Dive deep into mysterious waters and encounter the legendary Kraken in this high speed virtual reality coaster.
Jumping on the virtual reality theme park bandwagon, SeaWorld Orlando has debuted a brand new version of its popular Kraken rollercoaster, this time utilizing VR to transport passengers to an intense undersea adventure.
Officially open to the public this past Friday, Kraken Unleashed features VR audio and video headgear tethered to each seat individual seat on the ride. Once passengers lower their safety bar, they can then reach into a small pouch attached to said bar which contains their freshly cleaned headset. From there they are immediately transported to a virtual deep sea loading station very similar to the actual one they’re physically sitting in. Once each rider is properly situated, they are then launched into a mind-bending 3D stereoscopic experience perfectly synced to the movement and various inversions of the track.
As part of the adventure riders jump into the shoes of a submarine pilot who’s casual undersea stroll goes from bad to worse real fast. As they begin their initial ascent towards the beautiful coral arrangements near the ocean’s surface, a volcanic eruption causes the sea floor to collapse, hurdling you 3,000 feet down into a massive crack full of danger and darkness.
Once inside this massive trench you’ll encounter a hidden underwater landscape untouched by time and full of massive prehistoric creatures. Over the course of the experience you’ll narrowly escape the enormous jaws of a terrifying triggerfish, whirl past various exotic wildlife and even witness the legendary city of Atlantis actually rise from the surface. Of course this all pales in comparison to the epic encounter with the Kraken, a huge, pink, squid-like beast that makes a Great White Shark look like a puppy.
“After providing thousands of imaginative and thrilling experiences on SeaWorld’s first roller coaster, Kraken, we wanted to give our guests something new,” shared Brian Morrow, Vice President of Theme Park Experience and Design at SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment. “By creating a custom digital overlay and using technology to tell the story, we developed an entirely new virtual reality coaster. Our guests can now travel through the depths of the ocean with the mighty Kraken herself. The result is a seamless and completely unique expedition on a well-loved roller coaster.”
According to SeaWorld Orlando Vice President Bryan Nadeau, providing a simple and easy system for quickly assisting guests unfamiliar with VR was a crucial factor when first discussing the possibility of bringing the technology to the coaster.
“Operationally, Kraken is a whole new attraction for us here at the park and one of the things we really concentrated on is making sure that we’re able to get these guests on and get these headsets on,” Nadeau explained. “A lot of our guests have maybe never seen a virtual reality headset or experienced virtual reality so we need to educated them about what it is, how to put it on, etc.”
“One of the things we’ve done is make sure that throughout the whole queue house (waiting area) we have huge TV monitors with videos playing about how to put the headset on, how we clean and sanitize those headsets and then how to adjust it to make sure it’s most comfortable for you.”
So there you have it! Not a bad number of spectacles and surprises for a 2-minute ride. With other popular parks such as Six Flags and Alton Towers experimenting with their own unique VR thrill rides, you can bet you’ll be seeing much more of this technology at theme parks in the near future.