Virtual reality roller coaster
A virtual reality roller coaster is a special kind of amusement park ride attraction, consisting of a roller coaster facility or ride that can be experienced with virtual reality headsets. The first publicly operated virtual reality roller coasters have been opened in late 2015. Since then, several theme parks all over the world have been adapting this technology to extend their existing coaster facilities.
Background and history
In 2013, a company called FLUKOM, developed a solution for Virtual Reality roller coasters, the company was integrated in 2014 in the VR company Astral Vision which developed a unique wearable technology for theme park rides. Astral's technology uses smart algorithms and mobile phone’s sensors to sync between the virtual and the physical worlds. No additional sensors (e.g. on Roller Coaster) are required.
While virtual reality roller coaster simulations quickly became quite popular after the appearance of the Oculus Rift, it showed that dizziness and motion sickness, known as Virtual reality sickness, would be a major problem. This was caused by the offset between the simulated motion in virtual reality and the lack of real motion, as the inner Sense of balance wouldn't feel the appropriate forces and turns. In order to test if this could be overcome by synchronizing virtual reality movement to real motion, a research group of the University of Applied Sciences, Kaiserslautern, led by Thomas Wagner, together with roller coaster manufacturer Mack Rides and Europa-Park, has been conducting experiments on actual roller coaster facilities since early 2014. It showed that, with a precise synchronization, not only the nausea would disappear, but also a new kind of attraction was created as, for the first time, this setup allowed for a simulation ride to feature continuous g-forces, zero gravity and drops (or so called Air-time).
Still, the technical setup of the 2014 experiments was not feasible yet for a permanent installation. Most of all, mounting a computer on a coaster train would not have worked due to the continuous heavy vibrations; also the usual cable connection of a classical virtual reality headset like the Oculus Rift would have meant a serious safety hazard. Wagner and his team could eventually overcome these problems by deploying so called mobile virtual reality headsets like the Samsung Gear VR, where the entire image generation happens directly inside of the actual headset. The very first virtual reality roller coaster installations have been opened to the public in late 2015, starting at Europa-Park, Germany, followed by Canada's Wonderland and Universal Studios Japan, all of them developed by the startup company VR Coaster, which originated from Wagners Research Group.
As of June 2016, 17 theme parks worldwide are operating virtual reality roller coasters (list). The latest installations can be found in Six Flags parks, themed with Superman content from the DC Universe.
Key to a comfortable virtual reality experience on an actual moving ride attraction is a precise synchronization of the virtual ride animation. To achieve this, the coaster train is equipped with special hardware that monitors the position of the train in the track layout and then wirelessly transmits this information to the headsets of the riders. This is also crucial, as the virtual reality experience needs to run in absolute tracking mode (unlike relative tracking when used at home, where the virtual reality view automatically rotates with a virtual vehicle), so without a precise tracking solution, curves and turns would not be in the right place. In other words, a virtual cockpit must always turn and travel in exactly the same direction as the real coaster car, which would not be possible without an automated synchronization. Still, as the human sense of balance can't detect absolute velocities but only acceleration and turns, speed and dimensions can be altered in virtual reality. Even curves can be bent to different angles, as long as the relative direction of the turn is preserved (clockwise or counterclockwise).
As virtual reality allows for several modifications and extensions of the actual track layout, the size of the virtual reality track can be much larger than the real one. This of course means that speeds can be much faster and heights much taller, as these aspects also grow with the increased dimensions. Most of all, there is no need to show an actual track or rails (which would give away what element comes next), other than for dramaturgical reasons. As the rider is totally immersed in the virtual reality world, one can even be tricked by giving hints on a wrong track direction and then e.g. have a giant creature grabbing the virtual cockpit and carrying it into a different direction (which turns out to be the actual direction of the rails). Also, the effect of physical track elements like block brakes can be utilized in the virtual reality experience for dramatic elements like crashing through a virtual barrier or building Riders report after their first virtual reality roller coaster ride that it is unlike anything they have ever experienced before.
Riders are provided with virtual reality headsets to wear whilst on the ride. These headsets may be portable, or permanently attached to the ride itself and will display a synchronised video to the riders who experience the motions of the ride combined with the alternate reality provided through the headsets. After the ride, headsets are sanitised and (where applicable) recharged for future use.
In most cases, the virtual reality aspect of the ride is optional, and in some cases a supplement may be required for use.
|In Operation?||Name||Name of Roller Coaster||Type||Duration||Length in Meters||VR optional?||Opening||Roller Coaster Manufacturer||VR Developer||Park||Country||City, Region||Note|
|Alpenexpress Coastiality||Alpenexpress Enzian||Powered Coaster||1:40||264||
|September 17, 2015||Mack Rides||MackMedia and VR Coaster||Europa-Park||Germany||Rust, Baden-Württemberg|
|Thunder Run VR||Thunder Run||Powered Coaster||1:24||330,1||October 3, 2015||Mack Rides||VR Coaster||Canada's Wonderland||Canada||Vaughan, Ontario|
|VR Coaster||Freedom Flyer||Suspended Family Coaster||1:00||395||November 16, 2015||Vekoma||VR Coaster||Fun Spot America||United States||Orlando, Florida||VR Demonstration at IAAPA 2015|
|Kyary Pamyu Pamyu XR Ride||Space Fantasy: The Ride||Spinning Coaster||2:35||585||January 14, 2016||Mack Rides||VR Coaster||Universal Studios Japan||Japan||Osaka, Osaka|
|Galactic Attack Virtual Reality Coaster||Shock Wave||Sit-Down Coaster||2:00||1097,3||March 10, 2016||Schwarzkopf||VR Coaster||Six Flags Over Texas||United States||Arlington, Texas|
|Galactic Attack Virtual Reality Coaster||Dare Devil Dive||Sit-Down Coaster||639,8||March 12, 2016||Gerstlauer Amusement Rides||VR Coaster||Six Flags Over Georgia||United States||Austell, Georgia|
|Pegasus Coastiality||Pegasus||Youngstar Coaster||1:30||400||
|March 17, 2016||Mack Rides||Ambient Entertainment, VR Coaster and MackMedia||Europa-Park||Germany||Rust, Baden-Württemberg|
|Dinolino's VR-Ride||Familienachterbahn||Sit-Down Coaster||1:25||222||March 19, 2016||Zierer||VR Coaster||Erlebnispark Schloss Thurn||Germany||Heroldsbach, Bayern|
|Galactica||Air||Flying Coaster||1:40||840||March 24, 2016||Bolliger & Mabillard||Figment Productions||Alton Towers Resort||United Kingdom||Alton, Staffordshire Moorlands||World's first rollercoaster fully dedicated to Virtual Reality|
|Galactic Attack Virtual Reality Coaster||New Revolution||Sit-Down Coaster||2:12||1053,7||March 25, 2016||Schwarzkopf||VR Coaster||Six Flags Magic Mountain||United States||Valencia, California|
|Mount Mara||Revolution||Sit-Down Coaster||2:20||720||March 26, 2016||Vekoma||VR Coaster||Bobbejaanland||Belgium||Lichtaart, Antwerp|
|Linnunrata eXtra||Linnunrata||Sit-Down Coaster||0:50||360||May 1, 2016||Zierer||VR Coaster||Linnanmäki||Finland||Helsinki, Uusimaa, Finland|
|The New Revolution Virtual Reality Coaster||Goliath||Hyper Coaster||1231||May 19, 2016||Bolliger & Mabillard||VR Coaster||La Ronde||Canada||Montréal, Québec|
|Iron Dragon||Iron Dragon||Suspended Coaster||2:00||853||May 24, 2016||Arrow Dynamics||VR Coaster||Cedar Point||United States||Sandusky, Ohio|
|Galactic Attack Virtual Reality Coaster||Ninja||Sit-Down Coaster||2:00||740,7||May 24, 2016||Vekoma||VR Coaster||Six Flags St. Louis||United States||Eureka, Missouri|
|SUPERMAN Ride of Steel Virtual Reality Coaster||Superman - Ride of Steel||Mega Coaster||2:10||1630,7||June 8, 2016||Intamin Amusement Rides||VR Coaster||Six Flags America||United States||Upper Marlboro, Maryland|
|SUPERMAN Krypton Coaster Virtual Reality Coaster||Superman Krypton Coaster||Floorless Coaster||2:35||1226,8||June 8, 2016||Bolliger & Mabillard||VR Coaster||Six Flags Fiesta Texas||United States||San Antonio, Texas|
|SUPERMAN The Ride Virtual Reality Coaster||Superman the Ride||Mega Coaster||2:35||1645,9||June 9, 2016||Intamin Amusement Rides||VR Coaster||Six Flags New England||United States||Agawam, Massachusetts|
|The New Revolution Virtual Reality Coaster||Steamin' Demon||Sit-Down Coaster||0:37||477||June 20, 2016||Arrow Dynamics||VR Coaster||Great Escape||United States||Queensbury, New York|
|Olandese Volante||Olandese Volante||Mine Train||2.30||681||June 25, 2016||Vekoma||Moviemex3D||Rainbow Magic Land||Italy||Valmontone (Rome)||First Italian VR Coaster|
|Rage of the Gargoyles: Virtual Reality Coaster||Demon||Sit-Down Coaster||1:45||649||August 10, 2016||Arrow Dynamics||VR Coaster||Six Flags Great America||United States||Gurnee, Illinois|
|Rage of the Gargoyles: Virtual Reality Coaster||Skull Mountain||Sit-Down Coaster||1:24||420||September 20, 2016||Intamin Amusement Rides||VR Coaster||Six Flags Great Adventure||United States||Jackson, New Jersey|
|Rage of the Gargoyles: Virtual Reality Coaster||Kong||Suspended Looping Coaster||1:36||689||September 22, 2016||Vekoma||VR Coaster||Six Flags Discovery Kingdom||United States||Vallejo, California|
|Rage of the Gargoyles: Virtual Reality Coaster||Shock Wave||Sit-Down Coaster||2:00||1097,3||Schwarzkopf||VR Coaster||Six Flags Over Texas||United States||Arlington, Texas|
|Rage of the Gargoyles: Virtual Reality Coaster||Ninja||Sit-Down Coaster||2:00||740,7||Vekoma||VR Coaster||Six Flags St. Louis||United States||Eureka, Missouri|
|Rage of the Gargoyles: Virtual Reality Coaster||Dare Devil Dive||Sit-Down Coaster||639,8||Gerstlauer Amusement Rides||VR Coaster||Six Flags Over Georgia||United States||Austell, Georgia|
|Rage of the Gargoyles: Virtual Reality Coaster||Goliath||Hyper Coaster||1231||Bolliger & Mabillard||VR Coaster||La Ronde||Canada||Montréal, Québec|
|Freedom Flyer 2.0||Freedom Flyer||Suspended Family Coaster||1:00||395||November 16, 2016||Vekoma||VR Coaster||Fun Spot America||United States||Orlando, Florida|
|Santa's Wild Sleigh Ride||The New Revolution||Sit-Down Coaster||2:12||1053,7||November 19, 2016||Schwarzkopf||VR Coaster||Six Flags Magic Mountain||United States||Valencia, California||Christmas Special|
|SHAMAN||Magic Mountain (roller coaster)||Sit-Down Coaster||2:00||700||2017||Vekoma||Figment Productions||Gardaland||Italy||Castelnuovo del Garda, Veneto|
|Arkham Asylum||Arkham Asylum – Shock Therapy||Suspended Looping Coaster||1:42||765||2016-17||Vekoma||VR Coaster||Warner Bros. Movie World||Australia||Gold Coast, Queensland|
|Evangelion XR Ride||Space Fantasy - The Ride||Sit-Down Coaster||585||January 13, 2017||Mack Rides||VR Coaster||Universal Studios Japan||Japan||Osaka, Osaka||This ride is a part of the "Universal Cool Japan 2017" event, concluded on June 25, 2017.|
|Dæmonen Virtual Reality||Dæmonen||Floorless Coaster||1:46||564||April 6, 2017||Bolliger & Mabillard||VR Coaster||Tivoli Gardens||Denmark||Copenhagen|
|Tren de la Mina VR Coaster||Tren de la Mina||Sit-Down Coaster||1:46||564||May 20, 2017||Gerstlauer Amusement Rides GmbH||VR Coaster||Parque de Atracciones de Madrid||Spain||Madrid|
|Astral Vision||WindstarZ||Family Rides||2:01||480||March, 2017||Zamperla||Astral Vision||Coney Island||United States||New York|
|Master Thai VR Coaster||Master Thai||Sit-Down Coaster||2:10||May 20, 2017||Preston & Barbieri||VR Coaster||Mirabilandia||Italy||Savio|
|Titan VR Coaster||Titan||Sit-Down Coaster||1:20||823||January 14, 2017||Sansei Technologies||VR Coaster||Selva Mágica||Mexico||Guadalajara|
|Galactic Attack: Mind Eraser Virtual Reality Coaster||Mind Eraser||Suspended Looping Coaster||1:36||689||May 20, 2017||Vekoma||VR Coaster||Six Flags New England||United States||Agawam|
|Galactic Attack: Mind Eraser Virtual Reality Coaster||Mind Eraser||Suspended Looping Coaster||1:36||689||May 20, 2017||Vekoma||VR Coaster||Six Flags America||United States||Upper Marlboro|
|Joyride Virtual Reality Coaster||Joyride||Sit-Down Coaster||1:15||280||May 20, 2017||L&T Systems||VR Coaster||Powerland||Finland||Kauhava|
|French Revolution 2.0 VR||French Revolution||Sit-Down Coaster||1:45||November 26, 2016||Vekoma||VR Coaster||Lotte World||South Korea||Seoul|
|Batman: Arkham Asylum VR Coaster||Batman: Arkham Asylum||Inverted Coaster||1:20||823||May 20, 2017||Bolliger & Mabillard||VR Coaster||Parque Warner Madrid||Spain||Madrid|
|Steampunk Hunters||Western-Expressen||Sit-Down Coaster||1:15||335||April 22, 2017||Vekoma||VR Coaster||Tusenfryd||Norway||Vinterbro, Akershus|
|Gletscherblitz||Gletscherblitz||Powered Coaster||March 24, 2018||Mack Rides||VR Coaster||Steinwasen Park||Germany||Oberried, Baden-Württemberg|
|Dream Catcher VR||Dream Catcher||Swinging Turns||2:44||600||June 23, 2018||Vekoma||VR Coaster||Bobbejaanland||Belgium||Lichtaart, Antwerp|
|Den Hemmelige Verden||Viktor Vandorm||Sit-Down Coaster||750||2018||Zierer||VR Coaster||BonBon-Land||Denmark||Holme-Olstrup, Sjælland|
|Virtual Express||Tibidabo Express||Powered Coaster||2017||Zamperla||VR Coaster||Tibidabo||Spain||Barcelona||Similar film about "Schloss Balthasar" as at Europa-Park|
|Wilde Maus||Wilde Maus XXL||Wild Mouse||2:30||585||Mack Rides||VR Coaster||Traveling||Germany|
|YoungStar Coaster||YoungStar Coaster||Youngstar Coaster||2:11||400||Mack Rides||Ambient Entertainment, VR Coaster and MackMedia||Chimelong Paradise||China||Guangzhou||The same film which has formerly been used at Pegasus at Europa-Park|
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