Disney Theme Parks Won’t be Using VR, Prefer Real Immersive Environments
Would you visit a Disney theme park and then put on a virtual reality headset to immerse yourself into another dreamy world? Seems almost counter-intuitive and Disney seems thinks to so. CEO Bob Iger has just revealed that the company does not plan to push virtual reality experiences in its theme parks and will instead focus on creating real immersive themed experiences for its visitors.
Disney says it does not want to “fake immersion” and plans to instead give its visitors the real deal by creating landscapes that will be as real as possible and which will be built as much to scale as possible. The Disney CEO states that delivering the real immersion through real structures that users can actually touch and experience will deliver a wow factor to its guests that will be much greater than is even realizable with virtual reality.
Previously, the Disney CEO had stated that he preferred to explore augmented reality as opposed to virtual reality for Disney theme parks. For Disney, recreating spaces and making the visitors feel like it is actually real is more impressive than the intangible virtual reality.
The Disney experience also offers additional perks that you cannot get in virtual reality. For example, you can walk into a bar and order some drinks while surrounded by real-life characters that you have probably met only in movies.
The company is also planning other expansions such as the Cars Land at its California Adventure Park as well as Pandora-The World of Avatar at the Animal Kingdom Park which is based in Orlando.
For now, the real experiences continue to pay off big time for Disney. Its theme parks are thriving according to the company’s earnings report from the second quarter and this is even before the launch of the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
However, not all theme parks around the world are following Disney’s lead. Some have been integrating virtual reality into theme park experience and provide their visitors with something new. A possible insight into the future marriage of these two entertainment platforms can be seen in a German theme park where users get on bumper cars and are immersed into a steampunk-inspired virtual world where they can battle each other and virtual robots. Some theme parks have used virtual reality in rebranding offering and providing visitors with an even deeper otherworldly immersion.
There is also the practicality of using VR headsets in theme parks. Some parks such as Fun Spot and SeaWorld Orlando introduced virtual reality headsets and later pulled them citing the extended wait times and the long time it took to clean up the virtual reality goggles.
There is also the issue of guest preference. Some guests simply don’t like virtual reality and prefer to have the traditional theme park experience on the rollercoaster.
However, Disney still admits that some of the technology will make sense. A highly popular ride at the Walt Disney World is the Flight of Passage which utilizes virtual reality headsets to give the riders feeling of soaring through the air.
As the technology continues to progress, there will certainly be scope and opportunities to use it in creating unique and memorable visitor experiences at theme parks.