Alton Towers Resort have today announced that Galactica is to launch into the Resort for the 2016 season offering guests an out of this world experience utilising virtual reality technology which will see them embark upon a journey to space and back.

A re-theme of Air, the Resort’s B&M flying rollercoaster, the newly refurbished attraction will utilise Virtual Reality technology in the form of headsets attached to riders’ seats to help guests simulate the experience of a flight into outer space and back again synchronising what guests see through their headsets with the twists and turns of the rollercoaster. Guests will have the option of a number of different destinations with Keplar 9 and Nero 5 the first to be available and further options due to be added at a later date meaning there will be a huge range of potential ways in which the technology can be utilised. Once on board guests will be guided by ‘Eve’, an on-board Artificial Intelligence system. Alternatively, guests can also choose to ride as normal without wearing the VR headset. Whilst the track layout itself will not receive any changes, the ride will include all new theming features which will take the form of the portals through which guests begin their journey into the universe via wormholes. There will also be a new pre-show where guests will be briefed on the journey on which they are about to embark which will take place in the newly enclosed station building.

Speaking of the new attraction, Gill Riley, Marketing Director at Alton Towers Resort said:

“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 system used within the ride has been developed in conjunction with Figment Productions and will be the first roll out of their customised virtual reality system onto a rollercoaster. The VR system will maintain mechanical independence from the main ride system meaning that, if required, the ride could still operate as a standard rollercoaster should the VR system fail for any reason. The technology will also allow ride hosts to send custom messages to individual riders if required as well as being able to modify riders’ experiences if required. A number of key safety features will also be installed including head-straps, tethers and harnesses, to ensure the safety of guests both on and off ride.

Along with today’s official announcement a dedicated minisite and Twitter account have been launched providing a range of additional information on the experience and also includes a subtle nod to ‘Air’ with the company behind ‘Galactica Tours’ being named as ‘Airspace Technologies’. The Resort will also be launching a dedicated Galactica game in a mobile app.

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.

Are you excited for Galactica coming to Alton Towers Resort? What are your thoughts on the introduction of virtual reality onto the Resort’s iconic flying rollercoaster? Have your say on this and more over on the Attraction Source Forum. As we get closer to Galactica’s launch date we’ll be sure to bring you all the latest information.
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