Alton Towers converting Air roller coaster to Galactica with virtual reality

Posted | 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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Rick_UK's avatar

super7* said:

Not a fan of video-based anything at a theme park If I want that, I will stay home and watch tv.

Although I agree with this general sentiment, I would suggest this is slightly different on the basis that there is a £15m coaster involved. I've not got one of those in my house.


Nothing to see here. Move along.

Raven-Phile's avatar

Well, get with the times, man. All the cool kids have a coaster at home.

slithernoggin's avatar

Rick_UK said:...

...this is slightly different on the basis that there is a £15m coaster involved.

Still my stumbling point. Strapping a VR headset to my face to ride a roller coaster, whatever virtual reality it's showing me, makes as little sense to me as wearing a VR headset while playing golf, dancing in a nightclub or making sweet love to Channing Tatum. If what you're actually doing isn't sufficiently interesting, why are you doing to it begin with?


Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

Even with that new haircut? Well, ok, you're right.

Anyway, there's no way in hell I would think of strapping something to my head to watch some faked-up 3D while I'm riding a roller coaster that's already available in live 3D. Call me old fashioned, but I'll still take my thrills from the roller coaster itself. The technology might be entertaining and useful, but for me? Not in this application.

Oh, and besides, I would puke for sure.

ApolloAndy's avatar

Can I ride it and not put on the helmet?


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Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

Normally, I would agree with everyone that a VR headset on a coaster sounds like it would ruin a good ride. However, I had the opportunity at IAAPA this past year to try a VR headset on the Freedom Flyer at Fun Spot America, and I was blown away. It's so incredibly immersive that it turned a mediocre ride into an incredible experience. It's something you really have to try before writing off.


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slithernoggin's avatar

Still hitting my stumbling point.

If you're sufficiently invested in riding a mediocre coaster that you go the expense of strapping a VR headset to your face, why are you riding that mediocre coaster to begin with? Why not go ride a good coaster?


Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

Vater's avatar

If a mediocre coaster can be made an incredible experience, regardless of how it's done, why the hell not do it? Besides, I can't speak for myself, but I've heard several opinions about Air that it's a pretty mediocre coaster.

slithernoggin's avatar

But the coaster, I think, is not being made an incredible experience. What you're watching may be incredible, but the ride you're on is still not incredible. It's like relying on a VR headset to make a McDonald's burger an incredible experience.

Using a VR headset to enhance an incredible coaster, I can kind of sort of wrap my mind around.


Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

Jeff's avatar


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Raven-Phile's avatar

I'm still waiting on the new VR enabled Dragon Wagon at the county fair this summer.

Rick_UK's avatar

If you don't think that Air can be improved by doing almost anything to it (including VR), I can only assume that you haven't ridden Air.


Nothing to see here. Move along.

Rick_UK's avatar

slithernoggin said:

But the coaster, I think, is not being made an incredible experience. What you're watching may be incredible, but the ride you're on is still not incredible. It's like relying on a VR headset to make a McDonald's burger an incredible experience.

Using a VR headset to enhance an incredible coaster, I can kind of sort of wrap my mind around.

Sorry to double post.

I think 4D Cinemas are often used to back up a lame film. Some of the worst shot/acted films I have seen have been in that environment but the fact that your chair is rumbling from time to time and that water squirts at you when the dog sneezes makes it all OK.

You'd never have watched Honey I Shrunk The Audience without the 4D nonsense, would you?*

*If you want to, it's on Youtube...


Nothing to see here. Move along.

LostKause's avatar

slithernoggin said:

Using a VR headset to enhance an incredible coaster, I can kind of sort of wrap my mind around.

One thing that makes a coaster incredible to me is what you see, and where it goes. The Beast at Kings Island is one of my favorite rides because it traverses a wooded area, and you feel like you have actually left the park while riding it. Magnum is one of my favorites because of the Lake Erie view, and the freekin' tunnels. I rode Diamondback opening day a few years ago during the nightly fireworks, and it was amazing!

It's hard to explain, but I think a lot of people feel the same way. I go to a park to be in a real place that is outside the everyday norm. Putting a screen directly in front of my eyes while doing something I love will not enhance the experience. It blocks my view of what I really want to see. This would be especially true on a coaster that I find more exciting than the others.

One thing that has me hooked on riding coasters is watching where the track takes the train. Again, it's really hard for me to explain. You will not get this wearing a VR headset.

Last edited by LostKause,
Tekwardo's avatar

My only issue would be if it makes me sick. I tend to get motion sickness.


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slithernoggin's avatar

I'm with LK.

If you're driving a 30-year old car with a flat tire, wearing a VR headset showing you a drive in a state of the art Jaguar doesn't alter the fact you're driving a crappy car or alter the physical experience.


Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

Thabto's avatar

I don't think people would say that Mean Streak would be better if they added VR to it. It would probably give everybody worse migraines. It wouldn't take away the roughness. And I agree with those who say they are there to ride something and experience what's really there. But I would have to try VR on a coaster before I say whether I would like it or not.


Brian

Vater's avatar

Has anyone ridden one of those simulator rides? The ones that flip you upside down and all that? Imagine sitting inside one of those as it performs all its maneuvers with no video. Fun? No. Granted, not the best example since I'm not really a fan of those things. But my point is, in that case VR video enhances an otherwise lame experience. Isn't VR on a lame coaster potentially the same idea?

Look, I'm not saying it's the greatest idea, and I'm not advocating that all average or lame coasters should get a VR overhaul. I'm not even saying I would necessarily have an awesome time, or even like it a little bit. But I can imagine the experience with VR could be better than without. When someone who has ridden an otherwise boring coaste says the experience with VR is "incredible," could it maybe have some merit?

This is assuming, of course, that the VR timing never gets out of sync with the actual ride. Because, yeah, that would absolutely suck.

Last edited by Vater,
slithernoggin's avatar

The point of a simulator ride is that it's a simulation.

Sorry. It's still my stumbling block. If the coaster you're going to ride is so awful that only an imaginary VR ride can make it better, why are you riding that coaster at all?


Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

Vater's avatar

Why put a roller coaster indoors and add props and special effects? Why put a giant top spin indoors and add special effects? Why add music or fire to a coaster, or make the train go through tunnels? Why is it bad to try something new in an attempt enhance a ride's experience? Sorry, but your question is actually beyond my comprehension...it's my stumbling block. Why would I not want to at least try riding something that could potentially be better than the average or lame experience it was before?

Spiderman at IoA is essentially one of the previously mentioned VR rides (the ones you find at places like Dave & Busters), but it runs on a track and actually incorporates real sets with 3D screens--a sort of virtual reality, if you will. Can you find anyone in their right mind who would disagree that it's a better experience than the standalone VR thingies?

"Good heavens, why would they put a VR vehicle on a track and make it all 3D and stuff? Have they lost their minds?"

I'm starting to think the coaster enthusiast blinders are in play here, yet again. If it's a coaster, it has to be experienced exactly like all other coasters...you have to see the track, the train, the surroundings...otherwise it's not worth riding. I dunno...am I the only lunatic who can grasp this concept of a coaster and virtual reality coexisting in the same attraction?

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