KRAKEN, a 17-year-old rollercoaster at SeaWorld Orlando, an amusement park in Florida, reopened in June after several months of refurbishment. That, in itself, is unusual. The normal fate of old rides is demolition and replacement by new ones offering fresh thrills. More unusual still is that Kraken, though it had not undergone any physical upgrade during its refurbishment, had customers queuing eagerly to get on it as though it were a brand new offering. Which, in a sense, it was.
SeaWorld Orlando is the latest in a string of parks to turn to virtual reality (VR) to recycle rollercoasters of days past. In the case of Kraken, the rider wears a headset that takes him on an underwater journey which matches the coaster’s movements, dodging prehistoric sea creatures such as pliosaurs and careering down into an underwater canyon.