Alton Towers unveils the UK's first virtual reality rollercoaster

Alton Towers Galactica
Alton Towers' Galactica ride.

Alton Towers has published a teaser trailer for its new Galactica rollercoaster ride, which uses virtual reality headsets to simulate a journey through space. Two years in the making, the ride will open in April.

While several VR apps simulate rollercoaster rides, this is the first real-life rollercoaster to implement the technology in the UK. A similar ride was opened in Germany's Europa Park at the end of last year.

Alton Towers says 'Galactinauts' will be taken on a trip into deep space, with movement synchronised to the rises and falls of the rollercoaster.

The ride's maximum speed is going to be 47mph (75km/h) according to the BBC and the entire experience lasts three minutes.

Air v2.0

Sensors will monitor the position of each helmet and tailor the graphics accordingly, though passengers will be tightly strapped in and unable to move their heads to any great degree (to combat potential motion sickness).

"In a split-second, your world will be altered with sophisticated virtual reality technology that allows full immersion in your surroundings, the wonders of space," enthuses the official portal page for the new Galactica ride. It promises the headsets are "ultra-light" so you'll hardly notice them.

Galactica is actually a revamped version of Alton Towers' old Air ride, with the added benefit of showing you outer space rather than the Staffordshire countryside.

The theme park's operators will be hoping the new attraction can boost visitor numbers after last year's rollercoaster crash.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.