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Ride Profile Galactica A breath of fresh Air


When it was launched at Alton Towers in 2006, Air was the world’s first Flying Coaster from Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M). After a refurbishment this winter, the ride has re-emerged as Galactica, Europe’s first rollercoaster fully dedicated to virtual reality (VR). Owen Ralph reports


parkworld-online.com





F


or two minutes, our guests will be transported into space,” says Alton Towers Resort


marketing director Gill Riley. ”We believe Galactica showcases the future for theme parks around the world – it’s a complete game changer!”


Located in the Forbidden Valley section of the UK park, the 840m- long (2,760ft) Galactica retains Air’s black lift hill and light blue track but features an all new entrance, queue line elements and new-look loading bay designed by Merlin Magic Making. A space age portal has been constructed around the first drop, with a great sound effect as each train leaves the lift hill and races towards the portal and LED strips that illuminate riders as they fly through. Air was always an attraction that


featured a lot of interaction between riders and spectators, but now it’s only bystanders to get to watch the ‘real’ action, as passengers are preoccupied watching the CGI space flight that unfolds before them. It also means a change of


approach for the park when it comes to providing photo opps. Now, instead of the usual on-ride photo, guests sampling Galactica are asked to poke their heads into a glass dome before the ride. The resulting image, presented as if passengers were wearing a space helmet, is then available for sale at the end of the ride. Picsolve provided the technology to make this possible. VR headsets, kept before the ride inside a box strapped to the front of each rider restraint, are issued to “Galactinauts” once they have taken their seats and been secured safely in place. At the end of each ride cycle, attendants cleanse the goggles with hygiene wipes ready for the next guest. Vector VR technology from Figment


Productions near London provides visuals that are perfectly synchronised to the coaster’s twists, turns and loops, launching riders up into “space,” flying and looping beyond the stars, banking through wormholes and speeding across undiscovered galaxies. According to Figment’s Simon


Reveley, the result is far superior to any simulator-based experience: “No simulator can reproduce what we have done because if the brain and


36 APRIL 2016


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