More realistic than ever, virtual reality is now, and not just the games you will enjoy at home. Plug through alternative worlds where, on a rollercoaster, you duck fire-breathing dragons, fly through NYC like an eagle, and more.
Ghostbusters: Dimension, New York City
A start-up company based in Utah, The Void has rapidly become a big player in the world of virtual reality. Using wireless technology and integrating virtual reality and physical reality to establish what I have called hyper-reality advanced the field. Ghostbusters: Dimension at Madame Tussauds in New York is The Void's first public venture. Despite what you might think in terms of a tourist trap from hell, for the lifelike experience, the experience has received rave reviews, although we will not spoil whether getting slimed is part of the fun.
David Attenborough at Australia's National Museum
Anomalocaris from The First Life VR of David Attenborough
If you're a fan of nature documentaries by David Attenborough, then add these two VR experiences to your must-list. Virtually seeing another part of the world with Attenborough is one thing, but how about traveling through time? Well, accompany him to the beginning of time, where you will speak with ancient sea creatures such as the Anomalocaris (pictured). Or take a tour of today's Great Barrier Reef, a brilliant choice for scuba diving, where colorful fish and realistic sharks weave around you. It's also a perfect way of learning about the potential prospects of the reef.
Birdly, Around the World
Until now, dangerous practices such as parachute jumping were the nearest you could come to flying. Fortunately, thanks to Birdly, a movement simulator that only requires you to take a bird position, those who prefer terra firma can still experience flight. Not only can you get a bird's-eye view of NYC, but thanks to the wings you control and a fan that mimics wind, you'll really feel you're soaring. Find it at the Pittsburgh National Aviary, Science Centre, Singapore, MK2 VR in Paris and more around the world.
So Real, from China
Unlike other amusement parks, before you put on your virtual reality gear, don't expect this one to look like a lot. In China's eastern Jiangxi province, So Real, touted as the world's first virtual reality theme park, is in the works to open in the next year. VR fans should visit the 10,000-square-foot prototype, which opened in Beijing this past April, before that happens. Here, participants will pass through time, combat monsters, and watch 4D videos. Director Zhang Yimou is the co-founder of both parks and is best known for films such as "The House of Flying Daggers," and the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening ceremony.
Rollercoaster Ghost, Copenhagen
This past April, Scandinavia's first virtual reality rollercoaster opened in Copenhagen. Ironically, the coaster can found at Tivoli Gardens, one of the oldest amusement parks in the world. Called The Demon, the simulated experience is no joke, coupled with the rollercoaster itself. Besides witnessing 4Gs and 50 mile-an-hour speeds, the optional VR route earns an additional dimension of ghosts, fire-breathing dragons and firecrackers for insatiable thrill seekers. Entertaining!
VR Residence, Toronto
The VR Home
In Toronto, virtual reality arcades have mushroomed. Experience some of the best Queen West encounters at House of VR. Players can choose from some of the newest releases, but the lounge isn't just for fans of hard-core gaming. Other choices include ascending Mt. Everest and even scuba diving with whales at the middle of the action at Cirque du Soleil. There's also a meditation option for those who have difficulty visualizing their sunny spot, which offers remote snowy villages and palm-ringed beaches.
The Cinema of VR, Amsterdam
At this next-gen cinema, the reclining seats and giant screen gone. At the world's first virtual reality movie theater in Amsterdam, swiveling chairs and Samsung Galaxy S6 glasses are in their place. Continuing the non-traditional style, movie-goers select from one of four themes-based 30-minute VR films: documentaries, animation, science fiction and travel. The vision-challenged can wear the goggles comfortably over their glasses, unlike many VR headsets.
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