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Our Take on VR After NeuroGen (New in Walibi Holland in 2017)

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Everyone has an opinion on virtual reality. Whether it is the gaming industry, the movie industry or, the roller coaster industry: there are people rooting for VR and people who would donate a kidney to keep VR away. Here’s what we think.

During spring 2017, my friend Lukas and I went in NeuroGen, a brand new ’experience’ in Walibi Holland that turned out to be a VR attraction. Despite the fact that we both really enjoyed the experience, we had a small discussion about VR in the theme park industry.

But let’s start with the beginning: NeuroGen. Don’t worry, I won’t go into detail because I don’t want to spoil the experience for you if you haven’t been there yet. NeuroGen is all about a doctor (and ofcourse his practice) that promises visitors to enlarge their brain capacity by 20%. I know it sounds something you could find in the Hunger Games and that was exactly what it looked and felt like. You’ll have to find out for yourself what’s it like inside the practice and what happens there. Anyway, at the end you’ll find yourself in a chair with a VR-device and headphones on your head. What follows is a somewhat psychedelic trip with movements, sounds, scents and more. Worth visiting, but perhaps not ideal for people that are easily frighted or have been in a heavy car accident before. Nope, not telling you the full story. Lukas and I exited the building with a ’what the hell just happened?’ kind of feeling.

NeuroGen
As something went wrong with my phone, this is the only self-made picture I have from NeuroGen (in the far right).

In my opinion, Walibi Holland has absolutely managed to successfully integrate the whole VR experience. What do we think about the whole VR thing in the theme park industry though?

VR: not only for roller coasters
More and more roller coasters are catching the ’VR virus’ nowadays. Simply put, instead of investing in building a new ride, more and more parks opt for integrating a VR experience within an existing ride. Sometimes that works out, but sometimes it doesn’t. I’d like for parks to be more creative with implementing VR. Walibi did just that.

VR: not only to scar people for life
We get that a brand new, immersive experience with VR is ideal for horror stuff. However, despite being a fact of everything related to horror, we’d like to see parks exploring with VR on different domains and for all ages. How about some kind of VR ’wonder land’ for children?

Added value as the main priority
VR is cool and all, I get that. But parks should re-evaluate their plans if the ONLY value VR brings is that people can now look around instead of looking at a screen. They should try to create something that wouldn’t even be half as amazing without that VR gear strapped on your head.

If possible, please keep it optional
This is a concern that many roller coaster enthusiasts have. If I may speak in name of all of us: keep VR optional unless it’s the main feature of the attraction (like NeuroGen). Riding roller coasters is cool enough without VR. We’d be happy to try it, but nothing beats seeing ’the real world’ while riding some steel. Kindly keep it that way!

We’re curious: what’s your take on VR? (Featured photo credit: walibi.nl)

I'm a twenty-something living in Bruges, Belgium. I have an obsession for football, working and roller coasters. My fav? Twisted Colossus (Six Flags Great Adventure, California)!

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