Ghost Busted! VR Theme Parks Are New Reality in Interactive Entertainment

Alexis Macklin, Research Manager Alexis Macklin, Research Manager Insight Articles, Media & Entertainment

In anticipation for the July 15 release of the new Ghostbusters movie, The Void in partnership with Sony opened Ghostbusters Dimension, a “hyper-reality experience” where fans can battle ghosts and demons as if they were a ghostbuster. The virtual reality experience is now open to the public in New York City’s Times Square at Madame Tussaud’s. 

The Void’s goal is to create a real experience visitors couldn’t get anywhere else, according to Chief Creative Officer Curtis Hickman. Hickman gave a talk at AWE 2016 discussing using his experience as a magician to help create illusions in the experience, bringing a new virtual world to a physically-constrained reality.

As theme parks are investing in VR additions to their attractions, bigger companies should look to The Void’s experience to see what the future brings for virtual reality and entertainment experiences. VR experiences like Ghostbusters Dimension offer a completely new type of entertainment that hasn’t been seen before. The Void isn’t the only startup company that is creating VR, location-based experiences. Spaces and Zero Latency are also creating physical experiences in the virtual reality space. 

Senior Vice President Steve Marshall went to experience The Void’s Ghostbusters: Dimension for himself. Here are his candid thoughts on his experience:

“As a VR enthusiast, I excitedly bought my tickets online (tickets sold for $50 for 15-minute entry intervals) and cajoled my niece to join me. Greenlight offers analyst services, but I would enjoy this experience as a true consumer.

We arrived at Madame Tussaud’s early. Although the Madame herself wasn’t there to greet us, the friendly staff and bouncers at the front door on 42nd street assured us we could just go right up to the Experience and be taken care of right away.

So we did – but we weren’t. Instead, we first had to wind our way through a couple hundred wax celebrities, numerous photo stands, and multiple bars, snack bars and gift shops, before finally arriving at the Ghostbusters Dimension.

Upon arriving at the entry point for the Experience, we discovered a near total breakdown. We were informed that we’d need to wait at least 90 minutes, due to equipment malfunctions -- and general chaos.

An exasperated couple seated in the waiting area overheard our discussion with the staff, and told us they had already been waiting a full two hours past their designated entry time slot.

So, we decided to not wait, requested a refund, and after about 30 minutes of more confusion, we were given a refund.

Bottom line: Flares up to management at Madame Tussaud’s, The Void, and Sony (owners of the Ghostbusters franchise)! Ghostbusters Dimension in Times Square is off to a rocky start, and needs to be fixed -- fast!”

 

(Photo by Steve Marshall)

(Photo by Steve Marshall)

 

As a completely new type of experience, The Void’s hyper-reality is testing and improving, and consumers also need to keep that in mind; the Void’s hyper-reality experience is new and not immune to issues as this is the first truly public development for the company. The experiences should improve over time, but bad VR experiences this early on in the consumer adoption period could lead to less consumer purchases. 

Earlier this year, China’s Shanda Group invested $350 million in a VR theme park created by The Void. The company is in the process of opening its first VR theme park in Utah with hopes of expanding in major cities around the globe. Location-based virtual reality experiences are ambitious at this early stage of the developing industry, but these experiences are important as they introduce a large number consumers to VR. Such experience centers may be effective in building consumer interest in high fidelity VR.

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