China’s new sci-fi amusement park is powered entirely by virtual reality rides

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A new amusement park opened in China where all the experiences utilize virtual reality technology. You won’t find traditional roller coasters at the Oriental Science Fiction Valley theme park, which counts 35 virtual reality rides ranging from spaceship tours to virtual roller coasters and shooter games. The park, located in Guizhou province in the southwestern region of China, spans 330 acres, and houses science fiction inspired castles and giant robots in a futuristic design.

The cost to develop the Oriental Science Fiction Valley park has been disputed, with Reuters reporting that development required as much as a $1.5 billion investment. However, the cost may be as low as $470 million, a figure reported by Road to VR citing information from VRODO.

“There’s fierce competition in the theme park market right now,” park CEO Chen Jianli said in an interview posted on YouTube. “We are trying to give customers a new experience by combining modern technologies such as VR and [augmented reality] with traditional recreational facilities. The sci-fi part of it is important for the feeling it creates.”

Theme park rides based on virtual reality experiences aren’t entirely new, but the Oriental Science Fiction Valley park is the first of its kind to utilize VR in all of its rides. In the U.S., Samsung and Six Flags partnered to create a number of VR-based rides based on the company’s Gear VR headset, while Legoland used VR headsets for one of its rides in its Florida amusement park.

Although the Oriental Science Fiction Valley is located in one of the poorest provinces in China, executives hope that the infusion of VR technology will create a tourism boom in the future and position the region as a tech hub. Apple, for its part, already operates a data center in the province.

It is estimated that China’s virtual reality entertainment business will grow tenfold, representing an $8.4 billion industry by 2020, according to China’s state-backed think tank CCID. The country is hoping to capitalize on rising trends in sports, gaming, and new technologies. Farmers in the surrounding area are concerned that the boom will bring added pollution but look forward to benefits that VR would contribute to the local economy.

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