For adrenaline junkies who don’t have enough thrills aboard a regular roller coaster, Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia adds virtual reality to the mix.
Partnering with electronics giant Samsung, Six Flags plans to attach virtual reality glasses to the park’s Revolution roller coaster racers so they can feel the twists, drops and climbs of the roller coaster track. while watching footage of an air battle with aliens.
The images of the glasses, created with the help of technology company Oculus VR, are synchronized with the movement of the roller coaster.
The virtual reality element is part of a new feature that will be added to roller coasters at nine Six Flags parks across the country. The images displayed on the virtual reality glasses will be changed for each of the rides in the nine parks.
At Magic Mountain, Six Flags is modernizing an area around the roller coaster, which opened in 1976, and renaming the ride New Revolution. The revised coaster and virtual reality feature will be available this spring.
Six Flags does not have a monopoly on the idea. Europa Park in Germany added virtual reality to one of its coasters last year, and a theme park in England announced plans in January to do the same.
The advantage of the technology is that roller coaster operators can regularly create new virtual reality software for the glasses, allowing the park to attract repeat visitors to the same attraction, according to theme park experts.
“They can change history to have aliens or it can take place in a submarine,” said Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services. “They can change it every year – just rewrite the software rather than spending $ 25 million on a new coaster.”
Speigel, who tested Six Flags’ virtual reality glasses in a conference room on Thursday, said he could see the air battle with aliens unfolding around him by spinning in an office chair.
The upgrade to Magic Mountain comes as the thrill-ride park faces stiff competition for visitors.
On April 7, Universal Studios Hollywood will open the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a six-acre expansion that is sure to draw fans of the Wizard Boy.
At Disneyland, the park has added several new “Star Wars” themed features. Walt Disney Co. chief executive Robert Iger said on Thursday that construction would begin next month at Anaheim Park on a new 14-acre lot based on the films.