Six Flags and Samsung are announcing a “broad marketing partnership” that establishes the electronics giant as the “Official Technology Partner” of the theme park chain. The partnership includes a plan to equip riders getting onto some of the most popular roller coasters in North America with a Gear VR headset that will show an alternate reality matched to the twists and turns of the ride.
The rollout is expected to begin this month and continue over the summer on nine rides with two different expereinces. The first experience will turn riders into co-pilots of a fighter jet taking on an alien invasion. There will be interactivity added to the roller coaster as the riders can fire weapons at the alien craft. The experience is expected to debut on the following rides, according to Samsung:
- Shock Wave at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington, opening March 10 to Season Pass Holders as a special sneak preview;
- Dare Devil Dive at Six Flags Over Georgia outside of Atlanta, opening March 12 to Season Pass Holders as a special sneak preview;
- The New Revolution at Six Flags Magic Mountain near Los Angeles, opening March 26 to Season Pass Holders as a special sneak preview;
- Ninja at Six Flags St. Louis in Eureka;
- Steamin’ Demon at The Great Escape in Lake George, New York and
- Goliath at La Ronde in Montreal
There’s also a Superman-themed experience coming to the Superman roller coasters at Six Flags theme parks in Texas (San Antonio), Massachusetts (Agawam) and Maryland (Upper Marlboro).
Six Flags posted an FAQ on its website that I encourage you to read. Addtionaly, I asked Samsung questions on the following topics directly and received these statements over email:
Will this make people suffer from motion sickness?
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 headset, 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.
Will they keep the headsets clean?
The safety of our guests and employees is always our highest priority. All parts of the headset that touch a rider’s face and head will be covered in an anti-microbial leather and cleansed between every use with anti-bacterial wipes.
How will they keep Gear VR from flying off?
The safety of our guests and employees is always our top priority. The headgear fits securely around the head and is outfitted with comfortable chin straps that ensure the headset stays tight. The straps are fully adjustable to fit different head sizes.
These VR-driven experiences are provided free with admission to the park and you can always choose to ride the roller coasters without VR added. Providing this choice raises a whole new question: “Why would I want to see the virtual experience vs. the normal ride?”
That question is directly from the FAQ provided by Six Flags. This is the answer Six Flags provided: “Virtual reality will provide a game-changing new ride experience with an even higher level of thrill.”
I will reserve judgement until I try this myself, but I’d love to see what others think in the comments.