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  • Writer's pictureAdam Kropf

My first experience with Virtual Reality was on a real life VR Roller Coaster

Virtual Reality (VR) is something that has always appealed to me, but is also something that I had never gone out of my way to experience.  I had used Augmented Reality (AR) in games such as Pokemon Go, as well as in field service applications like Texada’s Vision X. What I had never had before, was an immersive virtual reality experience, that is, until this past week.  

In the spirit of go big, or go home, I chose my first VR experience to be the Great Lego Race Virtual Reality roller coaster at Legoland Florida.  To be clear, this is NOT a VR coaster where you sit in a chair, in a room, and virtually see a roller coaster ride. This is where you are strapped into a real roller coaster flying down the real track and through real hairpin turns, all while being tricked into believing you are driving a lego car.

This is also a very different experience than being on a normal roller coaster.  When you are on a normal roller coaster you can always just look at the track ahead and see where you are going, but when you have a VR headset on you are not always going where you expect to be going.  At one point in this experience, the lego car you are “driving” takes a quick turn, smashes the guard rail and is suddenly flying through the air right at the same time as you feel your stomach being shoved up into your chest with the roller coaster going down a steep decline.  

Because it in a Virtual Reality, at any point in the experience I was able to look around the virtual world, left, right, up, down and be completely immersed in the virtual race at all times.

There was no breaking with this reality that I was perceiving unless I took the goggles off.

Virtual Reality is known at times to give users motion sickness, so I was worried about combing this possible side effect with a roller coaster that can also have the same effects. But after going on the ride, I don't think that the VR element added any more likelihood of sickness, and I even heard some riders say that with the headset they thought it lowered the motion sickness side effects.

The ride lasts about two minutes, and was incredibly well done.  The timing between the roller coaster car movements and the virtual car movements was spot on, the surprise changes in scenery, speeds, and turns, as well as the virtual competitors was very well done.  The Samsung Gear VR that powered the goggle was good throughout the experience with no noticeable lag, or image ghosting even during high movement scenes.

Although there were long lines, and I’m sure I looked like a goof in the VR headsets, it was totally worth it in the end.  I know that after this experience I will be looking to try more Virtual Reality experiences in the future, and I would recommend you to try out VR for yourself as well.  

You can see some footage of the experience and what I had seen while riding the VR coaster on a promo video below.

So after reading my take, and seeing the video, what do you think? Would you want to try this VR coaster? Let me know in the comments section!

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