It’s big business when it comes to roller coasters. Every manufacturer is always looking re-invent themselves with every project they invest in. However, the biggest coaster innovation of the last five years hasn’t been with a coaster design, but rather something completely unheard of on a roller coaster years ago.
Theme parks all across America are getting behind virtual reality, especially on their coasters. It’s an easy way to update and enhance an older coaster without having to completely remodel any part of the track or car. Some love the trend, while others are completely against it. As usual, there are positives and negatives to both arguments.
Supporters of VR will say that it adds a different experience to a coaster. Instead of seeing natural surroundings, you’ll get immersed into a world all from a headset. The VR syncs the images on-screen with the coaster itself, enabling riders the chance to react to what they see on-screen. The idea is quite revolutionary, but why is it met with such criticism?
A lot of hardcore coaster fans are completely against the use of VR. Some feel it takes away from the ride because you can’t replace a classic coaster with high-tech virtual reality. There is also an issue with train dispatch times on a VR coaster. The loading and unloading of coasters can take significantly longer on VR coasters, making queue times longer.
Despite these problems, VR coasters have seen an increase over the last five years. It will bring guests into the park and creates an entirely new experience for the rider. Most VR enabled coasters give guests the option of not using VR, so you can still enjoy the ride the old-fashioned way. Unfortunately, there is still the issue of non-VR riders having to wait in long lines due to the inclusion of VR.
The coaster world is torn on the use of VR. It appears as if the trend isn’t going to slow down, as many theme parks are giving their coasters the VR treatment. In 2017, we will see parks such as SeaWorld Orlando add VR to its popular Kraken coaster, and Cedar Point adding it to their moderately thrilled, Iron Dragon.
Whether you love it or hate it, Virtual reality looks to be here to stay.
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