Alton Towers Galactica – Cosmic VR-coaster

Im sure we’re all familiar now with the concept of a rollercoaster app on your VR headset, to nauseate you from the comfort of your home, but now Alton Towers – the legendary theme park in Staffordshire, England –  has taken it one step further. Enter Galactica.

The ride runs off the rails of AIR, which when it was released in 2002 was famous for being the only ride to hold the rider in a horizontal, lying down position. Fast forward over a decade later though and the guys at Alton towers have decided that this is no longer good enough, and have gone to the trouble of adding Samsung Gear headsets in pouches attached to each harness.

The ride begins pretty normally by sitting down in your seat and pulling down your safety harness, which also holds your feet in place with little ankle harnesses because of the whole lying down thing. The VR element then emerges, when after checking your harness, a ride operator gets your headset out of its pouch on your lap and gives it a wipe down ready for you to use.

With the headset on a large Galactica logo appears in front of you, along with instructions for getting the most out of the ride – which are best followed if you intend to prevent your lunch making an appearance from motion sickness. And then you’re off. The ride begins taking the pilot through a futuristic mechanical factory, where the concrete floor a few foot below is VR-ified to be a hundred metre deep hub of robotics.

As the rider heads outside in real life he/she is being propelled into space in VR, with the feeling of the wind on your face coming through to add to the experience. Then the rider is taken through a meteorite field, a canyon filled with lava, and a crumbling frozen planet, before coming back into dock.

Although the actual physical ride is exactly the same as the original, bar a model portal built around the track, the virtual reality world breathes a breath of new life into the ride for those that have been on it many a time before. The feeling of taking the headset off, coming back into ‘HD’, and remembering that ‘oh yeah, I was on a rollercoaster’ is pretty cool and makes you think of the potential for all rides to have their visuals changed for the better by VR.

Of course, you can ride without the headset, if you want to experience the ride by itself. But please, that’s sooo last decade.

Been on Galactica? Let us know what you thought down below!

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