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At Universal and Disney, are 3-D glasses a thing of the past on thrill rides?

04 May 2018

What’s the future of the clunky 3-D glasses at amusement parks?

Earlier this week, Universal executives discussed technology during the grand opening of the Fast & Furious — Supercharged, a new thrill ride where visitors see 3-D images without wearing any glasses as they go on a highway chase through San Francisco.

The technology is a “big advancement,” said Thierry Coup, senior vice president of Universal Creative. “That would have been impossible a few years ago.”

“You feel like it’s 3-D, you feel like you’re really there with the actors without wearing glasses,” Coup said this week as he answered questions from the news media before the ride’s celebrity-packed grand opening. “That makes everything so much real without being bothered with wearing some glasses — a much more free and enjoyable experience.”

So will the 3-Dglasses go by the wayside?, one reporter asked Coup.

“Not necessarily,” Coup said, although he went on to say, “In the future, of course, we’re not going to go backwards. We’re going to keep going forward. We look years ahead. Whatever lends itself to delivering the best possible experience is really what we’re looking at.”

What drives the rides are the plot, added Don MacLean, a Universal vice president for attraction development.

“The technology serves at the whim of the story,” MacLean said. “Otherwise, we’re just building equipment for the sake of equipment. We want a strong story to lead the way then we’ll put the right technology, whether that’s what we have in an existing park or that’s something new we develop.”

Walt Disney World is taking a similar approach as it builds the ride Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway where the Great Movie Ride once was at Hollywood Studios.

Disney declined to make anyone available for an interview Friday, but an earlier parks blog post said the company was “inventing new technologies that turn the flat world of a colorful cartoon short into a dimensional display of amazingness.”

“This is one of the boldest …most impossible things I’ve ever worked on in almost 40 years of being an Imagineer,” said Walt Disney Imagineer Kevin Rafferty in the blog post. “This is not going to be a small attraction, it’s going to be game-changing.”

To get the 3-D effect, other theme parks refitted existing roller coasters with virtual headsets for a new experience. Kraken Unleashed debuted at SeaWorld Orlando in 2017 while Great Lego Race roller coaster arrived at Legoland Florida in March.


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