Seeking more thrills

Six Flags Roller Coaster

Imagine that you’re strapped inside a topless fiberglass train as it traverses a full mile of track starting with a drop of 221 feet before reaching a top speed of 77 miles per hour. It goes over multiple hills, through tunnels, and makes a series of sharp, fast turns. Pretty thrilling, right? Apparently not thrilling enough, as Six Flags will look to up the ante of this and other roller coaster rides using virtual reality.

“This will blow people away,” Brat Petit, Senior VP, marketing and sales for Six Flags, tells USA Today.

The aforementioned experience is the Superman ride at Six Flags New England in Massachusetts. Some consider it one of the best steel roller coasters in the land, and Six Flags aims to make it more exciting by having riders strap on a VR headset. Instead of seeing their nearby surroundings, they’ll be traveling through Metropolis.

“This will be the first opportunity that people will have to virtually fly with Superman,” adds Sam Rhodes, corporate director of design for Six Flags.

It’s a unique approach to VR. There are other rides that use VR technologies to simulate the experience, like Star Tours, but what Six Flags wants to do is combine the virtual world with the thrills of a real roller coaster. The environment will simulated, but the speed and drops, they’re all real.

Superman is one of two VR experiences Six Flags plans to roll out this season. The other one is a futuristic fighter plane experience called New Revolution. Similar to the movie Independence Day, riders will take on a huge mothership filled with angry aliens.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Six Flags has VR plans for other coasters, like Ninja at Six Flags St. Louise in Missouri, and Goliath at La Rounde In Montreal, Canada.

Riders won’t have to just sit there and passively experience the visuals, they’ll have controllers that will allow them to fire off virtual guns and other weapons, too.

It all sounds pretty ambitious, and potentially awesome, though we wouldn’t want to be put in charge of logistics. Figuring out a way to ensure that headsets don’t go flying off heads while also keeping the line moving at a decent pace are two potential problems. Technical glitches could also damper the fun, and who knows if this might lead to an increase in vomit.

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