One of the more intriguing early uses of virtual reality has been within the theme park industry. Virtual reality roller coasters are an up and coming way for theme parks to attract additional guests without having to construct brand new rides for millions and millions of dollars. Virtual reality headsets can be configured to most current roller coasters seats, making those old, dated rides new and intriguing once more. Already we have seen numerous such roller coasters debut at theme parks such as Six Flags, as well as Alton Towers, in Staffordshire, England.
While the rides have been a hit thus far, drawing in new crowds, and garnering excitements from children and adults alike, an incident this morning at Alton Towers may make some individuals think twice before stepping foot on any roller coaster for that matter. At approximately 2 p.m. local time, the Air Galactica ride suddenly came to a halt, leaving 28 passengers dangling upside down for nearly half an hour. To make matters even worse, they all had virtual reality headsets strapped to their faces, blocking their vision. Screams filled the air as passengers panicked, and a staff member climbed up tracks the ride in order to comfort those who were in a state of shock.
“We were standing underneath it when the ride stopped and all the passengers were screaming and crying, they sounded terrified,” said Kate Smythe, who was visiting the park with her family. “We were told the ride had flooded and I wonder if the electrics shorted in the rain.”
After approximately 30 minutes, the staff were able to restart the ride and bring the horrified passengers to ground level for them to disembark. It has since been confirmed that flooding from a recent storm had likely short circuited the ride’s motors. The roller coaster, which had been reconfigured to allow for VR technology back in March, takes passengers on a virtual tour of space, allowing them to glance through an astroid belt into an alien world below. The ride lasts for just over three minutes and the track is approximately 2760 feet in length. The reviews for the ride have been quite outstanding through the first 5-6 weeks, and this incident likely will have little impact on the overall excitement of VR within the theme park industry. For those wondering, the Air Galactica roller coaster is already back up and running again!
Let us know if you’ve experience Air Galactica or any other VR roller coasters, and what your thoughts were. Discuss in the VR Roller coaster Incident forum on VRTalk.com.