6:57am PT by Carolyn Giardina
Virtual Reality Roller Coasters to Debut Through New Six Flags, Samsung Partnership
Six Flags Entertainment and Samsung are introducing what they call "Virtual Reality Roller Coasters" in at least nine sites around the country, allowing thrill seekers to ride a coaster traveling up to 55 mph — in some cases, that includes turning upside down — while wearing Samsung Gear VR headsets that place the user in a 360-degree virtual reality world.
Six "New Revolution" VR coasters will use VR to put riders in a futuristic battle to save Earth from an alien invasion in which riders would see themselves as co-pilots in their own fighter jets.
Additionally, three Superman-themed VR coasters will put riders into a 360-degree comic book world of Metropolis, where the have to defend it against Lex Luthor and his evil Lexbots.
According to Samsung, a new harness has been developed to keep the headsets on the riders' heads, and if they unintentionally come off — or if the rider chooses to remove them — they wouldn't fly out of the car.
What about the potential for motion sickness, as this has been reported by some who have used VR while simply standing or sitting still? Six Flags provided the following statement in response to this question: "Because the visuals on the virtual reality screen are synched precisely with the coaster’s drops, twists and turns, there is no motion sickness as some might expect. As guests are seeing the 3D movements through their headgear, the body experiences the identical motion of the coaster, creating an unbelievably thrilling experience. Unlike watching the visuals while standing still, there should be no adverse effect."
The "New Revolution" experience is scheduled to debut this month on coasters at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington, Six Flags Over Georgia outside of Atlanta and at Six Flags Magic Mountain near Los Angeles. This ride will additionally open at Six Flags St. Louis in Eureka; The Great Escape in Lake George, New York; and La Ronde in Montreal.
The Superman-branded coasters will debut at Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio; Six Flags New England in Agawam, Mass.; and at Six Flags America in Upper Marlboro, Md.
"Now people can be immersed into a totally new universe while riding a roller coaster. … This transforms the modern roller coaster into a totally new one," Marc Mathieu, chief marketing officer at Samsung, said in a statement. Gear VR headsets operate with certain models of Samsung mobile phones and use additional technology from Oculus.
"With the addition of these virtual reality coasters, Six Flags will be introducing more than double the number of new coasters and rides than we did in 2015, and more than any year in the last decade," reported John Duffey, Six Flags president and CEO.