Alton Towers converting Air roller coaster to Galactica with virtual reality

Posted Tuesday, January 12, 2016 11:06 AM | Contributed by Rick_UK

Alton Towers has announced plans to open a rollercoaster ride on which passengers wear virtual-reality headsets. The Staffordshire-based adventure park said Galactica would open in April, following two years of planning. The flying roller coaster Air will be renamed Galactica.

Read more and see photos from The BBC.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016 11:23 AM

It is resort's first big new ride since one of its rollercoasters crashed in June, seriously injuring five people.

I feel like this comment would be more relevant if the accident was more than 7 months ago...

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016 11:41 AM

Most of the article was about the accident, which I found much more interesting than adding VR goggles to Air. Great article though.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016 12:38 PM

LostKause said:

Great article though.

It doesn't mention Air.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016 1:15 PM

Three minute is a nice, but longer than average ride time. Loading and unloading a flying coaster can take longer than others (based on Firehawk @KingsIsland). It seems like this will have capacity issues.

And do they have to worry about sanitary concerns with multiple people wearing the same VR goggles hour after hour? It'd be gross on those sweaty, hot days if I find the previous passenger left behind a dripping mess I have to put on my face.

I LOVE the concept and hope to see it pulled off well.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016 1:56 PM

I just can't imagine having something strapped over my head while riding a coaster. It sounds like an awful ****ing idea.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016 3:31 PM

I'm with Jeff on this. For me, being on a roller coaster is enough of an experience that I don't need to add to it. When I think of virtual reality, I think of high tech arcade experiences or something like Disneyquest. Being at a park and on a coaster is plenty of "reality" for me.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016 3:55 PM

It's not even just that. Visual cues matched with the sensations from the physical inputs on your body is what make your brain work. If those get out of sync, you'll start throwing up.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016 4:12 PM

^Spoken like someone who'd ridden the aptly-named Body Wars, or Akbar's Queasy Adventure in Tampa...

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016 4:27 PM

Agreed. Riding a roller coaster wearing a VR headset strikes me as being like driving a car while wearing a VR headset. I could do it, I suppose. But I'd rather see where I'm going.

Being in a motion simulator with a VR headset, "riding" a roller coaster, that makes sense to me.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016 5:03 PM

Neuski said:

LostKause said:

Great article though.

It doesn't mention Air.

Jeff's headline mentions Air. :) I first read the article from Facebook, and their Facebook post mentioned that Air is getting the VR treatment. (HA! Did I just coin the phrase "VR treatment?")

And now that you mention it, they kind of left that info out of the article, I think. How do we feel about that? This is not a brand new coaster.

I kind of hate the idea of a VR headset strapped to my head while I ride a roller coaster. That's not to say that everyone else will. Heck, I might like it after I try something like it someday. The VR thing is trying to be popular though, with all the new VR gadgets coming out in the very near future. I don't know if having the VR experience in your home is going to be good or bad for this new ride concept. Movie theater attendance has been going down drastically because people can have the same kind of experience at home these days. It interests me a lot.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016 5:05 PM

I'm not sure how VR will take off. The Oculus Rift is going to cost $600, which isn't very affordable to most. I'd make sure that there is going to be plenty of support for it. I fell for gaming related gimmicks a few times and I'm really watching this one before I bite. I'll wait until the technology is much cheaper and more widely supported. They though 3DTV would be the next big thing, but that died out fairly quickly.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016 5:14 PM

LostKause said:

I don't know if having the VR experience in your home is going to be good or bad for this new ride concept.

That's kind of the thing for me. Sitting in my house with a VR headset strapped on experiencing a game or a movie or a TV show makes sense to me. Sitting in a roller coaster with a VR headset strapped to my head showing me a ride on the roller coaster, on the other hand.... Why bother?

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016 5:19 PM

Jeff said:

It's not even just that. Visual cues matched with the sensations from the physical inputs on your body is what make your brain work. If those get out of sync, you'll start throwing up.

I would hope that the problem of what you see not matching up with what your inner ear feels has been fixed. Gyroscope technology has been getting a lot better over the last few years. Perhaps what you see in the VR headset is not just playing a movie, but showing an actual computer-controlled landscape, always in the correct orientation. That would be the only way it will remain popular. Just showing a video will cause people to get very sick, like Jeff mentioned.

Word of advice. If visiting Gatlinburg, TN, do not ride the Ripley's Moving Theater. It has exactly the problem I am talking about here.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016 6:56 PM

Some additional information is available here.

Like others have mentioned in this thread, the idea of riding a VR flying coaster really doesn’t sound that appealing. I’m also not liking the sound of “hefty shoulder straps" to prevent head movement. I can see the appeal in adding VR to a fairly tame powered coaster, but I have a hard time imagining what it would be like on a flying coaster. The good news is that the regular non-VR ride will still be available.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016 10:05 PM

It bothers me that an article titled to one subject spent more time sensationalizing the subject that will get them Google hits.

But I have zero interest in this "improvement." A flying coaster is already an extremely unique experience for the majority of visitors to Alton Towers, one that should sell itself without the need for gimmicks. I'm guessing, however, that the flying position is best suited for the virtual programming that the viewer/rider will experience.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016 10:15 PM

"Extremely unique experience" is an interesting way to say "sucks".

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016 10:29 PM

Haha... Yes. Yes it is.

I think that flying coasters do indeed suck. I find them extremely uncomfortable, and probably much more so with a helmet strapped to my face and my head restrained.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016 10:35 PM

Not a fan of video-based anything at a theme park If I want that, I will stay home and watch tv. This includes this trend of video-based dark rides. One reason I don't care for Universal. Too many video base attractions right down to the train ride. It's really seems like a cost-cutting way versus rides with real, 3-d animatronics, etc. The video-based stuff tends to make me dizzy.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016 11:37 PM

Thabto said:

The Oculus Rift is going to cost $600, which isn't very affordable to most.

On that point, like any product, the cost will come down as other companies enter the market.

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