Virtual Reality (VR) has been a revelation for the entertainment and leisure industry in UAE and the rest of the GCC region, allowing theme parks to present new and exciting experiences to their visitors. Industry experts such as International Expo Consults, organisers of DEAL – the largest exhibition for the entertainment and leisure industry in the MENA region, are foresee this concept to take off completely by 2019.
“Theme parks have always been tried to provide exotic experiences to the visitors. Earlier they used to utilize painted sceneries, and then dark rides, animatronics, projections and then 3D technology,” said Sharif Rahman, CEO, IEC. “VR is the next step in the evolution of the entertainment segment and has been talked as the next big thing in the industry. In DEAL 2018, we had multiple exhibitors such as ASI, Warehouse of Games, Kyona and many Chinese exhibitors who had VR based games and applications.”
Many theme park operators around the world have utilized the VR technology to spice up their rides. The addition of a VR headset can turn an ordinary rollercoaster into a fantastical immersive experience taking riders to imaginary lands or to underwater scenes.
While it is a good strategy to re-package the ride as a new experience every few months, there are still a few drawbacks of utilizing the technology.
The turnaround time has increased significantly – the time and staff required to get the visitors in and out of the headsets has increased, lengthening queue times and pushing up the costs. A two-part headset has been developed to reduce the amount of time it takes to cycle a guest, and other similar innovations are required to overcome the failings and achieve the enormous potential the technology holds.
Free-roaming VR experiences avoid utilising the rides in a park. Visitors can be armed with weapons to blast aliens or zombies or other villains in a video game, and various branded titles such as ghostbusters, Star Wars have already leant their trademarks for similar experiences.
“In the Middle East and Northern Africa market, where the industry favours indoor venues due to the harsh summer conditions, VR parks would enjoy a similar traction,” added Rahman. “Such parks would allow for round-the-year operations since they aren’t guided by an uncontrollable factor-the climate. Theme parks in other parts of the world aren’t affected by such issues.”
Opening its doors for the 25th time, DEAL 2019 is scheduled to be held between the 25th-27th March 2019 at Halls 1, 2, 3 and 4 at the World Trade Centre, Dubai.