Six Flags Over Georgia has combined a virtual reality experience with a real-life roller coaster to create one of the world’s first fully interactive Virtual Reality Roller Coasters: Rage of the Gargoyles. The new attraction will run throughout October at Fright Fest, and we got to be one of the first to test it out!
John Park – Video gamer who has never played a single VR game before, not even a stationary one (seriously John?) and who has never rode this coaster before
Jillian Michelle – Video gamer who sucks at video games but plays them anyway, HAS played plenty of VR games before but never on a coaster (because duh- this is new tech), and who has sadly never been on this coaster before
Oh yeah, and a couple of zombies and ghouls who rode with us. Wave hi, guys.
This new virtual reality experience deploys on a five-year-old coaster that’s been terrorizing guests since 2011. The Dare Devil Dive belongs to the Euro-Fighter class of coaster — steel roller coasters that typically feature a completely vertical lift and a beyond-vertical drop at over a 90 degree angle. The Dare Devil Dive launches its riders face-first towards the ground at a 95 degree angle after lifting them straight up 95 feet into the air. Instead of a long train, individual cars of six seats transport riders around the track. Top speeds reach 52 miles per hour through a series of high banking turns and a total of three inversions.
The Rage of the Gargoyles ride experience relies on the use of Samsung Gear VR — a mobile virtual reality headset first released in November 2015. Developed and manufactured by Samsung Electronics, in collaboration with Oculus, the lightweight device immerses its wearers into a 360 degree fully 3D environment. The technology–which includes head motion tracking sensors–makes it easy to get lost in a world that’s not your own.
“Gear VR, powered by Oculus, lets you travel across the galaxy, build expansive cities, battle unbelievable monsters, and more. Immerse yourself in entertainment like never before—the ever-expanding collection of amazing Gear VR experiences awaits.” –Samsung
Riders must be at least 13 years of age in order to wear the headset, but younger kiddos can still ride the roller coaster without the virtual reality experience as long as they meet the height requirements.
The Ride Experience
When you put on the Samsung Gear while riding the Dare Devil Dive, you get a crazy realistic experience that’s nothing like any other virtual reality experience you’ve ever had before. Most virtual reality games remain stationary, so despite the high def graphics and 3d environment, there’s still something missing to convince your mind to fully believe that you are truly inside another world. But on Rage of the Gargoyles, you don’t just watch the experience; you feel it.
The moment you strap on the Samsung Gear, you are no longer you. You are the gunner pilot of an Apache-style helicopter, and your mission is to save the world from the blood-thirsty gargoyles destroying it in a not so distant future. The VR provides 360 degree views that synchronize with the actions of the coaster, so you feel the excitement of being towed to a launching location, turning on your thrusters, and speeding through a devastated cityscape at over 50 miles per hour, dangerously diving upside down or straight at the ground in order to evade the creatures trying to demolish your helicopter. You can tap the right side of your headset to fire your guns and score points with each new kill.
At the top of the lift, a couple gargoyles defiantly perch on your helicopter and rip the top off, rendering your gatling gun useless, before murdering your copilot and then turning their assault on you. You take out a few of them with a pistol before switching weapon systems to something more powerful.
Without your gatling, you can still fire missiles. And it’s motion controlled by the movement of your head, so you simply stare a gargoyle down in order to lock onto the target and launch your attack. No hands required. From then on, it’s just a matter of killing as many of those suckers as you can before the big boss battle with the mother gargoyle at the end of the ride.
- Tap the right side of your headset to fire your guns.
- Use motion head lock to launch missiles completely hands-free.
- You get points for killing gargoyles, and can try to improve your score each time you ride.
- The game’s ending animation differs and is dependent upon how well you play the game – you can win or lose!
- You will lose if you don’t battle the master gargoyle at the end of the ride. So don’t stop until she’s dead!
On Motion Sickness (Hint – there isn’t any)
VR games of the past developed quite a reputation for making people queasy, so it’s easy to assume that combining a nausea-inducing machine with the upside down loops of a shaky coaster will cook up a recipe for a tummy disaster.
But you’d be wrong.
What a lot of people don’t realize is that motion sickness actually develops as a response to your body remaining stationary while your eyes follow the movement of the VR. What you’re seeing and what you’re feeling do not match up, so your brain gets confused and sends you your lunch as a consolation present. Combining the virtual reality experience with a roller coaster actually solves this problem. Since the graphics are perfectly synced to every twist and turn of the coaster, you feel exactly what you should be feeling if you were flying through the sky chasing gargoyles, and that’s an amazing, exhilarating, nausea-free rush.
Yes, Six Flags sanitizes all of the head gear after each use, you worry warts. You won’t be bathing your face in someone else’s sweat and tears. I do wonder though just how much wear and tear the straps can handle before a permanent griminess necessitates them being replaced.
John’s headset came loose a couple times. Two other people there mentioned the same problem. Mine stayed snug and didn’t budge one bit. Maybe I lucked out because I have a smaller head?
I’ve seen a lot of other gamers criticizing the graphics on this ride, so here’s my two cents: this isn’t your PS4 or Xbox. This is a roller coaster with an amazing virtual reality experience. If you go into it expecting the graphics to be as good as your Playstation back home, then you’re going to be disappointed. If you take it for what it is, which is the only virtual reality combined roller coaster experience technology in existence at the moment, then you can’t be anything other than impressed. Your attitude determines your enjoyment of this attraction. Your choice, bud.
If you’re a fan of roller coasters and a fan of 3D movies, then this ride is for you.
If you’re a fan of roller coasters and a fan of video games, then this ride is for you.
If a fear of heights is the only thing that stops you from riding roller coasters, then this ride is for you.
I always freak out just a little bit on the first big climb of roller coasters. I’m afraid of going slow. Not fast. It’s a fear of being aware of my surroundings and knowing just how high I am off the ground. All of this goes away once the coaster enters its first drop and starts speeding along the track far too quickly for me to stop and contemplate my fear of heights. But that slow climb to the top– that always gets to me. With the Samsung VR on, however, I was too busy looking at gargoyles to try to turn back and look at the ground. And a sky filled with angry gargoyles was so much less intimidating than the empty sky of nothingness you face when riding a coaster without VR. So a virtual reality coaster experience is a perfect choice for someone who can’t get past their fear of heights but has always been interested in the thrill of roller coasters.
Our Favorite Parts
- the gargoyles that get right in your face right before the first big drop! They’re eye to eye with you, and it really feels like both your faces are touching!
- There’s also an unexpected loop in there somewhere that just feels amazing as it’s coupled with flying through burning skyscraper buildings in the middle of the city. Normally the first big hill is my favorite part of coasters, and I care a bit less for the smaller twisty loops, but because the VR technology creates a different type of ride experience that keeps you from being aware of your position on the tracks, it was so much more enjoyable to be hurled sideways, upside down, or launched at the ground without having any idea what’s coming next! I loved it!
- John says he just loves that the entire ride is not like anything he’s ever experienced. His favorite part was shooting all the gargoyles.
- When prompted to pick a specific moment he loved, he says
“That very last loop where I thought I was gonna fall out of my seat. Because it goes really slow! You freak out for a sec, and then you remember ‘Oh yeah, I’m harnessed.'”
Your Turn to Ride
Rage of the Gargoyles at Dare Devil Dive debuts at Six Flags Over Georgia’s Fright Fest where more than 400 zombies and monsters eagerly wait to scare the bejeebus out of you. If you can’t make it out to Georgia, dry your sad little eyes because you can still test your gargoyle fighting skills at one of Rage of the Gargoyle‘s other coaster locations across North America.
There are eight experiences total:
- Dare Devil Dive at Six Flags Over Georgia in Austell;
- Demon at Six Flags Great America near Chicago;
- Skull Mountain at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey;
- Shock Wave at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington;
- Kong at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom near San Francisco;
- Ninja at Six Flags St. Louis in Eureka;
- Steamin’ Demon at The Great Escape in Lake George, New York;
- Goliath at La Ronde in Montreal.
Watch Our Entire Experience on Rage of the Gargoyles