Six Flags, Samsung Heighten Roller Coaster Experience

As if regular roller coasters weren’t thrilling enough, Six Flags and Samsung are partnering on a venture to add another layer to the experience via the magic of visual reality. 

The two companies are adding a virtual reality level to roller coasters at nine of the entertainment company’s theme parks this summer, in a deal that includes naming Samsung the “Official Technology Company” of Six Flags, and the use of Samsung Gear VR (powered by Occulus) headsets to create the experience. 

“Everyone has had a past experience with virtual reality, but for us to take it and deliver it on a roller coaster, this takes it to a different level,” Brett Petit, senior vice president of marketing for Six Flags Entertainment Corp., tells Marketing Daily. “It takes a lot to impress us, but this is awe-inspiring. Now we can deliver the same physical rush, and put you somewhere you’ve never been before.”



Six of the new attractions will make riders the co-pilots of fighter jets as they try to stop an alien invasion. Timed to the action of the existing coaster, the 360-degree headsets transport users to an underground bunker, up through a launch off the top of a skyscraper and on to a high-speed chase through a city.

In addition, the headset will be used on three Superman-themed coasters, transporting attendees to the comic-book world of Metropolis, engaging in combat with super villain Lex Luthor while flying alongside the titular hero.

The headset experience is specifically timed to the attendee’s position on the ride, so that turns and loops occur in reality at the same time they do in the VR program, Petit says. The result avoids some motion-sickness problems users have reported from the VR headsets. 

“[Samsung] has been so particular about matching up where you are in the ride, so what your brain sees and what your body experiences match,” Petit says. “It gives you a good experience, not a nauseous experience.”

The headsets are the same ones currently available to consumers (with some modifications such as antimicrobial leather and chin straps), along with the latest Samsung smartphones. They will be offered to attendees as they board the rides at no extra charge, Petit says. 

The new experience, which will be branded with “Powered by Samsung Gear VR” verbiage, will be available in parks in Texas, Georgia, California, Missouri, New York, Maryland, Massachusetts and Montreal, beginning this month. The parks were chosen based on a need to provide something big to market for the summer season, Petit says. (Properties that aren’t getting the technology this year are already set to debut major new coasters, he says.)

“We’re spreading it out to the parks that need the marketing horsepower this year,” he says. “Those that didn’t get it this year will likely get it next year.” 

Six Flags will be marketing the new experience through its traditional channels, including television, radio and digital advertising, Petit says. The messaging will make clear that the experience is more than just “sitting in a chair” while wearing a headset, he says.

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