ALEXANDRIA, VA – As amusement parks and attractions prepare to open their gates for the summer season, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) releases its annual compilation of new attractions opening this year. Exciting trends for 2016 include virtual reality roller coasters, immersive 3-D/4-D attractions, interactive guest experiences, and edutainment.
Virtual reality (VR) was on display during IAAPA Attractions Expo 2015, and this summer roller coasters across the United States are implementing the technology to transform the coaster experience like never before. Riders wear specially designed VR headsets that provide a fully immersive experience with 360-degree content corresponding to the ride’s motion. Guests become part of a storyline that plays out as accelerometers, gyros, and proximity sensors synchronize in a realistic, yet virtual world.
Several parks will add 3-D/4-D attractions that immerse guests in a fictional world. Riders join the adventure as they experience a plethora of sensory elements, often including wind, water, heat, and other effects. Attractions’ storylines are integrated with motion seating, 3-D glasses, high-tech sound, and other 4-D effects to create a compelling and immersive experience.
Interactivity continues to make its impact on the industry as parks open rides and attractions in which the guest’s actions directly impact the experience.
Edutainment is increasing in popularity and a trend worth noting as stand-alone attractions, zoos, aquariums, science centers, and museums continue to make learning fun.
According to the IAAPA Global Theme and Amusement Park Outlook 2015-2019 report, this year parks in the United States and Canada are expected to entertain more than 390 million people and generate $22 billion.