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The basic concept of the proposed ride is to utilize the current advances in VR technology to create a simulated experience for park-goers that is safe, widely usable (i.e. little in the way of height restrictions), and sufficiently immersive that there is a “wow” factor from the participants. The VR ride experience at Disneyland Florida is to combine both external and visual stimulus to enhance the capability of the VR headset to make the wearer believe that they are in an entirely different environment. The participants would be isolated in a large room where there is a movable metal ride that they would get into. The VR headsets are then placed on their heads to control their visual perspective. The ride would then engage a program that would create simulated wind, smells, and noise to surround the riders to enhance the visual experience they are getting from the VR device (Metz 104). This concept is feasible since it does not involve the construction of a large-scale series of tracks like many rollercoasters and is far safer since the participants are located in an isolated room and are only a few feet off the ground.
What is the Concept?
With the increasing viability of VR technology through gadgets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vibe, its use in fields other than computer gaming and digital graphics is becoming more prevalent (Yao et al. 189). As such, this concept implements the use of VR as a way of creating a simulated travel experience that also uses amusement park ride technology. The proposed amusement park ride is a simulated flight experience that would enable people of different ages to experience the joys of flight. An example of the proposed concept can be seen in the photo below:
A simulated flight experience can be achieved with relatively cheap equipment and placing a person in an area with program activated electric fans. Do note that a VR headset alone cannot create a simulated reality, what is needed to truly create an immersive experience that customers will enjoy is to utilize the headset and flight platform in conjunction with a dedicated VR program that can have a wide variety of themes and settings based on the needs of the ride (Dingman 70). This can result in programs that can simulate flight or make people experience the perspective of an action hero (ex: Superman). While this will require a considerable upfront investment on the part of Disney since a dedicated VR program is not cheap, it will pay substantial dividends in the future through the patronage of people who will enjoy the level of immersion that it will provide.
A large room can be dedicated to the experience with multiple platforms being set within the same area to enable more than a single person to be processed at the same time. There would be a “flight instructor” who will take the role of guiding the group through the medium of VR technology until they are capable of “flying” on their own. At this point, the ride will allow the participants to fly through a wide variety of different landscapes ranging from outer space to going through a city skyline. The focus is to immerse them through visual, auditory and physical stimulation to the point that they will be unable to tell that what they are experiencing is “fake.”
How Would the Concept Work?
The Oculus Rift or a similar VR system (ex: the HTC Vibe) covers the eyes and ears of the wearer which enables a program to create the illusion of a simulated reality better than a computer screen. The auditory and visual abilities of the park visitor are being stimulated, the physical sensation of flight will be taken care of via the raised platform (Walton 8). The electric fans that are located around them will simulate wind resistance and create the illusion that they are actually moving when, in reality, they have not moved from the spot that they are currently in. What this shows is that creating a viable VR experience can be done without having to build an expensive roller coaster infrastructure to make it appealing to park goers. Not only that, the concept is likely to be far more appealing to children and adults alike since the experience of flying through the sky is one that is unique yet is not achievable at present without having to pay large amounts of money to jump out of an airplane. Overall, the proposed concept is not only viable but also has the potential to appeal to people of all ages.
Advantages of this Proposed Ride
Since it is a simulated experience, it does not need to have a specific height requirement since VR technology can be adapted to create a ride that is only a few feet off the ground. People go to Disneyland for an enjoyable experience; however, there are some cases where a child is simply too short to be allowed on a ride since the safety features on some seats are designed for people of a particular height. A VR flight experience and all subsequent VR rides that Disney may implement in the park eschews this height requirement since the platforms needed to create a compelling VR experience are only a few feet off the ground. Not only that, the inherent cost of construction is far less than that of a roller coaster, but it is still likely to draw a lot of crowds. Disney could also leverage its extensive collection of animated movies and television shows to create future VR experiences that would allow customers to experience their favorite Disney characters in a simulated reality (Munson 8). This is likely to be the “dream” of many children and even some adults resulting in a considerable amount of consumer patronage in the future.
Aside from the viability and potential long-term consumer patronage that a VR experience can bring, there is also the safety features of such a ride to take into consideration. A VR experience is far safer than most amusement park rides since they can be done on the ground with no significant pieces of moving machinery. This means that the costs associated with most amusement park rides when it comes to the safety features they implement are not necessary for VR rides which make it far more profitable for Disney (Dixon 503). Do note thought that there is the potential for adverse effects to occur if a person is immersed in a VR system for too long.
Dizziness and disorientation are common symptoms for people that have been in a VR environment for too long and, as such, it is likely that people who will take part in the VR flight experience will only be allowed to do so in 20-minute stretches (Munson 8). This helps to prevent the various symptoms of “VR Over experience” that were mentioned earlier. There is also the issue of hygiene to take into consideration since dozens if not hundreds of people will be using a VR headset every day. To prevent the potential for cross contamination. It is highly advised that the VR headset is rubbed down with isopropyl alcohol after every participant has utilized it. This would help to prevent possible cross-contamination and would showcase that Disney is taking the right measures when it comes to protecting the safety of people that utilize the VR system.
Overall, the creation of an experience where a person’s senses are tricked into thinking that they are in a “real” environment with the level of detail, physics, and settings within a VR program, is likely to draw a considerable amount of crowds to Disneyland in Florida. The appeal is due to both the uniqueness of the concept and the sheer potential that the technology has when combined with the extensive repertoire of fantasy worlds that Disney has created. In fact, there is the very real potential that the technology could be used in the future to enable people to fly through the worlds of the Lion King, Frozen, the Jungle Book and a broad range of other possible fantasy environments. The potential applications are considerable, and all that is needed is the will and imagination to implement it.
Dingman, Hayden. “The Best Oculus Rift Games and Virtual Reality Experiences.” PC World, 2016, Web.
Dixon, Wheeler Winston. “Slaves of Vision: The Virtual Reality World of Oculus Rift.” Quarterly Review of Film & Video, vol. 33, no. 6, 2016, pp. 501-510.
Metz, Rachel. “Oculus Rift Is Too Cool To Ignore.” MIT Technology Review, vol. 119, no. 4, 2016, pp. 104-107.
Munson, Ben. “VR Technologies to Draw Big Focus at IBC 2016.” Fierce Cable, 2016, Web.
Walton, Jarred. “Virtually Prepared: Getting Ready for Oculus Rift.” Maximum PC, 2015, Web.
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Yao, Albert, et al. “Integrated 3R and VR Technologies for Creative Design and Marketing.” Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Systems, vol. 1, no. 2, 2002, p. 189.