Six Flags to add virtual reality to nine roller coasters this season

Posted Thursday, March 3, 2016 10:19 AM | Contributed by slithernoggin

Already highly regarded for its arsenal of kick-ass thrill machines, Six Flags will up the ante by repurposing nine of its roller coasters as ride systems for what could prove to be delirious, out-of-this-world VR experiences. It will take immersive storytelling to new heights – literally.

Read more from USA Today.

Thursday, March 3, 2016 11:01 AM

If it slows down dispatch times i for one don't like it. I think it won't last long as i can see it taken off rides as soon as the first lawsuit is filed from someone getting hit by one of the headsets flying off a coaster.

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Thursday, March 3, 2016 11:03 AM

Two words: capacity nightmare.

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Thursday, March 3, 2016 11:05 AM

I think VR is a fad. It will be gone in a few years, just like 3DTV.

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Thursday, March 3, 2016 11:12 AM

This is obviously going to be an up-charge feature. Any idea what the cost will be?

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Thursday, March 3, 2016 11:13 AM

The article says no upcharge (which was a surprise to me).

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Thursday, March 3, 2016 11:25 AM

It's a good thing that dispatch times at my local Six Flags park weren't already laughably bad...

I miss the days of low quality audio bumping from the headrests and a random fire effect thrown in somewhere along the layout for good measure.

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Thursday, March 3, 2016 11:27 AM

Wow.. I missed that... I'm surprised... They could squeeze another few bucks out of every person...

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Thursday, March 3, 2016 11:28 AM

I remain perplexed by the notion of wearing a VR headset whilst riding a roller coaster. It's turning a roller coaster into a motion simulator. In my very old man opinion.

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Thursday, March 3, 2016 12:26 PM

I am quite a way behind on my trip reports so I've not published anything on this yet, but – I thought the effect worked very well indeed on the ride at Europa Park, where it is an upcharge. I liked it a lot.

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Thursday, March 3, 2016 12:55 PM

The ride selection at each park comes off as pretty random... I don't know why they would be adding these rides in particular. There's a wide range of styles, newness (aka popularity) and manufacturers.

List of Rides:

SFA = Superman
Fiesta = Superman Krypton Coaster
Great Escape = Steamin' Demon
SFMM = Revolution
New England = Superman (Renamed again)
SFOG = Dare Devil Dive
SFOT = Shock Wave
St Louis = Ninja
La Ronde = Goliath

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Thursday, March 3, 2016 2:51 PM

This strikes me as a perfectly awful idea. A VR headset will ruin the purity of the ride experience. It's a distortion. And putting it on a coaster with inversions such as Superman Krypton is almost certain to be extremely disorienting. And yes, it does seem that this will increase loading time/decrease ride capacity. Superman f/k/a Bizarro is one of the finest steel coasters in existence; does it really need what someone perceives as enhancement?

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Thursday, March 3, 2016 2:55 PM

jonnytips said:

There's a wide range of styles, newness (aka popularity) and manufacturers.

List of Rides:

SFA = Superman
Fiesta = Superman Krypton Coaster
Great Escape = Steamin' Demon
SFMM = Revolution
New England = Superman (Renamed again)
SFOG = Dare Devil Dive
SFOT = Shock Wave
St Louis = Ninja
La Ronde = Goliath

For me, that's basically the best steel coaster in each park (save for SFStL and SFoG). Wish they'd considered adding the "plus" to rides that were more kiddie/family rides...

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Thursday, March 3, 2016 3:41 PM

Richard, could you provide us with more insight on how the headsets were secured on the rider and the train? They appear separate from one another in the rendering. What were loading and unloading times like?

Edit: finally got the article to load on my work computer.

Last edited by cmwein, Thursday, March 3, 2016 4:02 PM
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Thursday, March 3, 2016 4:30 PM

It would be hard for passengers to be heroic without any weaponry. 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.

Clearly, Superman will be rocketing to the top of the coaster rankings after this. I also like how they took a shot at Disney and Harry Potter. Slam dunk!

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Thursday, March 3, 2016 5:38 PM

I tested the VR on Thunder Run at CW in October. It was really great. Fun and made an ok ride really fun! Filled out a questionnaire after the ride and got the impression they were testing it as an add-on additional cost per ride. Six Flags is giving this experience for free! This will screw Cedar Fair if they planed on making extra cash on their version!

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Thursday, March 3, 2016 6:24 PM

Don't know about "screwing" Cedar Fair, as anyone who's bought a ticket into a Cedar Fair park is going to make a decision about paying for a VR-enhanced coaster experience based on the value they perceive; they're likely not going to say, forget this, hop in the car and speed off to the nearest Six Flags park offering free VR-enhanced coasters. Like any other part of the amusement park experience, they're going to say, this sounds cool; is it worth the amount of money the park is asking?

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Thursday, March 3, 2016 6:34 PM

Really wonderful that Six Flags is known for their great efficiency in operations, just like SeaWorld parks. This shouldn't have any impact at all on that! /s

I don't even want to imagine what this will do to the load/unload times. I'm getting chills just thinking about it.

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Thursday, March 3, 2016 7:39 PM

This doesn't sound so bad to me, especially on coasters I've already ridden a billion times.

-The VR system is completely optional
-The VR system is not an upcharge
-The VR system will have a separate queue
-The VR system will have a fitting area prior to boarding to minimize dispatch delays
-The VR system will have several head straps that will be checked by employees to prevent loss of the device during the ride

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Thursday, March 3, 2016 7:42 PM

Article says... Speaking of sickness, what about passengers, including sweaty ones who might have to wait in line an hour or more on a sweltering summer day, sharing headsets and the, er, cooties factor? Petit says that the modified headgear will include anti-microbial leather on all surfaces that will come in contact with riders. Six Flags crewmembers 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.

I skimmed the article for this very topic. No. Freakin'. Way. I cannot stand the thought of putting something on my head and face that hundreds of sweaty people have worn prior to me. Though I'm sure I shouldn't worry about the commitment to thoroughness that the ride ops will surely, unwaveringly deploy throughout the season in their "wiping and sanitizing" between uses, I think I'll pass. Seriously... makes me throw up in my mouth a little just thinking about it. Ick.

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