Roller Coasters Ride Into Dizzying Realm of Virtual Reality, by Daniel Michaels

RUST, Germany—For roller-coaster fans bored by loops and drops, design professor Thomas Wagner offers the extra twist of flying dragons, battles with aliens or a midair rescue by Superman.

They can all be experienced at newly equipped amusement parks—in virtual reality.

Mr. Wagner last year launched the first VR gear for roller coasters in partnership with Mack Rides GmbH, one of the world’s top producers of amusement park rides. This year Six Flags Entertainment Corp. has been introducing the headsets, which use Samsung Electronics Co.’s phones, across its 18 North American parks.

A competing system, developed by British 3-D and VR studio Figment Productions Ltd., opened at an English amusement park in March.

Riders wearing the specially reinforced VR headgear are immersed in a fantasyland where they soar, plunge and twist in sync with a coaster’s motion.
Theme-park operators are enthusiastic because the innovation lets them repackage old rides digitally, without the cost of building or refurbishing a giant physical structure. That, in turn, can entice repeat visits from potentially jaded thrill-seekers.

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