Virtual Reality is the new thing in the theme park industry. Every season, more and more parks are adding this feature to one of their rides. My local park just opened a VR experience this week and I went to experience this new trend.
Tibidabo Express is a Zamperla Powered Coaster opened in 1990, but starting from the first week of August, it will be the new big ride for the summer season. The ride is getting Virtual Reality.
With a top speed of 50 km/h this coaster features a tunnel, some S-bends over a lake and a scenic turn back to the station. It has a pretty simple layout, no inversions.
All the previous VR experiences I had were on simulators at the EAS showfloor or with the Google Cardboard. That’s why I was looking forward to try it on a real roller coaster!
First bad thing I noticed, despite not saying something new, is how slow the operatives are. This ride already had long dispatch times because it only runs with one train that runs twice the layout. Now with the VR, the number of crew members grew from 2 to 6 but the ordinary dispatch time was between 6 and 7 minutes. I felt they needed some coordination, but I have to say that I went the first week of operation. So I hope they will work on this because, in my opinion, this is one of the main drawbacks.
It was our time to ride the coaster and oh my, I couldn’t have liked it more! The VR movie was the one on Alpenexpress, with Euromaus and friends sliding through a mine and caverns and finally going outside flying on a pink dragon soaring over Tibidabo! This ending was unexpected and looking around the magnificent caverns was an impressive experience. The movie was appropriate for Tibidabo Express and it’s good for a VR ride. I wish it had a better quality but I can’t blame the park or MackMedia. Nowadays this is the VR we have and from now on, it can only improve in quality.
Personally, I didn’t had any issue with the headset but I saw some people whose headset wasn’t working. The staff fixed it efficiently but this unfortunately affects directly to the wait time. That’s why it is crucial that the system works, to avoid even longer lines.
Exiting the ride, I heard some opinions from the people and everyone loved it and was amazed by the experience. I firmly share their opinion!
In conclusion, I have to say that I’m not a lover, nor a hater of Virtual Reality but after trying my first VR ride, I’m inclined towards the good side. In my opinion, the parks have to be wise with the coaster they choose to have VR on it. Galactica or Medusa at Six Flags Mexico for example, do they really needs VR? I don’t think so. For me, old rides that currently lack interest by guests or family and moderate coasters are the perfect match. Pegasus and Alpenexpress at Europa-Park or Tibidabo Express are great examples of that. Maybe I’m wrong and doing inversions with VR is amazing so please, comment below or post on our social media your opinion about it!
To everyone who is not convinced yet by this trend, I invite you to give it a chance and visit your nearest VR coaster. I’m sure you won’t be let down. After all, you’ll always have the option not to ride with headset!
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