Experiencing a VR Roller Coaster

A study of how Virtual Reality headsets can improve the experiencing of existing roller coasters by boosting emotions.

Theme parks are looking into extending the life cycle of roller coasters by creating VR environments that are designed for and synchronised with the ride. Riding a coaster with a VR headset that immerses visitors into a virtual environment is therefore a rapidly emerging trend.

In this project we compare how visitors experience a roller coaster ride with and without VR add-on.

We recorded bodily indices of emotional engagement (skin conductance responses; SCRs) during roller coaster rides with and without Virtual Reality (VR) add-ons, alongside with self-reported evaluations of the two types of rides.

Self-reported levels of presence are similar across VR and NVR rides, and VR rides are evaluated more positively. SCR time series correlate meaningfully with the different ride elements and can therefore be used to identify which parts of the ride are, or aren’t, emotionally engaging. SCRs do not significantly predict overall evaluations of the ride, however.


March 2018 - December 2020

Main collaborating partner

Europapark, Germany

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