Six Flags CEO says VR a cheap way to update roller coasters

Posted Monday, June 6, 2016 8:38 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Virtual reality will increase Six Flags' ability to refresh its older, less trafficked rides. Besides spreading out the crowds, being able to repurpose an older ride is financially advantageous compared to the costs of building a new attraction.

Read more and see video from CNBC.

Monday, June 6, 2016 9:21 AM

Except that it cuts capacity so much that those less-trafficked rides become painfully low-capacity thanks to the added loading procedures and general subpar efficiency. Also, I'll be interested to see what traffic this system actually brings.

Oh, and didn't SFNE's Superman get the VR treatment? I was unaware that that park's signature coaster was a low-traffic attraction.

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Monday, June 6, 2016 9:48 AM

I honestly think that the shelf life of this stuff is two years at most. I haven't done it, but I imagine that it's a one-and-done affair.

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Monday, June 6, 2016 10:22 AM

I'm waiting for one of the headsets to come off and hit another rider. That might bring this silliness to an end.

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Monday, June 6, 2016 11:05 AM

I'm in the "get rid of it" camp. But, like everyone here, I'm a coaster major with a minor in amusement parks and a third in technology. I mainly go for rides, not... whatever this is. I care about things like live experience, capacity, wait times, whether or not I vomit, stuff like that.

Maybe today's young park-goer sees this as added value and is all gung-ho to try it. Maybe it appeals more to the gamer guys and gals and to them it's a perfect mashup of ride and tech. But I don't even have to try it to tell you it's a firm no from me. And I agree it's likely to fade away- the discombooberation will eventually get the best of them.

Even though it's a business-related article, and I get that, I think it's a little weird that a CEO would come out to say they're upgrading tired experiences on the cheap.

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Monday, June 6, 2016 1:30 PM

You know what would be a hundred times more interesting than incorporating Virtual Reality goggles onto roller coasters? Augmented Reality goggles. I would be all for that. You could still see what was going on in real life, but you could interact with a dragon, or watch Superman and Batman get their fight on next to the ride. THAT would be amazing. Mark my words that it will happen some day. If not in the near future, within the next ten or so years. It's such a good idea that it has to happen.

Blocking your field of vision with crappy video game graphics while trying to enjoy a roller coaster does not sound like fun at all. I also think that once everyone who wants to try it do, the lines will shrink for it, and it will be noted as a failure and trashed.

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Monday, June 6, 2016 1:46 PM

Yeah, like I've said elsewhere, I just don't get the point of having a VR experience on a coaster. I ride a coaster because I want to enjoy what I'm seeing and feeling. Strapping a phone onto my face turns a roller coaster into a ride simulator. I can "ride" those at the mall.

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Monday, June 6, 2016 7:42 PM

I'm not a fan of the VR "update" at all, but I will grant that it could be a short-term boost to the popularity of some rides- the only thing Ninja at St. Louis really has going for it is that it's just a few steps away from a Batman, so that makes sense. That said, I'd love to see how they arrived at the conclusion that a low-capacity Eurofighter at a larger, busy park (SFOG), and Superman (SFNE) were the prime candidates for this at their respective parks.

Last edited by Walk-Off HBP, Monday, June 6, 2016 9:19 PM
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Monday, June 6, 2016 11:24 PM

La Ronde introduced the VR thing on Goliath and it has turned the ride from the fastest moving in the line to the slowest. We're talking a dispatch every 10 minutes on a B&M Hyper Coaster... A friend was recently at Six Flags Over Texas and it took an hour to dispatch 4 trains on Shockwave. It is one thing to get the headsets on riders, but after over a month in Texas, the failure rate for the phones was insane. Each train would have at least one or two phones fail in the station and riders would have distorted images, no image at all or a frozen screen. That is what was causing the delays and we're barely in June!

I am off to Japan next week and will catch the end of the "XR Ride" limited time experience at Universal Studios Japan. They turned Space Fantasy, a space Anime indoor Mack spinning coaster into "Kyary Pamyu Pamyu XR Ride" where you hear this... weird song while going through the J Pop singer dream factory with a VR headset.

Last edited by Absimilliard, Monday, June 6, 2016 11:27 PM
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Tuesday, June 7, 2016 1:31 AM

Ditto for what Absimilliard said. I experienced it at Six Flags Magic Mountain two weeks ago. The VR experience made me absolutely nauseous, but the worst part was the line. I waited 50 minutes for the New Revolution on a very slow day and by visual count there were about 110 - 120 people ahead of me. I also rode multiple times without the VR experience and not once did I witness a train that was dispatched in a timely manner and every train had at least one rider where the VR experience failed.

It's an awful addition! At some parks they've put this on high-capacity, flagship attractions. This isn't updating a tired, old ride.

Last edited by egieszl, Tuesday, June 7, 2016 1:40 AM
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Tuesday, June 7, 2016 1:57 AM

Absimilliard said:

La Ronde introduced the VR thing on Goliath and it has turned the ride from the fastest moving in the line to the slowest. We're talking a dispatch every 10 minutes on a B&M Hyper Coaster... A friend was recently at Six Flags Over Texas and it took an hour to dispatch 4 trains on Shockwave. It is one thing to get the headsets on riders, but after over a month in Texas, the failure rate for the phones was insane. Each train would have at least one or two phones fail in the station and riders would have distorted images, no image at all or a frozen screen. That is what was causing the delays and we're barely in June!

Seeing as it's been the disaster most thought it would be, I wonder if they'd consider limiting it to certain hours of the day? No one is endearing themselves to anyone with dispatch interval times like that on a people-eating B&M coaster.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2016 6:59 PM

I just tried the new revolution at SFMM and I thought it was pretty neat. I would love to see what else they could do with this technology. It be cool if in the future they could sync the video to a 360-POV of a real life fighter jet, rather then the animations.

I do agree though, the dispatch times are terrible.

I think the VR headsets would be perfect as a up-charge attraction.

They could possibly sell them towards the front of the line for $5 with someone helping to put them on each buyer, so that they could get them on the ride as quickly as possible when the train is ready. Less people wearing them will make it much more efficient and I am guessing they would make a good amount of money off it.

As it stands right now, I can't imagine how the line's must be on the larger attractions. It took over a hour to ride Revolution with a very short line. It was taking 5-8 minutes between dispatches. I was lucky to get in line for it first thing in the morning or it would have been a very long and miserable wait.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2016 8:35 PM

Replacing hard OTSRs with vests - there's a cheap (and even more effective) way to update roller coasters!

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Wednesday, June 8, 2016 10:43 PM

I just reread the headline. I always thought that it was a rule of business to never use the word "cheap." It can misunderstood for "low quality." Now that I think about it...

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Wednesday, June 8, 2016 11:11 PM

That's my choice. They don't use it in the linked article.

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Thursday, June 9, 2016 9:02 AM

"Cost-effective".... (*wink*)

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016 8:03 AM

WNCI Columbus radio reported this morning that Cedar Point is testing VR on Iron Dragon.

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