Virtual reality roller coasters, 3-D and 4-D attractions and captivating “dark” rides that allow visitors to become part of the storyline — and sometimes even influence it – are drawing record crowds at theme parks across the US.
“The virtual reality roller coaster experience is a new hot trend that hit the market this year and has the potential to be game changing,” says Colleen Mangone, spokesperson for the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions (IAAPA).
“The physical sensations of the roller coaster remain the same, but now they’re immersed in the story,” Mangone says.”Guests see the superhero they’re flying next to and their bodies are experiencing the flight through the sensation of the roller coaster.”
The 3-D and 4-D attractions immerse riders in a fictional world through the use of headsets, movable seats, sound, 3-D glasses and the 4-D effects of real wind, water and heat.
Many are also “dark” rides meaning they take place entirely inside a structure where the riders can only see the elements of the ride.
Interactive rides allow guests to engage villains and fight for justice using specially designed laser guns or even their hands during their quests. AND their experiences can change with each ride.
And the one of a kind experiences produced by these virtual reality coasters translates into billions for the amusement parks.
This year, theme parks in the United States and Canada are slated to bring in more than 390 million people and generate $22 billion in revenue, according to the IAAPA Global Theme and Amusement Park Outlook 2015-2019 report.
Using this new information, CNN has released their top picks of the best new roller coasters of 2016.
Here are a few that made their list:
“Valravn,”, Cedar Point, Ohio
This is not a virtual reality “dark” coaster but with its enormous size, speed and overall capacity to produce a heart attack—it had to be included.
This baby is a jaw dropper…
• It is the tallest dive coaster (223 feet)
• It is the fastest dive coaster (75 mph)
• It is the longest dive coaster (3,145 feet)
• It has the most inversions on a dive coaster (3)
• It has the longest drop of a dive coaster (214 feet)
“Skull Island: Reign of Kong,” Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Florida
This is an immersive 3-D “dark” ride where participants embark on a mission in which they end up fighting for survival while traveling through an ancient temple, a prehistoric jungle, underworld caves and then find themselves face to face with “the Kong.”
This ride includes animatronic figures and several 3-D screens.
“Superman the Ride,” Six Flags New England, Massachusetts
Superman takes over their old traditional steel coaster, “Bizarro,” and transforms it into a virtual reality ride.
“Superman the Ride” draws guests into Superman’s war against evil in the make-believe world of Metropolis and allows them follow Superman as he battles evil.
Can’t get to New England to meet your favorite superhero?
“Superman Ride of Steel” also goes virtual at Six Flags America in Largo, Maryland.
And Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio is adding virtual reality to its “Superman Krypton Coaster.”
“Justice League: Battle for Metropolis,” Six Flags Great America, Illinois.
This is a superhero enthusiasts’ dream.
Riders join forces with Batman, Wonder Woman and other Justice League characters and battle the Joker and Lex Luthor in this exhilarating 4-D dark ride.
As members of the Justice League Reserve Team, riders get to shoot at targets along the way.
“Steamin’ Demon’s New Revolution Virtual Reality Coaster,” Six Flags Great Escape, New York
On this coaster riders don a Samsung Gear Virtual Reality headset and are transported into a 360-degree virtual world where they become fighter jet co-pilots trying to save the planet from an alien invasion.
The air-to-air combat is synced with twists and turns of the coaster.
Featured image is a still image from video shared by Six Flags Magic Mountain on March 3, 2016