Tomorrow marks the opening of the 50th season for Six Flags Over Georgia and to celebrate not only are they creating another world class dark ride (to go along with Monster Plantation) but they are also ushering a new era of VR attraction and the first in the chain to do it on a drop tower.
We all think this suits VR much better than on a coaster. Check out Randy's update and be sure to check out Metro Atlanta Coaster Club for all your deep south coaster and theme park needs.
Written by Randy Dewberry
As Six Flags’ initial virtual reality experiment continued through the end of the 2016 season, many of the parks that had a VR coaster and hosted Holiday In The Park got a Christmas-themed VR overlay. Oddly, one that didn’t was the one that was the first to actually roll out the whole thing in 2016, Six Flags Over Georgia. In hindsight, it seems that the reason may have been future plans for the VR hardware.
As we discovered a week or so ago, Six Flags has moved the headsets off Dare Devil Dive and over to the Peachtree Square section of the park. Using Six Flags’ one-of-a-kind-in-North-America Gyro Drop tower, Acrophobia, Samsung VR is presenting a first-of-its-kind-in-North-America experience, Drop of Doom VR.
While the name of the overlay borrows from its sibling drop towers at Six Flags Magic Mountain and Six Flags Great Adventure, the rest is very unique, but not in the way you might think. Since Acrophobia’s debut in 2001, many park guests oddly refer to the ride as “Arachnophobia”.
I guess because they’re more familiar with a certain campy horror movie by that name than they are with the actual ride name. I have to give whoever decided on this theme huge props for taking that malapropism and working it into the experience.
After you’re seated on the 30-person gondola, the ride attendants will assist in fitting the VR goggles to your head. The Samsung Galaxy S7 phones mounted in Samsung Gear VR goggles return for this use, and are still quite comfortable and easy to focus.
While you’re waiting, you’ll be able to gauge just what’s going on … you’re rigged up on a helicopter mounted gondola with a high-powered gun that aims wherever you look as a city is overrun with gigantic (and not so gigantic) spiders. “Spiders … why did it have to be spiders?” you might say.
As you go aloft, you’ll be besieged by spiders on nearby buildings and flying insects, all perfectly good targets for your unlimited ammo. You’ll cheer as giant robot warriors take the fight to the arachnids. You’ll gasp as an equally-giant black widow takes out one robot, then cringe as you see its offspring crawl all over your virtual self. Then, you’ll scream as your gondola gets knocked off the helicopter and enters a 100-story virtual freefall, timed with the ride’s actual 16-story drop.
Fortunately, instead of crashing to the ground below, you’ll land in a handy spider web … wait, that can’t be good, and as you might expect from giant spiders, it isn’t. Only a well-timed robotic stomp keeps us from re-enacting the finale of “The Fly”.
The tech involved in making “Drop of Doom VR” happen is similar in concept to that used for Dare Devil Dive last season. There are wi-fi boxes mounted to the gondola, about the size of a paperback book, which communicate the ride experience to the VR headsets.
Markings have been placed on the tower for sensors to confirm exactly where on the 212-foot-tall tower the gondola is, making sure the VR content is synced up with the ride. Fortunately, in the event it does decouple, the sensation is not as disorienting as it would be on a roller coaster. If you cannot or choose not to use the VR headset, you can still ride, as they can handle a mixed loadout of riders with ease.
If there is one concern heading into this season, it’s how quickly they can dispatch the ride on each cycle. If you do intend on going the first couple of weekends, please be sure to pack your patience, as they want to cycle the ride as quickly as you want to ride and blast spiders, and may well change some things up from time to time if something is or is not working.
2017 marks Six Flags Over Georgia’s 50th anniversary season, and while the park’s big present – Justice League 4D: Battle for Metropolis – won’t open for another couple of months (May 26, to be specific), there’s still plenty besides Drop of Doom VR to entertain guests.
Justice League’s new home, Metropolis Park, will be ready, complete with a gussied-up Superman Ultimate Flight. Metropolis Park will have new food/drink options for this area of the park, although we’ve been told the food service won’t be ready for opening weekend.
Anniversary signage is appearing throughout, and a photo retrospective wall occupies the pavilion at the end of the Promenade. We’re looking forward to checking out the rest of the changes as we explore the park this weekend.