The 8 Best Virtual Reality Experiences Around the World
Discover the next generation of virtual reality.
Virtual reality is now more realistic than ever, and not just the games you can play at home. Plug into alternate worlds where you duck fire-breathing dragons on a rollercoaster, soar like a bird through NYC and more.
The Void, a Utah-based start-up company, has quickly become a major player in the virtual reality realm. It’s advanced the field by using wireless equipment, and by combining virtual reality with actual reality to create what’s been dubbed hyper-reality. The Void’s first public venture is Ghostbusters: Dimension at Madame Tussauds in New York. Despite what you might be thinking in terms of tourist trap from hell, the experience has earned rave reviews for the life-like experience — although we won’t spoil whether or not getting slimed is part of the fun.
If you’re a fan of David Attenborough’s nature documentaries, then add these two VR experiences to your must list. It’s one thing to virtually experience another part of the planet with Attenborough, but how about time traveling? That’s right, follow him to the beginning of time, where you can interact with ancient sea creatures like the Anomalocaris (pictured). Or tour the modern-day Great Barrier Reef, a great alternative for the scuba-dive averse, where colorful fish and realistic sharks weave around you. It’s also a great way to learn about the reef’s future prospects.
Up until now, the closest you could come to flying involved risky endeavors like parachute jumping. Luckily those who prefer terra firma can still experience flight thanks to Birdly, a motion simulator that just requires you to assume a bird position. Not only will you achieve a bird’s eye perspective of NYC, but you’ll really feel like you’re flying thanks to wings that you control and a fan that mimics wind. Find it around the world at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, Science Centre Singapore, MK2 VR in Paris and more.
Unlike most amusement parks, don’t expect this one to look like much — until you don your virtual reality gear. SoReal, touted as the world’s first virtual reality theme park, is in the works to open in the next year or so in China’s eastern Jiangxi province. Until that happens, VR enthusiasts can visit the 10,000-square-foot prototype, which opened this past April in Beijing. Here, participants can time travel, battle monsters and watch 4D movies. Director Zhang Yimou is the co-founder behind both parks, and is best known for films such as the “House of Flying Daggers,” as well as the opening ceremony at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Scandinavia’s first virtual reality rollercoaster opened this past April in Copenhagen. Ironically, the ride is found in Tivoli Gardens, one of the world’s oldest amusement parks. Named The Demon, the virtual experience, combined with the rollercoaster itself, is no joke. On top of experiencing 4Gs and 50 mile-an-hour speeds, insatiable thrill-seekers going the optional VR route get an added dimension of demons, fire-breathing dragons and firecrackers. Fun!
Virtual reality arcades have mushroomed in Toronto. Experience some of the best at House of VR in happening Queen West. Players can choose from some of the newest releases, but the lounge isn’t just for hard-core gaming enthusiasts. Other options entail being in the center of the action at Cirque du Soleil, climbing Mt. Everest and even scuba diving with whales. There’s also a meditation option that offers remote snowy villages and palm-ringed beaches for those who have trouble visualizing their happy place.
Gone are the reclining seats and gigantic screen at this next-gen movie theater. In their place are swiveling chairs and Samsung Galaxy S6 glasses at the world’s first virtual reality movie theater in Amsterdam. Continuing the non-traditional format, movie-goers choose from one of four 30-minute VR films based on themes: documentaries, animated, sci-fi and journeys. Unlike many VR headsets, the vision-challenged can comfortably wear the goggles over their glasses.
If you’ve ever dreamt of becoming a pilot, this is the closest you’ll get to flying a commercial plane. You can even choose from a buffet of flight simulator programs at locations around the world, from Prague to Dubai. In a replica cockpit you’ll learn how to takeoff and land from your preferred airports, navigate, and experience being both the pilot and copilot. In fact, the entire experience is so realistic that for safety reasons you’ll need to provide proper ID.