On May 13th, I got to experience the Drop of Doom Virtual Reality experience on the Giant Drop at Six Flags Great America. The 227 ft. drop tower received Samsung Gear VR headsets to provide the feeling of being hoisted up 100 stories to the tops of skyscrapers in a massive city being attacked by spiders, robots, and spider-robots.
Yes, it’s as bizarre as it sounds.
Unlike my coaster reviews, I don’t really have a bunch of categories or ways to score this ride. Instead, I just want to talk about some of the things I liked and disliked about the reimagined drop tower experience, and if I think adding VR was a good change or not.
First of all, I had never actually been on Giant Drop before it received VR. Although I enjoy riding roller coasters, I’ve never been too enthusiastic about riding drop towers. There’s something about the physics of the ride that my body isn’t used to feeling yet. Nevertheless, I still really wanted to try out another VR ride after enjoying Rage of the Gargoyles on the Demon last year…so I did.
Before we get to the actual ride, I want to touch on the excellent system Six Flags used to reduce wait times. Stationed at the entrance to Drop of Doom was an employee handing out reservation tickets for the ride. These tickets have a certain time listed for you to return by and hand in the ticket in order to ride. For instance, my friends and I received a 5:00 to 6:00 return time when we picked our tickets up at 3:30. Although you can’t ride immediately, it does reduce wait time drastically for when you come back. Now because VR rides usually have waits up to 2 and a half hours (looking at you New Revolution at Magic Mountain), I think the limited reservation system is a smart fix to a serious problem that occurs on those types of rides.
So you receive you’re reservation ticket, return it, and then stand in line for about 15 minutes. The operators then send you to your vehicle, and take their sweet time getting you strapped into the harness and VR headsets. It wasn’t a huge problem, but I do wish the employees had a sense of urgency. Sure, a 15 minute wait is good, but there’s always room for improvement.
Once your headset is on, you’ll immediately be placed in the world of giant mutant spider robots and skyscrapers. The scene begins with you in a helicopter with a small mounted turret (cause that small thing will kill the spider robots). The helicopter then immediately takes off, and you are hoisted into the air. Although you rise up pretty slow on the actual tower, the VR has a fun (but disorienting) way of making you feel like you truly are rising up 100 stories. On you’re trip up to the top you are encouraged to tap the top of you’re VR headset to shoot the evil flying spiders and robots. At the very top, you halt for a minute, and watch a giant robot mech shoot at a giant spider on a building.
Then you drop. To be honest, I couldn’t really tell what makes you fall. While watching other on ride POV’s it looks like the robot explodes or the spider shoots you down, but I’m not quite sure. The point is something causes you’re helicopter to go down, and you fall and tremendous speeds only to be caught by a spider web. Just when you think you’re safe, a giant spider climbs over to you and gets right in your face. This was arguably my favorite part of the ride, which is ironic because the actual ride was over. You’re death by spider seems imminent, but then the giant robot crushes the spider with his giant boot (accidentally?), saving the day.
And then it’s over. There’s no brake run to sit on like a roller coaster, so the experience ends up relatively short. The operators will come and take your VR goggles, and then send you on your way to let you ponder if it was worth it or not.
Which I’d say it was! Sure it was short, and the graphics are nowhere near something like an HTC Vive, but it was still lots of fun! I’m all for Six Flags trying new things, such as putting VR on something other than a coaster. It might’ve not been as good as Rage of the Gargoyles, but it was still a good way to draw in new crowds and appeal to different audiences that want something more than just a simple drop tower.
So should you take the time to get a reservation and try Drop of Doom VR? If you enjoy virtual reality, or just want to try something new, then of course! It’s not like the reservations cost anything, so all it takes is a little extra effort to grab tickets before they run out. The VR experience does end Monday, May 29th, so as of when this is posted there’s only 1 more day. If you’re in the area though, it’s definitely worth checking out before it’s gone!
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