Friday, March 1, 2024

Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s ‘Battle for Eire’ will take you to an Irish fantasy world

At the end of a cavernous hallway with slabs of rock for walls in Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s Ireland, you might just find yourself in a whole new world.

Busch Gardens’ “Battle for Eire” is almost ready, just months after details of the ride were released.

The ride will open by the end of spring.

Park guests will have the opportunity to enter a fantasy world in Ireland and fight for a “fierce fairy warrior” named Addie who will direct riders of all ages through the magical fight for the “Heart of Eire.”

“We can take you to places that you just cannot go,” Busch Gardens Vice President of Design and Engineering Larry Giles. “We’re able to put you on the back of a dragon flying at 500 feet. There’s no other place that can really take you there.”

Riders will wear “emerald masks,” which can fit over a pair of glasses. The masks mate with the virtual reality headset called an “enchanted lens” kept on the ride. The set-up is kid-friendly and accomodates all the different head shapes and sizes.

With other characters — both good and evil — park guests can assist Addie in rescuing the heart of Eire, meaning the “magic of Ireland.”

However, guests can choose their own adventure — by looking at certain characters or actions a guest can change the course of the story.

“Everyone will have their own individual experience every time they ride,” said executive producer Jason Ambler of Falcon’s Creative Group. “VR is new, but if you’ve tried VR it’s absolutely an immersive experience unlike any other.”

The ride will utilize 360-degree virtual reality headsets and a refitted-flight simulator to immerse riders in the world.

The headsets use the latest technology in graphics offering 4K resolution, and a three-dimensional experience at 90 frames per second.

Every headset is corded and connected to its own computer, according to Giles. The virtual reality attraction will be the first of its kind in North America.

In addition to the headsets, the entire ride will seat 59 riders on a motion simulator that allows riders to feel what they see on the ride.

The ride will take about eight minutes in total: two minutes learning about the headsets, two minutes spent learning about “Eire” and four minutes wearing the headset on the ride.

For riders who just want to ride in a traditional way, a projector will stream a two-dimensional image of the ride on a screen in front of the motion simulator.

“We’re always looking at ways to enhance the guest experience,” park spokesman Ron Vample said.

The new ride is slated to open about a year after Busch Gardens’ newest roller coaster, the InvadR.

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