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Six Flags to provide virtual reality on roller-coaster rides

Want to battle Lex Luthor or space aliens while riding a roller coaster?

Well, now you can -- or at least you can feel like you are.

This summer, when thrill seekers go to nine different Six Flags theme parks, they'll be able to combine the adventure of a roller coaster ride with a virtual reality (VR) experience.

Six Flags announced today that it is working with electronics giant Samsung to allow people who are riding its Superman roller coasters to don wireless VR headsets. The idea is to synchronize the virtual experience with the twists, turns and drops of the ride.

Riders will have an experience designed to immerse them in a 360-degree world of flying, fighting and fantasy. People will be able to opt out of the VR portion and still go on the coasters.

The VR experience is expected to be available this spring on Six Flags' three new Superman Virtual Reality Coasters, along with six new Revolution Virtual Reality Coasters.

Riders on the Superman coasters will be immersed in the comic-book world of Metropolis where riders, and Superman, are fighting Lex Luthor and his army of Lexbots that are trying to destroy the city.

On the six other roller coasters, the experience is designed to transport riders into an air combat battle to save Earth from an alien invasion.

"This remarkable technology is a definite game-changer for theme park rides and represents everything our brand stands for, delivering the most thrilling and innovative rides and attractions in the world," said John Duffey, Six Flags president and CEO, in a prepared statement.

Riders, who need to be 13 and over, will wear Samsung Gear VR and Oculus headsets.

Kids 12 and younger can ride the coasters but will not be able to use the headsets because of manufacturer guidelines.

"I think it's a good step in that a big-name entertainment company is using virtual reality," said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy. "The big virtual reality discussion is around the content and new experiences. This is a new experience."

He added that while this could turn a lot of people onto virtual reality, for people who get sick on the thrilling ride, it could really turn them off to trying virtual reality again.

"I'm imagining people getting very sick," said Moorhead. "That could turn them off for a long, long time."

Six Flags, however, says they've taken steps to keep that from happening.

"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," the company said on its website. "Unlike watching the visuals while standing still, there should be no adverse effect."

IDG Insider

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