The 10 coolest virtual reality attractions in the world

You don’t have to travel across the world to ride rollercoasters. Just invite a VR ride to your next event. Take a look at these virtual reality attractions coming to a town near you!

1. Arkave

“Expect more from VR gaming” Now that’s a sentiment we can get behind. Actually, Arkave is far less high-tech than one would assume judging from the tagline. They design free-roam installations that are not only immersive, they are also affordable.

The experience is wireless, with co-op by syncing a VR headset and offers a room-scale experience for you and your friends. Unlike some competitors the actual headsets and controllers are not altered to look like something else, they look just like the Oculus Rift devices anyone could buy in stores. Arkave has created a complete package with minimal setup and maximum playing time. Even the popular Rift / Quest game Beat Saber has been turned into a coin-op machine.

 

2. Exit Reality X Hub

One disadvantage of many VR games is the solitary experience. You see players flailing around but the outside observer has no direct connection with the player. The X Hub by Exit Reality adds bluescreen technology to the mix so the crowd can enjoy watching the players in the game.

Beat Saber is a perfect example of a game that benefits greatly from the bluescreen approach. This game is physically intense and requires rapid movements. The observers will see the player standing in the actual game environment to provide context to the crowd. This is also a great attraction mode for new players which in turn leads to higher revenue.

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3. Hologate

“Small footprint enclosure VR”, that’s the term Forbes magazine used to describe the Hologate experience. Basically it means that the actual space is extended within the virtual realm. Just a couple of square meters turn into an unlimited playing area. Hologate takes the Arcade approach and updates it with virtual reality goggles. Instead of other VR Arcades there’s no need for a warehouse to accommodate the players. This saves space and money. One of the more interesting themes is definitely Angry Birds. The feathered friends we all know and love from the mobile video game appear right in front of you. Are you on the side of the birds or the pigs?

4. Hurricane 360

DOF robotics has taken the standard theme park rides and placed them in a mobile system that allows for a tactile ride at any location. The Hurricane 360 is the cream of the crop in this area, with 6 Axis Motion control and 360 degree rotation for a ride you will not soon forget! Instead of a few kilometers of steel you sit in chairs that sync perfectly with the video playing in the headsets. The syncing VR headset allows for up to four people at the same time.

5. Mario Kart VR

“You had me at Mario!” Everything Mario touches seems to turn into gold. The combination of cartoon racing with a first-person perspective seems too good to be true.

The Arcade cabinet is not made by Nintendo but by Bandai Namco, and features all the familiar characters gamers know and love. The control scheme has been simplified which takes away some of the depth of the original game series, but makes up for this with an immersive experience you will not soon forget. Slipping on a banana peel in VR is a completely different experience compared to sitting in front of a TV set. As a new property without the Mario license this ride would not have the same impact.

 

6. Virtuix Omni Arena

Professionals in the field certainly know Virtuix, the company behind a curious fitness device / VR machine that allows the player to walk freely without actually traveling any distance. The concept was great, but who would purchase such a device?

With the Virtuix Omni Arena the company has created a standalone booth that caters to 20 people each hour with just one attendant present. This allows for a great variety of purposes, events and fairs being the obvious examples. Just strap in, select your favorite program and start playing!

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7. Skydive VR

For many people the problem with skydiving is the jumping from a plane at high altitude. The most significant part of the experience… Indoor skydiving gives you the same feeling without the worries of the parachute not opening. But indoor skydiving can also feel a bit boring if you only see the wind machine below you. Enter Skydive VR, a company that uses Samsung VR headsets in conjunction with large wind blowers for a completely immersive experience. The thrill has remained, but without the danger. It’s also a cost effective solution with far less environmental impact because a plane is not required for this virtual trip. Still, the feeling of wind blowing towards you as you float in mid-air provides all the excitement a real descend would give the participant. All with the knowledge of a safe landing. Kids four and up can enjoy this ride making it a family friendly adventure.

8. Smaaash Labs Jurassic Escape

The people behind Smaaash Labs know that watching people experiencing VR can be just as entertaining as experiencing it yourself. That’s why they go beyond the visuals in the headset and create beautiful installations for everyone to enjoy.

Jurassic Escape is a two-player ride through a park that is in no way connected to the famous book series and movie franchise. The syncing VR headset option allows for two players to enjoy the same ride, the pneumatic installation shakes and moves with the video presentation.

9. The VOID

One of the pioneers in VR Arcades is The Void. At first they had to create their own virtual worlds from the ground up, now they can boast a number of official tie-ins with movie franchises like Jumanji, The Avengers, Star Wars and Wreck it Ralph. However, the most enticing adventure might be “Nicodemus: Demon of Evanishment”. This original adventure is scary and wholly original.

It allows syncing the VR headset with up to three other players as you travel back over 120 years in time. There’s a choice of six characters that are all chased by the evil Nicodemus. This title is based on a novella by Curtis and Tracy Hickman.

 

10. VR Ninja Dojo

Have you ever dreamed of becoming a real ninja? Now you can (kind of), at the Ninja Dojo in Tokyo. Learn four arts of the Ninja and test them in a VR environment. Just like the original Ninjas did hundreds of years ago. The training is not meant to be serious, and cheerfully plays with all the familiar tropes of the ‘ninja experience’. The field test in virtual reality is a fun way of incorporating VR technology in a complete attraction for tourists.

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How the movie industry uses virtual reality

For a long time virtual reality was a popular subject in fiction. Even now the concept of VR tickles the imagination. Just look at the recent Spielberg Movie “Ready Player One” to see how Hollywood depicts virtual reality technology. But the most exciting things concerning VR in Hollywood isn’t what’s on the screen, it’s how professionals use it to create movie magic. This is how the movie industry uses virtual reality.

From prediction to reality

The concept of virtual reality has been used for decades in Hollywood. The mostly forgotten 1983 movie “Brainstorm” featured a weird-looking helmed used to sync VR headsets in order to view the thoughts of people wearing the device. The most (in)famous example is probably “The Lawnmower Man” which took a short Stephen King story to create a virtual environment that was colorful, baffling and by 2020 standards extremely dated.

 

“Disclosure” starring Michael Douglas, “Johnny Mnemonic” starring Keanu Reeves and the David Cronenberg ‘body horror’ flick “eXistenZ” all feature VR technology in both fantastical and prescient ways. Now the tables have turned and virtual reality technology is used to create new movies.

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Virtual cameras

When George Lucas created his second Star Wars trilogy he used the available digital tools in such an excessive way it took the viewer out of the story. In “Solo: A Star Wars Story” virtual cameras were used to create realistic camera movements in the space battles. The camera would ‘film’ digital models of spacecraft, allowing for a very natural camera motion bringing the audience into the scene.

A more grounded and therefore more challenging project was the ‘live action’ remake of “The Lion King”. This time photorealistic lions in Africa were filmed using virtual cameras on an empty sound stage in the United States. In order to sync VR headsets a local network of devices was set up so the director and camera crew could walk among the lions as if they were actually there. This allows the director to view the scene from a first-person perspective, instead of looking at a computer monitor from the comfort of an office chair.

Animation

The art of animation has evolved at a rapid pace in the last century. From hand-drawn images in black-and-white to the groundbreaking multiplane animation of Disney, up to the fully rendered Pixar movies. Now virtual reality has become a part of the toolbox, which has led to award-winning results. Although “Lost” was a groundbreaking short from Oculus Story Studio, followed by the lighthearted “Henry”, they were mostly 360 videos created with traditional animation tools. “Dear Angelica” was decidedly more innovative, in this narrated and deeply affecting story the visuals were drawn in Quill, virtual reality software created for the Oculus Rift headset.

Now the artist can draw in three dimensions and walk around in the drawings which has literally added a new dimension to digital storytelling. If you sync VR headsets you can create a virtual cinema in any location.

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Marketing and promotion

It has become pretty common to hire a second camera crew to record behind-the-scenes footage for promotional videos. Thanks to 360 cameras it’s now possible to shoot all angles of a movie set for a truly immersive experience. Tom Cruise has become the Hollywood equivalent of Jackie Chan with his insistence on performing his own stunts. With a 360 promotional video his death defying work can be captured in a new and exciting way.

Another interesting yet totally different promotional video is “Battle at Avengers Tower”, a computer generated video starring the most popular Marvel characters. In this presentation the viewer can travel along with their favorite heroes in a stunning 3D VR video. The promotional team of “The Martian” went even further and produced a 20-minute interactive game placing the viewer on Mars. Almost every big Hollywood movie uses some kind of VR content to promote upcoming features, ranging from behind-the-scenes 360 video, immersive 360 content with high production values or virtual reality content created specifically for the VR format. Although the more advanced presentations require a VR headset, a lot of 360 video content can also be viewed on regular screens.

360 movie tie-ins

With hundreds of millions spent on the production of movies and even more on marketing, all possibilities of extra revenue are explored. The VOID, one of the most popular VR Arcades worldwide, made a deal to incorporate the famous Ghostbusters characters into their immersive and interactive playground.

The player becomes part of the crew and dons a (virtual) Ghostbusters suit and a controller that closely resembles a real proton pack. This is a particularly interesting way of using existing properties to enhance VR experiences. It allows for more immersive presentations while promoting the movies.

Another interesting example is the Star Wars tie-in Cardboard VR viewer from McDonald’s. The iconic Happy Meal box can be folded into a smartphone holder. With a QR code the accompanying VR app can be downloaded for free. This combines a tangible item with a virtual experience.

Actual VR movies

So far so good, but what about actual movies in VR? Although you can easily sync VR headsets with some clever software, there are no actual (big budget) full-length 360 movies. There are complementary productions, for instance “Dunkirk: Save every breath” which was filmed alongside the actual movie. Most filmmakers agree that a full-length feature is too much of a good thing at the moment, the audience will also have to adjust to this new format. When you sync VR headsets a large group can enjoy the experience at the same time, you do need rotating chairs to make it a comfortable experience.

 

Robert Rodriguez, director of blockbusters like “Alita: Battle Angel” and the “Spy Kids” franchise, has created a 360 project called “The Limit” which stars Michelle Rodriguez (no relation). The first-person perspective places the viewer in the middle of the action. The production looks and feels great, but it also shows that even A-list filmmakers have some trouble adjusting to this new format.

VR in movies can be ‘in your face’ like “The Limit” or used as a tool like “The Lion King”. In any case, it has created a new way of filmmaking like sound, color and digital have done before.

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