Six Flags To Add Virtual Reality To Nine Coasters Across the Country
The Six Flags theme parks have transformed the way we think about “roller coasters.” As a matter of fact, some of their attractions are so outrageous (and different) that the term “roller coaster” doesn’t accurately describe them. Of course, that is mostly because many of these rides no longer simply “coast”; but they do offer major thrills, hence their new name: “thrill rides.”
But with virtual reality offering similar experiences without having to strap into a potentially dangerous mechanical metal monster (think Universal Studios’ Transformers Ride and the King Kong leg of the Tram tour or their new Harry Potter experience in Orlando, and Disneyland’s Star Tours Adventure), how will Six Flags compete?
Well, they will probably still manage, as their brand of entertainment remains undisputed across the country. Apparently, though, their strategy is to add virtual reality to their existing track coasters and thrill rides.
“This will blow people away,” predicts Brett Petit, who is the senior vice president of marketing and sales for Six Flags, referring to the new technology the theme park chain plans to roll out this coming spring at nine of its existing properties. But while there is no need, necessarily, to alter or remodel the franchises existing coasters, they plan to up the ante—for those who wish to try—to develop a new ride system. Of coures, the virtual reality will not change the physicality of the existing attractions, but it could provide a new avenue of immersive storytelling never seen in any other attraction before.
For example, Superman the Ride at Six Flags New England, in Massachusetts, is already considered by many to be the best steel coaster in the country. Paying homage to the Man of Steel in color scheme, logo, and flying speeds of nearly 80 mph, riders will now be able to experience a flight through the city of Metropolis via VR headgear.
“This will be the first opportunity that people will have to virtually fly with Superman,” explains Sam Rhodes, who is the corporate director of design for Six Flags. And by “fly” he means ‘alongside Superman himself’ and not in some motion simulator, complete with an actual 221-foot drop, followed by tight turns through the city.
Of course, time will tell if this will turn into a novelty or a truly unique experience. One thing is for certain, though; this changes the game.