Last week, UK theme park Alton Towers announced 'Galactica', a rollercoaster travelling at speeds of up to 47mph (75kph) on which passengers will wear virtual reality (VR) headsets, taking them on an exhilarating journey through space. Today, Thorpe Park - which, like Alton Towers, is owned by the Merlin Entertainments group - announced a new VR experience of its own, albeit quite a different one.
Thorpe Park worked with popular British illusionist and mentalist Derren Brown to create a "Ghost Train re-invented for the 21st Century". An image released today reveals a vast Victorian railway carriage suspended in mid-air - but apparently, "all is not what it seems".
The park describes the attraction as...
...a head-spinning train journey of between 10-15 minutes, the like of which guests will never have taken before; providing a heady mixture of exhilarating live action sequences, 4D special effects, grand-scale illusions, next generation technology, and physical transit. No place for spectators, guests will play a major part in the action which will leave them questioning where perception ends and reality begins.
Intriguingly, Thorpe Park adds that "this is a smart ride that also has 12 multiple knee-shaking journeys and two endings - so not only will no two 'rides' on board Derren Brown's Ghost Train be the same but every journey will provoke an intense response and reaction".
The ride will use HTC's new Vive VR headsets, as the press release notes:
Next generation technology includes HTC Vive’s VR headsets which are one element of the overall experience.
The Vive headset has a stunning high-definition display, running at 90 frames per second, and together with Steam VR from Valve, offers class-leading motion-tracking technology ensuring positional and rotational tracking sub-millimetre accuracy. A unique feature is that multiple headsets can work in the same space with no impact on performance. This makes it the ideal choice for Derren Brown’s Ghost Train.
Thorpe Park isn't giving too much away about the experience ahead of its opening in Spring 2016, following three years of development, but Mike Vallis, the park's Divisional Director, described it as "the first of its kind in the world, and certainly the most exciting and ambitious project we have ever attempted".