Re-theme to Air confirmed
Following months of speculation, Alton Towers have today revealed details of 2016’s new attraction. Air, the resort’s flying coaster is being re-themed to an immersive virtual reality experience.
Launching in April, Galactica will be the world’s first rollercoaster dedicated to Virtual Reality. Each rider will wear a specialist VR headset which will be fixed to the craft. Through this, an on-board artificial intelligence guides them from the launch pad up into space, flying and looping beyond the stars, banking through wormholes and speeding across undiscovered galaxies, revealing the wonders of the cosmos in stunning clarity.
“Galactica uses ground breaking technology to give riders a breathtaking and completely unique rollercoaster experience. Tim Peake captured the imagination of millions of Brits last year when he set off on his mission to the International Space Station – and now our visitors can become astronauts too.
“There is nowhere else in the world that people can experience the feeling of a flying rollercoaster combined with soaring through the universe. For two minutes, our guests will be transported into space and we believe Galactica showcases the future for theme parks around the world – it’s a complete game changer!”
The virtual reality element of the ride has been produced by Figment Productions, utilising the ‘Vector’ motion sync and control system. A company who are no stranger to working with Merlin Entertainments, their previous work includes interactive elements to the group’s midway attractions such as SEALIFE, along with the Blackpool and Orlando Eye observation wheels. They were also responsible for producing Warwick Castle’s “Time Tower” attraction, which opened last year and shows the historic castle through the years. A promotional image courtesy of Figment Productions shows the ride crafts emblazoned with “Air Space Technologies”.
The launch of Galactica in the UK follows in the footsteps of German theme park Europa-Park’s take on the “VR Coaster” concept. Currently being used on the Alpen Express mine train coaster, riders are fitted with Samsung Gear VR portable headsets which take guests on a wild ride with park mascot Euromaus and friends.
For those who are not fans of trying out this all new experience, the resort have confirmed that guests will have the option of riding Galactia without wearing the VR headset. It has also been confirmed by the Resort via social media that the headsets have been designed to fit spectacle wearers and will be cleaned after every use.
Website Launch and new video
A new website has launched in conjunction with the new ride. Galactica Tours gives details on the destinations ‘Galactinauts’ will visit on their flight, along with more information on the technology used in the attraction.
As well as the website, a new video was published introducing Galactica to the public:
The road to Galactica
The first hints of a re theme to Air surfaced back in July 2015, when a planning application was submitted to the local council for “Minor works to the’Air’ roller coaster, including enhancing the existing station area, installing a photo-opportunity kiosk and new themed features”.
Alton Towers have been teasing the changes over the course of the last few months, with banners appearing around the ride area for Air during the final few months of the 2015 season. The resort’s social media channels also began to hint toward the changes, with a 21 second video appearing online which strongly hinted toward a space theme for the revamped ride. Press reports later confirmed an announcement would take place at London’s Science Museum at 8:30am on the 12th January.
Along with the new “Rollercoaster Restaurant“, located in the former Air shop and the removal of Ripsaw, the changes to Forbidden Valley in 2016 represent one of the most significant for some time. You can check out the initial plans for Air’s retheme over on our dedicated Air 2016 page.
Stick with TowersStreet
We’ll be updating this article throughout the day with more information as we receive it, and we’ll be updating our new Galactica ride page as opening day approaches.. In the meantime, why not discuss the changes on our forum or over on our Facebook page.