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Is Universal Orlando testing a virtual reality option for The Incredible Hulk roller coaster?

in Artwork, Islands of Adventure, Technology, Theme Parks, Universal Orlando, Video Games

Are you prepared to ride one of Orlando’s greatest roller coasters in virtual reality? Well, it looks like Universal Orlando Resort is looking to take on some new technological advancements with the Incredible Hulk roller coaster, soon to be reopening at Islands of Adventure.

Orlando Informer reports that a simulation is currently available to all guests in the Toon Lagoon Amphitheater — it was originally only open to team members. So what goes on in this 2000-seat venue? Basically, guests are seated in the stands by Hulk Team Members, the tech is explained, and then they are whisked behind the stage curtain to begin the experience. Once inside, guests will find themselves in a dimly lit room with rows of plain chairs with a virtual reality headpiece and connected headphones on it. Then you just put those beauties on, and the experience begins!

This was our buddy Taylor Strickland’s experience (from Orlando Informer):

The virtual reality demonstration is very short, but is immersive all 360 degrees you can look. The first scene takes place in a laboratory (presumably located within the state-of-the-art military research compound the ride’s redesigned queue is set in). Upon looking around, guests see plenty tones of green in what appears to be Gamma experiments and possibly the Gamma core itself.

The second scene takes place in a virtual version of the redesigned ride’s launch tube, known as the Gamma accelerator. This scene makes the guest feel as if they have been harnessed into the coaster and are being launched. It is designed very similarly to the concept art previously shared by Universal. A new voice and audio track replaces the ride’s famous “I think this time… it’s going to work!” Shortly after launching, the virtual experience fades to white into the next scene. The third and final scene seems to be the longest, featuring a variety of 3D renderings of the coaster operating.

While reasoning for this particular testing operation has not been explained, there’s a very good chance it’s being used for a possible VR experience while on the actual Incredible Hulk roller coaster. The technology is already being implemented in rides like Superman The Ride at Six Flags New England. While VR isn’t a perfect technology (I currently have an HTC Vive in my own home), it’s certainly well on its way and pioneering new ways for theme park guests to enjoy their experiences!  So for those who tend to complain about 3D rides or “screens” being used in place of practical effects, I’m sure you’ll have plenty of opinions to share.

So what do you folks think about Universal Orlando (or other theme parks) possibly incorporating virtual reality into their attractions? Let me know in the comments below and, as always, stick with ITM for everything fun and awesome!

5 Comments

  1. Glen

    Rode the VR Superman ride at Six Flags America a couple days ago. It appears that VR is a real mixed bag.
    Positives: genuine excitement among riders who had ridden the coaster many times before; adds thrills when you can’t see the track in front of you; tremendous re-rideabilty.
    Negatives: takes forever to load the cars (teaching everyone how to attach and calibrate headsets); VR world not HD crisp; headset hurts those with glasses like myself; no sounds makes the immersion less believable (appears that Hulk will have sound).

  2. EricJ

    “VR Coasters” just brings up that little hydraulic VR Coaster ball that used to be the big attraction at DisneyQuest–
    What’s the -point- of building track a hundred feet in the air for real, if you’re going to have your eyes shut and pretend you’re somewhere else?: “Wow, the G-force is JUST LIKE I’m plummeting 90 feet on an alien landscape! Wouldn’t it be great to do that for real?”

    Yes, parks build coasters for coaster-heads, but not ALL people who ride mega-coasters are so core-jaded that actual real-life plummets and velocity don’t impress them anymore.

  3. Derrek

    I agree with Eric on this one. VR is going to ruin the ride experience for a lot of people should Universal choose to go with it. If they wanted to do that they should have torn down the coaster track and made something more like Mission Space in Epcot. You would get the same thrills pretty much, and it would be far simpler to operate and get everyone through in a timely manner.

    I get that Universal wants to create a more immersive experience and tell a story while your on the ride, which is hard to do on a coaster, but I really don’t think that VR is the answer.

    I believe that theme parks have been shying away from practical effects and going more virtual ones because they are new exciting and cheaper than practical effects, but they’ve gotten it all wrong. Take the new Frozen ride for example, between the projected animatronic faces and the entire walls of projector screens that ride is mostly projection with a sprinkling of practical effects.

    When are theme parks going to realize that all virtual effects isn’t a good thing? Carrying on with the Frozen example, quite honestly, if I wanted to watch a projection of the world of Frozen, I would just stay home and watch the movie because I won’t have to wait in line forever and it will be a higher quality viewing experience. People go to theme parks to be immersed in worlds of movies they love, not to watch them again.

    I do feel like there are places where these technologies could help the theme park experience, but designers really need to work hard to make it blend in better with the physical worlds they worked so painstakingly to create.

    Look what JJ Abrams has done with Star Wars. He used CGI only where he had to to get the effect he wanted and everything else was practical. I believe that this is one of they reasons the movie did so well; practical effects are on the whole more convincing as long as they are done right even when it’s on screen.

  4. They should definitely add it as an OPTION, but not make it mandatory to ride. I love the idea of them using the Toon Lagoon amphitheatre as it will allow guests who don’t want to ride the option to ride it virtually. Exciting stuff!

  5. Chris

    I experienced this at Universal Orlando and they said that it was going to be a considered option for people who cannot physically ride the roller coaster. The VR would instead be used to allow these people to feel like they have experienced the ride, without actually being on it. They said that if there was enough positive feedback, they were going to further extend it to other rides at their theme parks. Personally, I thought there was too much 3rd person and that it should be based all within 1st person. The bits that were within 1st person were very good. It might also be used in the future to gather more feedback on new rides.

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