The New York-New York Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas has added a virtual reality experience to the Big Apple roller coaster, taking riders on an aerial adventure through the Nevada desert and over the Strip.
The Big Apple coaster trains and track have sensors that synchronize the 3-D visuals with the ride over 3½ minutes.
The VR backstory begins in a secret research laboratory in the desert, where government scientists study alien life forms. After boarding the coaster train, riders are charged with capturing an escaped alien creature before it and its minions destroy the Strip.
A four-legged, four-armed, four-eyed, spindly green creature leads riders up a craggy desertscape as the coaster train ascends the lift hill.
At the 203-foot precipice, long-buried extraterrestrial flying robots burst out of jagged cliffs, attach a tow line to the coaster, and pull riders on an aerial journey across the desert.
Before long, riders reach the Strip, where other alien ships are attacking the city. The VR coaster banks past Mandalay Bay, loops over the Luxor sphinx, flies past the Excalibur castle, and dives down the side of New York-New York’s Chrysler Building.
A military helicopter rescues the riders from the alien ship, tugging the coaster by another tow cable past the Bellagio fountains, over the erupting Mirage volcano, and through a keyhole in the MGM marquee sign.
During the finale, a helicopter squadron fires missiles at the alien ship, which collapses at Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Avenue. The VR coaster ride comes to an end in the middle of the heavily damaged Vegas Strip with a view of flapping American flags flanking the Statue of Liberty in front of New York-New York.
The VR experience does a fairly accurate job of rendering the Vegas Strip, but non-MGM Resorts properties get short shrift. The Tropicana has become a parking lot and the mock Eiffel Tower at Paris is erased from the Strip. An out-of-place Vegas Vic neon sign, which belongs in downtown Vegas, shows up near McCarran International Airport.
The Big Apple roller coaster costs $20 with the virtual reality experience; the standard ride, without the VR headset, is $15.
Germany-based VR Coasters, which designed the experience, has equipped more than 30 theme parks worldwide with virtual reality technology, including Six Flags, Cedar Fair, and Legoland. The 4,777-foot-long ride is being billed as the longest coaster in the world equipped with virtual reality.