Alton Towers has announced plans to open a virtual reality rollercoaster ride on which passengers wear virtual reality headsets. The Staffordshire-based adventure park said Galactica would open in April, following two years of planning.
It is resort’s first big new ride since one of its roller coasters crashed in June, seriously injuring five people. Visitor numbers have been down since the accident, which Alton Towers blamed on human error. “A ride shutdown message was misunderstood by staff at the ride,” it said in November, adding workers had overridden the control system to manually restart Smiler.
Several virtual-reality recordings simulate roller coaster rides, but Alton Towers said Galactica would combine the two experiences for the first time. Over the course of the three-minute ride, the headsets will show passengers a journey across a series of different galaxies, timed to coincide with the ride’s twists, turns and falls. Lying facedown, they will experience a maximum g-force of 3.5gs, which the park says is more than astronauts typically experience during rocket launches. Gill Riley, the park’s marketing director, said it represented a “multi-million pound investment.”
Galactica in numbers
- Each train will contain 28 passengers, and three trains will be set into motion at one time
- The track length is 840m (2,755ft)
- The height of the biggest drop is 20m (66ft)
- The maximum speed is 75km/h (47mph)
- The ride duration is 189 seconds
- The capacity per hour is 1,500 passengers
Ms Riley said the park had learned from the mistake. “We have enhanced our training and also included an extra level of authorisation when we have to stop and reset and restart a ride, which involves senior management,” she said. She confirmed that Smiler was still set to reopen in 2016, but was unable to provide a date. Merlin Entertainments’ share price sank by more than 20% following June’s accident, but is currently trading at about 4% below its pre-accident level.
“Certainly, the accident at Alton Towers has been difficult for Merlin and been a drag on its performance, which is not surprising,” said Keith Bowman, an equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown. “But other parts of the business – Legoland in particular – have been making progress and generally compensating for this.”
Would you take a ride on a roller coaster with virtual reality tossed into the mix? Let us know in the comments below, or on Google+, Twitter, or Facebook.Source: Alton Towers