Rejoice hotdog and candy lovers! Some things won't change that much. But how about kayaking through the ghost cave? Or riding through the historical scenes of London at the end of Madame Tussauds? Will this still be a thing? We don't think so.
Theme parks are recreational experience centres, and virtual reality is becoming pretty good at recreational experience. Especially compared to an old-school, sort-of-frightening-but-not-really ghost ride through a barn.
Theme parks won't close down
So, theme parks will close down? Why people would go to a theme park for a virtual reality experience? What can a park offer that they can't get sitting in their armchair at home?
The answer is surprisingly easy: bigger and better experience. Movie theatres did not close down because of HBO or Netfilx. There are movies you simply need to watch on the big screen, and VR is not different. Some virtual reality experiences simply work better with solid real life structure has been built around them.
The VOID is the first theme park concept fully embracing virtual reality. They combine VR with real world elements like walls, corridors, wind and sprays of water. The users walk around in a real world scenario that matches up with a virtual world experienced through a VR headset. Hunting for aliens, playing a first person shooter, or just wandering around in an imaginary world? Now your regular weekend paintball get together sounds so last century, isn't it?
Pop-up theme parks
Building up a theme park is super expensive. Or... it was, until now. But you don't need a rollercoaster anymore to scare the shit out of people.
VirtuallyDead is an upcoming event, sort of a pop-up theme park combining virtual reality experience with real life actors - who are playing zombies of course. Participants have to defend a small town in a secret location in London soon to be overrun by zombies. All participants will get an HTC Vive for full immersion. Scary, huh? It wouldn't be possible without some elements of the consensual reality added to the mix.
Oh, and speaking of rollercoasters, Alton Towers, one of the first theme parks in the world and one of the biggest in the UK has just launched the first ever VR rollercoaster. The Galactica will be opened officially this month, and the real world rollercoaster experience - 3.5G, that's astronaut level - will be augmented by a space travel story told through VR.
Theme parks won't close down soon; but they need to embrace VR, and create an experience we've never seen before.