It must be a stressful time to be working in the amusement park industry. As much as Americans love amusement, it’s becoming increasingly clear that we’re all not going to suddenly develop a fondness for walking, being outside, and waiting in lines. So what’s the amusement park industry to do? How’s it supposed to scam us out of our money without lining everybody up underneath a global warming-intensified sun and promising that we’ll get to go on a roller coaster in an hour? Simple: It’ll use virtual reality to create reasonable facsimiles of roller coasters.
That’s Landmark Entertainment’s plan, at least. Landmark makes rides for Universal Studios, Paramount, and some Las Vegas hotels, and it believes that the next big advance in amusement park technology will be virtual reality. According to a Variety article, Landmark has been working on VR projects for years, but with the popularity of devices like the Oculus Rift, it has ramped up development and will begin to launch its VR attractions in the next few years. The first ones will be “virtual zoos, aquariums, and museums” housed inside Chinese shopping malls, and they’ll hopefully be cool enough to distract you from the fact that “virtual zoo” sounds like the sort of thing that would be in a dystopian future in which all of the real animals are dead. “What’s that horrible thing, mommy?” the children will ask. “That’s called a cat, honey. They used to live in people’s houses before everything got all Mad Max.”
After that, Landmark will move on to “virtual theme parks that can be visited from everywhere in the world via VR.” To get a sense of how exciting that will be, close your eyes and imagine sitting on your couch and pretending to ride a log flume. Actually, don’t do that, because you’ll end up realizing that pretending you’re on a log flume is free, and then Landmark won’t make any money off of you. Assuming the virtual theme parks take off, Landmark’s plan is to then introduce what it calls “daily utility” experiences, which will be things that people want to do everyday. Whatever that is will be introduced in “2018 at the earliest.” To pass the time until then, close your eyes and pretend you’re virtually taking part in a daily utility, like brushing your teeth or doing the dishes.