Agawam, Massachusetts
- Superman Ride of Steel at Six Flags America in Upper Marlboro, Maryland