Galactica officially launched to the public this morning, offering guests the first opportunity to blast into space with Galactica Tours at Alton Towers Resort.

Opening with the theme park at 10am, the Resort’s newest attraction opened to eager guests who were keen to experience the intergalactic ride for the first time. Throughout the day the ride attracted steady queues with an average queue time of 50 minutes, and the ride initially operating with three craft – however this did decrease to two craft later in the day. Although initially the loading process was a little slow, this increased in speed as the day progressed as the ride hosts managed to develop an efficient rhythm with the process surrounding the headsets. All of the staff in the station were incredibly friendly and attentive and ensured all guests had their headset on and adjusted correctly before their craft dispatched. The ride also includes a new soundtrack created by IMAScore which is played throughout the station and queue area and creates a good atmosphere before guests board the ride itself. Following the previews held over the opening weekend, a small number of adjustments and improvements have been made with the virtual reality graphics appearing sharper and the volume of the on ride audio being greatly increased. Overall the attraction is a strong and unique addition to the ride line-up, and one that is set to prove popular with guests throughout the season.

A re-theme of Air, the Resort’s B&M flying rollercoaster, Galactica is the first rollercoaster to have virtual reality fully integrated with the ride experience for all guests. Although Europa Park offered virtual reality on its Alpenexpress rollercoaster last year, the VR element was a chargeable upgrade. Guest are still able to ride without the VR headset on Galactica should they wish by simply informing the ride operator and leaving the headset in its protective pouch attached to the front of the restraint. Those who do experience the virtual reality version of the ride will experience a simulation of a flight into outer space and back again, with the virtual reality world synchronising what guests see through their headsets with the twists and turns of the rollercoaster. On board, guests are guided through the VR world by ‘Eve’, an on-board Artificial Intelligence system as they journey to destinations such a Keplar 9 and Nero 5.

The virtual reality system used within the ride has been developed in conjunction with Figment Productions and is the first roll out of their customised virtual reality system onto a rollercoaster. The technology also allows ride hosts to send custom messages to individual riders as well as being able to modify riders’ experiences if required, including the addition of subtitles. A number of key safety features have also been added, including head-straps, tethers and harnesses, to ensure the safety of guests both on and off ride.

Opening in 2002, Air (short for Aerial inversion ride) was the first Bolliger and Mabillard flying steel coaster to be created. The concept for the ride was originally conceived in 1994 with John Wardley wanting to create a ride which simulated the feeling of flight. Due to technological limitations it would be 8 years before he saw his vision become reality with B&M manufacturing the ride, Consign the computer systems, and Tussauds Studios creating the theming. Designed to be located in a calm oasis hidden away from the rest of Forbidden Valley and provided a contrast to the destruction caused by the Nemesis Creature elsewhere in the area.

Have you had the opportunity to experience Galactica today? What are your thoughts on this latest addition to the Resort? Have your say over on the TowersTimes and SouthParks Forum. With many more developments still to come, TowersTimes will be sure to keep you up to date with all the latest news.

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