For the first time on a roller coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure, riders on Skull Mountain – which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year – have the opportunity to take part in an interactive virtual reality gaming experience as the coaster speeds, twists and dips along its 1,377-foot tracks.
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This seems like the right "type" or ride to get VR. It's popularity isn't that high, it's completely in the dark anyway (or it was last time I rode it), and it's moderately thrilling in it's natural state.
Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."
I agree. I'll never understand why SF chose to add this feature to marquis attractions at some of their other parks.
When I got to Europa Park I was dismayed to see two VR coasters on their line up. But turns out I was able to ride both coasters in the un-enhanced way very easily with little or no delay.
The two rides they chose were also smaller, family rides- one was Alpenexpress, a Blauer Enzian, and the other was Pegasus, a larger and better Hippogriff-type of coaster made by Mack. The VR experiences had a corporate sponsor, there was upcharge (not much), and it was by ticketed reservation only. There was a separate queue and the riders were fitted and prepped well in advance of their ride. One ride used the front half of the single train and the other used the back half of only one of two trains. And I suppose that might be subject to change, depending on how busy the park is. Loading and dispatch was fast and efficient.
Disclaimer: it was a pretty slow day when I was there, so I can't say how it is when the park is very busy. On the days I was there it seems like they may have been taking walk up riders for the VR, and if there weren't enough VR riders in any given train they filled the dedicated seats with non-participating riders.
It seemed like a great way to do it, and there was no inconvenience to guests. I think Cedar Point's trial with Iron Dragon seems like the closest way to this system I've seen in the US.
Btw, Blauer Enzian was an adventure flight of some sort, and Pegasus was an action movie with characters from Happy Family. I was glad to see a variety of adventures. I suppose I should have, but I didn't try either.
If anyone was planning on going to the park next Monday or Wednesday to try the VR, it won't be running. They are only offering it on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I didn't really mind today since I wasn't that interested in it and the ride was a walk on without it but I heard others that were disappointed they didn't have a chance to try it. I just figured it would be running on the weekdays as well since they were still considered Fright Fest operating days with most of the scare zones, trails and mazes open.
There were also some other changes. The 5th car is no longer blocked off for Flash Pass and now Flash Pass merges in the station at the front. The Flash Pass entrance is under the lift hill and the hallway is not covered so there is a lot of light in the first part of the lift hill area and now the ride area is brighter than ever and you can see most of the track easily (even though it wasn't that difficult to see the track before this change).
As much as I dislike the VR coaster idea, Skull Mountain is one ride that it completely makes sense on. You can't see anything anyway. So why not strap a screen to your face?
Agreed that Skull Mountain is the perfect candidate for VR for the reason that Travis mentioned. Not a chance that the addition of VR would detract from the scenery! Alas, there doesn't seem to be any remedy for the slow loading times. I had posted a topic on this issue when I rode Shock Wave at SFOT the normal way while others were using the Samsung headgear and it seemed to take forever to dispatch the train. Anyway, I went to Great Adventure on Sunday, figuring that the rain would keep the crowds away, and it did until midafternoon. After enjoying what were probably my last 6 rides on El Toro until next year without a wait, I waited an hour for Rage of the Gargoyles/Skull Mountain. This was my 1st VR experience on a coaster and while I was glad to have had it, it only reinforced my previous impression. In addition to difficulty in adjusting the headset, there was a problem with the calibration. It took some time and a lot of help from a ride op to get it right. She told me to lower my head and we went through this exercise several times before it finally calibrated from 0 to 100%. (And who knows what was going on with the other riders, as by this time I couldn't see anything other than what was on my screen.) Even then the goggles weren't completely centered and the whole thing was hurting my nose but at least I was seeing what I was supposed to see: a pilot in a helicopter, a cityscape and a gun to my right. The ride experience itself was pretty freaky and somewhat scary, with these winged demons coming right at me. When one of them stuck its long tongue almost in my face it was somewhat alarming. From the landscape I was seeing I got somewhat of an inkling of when we were going to drop. All in all it was an interesting and entertaining experience, especially shooting down the remaining gargoyles at the end. But the loading time! I can't see any way to pull this off without a number of glitches. I was just lucky to ride on a day with relatively low attendance. On a normal day it might have been at least a 90-minute wait.
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