Virtual Reality Centre



An interactive virtual reality games centre.

Location:

Then – Somewhere around the Carousel Kingdom area.

Now – Somewhere around the Arcade, KFC and Detonator area of the park.


Official Thorpe Park Description:


The Attraction:

This was an attraction that used state of the art (for 1993) Virtual Reality gaming technology. The Virtual Reality Centre contained four VR pods, two sit down systems and two that you operated whilst standing. These pods were made by Virtuality, a British company that at the time were World leaders in VR technology.

Both types of pod used a HMD (Head Mounted Display) called a Visette that allowed the users to see and hear things in the games computer-generated 3D environment. These Visettes were designed to sit on the top of the gamers heads, inside them were two 1.3 inch colour LCD screens and 4 speakers. As the gaming system had two graphics boards it could relay two slightly different images to each LCD screen creating a ‘Stereoscopic’ image, which gave the games their 3D depth.

As this was a very early example of VR/ 3D gaming the games graphics were all flat shaded polygons.

The VR Games at Thorpe Park

The Virtual Reality Centre at Thorpe Park contained two games. The first one “Flying Aces” was played using the sit down unit, this was a WW1 dog fight simulator where you played a goggled, moustached flying ace. The stand up units played a Dungeons and Dragons style adventure/ fantasy role playing game called “Legend Quest”. Both of these games had a duration of around 3 minutes and the pod units contained video screens, which allowed spectators and those waiting in the queue line to see what was happening in the game.

To move about in the games the sit down units had an aircraft yoke style controller, where as the stand up units used a free moving joystick called a “Space Joystick”.

It was also one of the attractions that Princes William and Harry used during their Easter visit to the park in 1993. In a Sunday Mirror article from 1998 about Princess Diana’s visits to the park Marion Edge (then Public Relations Officer) said this about the young Princes:

“They were in their element when they discovered a new attraction, the Flying Aces Virtual Reality Centre, where the boys took part in a World War One dog fight.”


Merchandise:


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Related Videos:






























Facts & Trivia:

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The Visette head mounted displays each weighed 645 grams.

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As of 1994 there were 75 of the sit down 1000SD systems installed world wide and they were selling for between $10,000 and $20,000 on the second hand market.

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The stand up 1000CS systems allowed the players to rotate 360° during the game.

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The stand up units originally cost $60,000 each when they were first released, in total 350 of these units were installed world wide in the years up to 1994 with 120 of these being in the US. On the second hand market these were also selling for around $10,000 - $20,000 each.


Related Links:

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http://www.arcade-history.com/?n=flying-aces&page=detail&id=12604 - A page on www.arcade-history.com about the Flying Aces game.
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http://www.arcade-history.com/?n=legend-quest&page=detail&id=12501 - A page on www.arcade-history.com about the Legend Quest game, with a very good description about the games storyline.
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QiKnHxX7CY - A video clip from an American TV computing show from the very early 1990’s. Includes an example of in game footage similar to that of the VR games at Thorpe Park.

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http://web.archive.org/web/19970227164346/http://www.virtuality.com/docs/whatvr.htm - A description of early 90’s VR technology from one of the manufacturers.
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http://www.thefreelibrary.com/theypaidfortheirridesandqueuedlikeeveryoneelse;ATRIBUTETO...-a060648600 – The article from the Sunday Mirror in 1998 about Princess Diana’s visits to the park “They paid for their rides and queued like everyone else; A TRIBUTE TO THE PEOPLE’S PRINCESS.”
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Virtual Reality Centre (1993 - ?)

< Back to Past Rides Section

All of the following photos are from the archived www.vr-atlantis.com website.

The Virtuality sit down system which played the “Flying Aces” game.

A couple of the Virtuality sit down system which could be networked.

A black and white screen shot of the “Flying Aces” game.

A black and white screen shot of the “Legend Quest” game.

The Virtuality stand up system which played the “Legend Quest” game.

One of the video screens so that spectators could see what was happening in the game.

Another video screens that allowed spectators to see what was happening in the game.

Uploaded to YouTube by fronzel99.

Description: A video report for the Video Game magazine "Click” featuring Virtuality VR pods like those at Thorpe Park, filmed at the Trocadero Centre in London in 1991.

Uploaded to YouTube by fronzel99.

Description: A video from 1994 about Virtuality, it’s technology and it’s founder Jonathan Waldern.

Featuring footage of similar stand up pods to those at Thorpe Park.

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