Need an excuse to re-ride New York-New York’s Big Apple Roller Coaster? You’ll have one on February 7, when MGM Resorts debuts the most significant change yet to the 21-year-old ride: its new Virtual Reality Experience.
Riders can now opt for wireless virtual reality headsets, which they’ll put on after they board the coaster car. They’ll be immediately transported to a research facility, where an alien has escaped. Once the ride starts and heads for the lift hill, so does the riders’ search for said extraterrestrial in the Nevada desert and on the Las Vegas Strip, as the immersive 3D graphics (in 4K resolution) they’re seeing in the headset line right up with the motion of the ride to completely alter the Big Apple ride experience. And the ride’s length (4,777 feet) makes this VR coaster adventure the longest one anywhere.
The Virtual Reality Experience is designed by VR Coaster, which has applied its technology to nearly 40 international rides, including the New Revolution at Six Flags Magic Mountain, located a few hours southwest of Las Vegas. I’ve done that ride with the VR option, and its synchronization is remarkably seamless, unencumbered by the weight of the hardware and the g-forces of the coaster—and, contrary to the concerns of some, nausea-free. Your brain is completely tricked into believing that you’re actually zooming around the virtual world, matched perfectly to every nuance of the track.
The Big Apple Virtual Reality Experience will cost each rider $20, with traditional VR-free rides still available at $15.