I logged in to try to upgrade my platinum pass online to a premier membership since it's only $1 more per pass for me and apparently you can only do it over the phone or in person. It's 2018, this should be an easy thing to do on the computer.
As most TPR members know (unless they’ve been in a coma for a few years), virtual reality (VR) has been popping up at theme parks worldwide. We’ve all seen photos of riders wearing VR helmets equipped with cell phones, experiencing alien invasions and laser battles as they roll up and down the hills of such coasters as New Revolution at Six Flags Mountain. However, with Battle for Eire, Busch Gardens is hoping to take the application of VR to a new level.
Battle for Eire will be the “most unique VR experience anywhere,” said Larry Giles, the park’s vice president of engineering. How will BGW’s VR attraction differ from all the others?
1. Battle for Eire will use not a coaster, but the park’s still state-of-the-art simulator platform, which was first installed for the fondly remembered Questor and last used for the flight simulation Europe in the Air. According to Giles, it’s similar to what NASA uses for training. Using VR allows for more movement than the old system, where the edges of the screen had to be accommodated. VR provides a 360-degree experience that will place riders in the middle of the action.
2. Instead of headsets equipped with cell phones, Eire’s VR system uses custom software, and a “mini-computer” operates each individual headset. This allows for a much sharper image than you see on other parks’ VR rides. It flashes in front of your eyes at 90 frames per second. This will be a “new system for the theme park world,” said Jason Ambler, executive producer/director of production at Falcon’s Digital Media. This company also worked with the park on Curse of DarKastle. There will be “interactive elements” too, says Ambler. For example, a rider who looks off to the left or right will have a different view than the rider next to him. Altering one's gaze is supposed to set off different ride elements; so, the ride will be a bit different each time you experience it.
3. Eire will also be higher capacity than VR coaster rides. Each of the two simulators holds 59 passengers. There are two pre-shows (roughly two minutes each) in addition to the ride itself (which lasts four minutes).
4. Battle for Eire also marks the welcome return of Irish mythology to BGW. Guests will don “Emerald Helmets” equipped with “Enchanted Lenses,” which enable them to see the mystical “Otherworld.” There they will help Addie, “the last remaining fairy of Ireland,” and her dragon sidekick, Ollie, battle the evil Balor, a cyclops who gains his power by “consuming the good magic of Ireland.” Guests will “ride a dragon” during this adventure. The helmets come in two sizes--adult and child--and are adjustable. The park also used Irish actors in Dublin to provide voices for the characters.
Guests who don’t wish to wear an “Emerald Helmet” can still ride. The adventure will also be projected on the simulator’s big screen. The height limit is 42 inches.
Battle for Eire will open in spring 2018. No specific date was given.
Here’s a look at the tour.
Well, this was more of a "fluorescent vest" tour. Hard hats weren't required.
Ireland is getting all spruced up.
The gift shop is getting a new roof.
I remember when Questor was in this building. It was also the site of the first Howl-o-Scream maze.
Time for the tour.
Here's a piece of the "Unearthed" Howl-o-Scream maze. But Battle for Eire will be running during HOS, so I guess the monsters will have to move out.
Behold the Emerald Helmet! The VR headsets themselves will not come in contact with riders' faces. The helmets will be cleaned after each use, but the park has roughly 10,000 of them. Magnets on the helmets will hold the VR headsets in place.
Suzy Cheely, who is also on the park's engineering team, demonstrated how to wear the Emerald Helmet. There is a ratcheting strap on the back, similar to what you find on some hard hats. (Maybe it was a "hard-hat tour" after all.)
This is is the "Training" room (second pre-show). Note the illuminated dots on the floor (for seating purposes).
This is where you'll get the safety instructions on how to properly fly on a dragon.
They're still theming the pre-show rooms--something about "leprechaun doors and windows." The rock-corridor queue appears to be unchanged.
The pre-show video will "turn" like pages in a book. They're still waiting for their new screen.
Here's the simulator platform . . .
. . . and a whole bunch of headsets in their holders.
Here's the VR headset up close.
After fastening their seat belts, . . .
. . . riders take the headsets from their holders, then put them on the helmet. It looked pretty easy.
How about a look at what goes on underneath the platform? Here's the hydraulic system.
Questor was the frist attraction Larry Giles worked on at BGW.
They use this mini-platform to program the ride platform. Moves are tested here first, then riders try them out for real.
Here's a piece of history: This patch of concrete is where the front section of Questor was anchored.
So, if looking up under a coaster train is "coaster porn," I guess this is "simulator porn."
Another amazing piece of high-tech equipment! ;)
Larry Giles doing a Q&A session in front of some concept art.
Meet Addie. She looks pretty fierce. Her name is a shortened version of a Gaelic word meaning "little flame."
This is her friend Ollie. Don't mess with him.
Balor is as evil as he is ugly. He is a demon king in Irish mythology
Be sure to have plenty of Raid on hand if you ever encounter Balor's minions, the Sluagh.
Battle for Eire opens this spring. That's all for now.
This seems more promising than any other VR attraction to date, I really hope it's successful because I could see a similar concept taking over for the Wild Arctic attractions at SeaWorld parks (which desperately need an update).
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