By: Courtney Dabney
An Early Look at Six Flags' Newest Virtual Reality Ride
Fort Worth Magazine's Associate Editor Samantha Calimbahin hopped aboard Six Flags Over Texas' Shock Wave roller coaster for a sneak preview of the ride's newest virtual reality feature, The New Revolution Galactic Attack. Here is her experience.
I grew up in Arlington, and a trip to Six Flags wasn't satisfactory without a spin through the classics. Titan. Texas Giant. BATMAN The Ride.
And of course, Shock Wave.
Shock Wave has been at Six Flags Over Texas since 1978. So I, a moderately adventurous 23-year-old, never knew a Six Flags without the Shock Wave. For the most part, I've memorized every jolt, loop and drop -- at least, until recently. Last year, Six Flags partnered with Samsung to add a virtual reality component to the ride, allowing riders to slip on a headset that simulated an alien invasion and later a gargoyle attack. It worked so well, Six Flags says, that the theme park decided to change up the storyline again this year and introduce Galactic Attack VR Coaster, which has riders fly through space and shoot alien spaceships.
The ride will open to season pass holders this weekend and to the public March 9, but I got to give it a go early on Wednesday. Tim Baldwin, director of communications at American Coaster Enthusiasts, sat beside me to offer a little insight on the ride.
After being outfitted with a Gear VR headset, which has a Samsung Galaxy S7 smartphone popped in to simulate virtual reality, I strapped into my seat and looked at my surroundings. When the ride starts, the goggles show not much more than what's already around you. You're surrounded by the theme park, and you can turn to see the person sitting next to you. But as you come up the hill and turn on the first curve, a wormhole appears, jolting the rider into outer space, where spaceship debris and asteroids are floating.
Turning toward the double loops, you see Earth. Your gun begins to fire, and just by turning your head, you can shoot alien spaceships and anything else that flies by. When the coaster loops, your virtual reality spaceship does, too, making it a little difficult to focus on whatever it is you're trying to shoot (For me, anyway. I've never been good at shooter games.). Same thing goes with drops. Everything on the simulation is timed to the path of the coaster.
Portals also appear on the screen, giving riders the option of choosing different paths each time they ride. I did ride the roller coaster twice. I must've turned my head the wrong way because both times I experienced the same storyline. The biggest difference I noticed was the giant snake that appears at the end of the ride. The first time, the snake was pink. The second time, it was green.
In a little more than two minutes, the words "You Have Survived" appear onscreen. Don't worry. Everyone survives. And the ride is over.
Galactic Attack is expected to be part of the Shock Wave through the end of the year, but if you're old school, you can also ride the Shock Wave without the headset. The virtual reality component certainly gives the ride a new life of sorts. It's definitely not the Shock Wave I used to know, for sure.